United Adding More First Class Seats to Airbus A319s and A320s
United's most frequent economy flyers know to avoid the Airbus A319 if they're hoping for any chance of a complimentary upgrade — with just eight first-class seats but 120 in coach, the odds are far better even on some of the airline's regional jets.
United is aware — executive vice president and chief commercial officer Andrew Nocella acknowledged that the Airbus A319 and the slightly larger A320, which currently sports just 12 first-class seats, have some of the lowest complimentary upgrade percentages across the mainline fleet.
Beginning later this year, United will add four first-class seats to its fleet of 60+ Airbus A319s, bringing the total count to 12 and matching the carrier's Boeing 737-700s. The Economy Plus count will drop from 42 to 36 as a result, though the reconfigured planes will still offer 78 regular coach seats. With the addition of four first-class seats, United's A319s will lose just two seats overall.
United's nearly 100 Airbus A320s will jump from 12 seats to 16, meanwhile, matching the airline's Boeing 737-800s, with reconfigurations beginning in early 2020. Interestingly, United's managed to adjust the cabins by maximizing underutilized space, so the total seat count will remain unchanged, with 39 Economy Plus seats and 95 in regular coach.
Of course, the airline isn't completing these expensive renovations just to give economy flyers a better shot at an upgrade — more first-class seats for upgrades also means more for sale, and the airline does expect to sell roughly half of these additional first-class seats, on average, with the other half going to upgrades and awards. All aircraft are expected to be configured by the middle of 2020.
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