United drops premium service lie-flats from Boston; will it return?

Nov 7, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

There’s no better way to fly domestically than on the transcon from the New York area to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In the years leading up to the pandemic, the Big 3, as well as JetBlue, all offered lie-flat business-class seating on these routes. Plus, premium-cabin flyers could expect multi-course meals, amenity kits, proper bedding and more.

While United’s best product — the “new” Polaris — was reserved for the New York market, transcon routes from Boston to San Francisco also featured lie-flat seating on the single-aisle Boeing 757, along with the aforementioned premium service.

And then the coronavirus came stateside, upending carrier’s schedules. In fact, United temporarily pulled lie-flat seats from both Boston and New York. The Chicago-based carrier was quick to restore its flagship planes to transcons from its Newark hub. But Boston? Not so fast.

Since May, UA has been operating standard narrowbody planes between Boston and SFO — a mix of Airbus A319s and A320s and Boeing 737s, Cirium schedules show.

Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter for more airline-specific news!

If you’re hoping that United restores the premium transcon service to Boston, you’ll need to be (very) patient. The carrier has confirmed to TPG that the return of lie-flats is contingent on seeing an appreciable “uptick in premium demand.”

In a statement, United said:

We will continue to monitor demand trends on this route and anticipate returning premium transcontinental service at some point in the future.

In fact, UA has removed references to the Boston transcon from its dedicated premium transcontinental website. With demand for business travel at record lows, the airline clearly doesn’t see the need to offer an elevated service on this route. Of course, anything could change, but the implication here is that this will likely be a long-term suspension of lie-flat seats from this frequency.

In the meantime, first-class flyers on this route can expect standard recliners, as well as a selection of cold sandwiches and pre-packaged snack boxes once inflight. Since the BOS-SFO route is losing its premium transcon service designation, Premier elites will be eligible for complimentary upgrades.

For now, Cirium schedules show that UA has pulled lie-flats from Boston through Dec. 31, 2020. The carrier plans to fly 237 total flights in the market through the end of the year, exclusively with Boeing 737s.

Though lie-flats are back on the schedule starting in January, United has been making schedule adjustments in roughly six-week increments. As such, it’s only a matter of time before the fancy seats are pulled for the new year.

This all comes as United will be operating a much smaller Boeing 757 fleet going forward. Due to the pandemic, the carrier has retired a subset of these planes — those that used to fly for the pre-merger United. The 11 757-200s were outfitted in a premium-heavy configuration with 28 biz seats. The early retirement leaves United with 40 pre-merger Continental 757s, featuring 12 fewer biz seats.

Fortunately, there’s still a lie-flat option for the five-plus hour flight from Boston to San Francisco. JetBlue has 232 flights scheduled in the market for the last two months of 2020.

The New York-based carrier operates its Mint-equipped Airbus A321 to Boston, sporting 16 business-class seats, four of which are individual suites. JetBlue has mostly restored Mint service to pre-pandemic levels, so flyers can expect tasty meals and Hayward amenity kits.

Hopefully, demand will bounce back faster than expected and United will restore its lie-flats to Boston.

Featured photo by Wikimedia Commons

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.