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. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Last week, I learned that United was beginning work to reconfigure a number of its 767-300ERs with an exceptionally high number of lie-flat seats, boosting the Polaris cabin capacity by more than 50%. Wednesday, the airline confirmed that 21 aircraft will get this new arrangement, offering a total of 46 business-class seats in a 1-1-1 configuration.

Andrew Nocella, United’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer, shared the news with a small group of journalists, adding that premium seats will occupy some two-thirds of the square footage of each of these retrofitted 763s, with 22 Premium Plus seats joining as well.

United confirmed that these new aircraft will operate flights between Newark (EWR) and London (LHR), consistent with what we reported last week. While the airline wasn’t ready to share any additional routes just yet, with 21 aircraft offering this significantly boosted business config, there will certainly be more to come.

United’s high-premium 767s will offer 46 Polaris seats. Photo by Zach Honig.

More Polaris seats should hopefully translate into better upgrade and award availability as well. As Nocella explained, “Additional premium seats on the 767-300 will be critical to allowing us to meet unmet demand on certain routes that also provide for more inventory for upgrades and mileage redemption for our most loyal customers.” Later adding, “We sell more than half of [Polaris seats] outright, and we do make room for upgrades and award availability as well across the global network.”

While dynamic Premium Plus award pricing caused some speculation that a premium-cabin award devaluation could be on the way, United hasn’t commented on any changes to MileagePlus at this point. I’m hopeful that we’ll simply see more saver awards without a jump in rate — currently 60,000 miles each way from North America to Europe in Polaris business class.

Naturally, this boost in biz capacity will come at the cost of economy seats, though. The economy cabin will drop from 138 seats to just 52, while Economy Plus will increase from 46 seats to 47, a total coach seat decrease of nearly 50%.

United will maintain a 2-3-2 configuration in economy. Photo by Zach Honig.
United will maintain a 2-3-2 configuration in economy, but with a far smaller cabin than on its existing 767-300, pictured above. Photo by Zach Honig.

While there may be fewer economy seats available on some flights, the airline is boosting capacity significantly on others by adding more seats to its 777-200s and replacing some 767 flights with the far larger 787-10.

The first of these reconfigured 763 should re-enter service “in the next several weeks,” while all 21 are expected to be flying by the end of 2020.

Know before you go.

News and deals straight to your inbox every day.

2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card



CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

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.