United Is Flying Its First Airbus A319 With More First-Class Seats
The first United Airlines Airbus A319 with an expanded first class cabin is flying around the friendly skies.
The aircraft, registration N850UA, returned to service after being outfitted with 12 first-class seats on July 31, an internal newsletter to flight attendants and FlightAware.com show. The reconfigured aircraft has 36 extra-legroom Economy Plus seats and 78 economy seats for a total of 126 passengers, or two fewer than United's previous A319 layout.
The additional first-class seats, and smaller Economy cabin, benefits both the Chicago-based carrier and passengers. It creates additional revenue opportunities for United, as well as additional upgrade opportunities for passengers.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Upgraded on United Airlines
United announced plans to add first-class seats to both its A319 and Airbus A320 fleets in February. The move is part of a larger push to offer more premium seats across its fleet and includes plans for the Bombardier CRJ550 -- a re-certified CRJ700 with 50 seats, including first class -- and its "high-J" Boeing 767-300ERs with an expanded Polaris Business Class cabin.
"In an era where many airlines are adding seats to their aircraft to crowd more passengers onto the plane, we're... doing exactly the opposite – for the benefit of our customers," said Andrew Nocella, chief commercial officer of United, in a February statement. "From adding more premium seats on aircraft that serve some of our most traveled routes, introducing a revolutionary, best-in-class 50-seat experience... we are committed to making United the airline that our customers choose to fly."
Beyond the added first class seats, the reconfigured A319 cabin is unchanged save a new cabin divider, according to the flight attendant newsletter on July 31.
Related: United Adding More First Class Seats to Airbus A319s and A320s
United plans to reconfigure its A320s with 16 first-class seats, up from 12 seats currently, plus 39 Economy Plus and 95 economy seats for a total of 150 seats. This is comparable to its existing A320 layout.
The carrier operated 172 A319 and A320 aircraft at the end of June, its latest fleet plan shows. The company plans to retrofit the fleet with the additional first-class seats by mid-2020.