As expected, United Airlines’ profitable Economy Plus cabin will be introduced by sister carrier Continental Airlines, marking the first significant move by parent company United Continental Holdings to offer comparable products across its entire fleet.
The retrofit is scheduled to start in 2012 and will eventually bring the new cabin to more than 700 mainline aircraft and the larger regional jets. United, which introduced the cabin in 1999, provides Economy Plus on all 359 of its mainline aircraft and 150 RJs.
A decision has yet to be made about installing the cabin in the operator’s 70-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprops, says a United Continental spokesman. However, Pinnacle Airlines management during a Feb. 17 analyst call to discuss its 2010 results signaled that its last Q400 scheduled for delivery in August will “come with a different configuration” to the single-class aircraft currently operating under its contract with Continental.
When the change is fully deployed, United Continental will have installed more than 40,000 Economy Plus seats across its fleet, providing more than 122,000 such seats each day. The cabin, which sits forward of economy class, offers up to five inches of additional legroom for a fee or as an upgrade for elite frequent flyers and, depending on the aircraft, may also provide an upgraded inflight entertainment system.
“Our customers value Economy Plus and the additional personal space that it provides,” says Chief Revenue Officer Jim Compton. “Customers who sit in Economy Plus are significantly more satisfied with their travel experience, as are travelers who choose other options that enable them to tailor their travel to their liking.”