United commits to keeping EconomyPlus in the new fleet

One of the many outstanding questions related to the Continental/United Airlines merger was that of the EconomyPlus product. United has offered it for many years now and Continental has not. Some hints were offered in recent months as Continental started to charge for their "Extra Leg Room" (‘ELR’) seats (mainly exit rows and bulkheads) where they previously had been free if available when check-in opened.

The mystery was laid to rest today when the announcement was made that the combined company would be keeping the product on the legacy UA fleet and adding it to the Continental fleet. The conversion of the Continental fleet will be starting in 2012; until then it is just the ELR seats on those planes.

Most notable in the still unanswered questions on this topic is whether adding the E+ seats will mean removing a row from first class or from coach, As noted by Scott O’Leary, United’s Managing Director of Customer Service, "It’s an important decision, especially for our domestic fleet, and one we’re putting a lot of thought into."

I’m betting that the 737-500, 737-700 and 757-300 keep their existing first class section and lose a row in economy while the 737-800/900/900ER settle at 16 first class seats (many are 20 today) to make this happen.

Definitely a move that will keep many of their frequent fliers happy and loyal to the company.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I’m with you on the speculation about the 737s and 757s, although I could see a case for keeping 20 F seats on the 739/739ER fleet.

    It also begs the question, if they were to keep 12 F seats on the 73G, will the similar sized 319 see a reduction in E+ to bring it to 12 F seats? And will the same happen with the 320 to bring it to 16 F seats, keeping the plane more in line with the similar sized 737s?

  2. The A319 only has 8 now while the A320 has 12 now.

    I’d love to see the Airbii get upgraded but I’m not betting on it. Ditto for the 739s keeping 20. I can see the case – they are much more like a 757 than a 73G, particularly given the routes that they operate on – but unless managements sees the premium cabin yields those seats are gone.

  3. I’m not sure if any of you have seen the post Continental made on their facebook page about this, but it is sad to see some of the reactions. Most of the people on there hate this decision, I think primarily because they think United will decrease the pitch in the back of the bus, to make room for the ELR in E+. I pointed out that most United’s fleet has as much, if not more pitch in the back of the bus, but the CO fanboys don’t seem to comprehend such a simple concept.

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