United to ‘slim’ their A320 fleet

United Airlines will be changing the seats on their A320 fleet starting in 2013 according to the Apex blog, switching to the Recaro BL3250 Slimline model. These seats have been adopted by a number of carriers in Europe and which allow for comparable legroom while actually increasing the seat density in the aircraft. As a result of this move the airline expects to add a row of seats to the A320 fleet. The Recaro BL3250s are also being installed by American Airlines in their new 777s as those come on line. Plenty of cost savings to be had with the lighter seats and the higher density means additional revenue opportunity, too.

The widest deployment of these seats currently is probably with Lufthansa. These are the NEK seats they have installed on most of their short-haul fleet. I’ve flown in them a few times and they’re functional and the legroom isn’t an issue. Padding in the seat cushion, however, definitely leaves something to be desired in the Lufthansa version. It will be interesting to see how United configures them. Recaro also has an add-on "Comfort Package" available offering better cushions, power outlets and headrests. It is not clear if United has purchased that package.

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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. Those seats on LH are awful, but for a flight from say FRA to TXL, it is hard to really complain. SFO to IAD on the other hand….

  2. They should just install cubbyholes, where people climb in head and lay flat the whole way. In the same footprint as 3 seats, they can probably fit them 3-high, maybe even 4 for extra dense economy and non-plus sized people.

  3. Cubbyholes? I think they are going to implement a “coffin” class. climb into a lightweight coffin with a packet of cheese, crackers, and a bottled waater for your comfort.

    Over entitled for seats now I see 🙁

    1. Cheese, crackers and a bottle of water?!?! What is this, First Class?? 😉

      With the upgraded cushion option the seats are actually decent enough. And as described by Recaro and quoted in that article the option to have IFE and power also includes the upgraded cushions. It’ll be interesting to see what United actually ends up deploying. It might be horrid or it might be reasonable enough. Seems unlikely that it’ll be great though.

  4. Pack’em in – just like anchovies and tuna fish. 1K is now becoming an essential defensive maneuver

  5. On a long flight, I’ll take 5+ hours of laying down in a tight cubbyhole, over sitting in a tight seat.

  6. With only 21 (24 with F) rows adding a row is going to mean reducing the pitch by more than the inch gained with the BL3250.

    Looks like the under seat storage height has increased.

    I notice UA FF BFFL J Rainey was quoted in the referenced article.

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