Want in on the first scheduled 777-300ER service from United Airlines? Take a gander at flight UA 1920 from Newark to San Francisco on 16 February 2017. The company announced late this afternoon that the new type would be loaded into the schedule this weekend and the service in now on sale. This is the first United aircraft to feature the company’s new business class seat including direct aisle access for all passengers in the forward cabin.
The good news is that it is available. The bad news is that it is not particularly affordable. When it first loaded into the GDS the one way fare in economy was near $400 (and the price is going up as AvGeek folks buy up seats). And unlike several other recent inaugural trips the company does not appear to have screwed up loading this one into the system so not much in the way of mistakes available to help bring the price down.
It is also worth noting that, while this is the first scheduled flight, it is expected that the plane will substitute in on other hub-to-hub routes in the weeks leading up to the official inaugural. That knocks down the value proposition slightly though I do expect that there will be festivities at the gate for this one rather than whatever “special” flights it subs in for.
The 77W will operate 6x weekly (no Tuesday trips) on the 7a westbound and 12:50p eastbound flights from 16 February through 4 May. The type is also loaded on the schedule for service between San Francisco and Hong Kong starting on 25 March westbound and 27 March eastbound. The aircraft will replace the 747-400 on the Hong Kong route, improving both the business class and economy class experience for travelers. The shift to a San Francisco-based long-haul launch is an adjustment from the previously expected Newark-based operation of the type, a change recently detailed by company executives. Switching out the Hong Kong operations allows United to be more competitive with Cathay Pacific and to more closely match the business class experience.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) December 9, 2016
For economy class passengers the news is less spectacular. As expected the new coach cabin features a 3-4-3 layout, a tight squeeze for folks traveling in the back of the plane. But it is hard not not expect the industry to continue to shift in that direction given that it makes the airlines more money and passengers seem to keep buying it. I hate it, too, but when the price is right I’ll still be buying. Yes, I’m part of the problem.
As for United’s scheduled 77W inaugural, I’m not buying, at least not at these prices. I want to be part of the party but the price is far too rich for my budget. Plus I’m supposed to be in Europe the following day so fitting it into my schedule will be challenging. But is is available to buy if you’re so inclined. Especially useful if you can make a multi-city routing including that segment work and save some cash along the way.
Header image: United’s first 777-300ER during a test flight; photo courtesy of United Airlines.