Speaking in Sydney yesterday, United CEO Jeff Smisek touched on a number of areas we’ve been eagerly waiting to hear about:
-No Ch 9 (ATC communications) coming to CO aircraft–two expensive
-No timeframe on determining the future of three-cabin first class
-Economy product on UA 747’s leaves much to be desired
-Hopes to have PTV on UA747 economy class before A350’s arrive.
I am frankly surprised UA would spend more money on their aging 747 fleet, especially after they recently refurbished the seats in economy and installed new LCD screens to replace the ancient projection system. But UA is at a tremendous disadvantage in terms of IFE when comparing their three competitors on the route. Delta, V Australia, and Qantas all have AVOD at each seat in economy. That makes a 14hr flight go much faster…
I’m sad, but not surprised to see that at least for now, we won’t see Channel 9 coming to the CO fleet. ATC communications is such a great way UA distinguishes itself from others and it just won’t be the same to fly on a "United" flight with no Channel 9 available.
With UA’s 777s being refitted with three cabins, I can’t see tri-cabin first class going away anytime soon. I don’t think CO will ever add a first class cabin, but I am hopeful that premier routes like Sydney, Hong Kong, Tokyo, London, and Dubai will retain a proper first class product.
No breaking news, but at least we now have a glimmer hope that the old 747s might finally get PTVs at each seat. That’s something to cheer.