United Airlines already has “premium economy” on domestic flights…it’s called first class.
I’m not saying that to be facetious. Honestly.
But the one image we have seen thus far of what United’s new premium economy class product will look like is nearly identical to United’s current domestic first class seat–
United’s new “Premium Plus” premium economy product
United Airlines Domestic First Class Seat
The only difference is a footrest.
Yesterday, United President Scott Kirby mentioned that United was exploring the introduction of premium economy on domestic flights.
Practically, I doubt we will ever see a new type of seat added to domestic aircraft, especially when economy class is already segmented between United Economy Plus and United Economy. United Economy Plus may see the addition of meals on more routes (like United has added on premium transcontinental flights) but I just cannot imagine much more.
When Delta sells its premium economy class seats (“Delta Premium Select”), it seats passengers in “first class” on their domestic connecting flight. Perhaps we might see something like that on United.
Imagine if United gave these domestic first class seats a “clever” name, like “United Sirius” or “United Vega”. It could offer a “seamless” travel experience by offering this standardized seat on all mainline aircraft.
Only I doubt this will work for two reasons: capacity and confusion.
Forget about upgrades: the first problem for this way of branding first class is that there are simply not enough premium seats on domestic connections for everyone seated in premium economy and Polaris business class.
Second, there is still a sizable segment of the market who travels domestically only and buys “first class” tickets. Take away that term with a confusing new name and United’s remarkable success in selling first class seats (over upgrading) would be cannibalized.
With all the recent first class catering cutbacks instituted by Kirby, we might as well call the domestic first class product premium economy. But don’t expect a separate premium economy cabin with different seats anytime in the future on United domestic flights. If anything, we’ll see enhanced service for Economy Plus or the rebranding of the “United First” product.