United is testing out lie-flat beds for a couple months on flights between Los Angeles and Boston.
United Airlines operates premium transcontinental service routes between three city pairs:
- Los Angeles ⇄ Newark
- San Francisco ⇄ Newark
- Boston ⇄ San Francisco
Logically, it would make sense to add Los Angeles to the mix, especially because JetBlue offers it celebrated Mint service between LAX and BOS.
Starting on October 28, 2018, the 2-3 daily nonstop flights between LA and Boston shift from 737s to two cabin 757-200s featuring lie-flat beds. Fares are quite reasonable in the forward cabin in late autumn:
On the one hand, it is no surprise that United would do this: once seasonal transatlantic flights stop, extra aircraft are available. United also is taking delivery of additional used aircraft. We’ve seen lie-flat service between Newark and Seattle and Washington Dulles and LAX/SFO in the past during the “slower” months.
On December 19th, however, the 757-200s disappear and the 737-800s return…through end of schedule.
So what’s the point? I’m speculating here (United’s not commenting on this issue right now), but I think United is testing the waters. If it can start selling out front cabins during the lie-flat trial, perhaps lie-flats will remain.
When United has run lie-flat beds on routes that are not officially “Premium Service” in the past there are no Saks Fifth Avenue blankets, no pillows at all, and no amenity kits. Meal service was also just like any other non-premium transcontinental flight. I hope United considers that in order to win traffic from JetBlue, it must provide a higher level of service.
As much as I love United, I find it so difficult to justify United over JetBlue on a transcon route. My JetBlue Mint flight from New York to Los Angeles remains the best domestic flight I’ve ever taken. Period.
Right now the lie-flats beds are just a tease between October 28th and December 18th. But change must start somewhere and if United sees the business case, I’m certain we’ll see better planes on that route even beyond.