On Sunday evening I flew from Chicago to Frankfurt on United. I happened to fly on a 777-200 that has already been retrofitted to include premium economy seating.
On the 777-200, United will add three rows of premium economy in a 2-4-2 configuration. The premium economy seats have not come at the expense of Polaris business class, where a density of 50 seats is maintained.
At first glance, the seats did not appear quite as spacious as domestic first class seats, though perhaps that was because there were eight across. Let’s not forget that business class on this same aircraft also used to be eight across in a the same 2-4-2 configuration.
The front row includes a legrest/footrest combo while the second and third row includes a fold-down footrest from the seat in front. Each seat has its own power outlet and USB charger in the armrest, along with storage for smaller items like passports, wallets, and mobile phones.
In-flight-entertainment represents an immediate upgrade, with larger screens and noise-cancelling headphones. Unlike economy class, personal handsets are also available.
Finally, I appreciated the coat hooks, which are lacking in United’s economy class seats.
Currently this is not sold as a separate cabin and available on a complimentary basis to MileagePlus Premier members or those who purchase EconomyPlus seating, on a first-come-first served basis. Blankets and pillows are from economy class, no amenity kits are offered, and meals are identical in content and appearance to economy class.
Eventually, that will change. Premium economy will be called Premium Plus and include:
Available on select international flights, United® Premium Plus will give you more space, comfort and amenities. The seats will be more spacious and you’ll enjoy upgraded dining on china dinnerware, free alcoholic beverages, a Saks Fifth Avenue blanket and pillow, an amenity kit and more.
I wasn’t about to give up my business class upgrade to test these seats on an 8-hour overnight flight, but I suspect this will be a popular option for travelers looking for a bit more space without spending top-dollar for business class fares.