United Continental to expand Economy Plus seating to Continental aircraft

Compared to some other carriers, inflight services on United Airways have always been a little lacking. They don’t have a neat touch-screen entertainment system, limited inflight WiFi and no live TV or radio. Thankfully, they do have two perks you don’t find on any of the other domestic carriers – increased legroom in part of the cabin and the ability to listen in on cockpit communications.

As part of their merger with Continental, the new airline plans to introduce their Economy Plus seating to Continental aircraft.

Economy Plus is by no means a replacement for a business class cabin, but the 5 extra inches of leg room are usually quite welcome. What was once a perk reserved for their frequent fliers, has quickly become a new way for the airline to make money – charging up to $425 a year for unlimited access to the extra legroom. Individual flight upgrades to Economy Plus start at just $9 (for short flights).

Still, the airline has to be applauded for committing to this decent perk. The full press release is after the jump.


Multi-year conversion brings Economy Plus to the new United

CHICAGO, Feb. 17, 2011–United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL) today announced that it will retain United’s popular Economy Plus® seating on United flights and expand the option to Continental aircraft beginning in 2012, providing more opportunities for customers to enjoy additional legroom and comfort.

“Our customers value Economy Plus and the additional personal space that it provides,” said Jim Compton, chief revenue officer of United Continental Holdings. “Customers who sit in Economy Plus are significantly more satisfied with their travel experience, as are travelers who choose other options that enable them to tailor their travel to their liking.”

The decision to maintain and expand Economy Plus across the combined fleet marks a significant milestone in the product integration of United and Continental. It also demonstrates the company’s commitment to provide innovative options to customers that enable them to customize their travel experience with superior products they value.

Today, United offers Economy Plus on all 359 mainline aircraft and more than 150 larger regional jets operated by United Express® carriers. When the multi-year conversion process is complete, the company plans to offer Economy Plus on more than 700 mainline aircraft, including all Continental mainline aircraft, as well as larger regional aircraft. When fully deployed, the new United’s fleet will include more than 40,000 Economy Plus seats, providing more than 122,000 Economy Plus seats each day, the largest amount of extra legroom economy seating available to customers of any airline in the world.

United introduced Economy Plus in 1999, offering up to five inches of additional legroom to customers seated in the forward section of United Economy®. Customers with elite status in United’s Mileage Plus and Continental’s OnePass frequent-flyer programs may confirm seat assignments in Economy Plus, when available. Customers may also purchase seat assignments in Economy Plus when making reservations via united.com and continental.com, through a reservation agent, or during the check-in process at home or at the airport.

Continental currently offers extra legroom seats and will continue to offer that option to travelers until those aircraft are reconfigured with Economy Plus seating. OnePass and Mileage Plus elite members may confirm extra legroom seats at no charge, and other customers may purchase seat assignments for extra legroom seats.
The expansion of Economy Plus reflects United’s focus on its product and customers. The airline continues to reconfigure United and Continental aircraft with new lie-flat seats in first and business class – with the new lie-flat product already on 112 aircraft in the combined fleet, more than any other U.S.-based carrier. In addition, more than 160 Continental aircraft feature DIRECTV®.