It's an airline ready to compete for the dollars of higher-spending travelers.
United has just unveiled a plan to offer new premium seats in an effort to attract business travelers or those willing to spend for more comfort. The Bombardier CRJ 550 will have 50 seats and include self-serve beverage and snack stations, more legroom in First Class and Economy Plus, free Wi-Fi and more storage for carry-on luggage.
Its Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella told reporters United was feeling like it was at a competitive disadvantage in certain markets, and it was time for an upgrade. One of those market's is where Walmart has its headquarters — Bentonville, Arkansas. The company saw that it was losing some of the share of Bentonville passengers traveling globally, Nocella said.
The CRJ550s will first deploy at United's hub in Chicago, the airline company says They will be flown on routes of less than 900 miles that have high premium demand. United will follow by adding them at its Newark, New Jersey hub.
The cost to fly in one of the new premium seats will be about double the average United coach airfare.