Before United Airlines committed to a huge order for widebody jets at the end of 2022, they placed a major order for smaller narrowbody planes last summer and announced a plan to upgrade the interiors of their existing aircraft, too.
United promised that their domestic and short haul international planes would offer,
- more premium seats
- seatback entertainment screens with bluetooth for headphones
- seat power and larger overhead bins
- fast wifi
Dubbed United NEXT, the fleet plan was ambitious and positioned the airline as a more premium airline. And then… nothing happened. A year and a half passed and they didn’t actually do any of the retrofitting of their existing planes. There was hand waving about supply chain.
Finally though that’s about to change, with the first United planes into the shop for a NEXT retrofit, as first reported by aviation watchdog JonNYC.
UA: NEXT retrofits. I tend to think -either- N827UA
or N801UA– both of which recently arrived in MLB where the retrofits will occur (320 goes to 16F/39E+/95Y, 319 will be 12/36/78)– will be starting. Hard to say which and when, little fuzzy on that. I'd -assume- N827UA.
— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) January 9, 2023
American Airlines doesn’t offer seat back screens. United will, matching Delta.
Delta and American both have fast inflight wifi, and Delta is making theirs free. United’s internet has been the worst-performing out of U.S. airlines, without enough bandwidth to reliably check email on many flights, let alone make it free. They’ll be changing that.
While I find that their international business class food and service lag, they offer more international destinations and more premium seats than competitors and they’re updating to a more acceptable product even in coach with more changes to escape the back of the plane. That’s generally progress for passengers.