United Airlines Is Going To Be Quickly Changing The Interiors On Its Domestic Planes

On Tuesday I wrote that United Airlines had begun the process of retrofitting domestic planes to offer more premium seats, seat back entertainment screens (with bluetooth connectivity), larger overhead bins, and faster wifi.

The plan for “United NEXT” was announced a year and a half ago, and they’re only now doing prototypes. However they are going to proceed very rapidly to update their fleet from this point forward.

A note from CEO Scott Kirby to customers later on Tuesday said, “And we’re also upgrading our existing single-aisle fleet and plan to retrofit about 100 planes this year.” However a United Airlines tipster shares,

Once the initial prototypes are done for each fleet type, the plans are to get through the planes relatively quickly. There will be three locations with multiple lines each to do the work.

There should be approximately 175 planes retrofitted this year (initially planned for 200). Combined with the close to 170 new planes last year and this year, there should be close to 350 planes with new interiors this year, with more deliveries and retrofits into next year.

The idea that United Airlines could convert 175 domestic aircraft in 2023 seems unbelievable at first, considering they haven’t completed changes to prototype aircraft yet. However this is a scaled back ambition from 200 planes, and it’s not a notional number but one that’s tied to a real plan. It could still slip, but having over 300 planes including new aircraft with the new interior in service this year is a real possibility.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. More like, “Deltas’ refinery would allow for a 15% increase in retrofit velocity.” -Tim Dunn

  2. If there’s one thing United is good at it’s making promises that won’t be kept and timelines that will be ignored as soon they are created.

  3. When it comes to the 737-800 and 737-900ER, why would they need prototypes? Don’t the 737-800 and 737-900 have the same fuselage as their MAX counterparts?

  4. @Dave. The only one I can confirm at this time is MLB, Melbourne in Orlando, I really ignore the other two at this moment.

  5. I flew on a retrofitted MAX on New Year’s Eve and it was excellent. Great to have seat back entertainment back on narrow bodies.

  6. RF is right and the scaled back plan is evidence that UA can’t do what it previously promised because of supply chain issues. Whether they make 175 or not remain s got be seen but doesn’t change that B6 and DL have much higher percentages of their fleets with these features
    And yet we incessantly hear from the UA fanboys that DL’s fleet is inconsistent

  7. so more broken monitors and crappy headphones? As long as I can still use my own device with my bluetooth headphones I will continue in that way.

  8. Am I the only one who doesn’t like the seatback TVs? I hate the constant visual distraction and blinking screens, I always turn mine off as soon as possible, and rely on my own iPad for entertainment.

  9. @Tim, the plan isn’t scaled back. The plan to have them complete by 2025 is still on track. By the summer, all widebodies will have Polaris (almost all already have it), by the end of year, hundreds of planes will have the new interior, and by next year, the majority of the fleet will be done, including with hundreds of new planes.

    Seems like an exciting time for United. You’ll soon have to find something else to complain about regarding United. lol

  10. John
    I am glad you are excited about United but let’s not forget that 1 Polaris is nowhere near industry leading 2 you still don’t get that UA is just beginning the process of catching up to Delta cabins 3 don’t mention the 9 Latam A350s because Delta is supposed to be rolling out a new Delta One Suite in 2024 and beyond along with the expected A350 1000s 4. American just announced that they have already paid down $7.5 billion in debt. United not American is the new super indebted US airline. AA also raised their revenue guidance for the 4th quarter as Delta did. Southwest lowered theirs due to the meltdown. Nothing from United which will take on tens of billions in debt and lease expenses. I am tired of hearing United fankids trashing every other airline and getting the basic facts wrong

  11. Please fly Delta! I am a United retiree and I can’t get a seat on most anything due to everyone traveling.

  12. I detest seat-back video. It’s just another advertisement money-grab. One must repeatedly turn it off. It’s a major annoying visual distraction. And the junk available on it is moron fodder.

  13. Dan,
    yes, fankids are people that trash other airlines using false and inaccurate assessments of their own world.
    Since United typically reports 2nd in the industry after Delta – which reports on Friday – maybe there will be no upside improvement in revenue, even though Arrowspace can’t fly for free on United flights.

  14. This may go the way of the Bloody Mary cart service in Polaris and the wine flights.

    Improve your meal offering! Until then – UA is no go.

  15. United lost all of my business due to their utterly terrible catering in all premium cabins… Polaris is a joke these days.

  16. As somebody who works directly for the airline in a corp position, I never knew this fanboy rivalry existed.
    For United, and I’m pretty sure most are aware, but we are phasing out the 145XR, and all regionals will be 70 seaters using 175’s with Skywest and Commutair, the latter having until 25 to make the transition.
    As for arrow, and the non-reving, as a retiree, you should be able to utilize ID-90 for zed fares if you cannot get a seat with employee res.

  17. It’s amazing how some people are chronic complainers! It’s great that UA is updating the interior of its fleet. Screens in the back seats are expected these days so why complain about adding them!? Onboard Internet is awesome! Go United!

  18. Nice. Why anyone would want to fly AA after this (both DL and UA will be offering new cabins with 100% screens) would be crazy.

  19. Live where DL has hub. At least 50% or MORE of seat back entertainment is broken or VERY slow moving. The earphone receptacles are more than worn out as well as the USB power connectors on some aircraft. If they don’t have chewing gum or human nasal waste placed in them.

    Most importantly, DL screen backs are toxic waste dumps of viral plague and NEVER cleaned.
    Anyone without proper disinfectant wipes before touching the screen should lick the commodes first so they don’t get sick.

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