United Airlines reviews

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Airline reviews United Fleet & Seats

United Airlines Fleet & Seats

Rating 3 out of 10 1.5 Star Rating: Pretty poor with 133 images
Class Seat Pitch 777 Review 747 Review
Economy 32" TV few AVODNo TV
Econ Plus 35-36" TV some AVODNo TV
Business 55"Flat Flatbed+AVODFlatbed+AVOD
First 78"Flat Flatbed+AVODFlatbed+AVOD
United Seat PitchUnited Seat Reviews
NEWS: United has announced plans to provide Wi-Fi internet service from Panasonic on its 737 and International 757 aircraft beginning in 2012 and plans to have all mainline aircraft equipped with WiFi by 2015. The merger of United and Continental continues, and now all aircraft are being repainted in a new 'combination' livery, with a United name, but Continental logo

If you're confused about the merger between United and Continental, just wait until you try and work out what type of seat you'll get on which aircraft. The two airlines were very different in their choice of cabin and equipment offered. In general though, if you're on an aircraft that came from the United fleet, it will be a Boeing with little inflight entertainment, whereas the ex-Continental aircraft were more modern and had decent IFE. Read more about United Seatback TV.

Add to that the difference between cabin classes. On domestic routes United followed the old Grandfather style of Airlines in the USA, with a basic economy (called coach) and First Class up the front, which wasn't first at all, and offered little in the way of amenities.

Continental were very different, and used a much more comfortable European system of Business and Economy, with free meals and drinks down the back only being discontinued with the merger. Internationally, Continental had scrapped First Class, operating two class planes, while United still had First, and had expanded to four class aircraft.

United Continental Business Class seat - ex CO seat on a 737 - June 2011
United Business Class seating on an ex-Continental 737

The merger between United and Continental was never going to be easy with such disparate services on offer.

United Airlines classes

With the merger, United Continental now offer four classes internationally, and two domestically, except for PS services where there are three domestic cabins. Older Continental planes, now flying in United colours have only have two classes internationally and domestically.

In general you United have four classes. First (seat pitch 78"), Business (49/55"), Economy (31"), and what is called Economy Plus (pitch of 35").

United International First Class

United is quite unusual among many international carriers, by still carrying on with a First Cabin, when many carriers (such as AirNZ and LAN Chille) are removing it. United First is offered on almost all international flights. However, the seat you actually get can vary wildly.
United Boeing 747 San Francisco June 2011
Boeing 747-400 United Continental at San Francisco in pre-merger livery

United First Suites are the new First Class offering, and are on all the remaining Boeing 747-400, all internationally configured Boeing 767-300ER, and some of the refitted Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. The new seat is pretty good, but not up to Qantas or BA standards: it offers a seat (called a suite, although it is a long way from the Suites on Emirates or Singapore) 6 feet-6 inches long which folds down into a flat and level bed. There is a 15.4-inch screen TV Screen with Audio-Video-on-Demand (AVOD) and noise-cancelling headphones; this has an Apple iPod adapter (to play audio or video through), and XM Satellite Radio. There are also two power ports: a USB power port, and a socket (at US 110v, and which only takes US plugs).

United Feb 2012
United AirlinesThe new First Class seat

Old United First Suites. These are the ones to avoid; alas, most international Boeing 777-200/200ER aircraft have not been fitted with the new suites yet. They have a 78 inch long flat bed, and a 12 inch TV screen which still uses - wait for it - compact videocassettes. Yikes. An upgrade to first isn't all it's cracked up to be.

United international Business Class

United Airlines Business Class is the most confusing of all the options. The ex-Continental seats are great, ex-United Business Suites odd (backwards facing) and the old United recliner Business just woeful.

United BusinessFirst Suites come from the Continental fleet. These are the seats you want - they are on all internationally configured aircraft that came from Continental Airlines in the merger. The seat is in a privacy shell which electronically reclines to a six foot six inch (2 meter) long totally flat and level bed, with lumbar support, leg and foot rests. It has a large TV screen with AVOD, and a power socket that takes all international plugs (except UK/Hong Hong/Singapore). Continental called this class BusinessFirst, but sold it as Business and it was the sole premium cabin on those aircraft.

United Feb 2012
Business Class United Business Suites (New)

United Business Suites (New) have a seat with one of the wackiest designs in the air. The seats alternate between front-facing and rear-facing - so you can if you want have eight of you gathered around what seems like a communal table (or the IFE screens). If you think flying backwards on BA is odd, wait till you try this. The seats are 6 feet-4 inches long and have 180 degrees of recline, creating a fully flat bed. It also has a huge headrest. It is fitted to all Boeing 747-400, all international Boeing 767-300ER, and some of the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. There is a 15-inch TV screen with Audio-Video-on-Demand (AVOD). The seat is pretty comfortable, and on night flights you get pillows and a big soft blanket, which really add to the quality. What doesn't work on this seat is that it is impossible to get out of the window seats without disturbing your neighbour if they are sleeping, because the lie-flat seat extends all the way to the dividing wall: in the middle of the night you'll see plenty of people leaping out of their seat and over their neighbour to try and get around this: if you are travelling alone, the aisle is the only way to go.

United Business Class Seat - 11A on a 777 Dec 2003 Business Class Old-style seat 11A on a 777

United Boeing 777-200 and some 200ER have just the Old United Business Seats with basic recliner-type seats with a pitch of 55 inches and 150 degree recline. The seat also features laptop power ports which require EmPower adapters. There are no refinements with the IFE. Each seat has a basic, small 7 inch TV screen which flips out. It has nine channels of video on a loop. It's like going back to the 1990s. The seat also has a moveable electric lumbar support, and under the middle arm rest of each seat is a small indent, which contains your headphones and amenity kit when you sit down, and is useful for storing a book in the flight. There is a small flat area just right for keeping drinks on between each two seats, and under this there is a little pull out table designed for the nut service.

United International Economy Class

United's International Economy Class is generally argued to be one of the worst among its peers, and a United Airlines economy review generally slates the old 1980s style seat, the lack or poor quality of inflight entertainment, and woeful service. The pitch itself is ok - 31 inches between each seat, and 17 to 18 inches wide. However it is the lack of a seat back video on Boeing 747s that most passengers moan about; there are just the old overhead TV screen. On a long 14 hour flight over the Pacific all you'll get will be two films, and a gap of 10 hours when there is nothing.

At least there are seat back video screens on all international three-cabin 767 and 777 aircraft, but they are tiny at only 5 inches, and still only show videos on loop (with Seven films and two short-subjects.) A very few B777-200/200ER's have been updated to Audio-Video-on-Demand (AVOD) with a 7 inch Panasonic eFX touch screen LCD. As if that wasn't bad enough United now only serve basic free meals on the longest international flights. There are no longer any free alcoholic drinks: to buy these you'll need a US registered credit card, or you'll have to pay a large extra fee. If you fly in economy, there are much better airlines on international routes. Indeed, pretty much any airline is better than United!

United International Economy Plus Class

All of Continental's Boeing 757 aircraft now have United's Economy Plus seating: however you won't be able to book it unless you are a United MileagePlus member.
United Economy class seat - 35A on a 747 Dec 2003 Economy Plus The best seat in the house - 35A on a 747

United Airlines' economy plus is United's kind of 'Economy and a bit' service. It offers up to five inches of extra legroom, although on most aeroplanes it is just 35 inches. Make no mistake however, this is nothing like BA's World Traveller Plus. It's simply a way of getting a bit more legroom. And that's it. United now charges for these seats for ordinary customers, but also offers these seats as a perk for free to their top tier members, as well as to those with full fare (Y,B,M) economy tickets. United now claims to block the middle seat for elites in E+ if possible.

Once you could get these seats for free as a Gold Star Alliance: no longer: they are reserved just for United's own elites. So how do you buy Economy Plus? The answer is - you can't easily. It is for sale in some locations online (when you go through the booking process), but if you want it for free, you now have to be a MileagePlus Elite member (Silver and above). It can also be purchased at check-in depending upon availability by any members of the United MileagePlus program - however if you are not a member you can't buy it. All other customers including passengers from other frequent flyer programs in the Star Alliance are banned from purchasing Economy Plus seats at the time of ticket purchase, although as a Star Alliance Gold you may occasionally have success in asking for these seats at check in.

United Continental Business Class seat - ex CO seat on a 737 - June 2011
Domestic First Class on a United Continental 737

United domestic First Class

United First (Domestic) is offered on all domestically configured United aircraft. Domestic United First includes a cradle seat similar to the old international United Business seat. The seats have a 38 inch pitch, but that's it for frills, although if you have an old Continental aircraft it will have in flight satellite TV. There are of course free drinks in First - including a nice touch of pre-departure drinks - but no free meals unless the flight is over 3.5 hours long.

United domestic Business Class

It is a real rareity to be offered Business Class on domestic flights, however occasionally it pops up on the scheduled between hubs when 3 class international widebodies (the 777s) are being repositioned between international flights. It's rare to get them, however when you do, the seats are much better International Business Class seats, while food is the same as Domestic First Class.

United domestic Economy Plus Class

United Economy Plus is an area of 6 to 11 rows in the United Economy section, offering more legroom - on some aeroplanes this can be up to six inches. Economy Plus is available for free to all MileagePlus Elite members. It can also be purchased at check-in depending upon availability by members of the United MileagePlus program.

United domestic Economy Class

Reviews of United Economy Class (known as United Coach Class in the US - because it's like being on a bus) are generally pretty poor, but in truth it is better than many other airlines in the US.
United Airlines overhead TV screens on domestic United June 2011
Economy overhead TV screens on domestic United
For a start, there is inflight entertainment on United domestic, with basic overhead television screens. There are short TV programmes on flights over 1.5 hours (generally of a woeful quality), while on films over three hours there is usually a decent film. No food is available for flights of less than three hours, while on flights up to five hours, snackboxes are for sale. Over five or more hours, fresh sandwiches and salads and on the for-sale menu too. At least you can still get water, soft drinks, and coffee on all flights. Beer and wine is sold on most flights over one and a half hours.
United A320 Seats Nov 2011
Economy Class racks of seat at the back of PS

United domestic PS Service

United flights between New York (JFK), San Franciso and Los Angeles are called PS flights. They have special seating - and three classes.

United First PS has an angled-flat seat with a 68-inch pitch, and an individual portable digital media players. There are free four course meals and Sparkling Wine cocktails. A nice touch is access to the International First Class Lounges at Los Angeles, New York-JFK, or San Francisco for all those in United Airlines ps first class.

United Business PS has a recliner with 54 inch pitch, and portable digital media players. There are free meals and drinks, and an invitation to the United Club.

United Economy PS seats in economy (PS Coach Class) on the PS flights are all configured into Economy Plus, giving a pitch of 36 inches in economy, which isn't bad at all.

United Airlines Fleet

The decidedly elderly United Boeing 747 fleet will be retired in 2019 and will be replaced by the new Airbus A350-900.

United has a fairly elderly fleet, with an average age of 14 years. The combined operation of the now merged United airlines and Continental airlines operates a fleet of 702 aircraft which is about three quarters Boeing and a quarter Airbus. United's fleet varies between some OK aircraft, and some decidedly vintage 767s, really really old 757s, and a few 747s that you are amazed make it over the Pacific. Some of the aircraft are up to 17 years old.

One some routes you get a choice of plane. There is a golden rule: if you are flying in economy, the Boeing 777-200/200ER is the aircraft to go for, as it has seatback video screens. However if you are in business, the Boeing 747-400 is the aircraft of choice, as it has proper flat beds. Get it wrong and in economy you have no IFE (on the 747) or in business just an old recliner (on the 777). On old Continental routes, the choice may be between a 777 and 757 - choose the 777 at all costs.

United Feb 2012
United 747

United Boeing 747-400

NEWS: United have finally announced that Boeing 747-400s will receive an uprated inflight entertainment system, replacing the current system of overhead TV monitors showing two films on a loop. Most aircraft will receive wireless streaming video by 2016.

United has a fleet of 24 Boeing 747-400s: the original jumbo jet, but with the modern stretched upper desk. United has slowly been trying to retire its previously large fleet of the 747s. However over the past year it has managed to get rid of just 7 of them.

They are notorious for providing a below average customer experience, particularly down the back. A United Boeing 747 economy review is always poor, thanks to the 1980s designed seat, and the lack of a seatback entertainment system (IFE). Overhead IFE Details.

The United Boeing 747 seat plan comes is just one type across the fleet, now that all aircraft have an updated business class. United seat 374 passengers in their 747s. Alas economy is still the same product from the 1980s, which is notorious as the worst available across the Pacific. For many reasons, passengers chant 'if it's a United Boeing, I'm not going.' All seats do however have access to XM Satellite Radio, which provides 19 channels of inflight radio. That's the best you are going to get.

747-400 at Sydney Oct 2002 United 747-400 at Sydney

Economy seats have a 31inch pitch, and are in a conventional 3-4-3 layout, however despite the recent refit of the 747s with Economy Plus, none of the 747s have individual video screens in economy, and just have overhead TVs. A United Airlines economy review is generally very negative compared to any other airline because of just this issue. This is shame, as a refit of the economy cabin delivered new seat upholstery, carpet, lighting, bathroom fittings and replaced the projection screen at the front of the cabin with ceiling LCD television screens. It just beggars belief that the airline didn't bother with seatback TVs. Row 46 is by far the best, with a window and loads of legroom by the emergency exit. Economy Plus are in rows 35 to 44, all over the wing with a very poor view. Row 35 is an emergency exit, but without a window (but there is a window in the door ahead of you). It is also right next to the water cooler outside the loos. United 747 Economy Plus seating gives a 31 inch pitch: it's is at best marginally better, although of course there is still not IFE other than the radio. Infact the only diversion is the help-yourself snack bar at the back of the plane which is very welcome, both for the selection of drinks and nibbles and the pleasantly long walk down the generally crowded aisles.

United Feb 2012
Business Class Facing backwads seating, with 4 abreast in the middle

Business Class on United's 747 is in an odd layout, with half the seats facing backwards, and with 4 abreast in the middle. It's unusual, and a United Business Class review is generally poor because of this.

United Business Class Seat Boeing 747 Feb 2012
Business Class United Airlines Boeing 747
It comes with 52 seats, either with a 2-4-2 layout on the lower deck (rows 6-10) or upstairs (rows 12-17) with a more private 2-2 seat configuration. The seat has a slight taper, as you put your feet into a small foot well cubby-hole. There is a 15-inch TV screen with AVOD, and a 110volt power socket which takes all plugs except UK/HongKong/Singapore. There are also two USB ports for charging portable electronics. Upstairs is generally quieter than the lower cabin, because children are rarely seated here, however there is no guarantee. Avoid the rear row upstairs which is right next to the galley, and where the crew tend to hang out and chat. It is the seat which is really unusual. United have half the seats facing backwards, and seats are in pairs, meaning four of you can gather around a table. There is a distinct lack of privacy, and it is rather like being on a train. The seats downstairs are slightly longer, folding down to a flat bed of 78 inches, versus 74 on the upper deck, but both are 23 inches wide. The general rule for the best seat on a United 747 in Business Class is if you are tall, sit on the lower deck, while those under 5 foot 10 can take the upper.

First Class has just 12 seats. United 747 First Class reviews are generally pretty positive, although United's seat still lacks some way behind its competitors.

United Boeing 777

United 777 at San Francisco Dec 2003 United 777 at San Francisco
NEWS: United is replacing the seats on its Boeing 777s. The new United cabins feature Suites in First, alternating backwards-and forwards facing flat bed seats in business, and AVOD seatback TVs in economy on 777-200ER aircraft.

The real confusion about United's fleet comes with the vast number of Boeing 777s which are used for the overwhelming bulk of United's long haul flights. United has no less than seven different variants of the Boeing 777, following the merger with Continental, and flies 74 of these large twin engine aeroplanes.

Cabins vary markedly between the various models, and it pays to be aware of the model number, and if the aircraft comes from the old United or Continental fleet.

777 at Paris CDG August 2004 Paris CDG United Airlines Boeing 777

United Airlines was the launch customer and primary design partner in conjunction with Boeing during the development of the 777, so not surprisingly, it loves them. This doesn't explain however why so many of the aircraft are in such poor and tired condition. The lack of modern onboard frills is notable, particularly in the premium classes. The complete opposite is true with ex-Continental Boeing 777s, which has a superb modern Business Class cabin. These are the aircraft of choice - alas you generally won't get one unless flying out of an old Continental hub, such as Houston.

The fleet can basically be broken down to the basic 777-200 model, which comes in three variants of domestic/Latin, old First (8F), and revamped cabin (12F). There are also the Extended Range 777-200ER models, with either the United trans-Atlantic (12F), and trans-Pacific (10F), or renewed cabin (8F) models with the new seats, plus 22 which were inherited from Continental (no First, 50C).

United 777 at LHR Dec 2003 London Heathrow LHR United Airlines Boeing 777 at the gate

Domestically there are two-class planes, with 36 in business, and 312 in economy, however 89 are Premium Economy, or Economy Plus (E+) seats. There is no inflight entertainment, with the domestic subfleet only featuring overhead monitors and projectors. These United domestic Boeing 777s are used on some routes which aren't domestic at all, such as the Caribbean, and parts of Latin America. Occasionally they drift even further afield, but should be avoided if you have a choice.

Internationally, there are two versions of the United Boeing 777-200. The latest version has 8 First Class Suites and 49 new Business class flat bed seats, although only about half the fleet has been converted. There are also two versions of the older 777 cabin. The main version is called "Worldwide 1" by United and has three rows of Economy are used for crew rest seats. In Worldwide 2, these are available for United Mileage Plus elites. Worldwide 2 is mostly used for trans-Pacific flights, where there is a crew rest area in the hold, accessed by a flight of steps.

United Economy Class Seat Boeing 777 Feb 2012
Economy Class United Airlines Boeing 777 new 3-3-3 layout

In economy you can easily tell which version you are on. The new 777 has a 3-3-3 layout in economy, and has AVOD. The old 777s have a 2-5-2 layout, and video on a loop.

For the revamped Boeing 777-200 all seats feature Audio-Video-on-Demand (AVOD). In First there eight seats, with two rows in a 1-2-1 layout, with United First Suites. The seat is quite private and features a fold down flat and level 6 feet-6 inches long bed. There is a 15-inch screen TV Screen with and noise-cancelling headphones, a USB power port, and a socket (at US 110v, and which only takes US plugs). United Boeing 777 new Business Class has a pretty good seat - the seats are 6 feet-4 inches long and have 180 degrees of recline, creating a fully flat bed. There is a large TV screen and noise reducing headphones. However it is the seat design that is wacky, not to say offbeat. The seats alternate between front-facing and rear-facing - so you can if you want have four of you gathered around what seems like a communal table around the middle pairs of seats. If you want privacy, go for the window seats. There are two separate Business Class cabins, with two rows (6&7) at the front, and three rows ( 8, 9 & 10) behind the central galley. There are 104 Economy Plus Seats, in a standard 3-3-3 layout and then 117 economy seats, with a 31 inch pitch.

United Feb 2012
Business Class BusinessFirst Suites (ex-continental) on the Boeing 777-200ER

For the older Boeing 777-200 all seats have a seatback TV, but there is no AVOD: just 9 channels of video on a loop. In First there are three rows in a 1-2-1 layout, with an OK, but pretty old, 78 inch long flat bed, and a 12 inch TV screen. You can either watch films on a loop or on compact videocassettes. The older United Boeing 777 Business Class seat is equally poor - it just has a basic recliner-type seats with a pitch of 55 inches and 150 degree recline. It is pretty poor. There is laptop power but it needs an EmPower adapters. There are two rows of Business Class in a small mini cabin (rows 8 and 9) at the front, and then five more rows (row 11-15) after the galleys in a 2-3-2 layout. True it makes it easier to get to a window seat, but there is a danger you'll end up in the middle of the 3 rows. A united Boeing 777 business class review shows everyone prefers the smaller cabin at the front, but row 11 is good being a bulkkead, and is definitely the seat of choice, with two windows, however it is right next to the galley and the forward business loos. There are 77 Economy Plus Seats, in a very unusual 2-5-2 layout (most airlines use 3-3-3) and then 114 economy seats, with a 31 inch pitch. A United Airlines Economy Class review typically says that these are very poor, which they are, with a TV screen but no AVOD. The good thing about the 2-5-2 layout in economy is that it accomodates couples so well: with an average load of 80%, noone has to sit in the middle seat, but the lack of AVOD is frustrating, and on heavily loaded routes such as to Tokyo or London, it can be a nightmare.

United Boeing 777ERs that are ex-Continental Boeing 777-200ER are easy to spot, and by far the best. To identify them see that they have just two classes: business and economy. Called BusinessFirst Class, the business class seat has 50 seats which are in a privacy shell which electronically reclines to a six foot six inch (2 meter) long totally flat and level bed, with lumbar support, leg and foot rests. It has a large TV screen with AVOD, featuring a 10.6-inch screen with touch-screen or handset controls.. There are two business cabins: row 1 to 5, and then 8 to 11, with all seats in a 2-2-2 layout. Economy has a standard 31 inch pitch, and 226 seats in a 3-3-3 layout. There are two economy cabins, with row 16 to 27 then 32 to 45. Avoid row 21 as it is missing a window. There is no premium economy on these aircraft. The 9-inch screen in economy is a very good touch-screen with 250 movies, 350 TV shows, and 25 interactive games.

United 757 at San Francisco June 2011
San Francisco 757 PS Service plus a domestic 757, in old & pre-merge liveries

United Boeing 757

United operates a large fleet of 96 Boeing 757s. Most have two classes, with 24 first class seats up the front. However on PS (Premium Service) New York-Los Angeles and New York-San Francisco routes there are three classes, with First, Business, and an all-Economy Plus main cabin.
United 757 economy class seat Nov 2011
United 757 economy class seating

The standard United Boeing 757-200 has First Class in the nose. This isn't first at all, but really just a bit of a larger seat, with a 38 inch pitch, and a 20.5 inch width. There are 24 seats in Rows 1 to 6, having a 2-2 layout. Economy has a 17 inch pitch, and is divided into Economy Plus Class, with a 36 inch pitch and 50 seats , and then basic Economy Class with a 31 inch pitch and 108 seats in a 3-3 layout. A few of these aircraft have inflight EmPower DC Powerports, which require an adapter.

The special United Boeing 757-200 PS - Premium Service versions shuttle between San Francisco and Los Angeles to New York JFK. United First PS has an angled-flat leather seat with a 68-inch pitch, in 3 rows of 2-2. They have an individual portable digital media players. United Business PS has a recliner with 54 inch pitch, and portable digital media players. United Economy PS is in effect an Economy Plus seat, giving a pitch of 36 inches in economy, which isn't bad at all. All aircraft have inflight Wifi, and there is 110v at seat power using a US style socket: any other type of plug requires no adapter.

United 757 at Las Vegas Nov 2011
Las Vegas United 757 in Battleship Grey livery

The United Boeing 757-200 which have come from the Continental fleet, can again be divided up into two sub fleets. At least Continental has standardized their exit rows to be rows 20 and 21 across their fleet. On Domestic ex-Continental United Boeing 757s, Business First Class has a 55 inch pitch, and a 20 inch width with 16 seats. Economy Class has a 31 inch pitch, in a 3-3 layout. On International ex-Continental United Boeing 757s BusinessFirst class has a 58 inch pitch, and a 23 inch width. There are 16 seats which go fully flat, in 4 rows of 2-2. Economy Class has a 31 inch pitch, and has 159 seats with 5 inches recline. The layout is 3-3. All seats have seatback televisions.

United Boeing 767

United's Boeing 767s are to be retired from service in 2019 and replaced by Boeing 787-800s.

United Airlines has a vast, rather elderly, fleet of no less than 59 Boeing 767s which are used on medium and long haul routes, including many routes to South America.

United 767 at San Francisco June 2011
San Francisco United 767 in mid-year post-merger livery

If you thought United had said goodbye to it's fleet of Boeing 767-200ERs think again. They retired in 2005, but they returned to service following its merger with Continental. There are eight in the fleet. All feature Continentals signature 777-style interior, with 25 seats in Business and 149 in economy.

There are many more United Boeing 767-300ER - no less than 35. The 13 in use on domestic and Hawaii routes are being retrofitted with United's new Business Class, plus Economy Plus seats. The remaining are longhaul, and are some of the few four-class 767s in existance, with 6 in First, 26 in Business Class, 71 in Economy Plus and 80 in economy. If you can possibly get it, sit in rows 13 and 14 on the 767s, as these receive Business Class service despite being sold as economy seats: they are physically located within the Business cabin, but many frequent flyers know this, and specifically request these seats.

Finally, there are 16 United Boeing 767-400ER which United acquired in the merger with Continental. United is slowly renovating these Boeing 767s, adding amenities like flat bed seats in Business class, seatback TVs in all classes, and economy plus.

United 737 at Seattle June 2011
Seattle United 737 in early post-merger livery

United Boeing 737

United did retire all of it's Boeing 737 fleet, and replace them with Airbus aircraft. Within months of the last one disappearing, the airline merged with Continental, and once again there is a large fleet of Boeing 737s flying in United colours.
United Continental Business Class seat - ex CO seat on a 737 - June 2011
United Business Class seating on an ex-Continental 737

There are 27 of the geriatric Boeing 737-500. These have with only two rows in business class, and overhead CRT monitors. However on the 737-500, United provide full sized business seats in a 2+2 format in the business cabin - which is separated by the usual curtain from (3+3 formation) cattle class. Retirement of these planes will come in the next few years.

Of the latest version of the 737, United have 36 Boeing 737-700 with 3 rows of business, a massive 130 of the 737-800 with 4 rows of business, and 12 of the super-streched Boeing 737-900 with five rows. It can be distinguished from the older version by seemingly outsized wingtiplets, and is by far a better choice than taking the old 737-500.

All of United's Boeing 737s come from the Continental fleet, and remain as they were in terms of interior. The very latest of the new version of United 737s feature a rare delight - satelite seatback TV.

United Airbus 319 at Chicago June 2011
Chicago United Airlines Airbus 319 in post-merger livery

United Airlines Airbus A319/A320

United Continental Business Class seat - A320 - June 2011
United Business Class seating on an Airbus A320
United operates 97 of the larger Airbus A320-200, where there are 12 seats in First Class, 36 in E+ and 90 in economy, there are also 55 of the smaller A319, seating 8 in First and 110 in economy with LCD video screens in the aisles.

All economy seats are in a 3-3 layout in economy, which has a very standard Airbus seat, with little to recommend or veto it.

On the A320 in economy Row 10 and Row 11 are the overwing emergency exit - if you ask to sit here, you will get 2 inches more legroom. The rather squat A319s has only one overwing ejectable window - sit here, in row 10, and you'll get 2 inches extra legroom.

United ERJ at San Francisco June 2011
San Francisco United Airlines ERJ

United Airlines ERJ 145

United Continental Business Class seat - ERJ - June 2011
United Single seat on the left of an ERJ
United Airlines have a small, but growing, fleet of Embraer ERJ-145 (ER4), which are used on small minor regional routes.

The cabin is very crampt, and it has a unique 1-2 layout of the cabin. This layout is actually preferred by many flyers once you get used to it, as the many solo flyers on commuter routes like the solo seats on the left hand side. Beware that storage is very limited on this plane, with only tiny two inch high overhead compartments on the right side of the cabin: for most bags you will have to leave them, and collect them, on the airbridge. There is of course no entertainment or power onboard.

Continue to inflight entertainment reviews
San Francisco United A330 June 2011
San Francisco An Airbus 320 at the gate