United Airlines Will Soon Have The Best Transcon Service

by John Harper

United Airlines is about to very easily pass competitors American Airlines and Delta Air Lines in its transcontinental business class offering.

Unfortunately, the new United service will only apply to a limited number of the roughly two-dozen daily premium transcon flights United operates.

United announced the first routes for its Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner Monday, several daily transcontinental New York City to Los Angeles and San Francisco services. The state-of-the-art 787-10, largest of the Boeing Dreamliner family, will become the nicest jets flying regularly between U.S. cities, by a long shot.

United 787-10 Dreamliner routes Newark Los Angeles San Francisco

United Airlines will install its premium economy seats, first-class width recliners with leg rests, on the transcontinental Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners. Image by United Airlines.

The 787-10 will feature 44 of United’s newest Polaris seat, plus 21 of the airline’s Premium Plus premium economy cabin. That will make United first to offer frequent premium economy service on transcontinental U.S. routes. (American currently uses a Boeing 777-200 with premium economy seats to fly once daily between Los Angeles and Miami.)

United hasn’t yet released images with specifics on the economy cabin in the 787-10, but it’s doubtful the airline would change much from the current cabin used on the 787-9. The nine-across economy cabin is a bit of a squeeze on long-haul flights, but will be an improvement over the 757s United uses for most of its transcontinental services.

United Dreamliner routes

Economy Plus seats on the United 787-9 Dreamliner.

Beginning Jan. 7, United will operate Dreamliner flights daily to Los Angeles, a 7 a.m. departure arriving at 9:49 a.m. and a 4 p.m. departure arriving at 6:53 p.m. United will initially fly just one Dreamliner per day to San Francisco, a 4 p.m. departure arriving at 7:13 p.m.

The new services aren’t appearing in award calendar, yet, and United didn’t release specific times for eastbound flights.

The airline is adding over 700 new seats on transcon routes with the new service, 125 of which will be premium seats.

Plush Surrounds

To compare, Delta Air Lines is currently the only airline to offer all-aisle access in business class on regular transcontinental service on between New York and the west coast. Delta uses decades-old Boeing 767s on that route, equipped with basic, staggered business class seats with small footwells sandwiched underneath side tables.

Transcontinental service United Dreamliner 787

The Delta One 767 bed, offered on many of Delta’s transcontinental services.

American serves all New York premium transcontinental services with specially equipped Airbus A321 single-aisle jets that have economy, business and first class cabins. Business class is provided in a reliable but dated B/E Diamond seating product — the same that Delta and United use on transcontinental Boeing 757 jets.

United polaris, American Airlines transcontinental New York Los Angeles San Francisco business class seat

AA’s transcon business class seats used on the Airbus A321. Image by American Airlines


New York to California passengers used to the current offerings on classic jet aircraft will undoubtedly be impressed by the new Polaris seating and cavernous Dreamliner cabin. The Dreamliners will have higher cabin humidity, will be pressurized to a lower altitude and are noticeably quieter than any of the jets other airlines use on transcon flights.

We don’t know if this will become a permanent feature on the highly competitive transcontinental routes. United initially operated a single 777-300ER, with the new Polaris seats, on the Newark to San Francisco route, but has since replaced that jet with a stripped down domestically configured 777-200.

United flyers and really anyone who can fit these flights into their schedule would be well-served to actively seek out this aircraft on transcontinental flights next year.



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Chris Dong October 1, 2018 - 2:03 pm

I wonder if this is the start of Premium Economy seats being sold domestically within the continental US, which I am sure will confuse some consumers. United might be the first to offer seats for sale domestically in Economy, Economy Plus, Premium Plus, and Polaris.

Terence October 1, 2018 - 2:15 pm

This seems more likely for crew training than upping the game on transcon. Unfair to crown UA for the temp offering. Would you also say DL A350 was the best domestic plane during their crew training period? Besides, UA doesn’t give Polaris Lounge access to J pax while AA does. On the lounge part UA is behind by another long shot.

John Harper October 3, 2018 - 9:10 am

Hi Terence,
This is not a training flight that we know of. This is a regularly scheduled thrice daily service that is continued through the end of currently available schedules.
I do not believe Delta regularly operated the Airbus A350 between New York and west coast cities for any duration.

Ryan October 1, 2018 - 2:21 pm

Delta actually uses a mix of 767’s and 757’s on their transcontinental routes between JFK-LAX/SFO. The 757’s do no offer direct aisle access for all passengers.

John Harper October 3, 2018 - 9:04 am

Yes. That’s why I said the 767s offer direct aisle access. I did not say the Boeing 757s offer direct aisle access.

Rjb October 1, 2018 - 3:34 pm

Your headline is misleading. It may be the best or newest aircraft in transcontinental service but it is an outright falsehood to state that United has the best service for anything. Noted is a distant fourth among the Top 3 legacy carriers

LF October 1, 2018 - 4:04 pm

Those slimline seats in economy are seriously uncomfortable. Avoid being on those flights for more than an hour or two, for sure.

jg October 1, 2018 - 4:26 pm

Historically airlines would put their newest planes on domestic routes to train their staff, then move them onto the international routes they were meant for. I can’t see United using a brand new dreamliner on this route only, unless they are also planning it as a positioning flight like AA does with their 777 service between MIA-LAX and 777/787/767 service between LAX-DFW.

And to note on United’s service, over the past 2 years I have experienced nothing but good flights with them. Can’t say the same for AA at all. Haven’t had a chance for any DL flights.

phoenix00 October 2, 2018 - 1:05 am

“Best” except for Air Canada’s 787-9 between EWR and YVR, or the same aircraft type between LAX and YYZ, or their 777-300ER and A330-300 between YVR and YYZ/YUL…..

John Harper October 20, 2018 - 3:04 pm

But of course, Air Canada is the only serious competitor operating on those routes.

Jan Dommerholt October 3, 2018 - 6:25 am

I was recently on w flight from IAD to AMS and upgraded to Business. I was in for a surprise. Although I was in a brand new plane, seat 10L was so tight and tiny that I could barely fit. Even the flight attendant agreed and apologized! The new design of the B767a -300 reflects United’s attitude to cramp as many customers into a plane even in business class. The seat was so narrow that I could only sleep on one side. On my right was a rigid wall with controls of the chair leaving no room for my knees. The outlets were more or less behind me and I could barely reach them. The space for my feet was so tight that my feet did not really fit. The seat controls did not work at all when I tried to get back into the seated position! My seat was as superb example of extremely poor design!

It was such a disappointment that United airlines does not even come close to the business class of many of its competitors such as Qatar, Emirates, and Kuwait, but also of its star alliance partners such as Lufthansa. I think I may have to avoid United on international flights and book with Lufthansa instead. This upgrade was a total waste of money!

Eric C October 3, 2018 - 8:15 am

Those economy seats are no selling point. They are extremely uncomfortable. No body likes them. There is no back support, they are hard as a rock, and sound like you are sitting on cheap plastic. United used to have decent seating, but they, again, have downgraded to those awful seats.

Why Global Traveler Got It Right: United MileagePlus Is Number One – Baltic Blog December 28, 2018 - 4:15 pm

[…] Therefore, it didn’t surprise me one bit when Global Traveler magazine voted United’s MileagePlus loyalty program the Best Overall Frequent-Flyer Program in the world for the 15 consecutive year! Global Traveler is a publication written for mostly frequent business and luxury travelers. As United keeps improving services for business travels this award makes sense.  […]


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