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United makes big changes to Transcontinental flights

On Tuesday, United president Scott Kirby hints at installing lie-flat seats on a few 737 Max 10's that United has on order. Today, United confirms the move, adding that the airline will retire its' pre-merger United 757's.

This type of change seems to have come from the competition United is receiving from other transcontinental operators, namely Jetblue. Jetblue currently offers lie-flat seating on identical transcontinental routes that United operates. Some popular competitive routes are BOS-SFO/LAX, EWR/JFK-SFO/LAX, in addition to other routes like EWR/IAD-SEA.

The current 757-200 aircraft that United uses on its Transcontinental service is a mix between 15 pre-merger United, and 40 pre-merger Continental aircraft. With 28 and 16 lie-flat seats on each aircraft respectively. The 15 pre-merger United aircraft are designated to fly the premium transcontinental routes; however, the few of the 40 international configured, pre-merger Continental 757-200 also fly this route. Because of this, its reasonable to believe that United would configure the designated transcontinental 737 MAX 10's with at least 16 seats up front.

A United 757-200. Image courtesy of TheFlight.info

It is still unclear how the layout of these new lie-flat seats on the new 737 MAX 10 will look like. However, some have speculated that United will install its new Polaris seats, although very unlikely. A more reasonable seat would be a 2-2 layout similar to the ones currently on the airlines 757-200 and select wide bodies.

When executed, United will be the first US airline to have a 737 MAX equipped with lie-flat seating.