Speaking in Sydney yesterday, United CEO Jeff Smisek touched on a number of areas we’ve been eagerly waiting to hear about:
-No Ch 9 (ATC communications) coming to CO aircraft–two expensive
-No timeframe on determining the future of three-cabin first class
-Economy product on UA 747’s leaves much to be desired
-Hopes to have PTV on UA747 economy class before A350’s arrive.
The above info comes from Twitter and this article.
I am frankly surprised UA would spend more money on their aging 747 fleet, especially after they recently refurbished the seats in economy and installed new LCD screens to replace the ancient projection system. But UA is at a tremendous disadvantage in terms of IFE when comparing their three competitors on the route. Delta, V Australia, and Qantas all have AVOD at each seat in economy. That makes a 14hr flight go much faster…
I’m sad, but not surprised to see that at least for now, we won’t see Channel 9 coming to the CO fleet. ATC communications is such a great way UA distinguishes itself from others and it just won’t be the same to fly on a "United" flight with no Channel 9 available.
With UA’s 777s being refitted with three cabins, I can’t see tri-cabin first class going away anytime soon. I don’t think CO will ever add a first class cabin, but I am hopeful that premier routes like Sydney, Hong Kong, Tokyo, London, and Dubai will retain a proper first class product.
No breaking news, but at least we now have a glimmer hope that the old 747s might finally get PTVs at each seat. That’s something to cheer.
Yeah, I’m as equally disappointed Channel 9 will not be coming to Continental. The “too expensive” bit sounds like BS to me, but I could be wrong. Most of the things I’ve heard come out of Smisek’s mouth have been pretty frank and honest, so maybe I’ll give him that one. Still waiting to hear the BIG news about economy plus. PTVs would be incredibly welcome, as would 110-v power in coach!
The thing is, the IFE on the vast majority of the domestic fleet is not configured for audio only channels. Thus, there are some major connections and equipment installation that would have to be done to enable channel 9, and then there is the whole process of getting a STC for the modifications, which when weighed as a cost-benefit analysis, is probably not worth it
It won’t be the same to fly United without Channel 9 available? Too often that already happens when captains exercise their discretion to turn it off!
Re SYD, another quasi-competitor is AC (via YVR) which also has great AVOD.
@CP@YOW: I’ve had extremely good luck with Channel 9 this year–almost every flight the last few months has had it.
Great point. I love AC and their AVOD system is great.