Two years after United Airlines debuted its ambitious “United Next” program, the first narrowbody aircraft retrofit with modern interiors has entered service.
First A319 Retrofit With New Interior Enters United Airlines Fleet As “United Next” Ramps Up
Linda Jojo, United’s Chief Customer Service Officer shared a trio of pictures on LinkedIn, explaining:
“Flying this weekend on an United Airlines Airbus 319? Maybe it will be on our 1st aircraft that has been retro fit with our Signature interior! Yes — an overhead bin spot for everyone’s carry on. And yes! Seatback entertainment in every seat — complete with Bluetooth connectivity.”
In June 2021 United Airlines announced a plan to retrofit its entire narrbowdy fleet with a new “signature interior” that would include:
- seat-back entertainment in every seat
- Bluetooth technology for easy connections between wireless headphones and the seat-back entertainment screens
- USB and electrical charge ports at every seat
- larger overhead bins to provide space for more carry-on bags
- industry’s “fastest available” in-flight WiFi
- LED lighting
Since then, United has taken delivery of a number of Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 aircraft with new interiors, but it has not introduced a single retrofitted aircraft into service…until now.
N801UA now features the new itinerary and has entered the service. With LED lighting and large seatback monitors, the 25-year-old aircraft now appears quite modern. Today it will be flying from Burlington (BTV) to Chicago (ORD) to Rapid City (RAP) to Denver (DEN) to St. Louis (STL) to Chicago to Colorado Springs (COS). Quite a day!
Training passengers to place their bags upright in the bin will take some time, but the theoretical possibility of fitting everyone’s carry-on bag into the overhead bin is just as important as the mood lighting and IFE screens.
Certainly, it will not take another two years before the next retrofit enters service, but it is not clear yet how fast United will be able to proceed with its retrofit program. There are hundreds of jets to retrofit, including 80 more A319s.
The first United Airlines aircraft has been retrofitted with a new interior, as part of the United Next rollout. This marks an important first step, but now it is time for United to run with this and get the project done. In the meantime, I just flew on a 737 MAX 8 last month with the new interiors and can say that they make a huge difference. These interiors are quite attractive and in the case of the A319, make an old plane look very new.