United rolls out lie-flat beds

United Airlines has revealed details of its new international United Business® experience that will provide customers with the optimal space to work, sleep or relax during long overseas flights.

The international United Business cabin will feature a new seat that reclines to a 180¼, 6-foot, 4-inch lie-flat bed and is designed to provide customers ultimate comfort with more features, space and personalization options during their international travel. Every inch of the innovative, forward- and rear-facing seat configuration is tailored to maximize personal space and privacy. Once the entire modification is completed in late 2009, customers can expect consistent lie-flat seating in United First and United Business across the carrier’s entire international fleet of 97 widebody B767, B747 and B777 aircraft.

The new international United Business is the next milestone in United’s effort to enhance the international premium travel experience for its customers. The company is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade both premium cabins, including the previously announced investment in its luxurious First Class Suite. United will begin introducing the new international United Business along with its First Class Suites in the fall of 2007.

“At United, we’re making the world truly flat for our first and business class customers,” said Graham Atkinson, United executive vice president and chief customer officer. “Our customers will truly appreciate the 180¼, lie-flat seating and world-class amenities being implemented on all international flights. We’re committed to delivering an experience that makes our most valued guests feel more relaxed and rewarded.”

The new international United Business seat is up to 23.5 inches wide and adjusts to a broad range of positions. The innovative forward- and rear-facing design will provide customers a sense of more space and privacy, as well as better access to the aisles. Extensive line-of-sight testing was conducted to ensure that the cabin design provides customers ample privacy, which is created by the height of the in-flight entertainment console and a side seat-divider screen.


Each seat offers audio and video on-demand and a video screen for viewing more than 150 hours of movies and TV programs. At 15.4 inches, the video screen is three times larger than United’s previous business class monitor and better equipped to display video games, children’s programming, audio books and other learning programs. The new international United Business seating will offer 20 channels of stored XM-branded audio. Guests can also create customized playlists using 30 channels of other stored audio. Additionally, an Apple iPod adapter enables customers to play personalized content on the in-flight entertainment system. Both the entertainment system navigation controls and some content will be offered in up to 14 languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Japanese, Portuguese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Dutch, Arabic and Italian.

“We are responding to our customers and delivering a distinct travel experience,” said John Tague, United executive vice president and chief revenue officer. “Our customers travelling in international United Business will be able to relax more comfortably, work more productively and enjoy their experience more fully due to the flexibility and comfort that the new seat provides.”

United is also investing in other onboard enhancements, including exciting new menu selections developed by Chef Charlie Trotter and fine wine offerings from Master Sommelier and Master of Wine Doug Frost. Other elements that will be introduced in the coming months include upgraded premium cabin restrooms, new interiors throughout the entire aircraft and other amenities in the first and business class cabins to create a more relaxed atmosphere.

The new international United Business is part of United’s strategy of providing products and services to meet the different needs of customers, with a particular focus on serving more frequent business travellers. In addition to becoming the only U.S. airline to offer fully flat seats in first and business class cabins on all international widebody aircraft, United is the only U.S. airline that offers four differentiated products on all overseas flights, including United First, United Business, Economy Plus and United Economy.