United Continental Holdings has decided to retain United's Economy Plus premium-economy seating on United flights and expand Economy Plus seating to Continental's aircraft beginning...

United Continental Holdings has decided to retain United’s Economy Plus premium-economy seating on United flights and expand Economy Plus seating to Continental’s aircraft beginning in 2012.

“Our customers value Economy Plus and the additional personal space that it provides,” says Jim Compton, chief revenue officer of United Continental Holdings. “Customers who sit in Economy Plus are significantly more satisfied with their travel experience, as are travelers who choose other options that enable them to tailor their travel to their liking.”

United Continental says the decision to maintain and expand Economy Plus seating across the combined fleet marks a significant milestone in the product integration of United Airlines and Continental Airlines.

Today, United offers Economy Plus on all 359 mainline aircraft and more than 150 larger regional jets operated by United Express carriers. When the multi-year conversion process is complete, the company plans to offer Economy Plus on more than 700 mainline aircraft, including all of Continental’s mainline aircraft, as well as larger regional aircraft.

A Boeing 737-800 in the new United Airlines livery successfully completed its first test flight late on a very rainy day in the week ending November 14, 2010, signifying the start of certification for a package of 737 performance improvements. Testing and certification continue through April 2011. Aerodynamic and engine changes included in the package will reduce fuel consumption by 2 per cent, according to Boeing, which is phasing the changes into production from mid-2011 through early 2012

When fully deployed, the new United’s fleet will include more than 40,000 Economy Plus seats, providing more than 122,000 Economy Plus seats each day. United Continental Holdings says this will be the largest amount of extra legroom economy seating available to customers of any airline in the world.

United introduced Economy Plus in 1999, offering up to five inches of additional legroom to customers seated in the forward section of United Economy. Customers with elite status in United’s Mileage Plus and Continental Airlines’ OnePass frequent-flyer programs may confirm seat assignments in Economy Plus, when available.

Customers may also purchase seat assignments in Economy Plus when making reservations via united.com and continental.com, through a reservation agent, or during the check-in process at home or at the airport.

Continental currently offers extra-legroom seats and will continue to offer the option to travelers until its aircraft are reconfigured with United’s Economy Plus seating. United Continental says OnePass and Mileage Plus elite members may confirm extra-legroom seats at no charge, and other customers may purchase seat assignments for extra-legroom seats.

United Continental is continuing to reconfigure United and Continental aircraft with new lie-flat seats in first and business class. It has already installed the new lie-flat seats on 112 aircraft in the combined fleet, which United Continental claims is more aircraft than any other U.S.-based carrier. In addition, more than 160 Continental aircraft feature DIRECTV television programming.

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