United Pulls Lie Flat Business On Transcontinental Routes Without Reducing Fares

The global drop in passenger demand in combination with travel restrictions continues to force carriers to change how they operate. Therefore, from May 4th, United Airlines will pull lie-flat seats from all premium transcontinental flights in a bid to improve efficiency.

United 777
United’s aircraft will also be replaced on transcontinental services. Photo: United Airlines

A change of scene

Much of United’s fleet is currently on the ground, and it is set to slash its flights by 90 percent in May. This move will follow a fall in passenger traffic of 97 percent in April. Therefore, with considerably fewer travelers on board, the airline is putting in measures to be more fuel-efficient.

The Points Guy reports that despite lacking a key pull factor to fly in business class, the price will remain the same. With the majority of people only traveling for essential reasons, aircraft are likely to remain mostly empty. Subsequently, there would naturally be even less demand for people to fork over hundreds of dollars to be in business class. Now there is less of an incentive to upgrade on these transcontinental routes.

The operator usually performs most of its flights between the east and west coasts of the US with a mix of narrowbody and widebody Boeing aircraft. Models such as the 757, 777, and 787 Dreamliner are put to use here. However, to streamline its operations, the firm will now solely operate these services with its 737.

United Airlines Bed
United’s lie-flat seats help passengers get proper sleep on long-distance flights. Photo: United Airlines

Which services will see amendments?

Simple Flying reached out to United for comment on the revisions to its premium offerings. A spokesperson explained which routes have changed:

“Due to the significant drop in premium demand, beginning May 4, we will operate more efficient Boeing 737 aircraft on transcontinental routes between New York/Newark and Los Angeles and San Francisco and between San Francisco and Boston which were previously operated with Boeing 757 aircraft,” the spokesperson told Simple Flying.

“We will continue monitoring and reviewing demand and adjust our schedule as necessary.”

United 737-900
United is proud of the efficiency that it’s 737 aircraft provides. Photo: Getty Images

Tough times

United has always been clear that it is expecting demand to remain low throughout the year. Since the downturn first hit the US aviation industry, United has been preparing for the worst.

Altogether, while flights remain minimal, the airline is trying to make sure they are as efficient as possible. Perhaps, as the suspensions continue, it might consider slightly reducing its business class prices.

Additionally, the airline has been busy performing repatriation flights for those that have been stranded abroad amid the travel restrictions. With people increasingly returning to the US, the need for these services is falling. Ultimately, United will have even fewer planes in the skies over the next few weeks.

What are your thoughts on United changing their setup amid the downturn in activity? Do you think this is a good move for the airline? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.