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A Review Of United's New Premium Plus Seat From IAD to FRA

Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:06 pm

Since Premium Plus technically doesn’t exist yet on aircraft, the seats are currently sold as Economy Plus. I was lucky to be seated in 20A, a future Premium Plus seat. As a side note, we had requested an upgrade with miles, although that didn’t get cleared as the flight booked full in business class, even though two days before the flight, there were 20 seats available in business class!

We arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport a few hours before departure so we would have enough time to eat dinner at the terminal and visit the lounge. The first thing I noticed when we came in sight of the airport is that the main terminal had holiday lights on it. The interior of the terminal was lit up by green, red, and blue lights – a nice way to celebrate the holiday season and make the Dulles main terminal look a little less miserable. We then checked in via the premier access line due to the United Club card (there was no line, so it took less than five minutes) and then were through TSA Pre-Check in no time.

Dulles Airport Holiday Lights

We then took the underground train over to Terminal C. The underground train was built as a replacement to the Mobile lounges, which used to take passengers to the plane and to all terminals. Terminal D, unfortunately, doesn’t have a train stop, so going to D, you still have to take a Mobile Lounge. Also, the train station for Terminal C was built a few hundred meters to the south of Terminal C, because that is the location for the proposed replacement terminal (that hasn’t actually been suggested yet; there are only vague plans to build a replacement terminal to the “temporary” terminals C and D of the 1980s that probably will just be finalized in two or three decades) which is south of the current terminal. Therefore, after you get off of the train, you have to take a 5-10 minute walk underneath the tarmac to get to the terminal.

After getting to Terminal C, we ate dinner at a restaurant in the terminal. Next, we headed to the United Club. The lounge had lots of seating, including high chairs for working, blue recliner chairs, a bar, regular tables, and the standard light brown chair. There were also items available at the buffet such as fruit, cookies, soup, brownies, and crackers.
After visiting the lounge, I headed to the gate at the end of Terminal C. Since there is a walkway for arriving international passengers between the gate area and the plane, there wasn’t any good way to take a good picture of the plane, especially because it was dark. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to the gate that early, so there were already many people in Group 2 ahead of us. This, unfortunately, meant that I couldn’t get good pictures of the cabin without people in it.

The Flight:
The first thing I noticed on the plane was the new Polaris cabin. The seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration, and are extremely modern and looked extremely comfortable. I was able to take some pictures of the cabin on the way in and on the way out of the plane, all which are posted down below. Additionally, I had a look at the economy class cabin. It is in a 3-4-3 configuration and the seats were extremely cramped. They are much narrower than the previous configuration of economy class which is in a 3-3-3 configuration.

A United Polaris Seat

The Economy Plus Cabin

I finally was then able to test out the new Premium Plus seats. They are pretty similar to domestic first class seats and are pretty much identical to American’s and Delta’s new premium economy seats. However, the seats are also narrower than domestic first class seats and also have leg rests and greater recline. Each seat has a leg rest that comes out from the bottom of the seat a few degrees; it really is more useful for shorter people than taller people. However, the leg rest still made the seat and sleeping more comfortable for me despite me being on the taller side.

The seat also had much more recline than in economy class, making sleeping much easier. In bulkhead seats (like the seat I was in) there is a footrest that comes out of the leg rest that can be extended based on your height. In non-bulkhead seats, the footrest is underneath the seat in front of you. The controls could manually be controlled using a console in the armrest. In the armrest, there is a little storage area which is great for storing a water bottle or a tablet or phone while you are eating, resting, or using the IFE.

Additionally, there was a controller for the entertainment system (the IFE came out of the armrest or for most seats, was on the seat in front of you). The entertainment system was new, and even in the bulkhead seats, it was large. The tray table was in the armrest and was larger than in economy. In terms of amenities, since the flight still was labeled as economy plus, I only got United’s small and scratchy pillow and a thin blanket. Once the Premium Plus service is introduced in March, passengers will get Saks Fifth Avenue bedding and will receive better meals. Overall, the seat was very comfortable just for a short transatlantic flight.

View Of The Premium Plus Cabin

United Premium Plus Leg Rest

United Premium Plus Tray Table

United Premium Plus IFE Screen

United Premium Plus Seat Controls & IFE Remote

I started watching a movie during boarding, but when it was time for pushback, the flight attendant told me that I had to stow the in-flight entertainment system, which is to be expected for a bulkhead seat. We then soon pushed back (on time) and after a short taxi to the runway were on our way to Frankfurt. After takeoff, I decided to go right to sleep, as I had already eaten dinner and I would want as much sleep as I could get on such a short redeye flight. The Premium Plus seats really did help to sleep – they were very comfortable compared to economy class, and I got to sleep much faster than I would have in economy class.

About an hour before landing, the cabin lights were turned on, and I woke up. Overall, I slept around 4 hours, which is pretty good for me for not having a flat bed seat. Throughout the night, the Flight Attendant put a small water bottle on my armrest which was a nice touch, especially because it didn’t wake me up. I find United’s transatlantic breakfasts to actually be quite reasonable; I was served a (warm) croissant and strawberry yogurt, both which were very good for in economy class. I didn’t really have much interaction with the crew, but the crew seemed professional and efficient.

About fifteen minutes before landing, the crew prepared the cabin for arrival and asked that tray tables and seats to be put in the upright position. In Frankfurt, we landed on Runway 25R, which was both a good and a bad thing. The good news was that we got amazing views of the terminal on the left side as we flight just to the right of the terminal upon landing. The bad news was that it was a long taxi to the terminal.

View Approaching Frankfurt

After landing, we still had a long taxi to the terminal. Unfortunately, it then started raining, so the windows had raindrops on them making it hard to take good pictures. The captain then announced that we would be taxiing to a hard stand, and would have to take a bus to the terminal.

We then had to take a bus to the main terminal after disembarking the aircraft. I will cover my transit experience at Frankfurt Airport in my next review, of Lufthansa’s economy class on a Bombardier CRJ 900 from Frankfurt to Hannover. Stay tuned for that review over the coming days.


It was a nice surprise that our plane got upgraded to one of the retrofitted 777-200s – especially since we got to experience the new Premium Plus seat for the price of Economy Plus. The new Premium Plus seats are pretty standard for premium economy, but are extremely comfortable nonetheless and make long-haul flights much more enjoyable. I was able to sleep for the majority of the flight, which is the main goal of redeye flights anyways, vastly due to the seat. The Premium Plus cabin will begin to be in schedules service on March 30 where one will receive enhanced services and food. I overall had a very good flight (due to the upgrade) and look forward to (hopefully) trying out the full Premium Plus experience in the future!

For more photos about this flight, please visit the original posting of this review on my website with the link below.

What do you think of United's new Premium Plus seat?
Posts: 342
Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2008 6:37 pm

Re: A Review Of United's New Premium Plus Seat From IAD to FRA

Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:35 pm

Great review and write up. Im looking forward to my first PP flight in march. Im flying on the 78J from SFO-EWR, although its being sold as econ+, its my way of experiencing the new seats and features.
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Joined: Thu May 27, 1999 4:25 am

Re: A Review Of United's New Premium Plus Seat From IAD to FRA

Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:13 am

I recently did the upgrade to Premium Economy on an AC 789 from Tokyo to Vancouver. This was for a family of three where purchasing the tickets outright would've been about $1600 per person vs. $840 in regular economy. Based on the outbound flight to Seoul we purchased the upgrade as soon as it was open 24 hrs prior to departure from Tokyo. My personal feeling is that on an 8hr+ flight with pitch levels like the one in AC regular economy I will opt for Premium Economy every time from now on. The 787 seat width wasn't a factor since we were three to a single row, but the pitch was probably as bad as water boarding after about 5 hrs..really just too cramped in the face and knees for any kind of reasonable comfort.

I think anyone that flies these new seats long haul will be very tempted to upgrade or pay direct for what is effectively a major step change in comfort. Less than 8 hrs I'd question the value, but beyond that and right around 2X the economy fare I think it's a real sweet spot. I have a feeling that section will start to grow at the expense of both the J and Y class cabins. All in all I'm very excited about this new product and it's adoption by more and more carriers.
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Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 10:15 am

Re: A Review Of United's New Premium Plus Seat From IAD to FRA

Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:43 pm

Great report, thanks for sharing! The product looks really nice. Excited to see the Premium Plus service fully executed.
Posts: 104
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:20 pm

Re: A Review Of United's New Premium Plus Seat From IAD to FRA

Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:23 pm

Very nice report, thank you! It seems United uses the same or at least a very similar seat as Lufthansa’s Premium Economy seat.

Sorry for the 25R approach. It gives you a free airport tour, especially when you need to taxi back to the field. But hey - Schiphol’s Polderbaan is worse than that :)
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