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Sussing Out United Airlines’ New Seats

What changes made the upgrade list?

A new United Airlines airplane seat
Photo: Courtesy of United

Beginning next year, the Chicago-based carrier plans to install what spokeswoman Karen May calls “the latest in aircraft seat technology” on more than 500 planes. But who really benefits: you or the airline? Here’s what you can expect on most economy flights.

1. Change: A seat cushion that now rests on a layer of fabric, not metal
Who benefits: You—it’s comfier

2. Change: Thinner, lighter backs
Who benefits: United, which will save on fuel

3. Change: Seat width of 17.3 inches, up from 17.2
Who benefits: You, but barely

4. Change: An extra seat-back pocket
Who benefits: You—fewer trips to the overhead!

5. Change: New leather seat coverings that match on all planes
Who benefits: United, which wants aesthetic consistency

6. Change: An extra three-quarters of an inch of “knee clearance”—the distance from the edge of the cushion to the seat in front of you
Who benefits: You


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