United Airlines sprucing up its 747s for the last time

United, which took most people by surprise last week when CEO Glenn Tilton revealed that it was shaping up for a big aircraft buy, also made clear that it won’t be taking A380s or 747s. No real surprise there of course.

Anyway, meanwhile it’s putting lie-flat seats and some decent IFE in its remaining widebodies, including the 747 in the timelapse movie below. Gershwin fans should turn up the volume.

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3 Responses to United Airlines sprucing up its 747s for the last time

  1. Phil June 10, 2009 at 1:52 pm #

    It’s about time United! Now if you upgrade your inflight meal offerings I might consider you when for my cross-Atlantic flights when I have the choice between you and Lufthansa.

  2. BobH June 10, 2009 at 7:02 pm #

    I flew for United for 28 years and held several Flight Operations management positions during that time. I didn’t understand then and don’t understand now how the cost justification managers make their decisions on desirable aircraft types/variants. I hold ratings on 727, 737-200/300, 747-100/200/400 & SP as well as 777. I flew C-141 & C-5 aircraft in the military. I am familiar with Airbus products and did contract work at Boeing before joining UAL. I understand cost per seat mile and revenue per seat mile. I also understand and was involved in ETOPS operations and certification (long range overwater on two engine aircraft special requirements). 747-400 costs per seat mile are nearly identical to those of 777 since aircraft pilot pay differential was eliminated. 747-400 has significant payload/range advantages. A 777 can fly almost as far as a 747-400, but not with a full load. I do not know the differences between the 787 and 747-800. What I do know is I consider the 747-400 to be the safest, most reliable and flexible aircraft in my personal experience. For the sake of United’s future, I certainly hope a comprehensive review of all variables is undertaken before an optimal aircraft purchase decision is made. Fuel costs are but one of those variables.

  3. Johnny June 16, 2009 at 3:51 am #

    @BobH, yes, you are totally right, except your suggestion flies against the nature of the human beast. Can you really think of ANY time that people have chosen to stay where they were, rather than attempt newer, riskier, maybe not-as-good experimentation?

    There is a very good chance that our species’ demise will be in part because of our reckless tendencies, coupled with our arrogance and ignorance. I would not disagree. But that is why we did not stay with DC-3s, which were excellent flying machines. And it is also why we did not stay on the ground.

    Personally, I think you are right, and I think this human nature of ours will in fact give our species only a few more years to live. Regardless of the price, though, people will never, ever stop. They just won’t. It could be aircraft design or chocolate chip cookies or computers: no matter how excellent the accomplishment, it is never, ever for the long haul. Not when new ideas (good or bad) are circulating.

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