United Airlines will fly its first Airbus A320 with slim line Recaro seats within the next week, as the airline begins an overhaul of its Airbus fleet cabins.
The Recaro BL3520 seats allow the Chicago-based Star Alliance member to add up to 12 seats to its 97 A320s and six seats to its 55 A319s by reducing pitch by about 2.5cm (1in) throughout the economy cabin. The seats include power outlets.
The A320 will have 42 economy plus and 96 economy seats, up from 36 in economy plus on some aircraft and 90 in economy on all aircraft, says United. First class will still have 12 seats.
The airline plans to complete the seat installations in 2014, three years after announcing the upgrades.
Company executives have said that the new seats will result in a slight increase in available seat miles after the programme is complete.
United is also installing Panasonic Avionics' Ku-band satellite internet to the Airbus aircraft and will begin offering on-demand streaming video for wi-fi enabled devices later this year, it says in an employee newsletter on 9 May. The first A320 with Recaro seats will be equipped with wi-fi.
The airline began offering wi-fi on two A319s in January.