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United plans premium economy launch in 2019

United Airlines plans to launch its new premium economy class in early 2019, as it dribbles out details on the new product.

Sales of Premium Plus, the Chicago-based carrier's name for the product, will begin in the fourth quarter or in early 2019, for a first quarter 2019 launch, said Andrew Nocella, chief commercial officer of United, during an earnings call on 18 April.

However, the physical seats will begin to appear on aircraft this summer and will likely be sold as United's extra-legroom economy plus product initially, he adds.

"[Premium Plus] further pushes us down the road as segmentation, particularly with the mid-tier cabin," says Nocella. "We’re really confident in its ability to deliver value for the airline."

United aims to generate roughly $1 billion in additional revenue from segmentation, which also includes its new Polaris business class and basic economy fares, by 2020.

The airline released seat maps showing the new product on the Boeing 767-300ER, 777-200 and -300ER, and 787-10 to flight attendants earlier in April. It plans to install 22 premium economy seats on the 767, 24 on both 777 variants and 21 on the 787.

United has not said what aircraft will be the first with Premium Plus.

The carrier plans to have both its Polaris business seats and premium economy on all of its widebody aircraft by the end of 2020, says Nocella. It aims to introduce a retrofitted aircraft with both products, on average, every 10 days through the period.

Polaris, but not Premium Plus, is installed on 19 of the 767-300ERs and 777-300ERs in United's fleet, its website shows.

The airline operates 178 widebody aircraft, including 767-400ERs and 787-8s and -9s, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.

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