United’s new seat + Delta dumps SFO-NRT + New Star Lounge at LAX

United's new slim line seats for B737s. (United)

United’s new slim line seats for B737s. (United)

United unveiled a newer, thinner seat design this week that looks great, but time will tell how well it performs comfort-wise.

The new seats are sheathed in sculpted blue leather with more ergonomic support. There’s a new mesh net storage space at knee level which is more hygienic; magazines are stored in a higher pocket above the tray table.

New seatbacks on slimline seat on CRJ700 (United)

New seatbacks on slimline seat on CRJ700 (United)

United also points out that it has reduced the weight and volume of the seat, which means better fuel economy. What United does not say is that it can cram more of these newer, thinner lighter seats on each plane, which means more revenue as well.

The Chicago Tribune reports: “[On the CRJ700] The company plans to cut the size of the more-expensive and roomier Economy Plus section in half to 16 seats, while the number of seats in coach will rise to 48 from 28. First class will remain the same with six seats. In total, the planes will have 70 seats up from 66. The legroom for each seat will remain the same, United said.”

Initially United will install the seats on its fleet of smaller CRJ700 aircraft, but eventually we’ll see 60,000 of the new seats on 400 aircraft by 2015.


Just a few days after announcing yet another tranche of flights from the Bay Area (SFO-SEA) Delta quietly pulled its San Francisco-Tokyo flight, effective March 30 2014. Delta spokesperson Anthony Black confirmed the move to TravelSkills:  “We are ending service between SFO and NRT with the last westbound service effectiveFriday, March 28, 2014, and final eastbound service effective Sunday, March 30, 2014. Delta is suspending its nonstop service due to an unstable revenue environment caused by yen devaluation.”

Nonetheless, Delta’s recent bulk up of new flights from SFO (15x per day to LAX; 7 per day to SEA) led to some speculation between The  BAT and SFO officials about market share at SFO. If Delta had kept the Tokyo flight, it would have easily ranked #2 at SFO in terms of seats. But with the elimination of the Narita flight, Delta and Virgin could tie for #2 in terms of number of seats. But then we have to consider the possibility of the American-US Airways merger, which would catapult the merged carrier to #2. In 2012, United had 46% market share at SFO; Virgin had 9% and Delta & Southwest both had 8%.

The swank outdoor terrace at the new Star Alliance lounge at LAX (Chris McGinnis)

The swank outdoor terrace at the new Star Alliance lounge at LAX. Click image for slideshow!(Chris McGinnis)


Last week, TravelSkills snagged a private tour of the new Star Alliance business/first class lounge located inside the renovated Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. Wow! What an improvement.

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The bright new space offers seating for around 400 Business Class and Star AllianceGold passengers, including an exclusive area for First Class passengers. Designed by architectural firm Gensler, the 18,000 square foot lounge features a unique open air terrace, with views of the northern runway towards the Hollywood Hills, and even includes fire pits and a water wall. There are two bars, eight shower rooms, enough electrical outlets to power an army, a buffet including a noodle bar, LEED certification (nice wood floors!) and an excellent collection of photographic art on all walls.

In total, eight Star Alliance member carriers operate out of the Tom Bradley International Terminal – ANA, Asiana Airlines, EVA Air, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, SWISS, THAI and Turkish Airlines. Air New Zealand will move to the terminal in mid-2014

Here’s a slideshow of what we saw!

Chris McGinnis

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  • ubuntu

    Really, really bummed about SFO-NRT…but not surprised. Every time I took the (full) flight to NRT, only a handful of us actually went to Japan. Everyone else was connecting to Shanghai.

    DL wants to make Seattle the Asia-Pacific base, but it’s a pain to connect anywhere. Really making me rethink whether to stay with SkyTeam at this rate.

  • Self

    Flew on the new seats last week. Ouch. But this is completely on course for United…thinning of all their services.

  • PPS

    United. I just flew 1st class (mileage points) SFO-EWR. The equipment was run down and the food was terrible – 1st time in my 69 yrs. that I asked for a different meal. My inedible plate was replaced by barely edible. First time i was on a flight with no in flight entertainment as they expected all to have brought WiFi equipment on board. A flight to JFK was cancelled for lack of enough passengers and we waited while those that were on board merged with our flight. Our flight attended announced in a very blunt way that those with luggage going to JFK were SOL. I would have phrased it, “Those with luggage on board the JFK flight please check with ground attendants at Newark for info re: locating your luggage”,instead of, “I have no idea where your luggage will be”. I was also displeased to learn that a first class ticket does not admit you to the One Pass lounge as it does on International flights.

  • http://www.travelskills.com/ Chris McGinnis

    No, seats are the same width, but the actual seat back is thinner (front to back, not side to side). Make sense? –chris

  • bbinsf

    “Thinner” means narrower? i.e we better all get to the gym?