United Unveils New, Slimmer seats

Oct. 03--United Airlines has unveiled a thinner seat design it plans to roll out on about 500 planes that fly throughout North America.

The seats appear to be the same width as United's current ones, but the backs and bottoms are thinner. The Chicago-based airline refused to comment on the dimensions of the seats, and how they compare to the current ones. United also didn't comment on whether the slimmer seats would allow them to fit more seats in.

The ability to fit in more seats -- even just a few -- would be a revenue driver for the airline because it would allow it to fly more customers without adding flights.

The thinner seats are much lighter than the ones they are replacing, United said, which will allow it to save on fuel costs.

United says the seats provide more ergonomic features and cushioning for fliers, as well as extra built-in seatback storage. They will also allow for a more consistent look across its domestic fleet, a spokeswoman said, through the addition of these new leather seats.

United is introducing the new seat design first on its regional jets operated by SkyWest Airlines, the smaller aircraft that run many of the shuttle flights between major cities, often frequented by business travelers. It expects to add the new seats on the rest of the regional fleet next.

Ultimately, United plans to install 60,000 seats on more than 500 aircraft, 400 of those within two years.

sbomkamp@tribune.com -- Twitter: @SamWillTravel

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