United Airlines reconfigures its first airliner with new domestic interiors

United Airlines’ first reconfigured narrow-body jet with new cabins entered service as of today, an exciting achievement for the airline.

United is modernizing its domestic aircraft

In June 2021, United made a sensational announcement, as part of their efforts to become more recognizable. The airline has revealed that it will update the interiors of its narrow-body jets, which are primarily used for domestic flights.

The project is called United NEXT, and as part of this, the airline is completely overhauling the cabins of its standard domestic aircraft. This is clearly part of United’s effort to compete more directly with Delta, leaving American a distant third when it comes to product (but Americans don’t seem to care, because as the company’s chief revenue officer explains, American product is its schedule).

Among other things, all narrow-body mainline aircraft will eventually have the following:

  • Seatback entertainment at every seat – First Class has 13 screens, while Economy Class has 10 screens
  • Larger overhead bins
  • High speed wifi
  • AC and USB power outlets at each seat
  • Bluetooth audio connections for in-flight entertainment
  • LED lighting throughout the cabin

For the past two years, United has been taking delivery of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that feature these new cabins. You can expect to find these interiors on approximately 75 aircraft, including all 737 Max 8s, and select 737 Max 9s. This means that many passengers are already enjoying the experience.

United’s Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft already feature these interiors

A reconfigured A319 enters United service for the first time

United promised to reconfigure existing aircraft with these new cabins. Nearly two years after this announcement was made, the first reconfigured aircraft with new interiors entered service. Specifically, the nearly 25-year-old Airbus A319 with registration code N801UA is the first aircraft to be reconfigured using these distinctive interiors.

The plane flew to Melbourne, Florida (MLB) on January 2, 2023, where it completed most of its cabin work. Then on April 26, 2023, the plane flew to Roswell, New Mexico (ROW), presumably for a new paint job. The aircraft then flew to Chicago, Illinois (ORD) on May 10, 2023, and is expected to enter passenger service starting today.

You can track the location of the aircraft here. United owns 81 Airbus A319s, so the odds that you’ll randomly land on this one right now are pretty limited.

The photos shared of the cabin look like a huge improvement over the old product, so it’s great to see these changes at United, as I’m sure passengers will appreciate the effort.

The benefit in any of these types of projects is managing client expectations, as well as making retrofits. United has hundreds of aircraft to reconfigure, and I imagine it will be years before this project is complete, given that it took nearly two years to reconfigure the first aircraft.

This is always a challenge in terms of managing expectations:

  • Often airlines advertise new cabins, and then passengers are disappointed when they don’t get them
  • A traveler might get a cabin like this once, only to be disappointed when their next flight doesn’t have it

I commend United for this turnaround…let’s just hope the Jets re-form at an appropriate pace. Fortunately, United also has plenty of on-demand narrow-body jets that will be delivered with these cabins.


United Airlines’ first Airbus A319 with upgraded cabins enters service starting today. This is the first aircraft to be reconfigured with a new cabin, and it joins all existing Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that have been delivered with these interiors. This is a big step in the right direction, and well done at United.

What do you think of the new interiors of the United cabin?

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