Following American, United Seeks to Improve Global First Service
United Airlines recently added turn down service for Global First passengers on long-haul international flights. Upon request, a flight attendant will place a sleeping cushion with 250 thread count cover on the completely fold-flat seats, in addition to the standard duvet, pillows, and amenity kit.
As part of a $550 million investment in onboard improvements, United is installing the fold-flat seats in more than 175 aircraft. In addition to fold flat seats, United Global First also offers additional storage compartments, a multi-course meal with fine wines, and noise reduction headsets. Most Global First seats also offer power, USB ports, and a personal on-demand entertainment system.
Of course, this luxury does not come cheap. I priced out a Global First class seat from Washington, DC (IAD) to London’s Heathrow (LHR). On a sample itinerary in February 2013, the fold flat seats on a Boeing 767-300 were $6,740 round-trip. By using the “My Dates are Flexible” option under Advanced Search on United.com, I was able to book these seats for just (!?) $4,961.
Another more fun option is to use your MileagePlus account miles. “Saver” redemptions are available in early January for 135,000 miles (round-trip) plus $283.50 in taxes and fees (the U.K. has among the highest taxes and fees on air travel in the world; over $250 for the inbound flight). See United’s MileagePlus Explorer card offer below for a jump start on earning those miles.
American Airlines also announced a turn down service that started this Fall. In American’s offering, First Class customers traveling internationally onboard Boeing 777s will receive a quilted bed topper designed to fit American’s Flagship Suite. American goes a step further than United and mimics carriers likes Cathay Pacific in offering pajamas and slippers as part of the new turndown service. American’s turn down service also features a duvet and pillow as well as an amenity kit.
Business class passengers were not left out of American’s service upgrade. Starting October 1, American’s Business Class passengers on Boeing 777s and 767-300s, as well as some flights to and from Europe on Boeing 757s, will be offered the new duvet and pillow, slippers, and amenity kit.