United Airlines Studying `Premium Economy' for Domestic Markets

(Bloomberg) -- United Continental Holdings Inc. is considering whether to add an upgraded economy section to U.S. flights -- a feature typically reserved for overseas markets.

The Chicago-based carrier for months has been readying a new “Premium Plus” section with bigger seats and improved dining options. While the company previously said it would add the class to international routes, it’s now considering it for domestic ones, too, President Scott Kirby said at a JPMorgan Chase & Co. investor conference Tuesday.

“We look forward to announcing that, if we can get to a great product at some point,” Kirby said at the event. A United spokeswoman declined to provide any details about the premium features in the domestic version.

United would be unique among the major U.S. carriers if it goes forward with a domestic version of premium economy. While other carriers have extra-legroom seats, such as Delta Air Lines Inc.’s Comfort Plus and American Airlines Group Inc.’s Main Cabin Extra, they typically are the same size as regular coach seats. True premium economy seats are typically wider, requiring more extensive renovations of a plane.

United has had to play catch-up to its rivals in developing a premium economy section for overseas markets. Many foreign carriers have offered the product for years, while American and Delta each announced they would add the sections to international planes ahead of United.

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