United A321XLRs Getting New Polaris Seats, Premium Plus

United A321XLRs Getting New Polaris Seats, Premium Plus

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In December 2019, United Airlines placed an order for 50 A321XLRs, which is Airbus’ new ultra long range and fuel efficient evolution of the A321. The plane is expected to enter service in 2023, though United will only start to take delivery of the plane in 2024, with most deliveries planned for 2025 and beyond.

We now have a sense of what to expect from the interiors of these jets… sort of.

What to expect from United’s A321XLR cabins

Executive Traveller had an interview with Patrick Quayle, United’s SVP of International Network & Alliances, and they discussed United’s plans for the A321XLR. Here are some of the key takeaways, none of which should come as a surprise:

  • United will introduce an all new Polaris business class seat for the A321XLR, since the current Polaris seat can’t be installed on narrow body aircraft
  • United will be installing Premium Plus premium economy on the A321XLR, which you’ll otherwise only find on wide body aircraft
  • United will exclusively fly A321XLRs across the North Atlantic and to Latin America, so the plane could be found on routes like Newark to Edinburgh, and Newark to Bogota
  • United will not only use A321XLRs to replace Boeing 757-200s, but also to expand to some markets where the economics didn’t previously make sense, given that the A321XLR is more fuel efficient and longer range than the 757
United Premium Plus on the Boeing 767-300

I think this is all more or less what we would have expected. Many airlines will likely be configuring their A321XLRs in a premium configuration, since that’s how the economics most make sense for long haul service. I’d expect the seat counts on these planes for airlines that take this approach to be much closer to 150 than 200.

American has similar plans for its A321XLRs

American Airlines was the first major US carrier to order the Airbus A321XLR, as the airline has also ordered 50, which will be delivered starting in 2023. American is expected to get eight of these planes in 2023, 22 of these planes in 2024, and 20 of these planes in 2025.

Much like United, American plans to install a business class product with fully flat seats and direct aisle access, plus a premium economy cabin. Arguably American has much more of an immediate need for these planes than United does, given that American retired its entire Boeing 757 and 767 fleet.

American’s smallest long haul aircraft is the Boeing 787, and that means there are many long haul markets that American can’t currently serve.

American Airlines also has 50 A321XLRs on order

What kind of a business class product can we expect?

With the A321XLR on the way, how much innovation can we really expect in business class? I think it’s interesting to look at some of the most impressive products we currently see on long haul configured A321s.

French all-business class airline La Compagnie has Airbus A321neos featuring Collins Aerospace Diamond seats. While the seats as such are hardly cutting edge, the layout sure is swanky-looking, in my opinion.

La Compagnie Airbus A321neo cabin

Aer Lingus, TAP Air Portugal, and Scandinavian Airlines, all have Airbus A321LRs, featuring staggered seats in business class. That’s a good product for the type of plane, and in particular the single seats are good. But again, this is hardly a cutting edge product, as these seats have been found on wide body planes for years

Aer Lingus A321LR cabin

JetBlue also recently started Airbus A321LR service, and these are the first A321s to feature direct aisle access from every premium seat. While JetBlue offers a phenomenal passenger experience, in many ways these seats are a step backwards, as herringbone seats (facing the aisle) are quite outdated.

JetBlue A321LR cabin

The only new seat I know of that’s custom-made for the A321XLR is STELIA’s OPERA seat, which is essentially a modified reverse herringbone seat with a door. This looks great, especially for a narrow body aircraft, so my money would be on airlines like American and United selecting this as their business class seat.

Bottom line

It has been revealed that United Airlines’ Airbus A321XLRs will feature new Polaris business class seats, in addition to United’s Premium Plus premium economy cabin. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as it matches American’s plans.

I can’t wait to see the cabins of some of the A321XLRs on order. We’ll have to wait a while longer for United’s cabins to be revealed, though American’s A321XLRs should be entering service next year, if all goes as planned.

What do you make of United’s A321XLR plans?

Conversations (16)
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  1. Paul Reynolds Guest

    If they follow how SAS configured their A321 AA & UA will have awesome planes, if they don't follow that pattern they will disappoint.

  2. Martin Guest

    before you give all your money, don't forget Safran Seats (formerly Zodiac) VUE seat. Like Stelia Opera, it will be reverse herringbone.
    Safran Seats has secured two customers for VUE, one for the Airbus A321XLR, and another for the Boeing 737 MAX.
    The seat is expected to be on display at AIX Hamburg in 2022

  3. AJ Essington Guest

    I am SYKED about this new Aircraft and am very pro-Airbus even though Boeing makes a good product as well.
    They made high quality stuff! American Delta & JetBlue of course have a huge Airbus fleet (A319, A320 & A321s) and continue to take delivery of the new A320, 321 Neos , A321LR and the brand new A220! Very cool.

  4. RF Guest

    I hope United will also use some of these A321XLRs to replace the 757 on transcon routes.

  5. Super Member

    Am I the only one that would rather have a much more comfortable flight on a 787 even if that means having a layover than a direct flight on a cramped narrow-body jet for 7+ hrs?

  6. CXP Member

    Given these 321s will be used on int'l routes anyone know what United plans to replace the domestic PS 757-200s with lie-flat seats with? Would have loved to see some 321s there too.

    1. UA-NYC Guest

      Widebodies, in the short term...eventually UA will (re)give up on JFK, and thus poof there goes the final 757s

  7. Peter Fox Guest

    The TAP seats are terrible, I flew with the from OPO-EWR in A321LR. I had a throne-seat and thought I was in a prison cell.

  8. Francois Guest

    @Ben You prefer la compagnie's 2-2 business class or swiss/tap's thompson vantage staggered to jetblue's 1-1 thompson vantage solo because it's a herringbone?

    1. Dan Guest

      I share the confusion here. The idea that you would go for 2-2 over an all aisle access just because you aren't facing the window?

      I have sat in the JetBlue seat and you can see out the window just fine. I spend like 2 minutes looking out the window on the ground and then the shade is closed anyways.

  9. John G Guest

    American already had a suitable lie flat seat with direct aisle access on A321- the "first" seat on A321T. Why not eliminate the 20 business class seats, replace them with premium economy and call first what it really is...Business.

    1. No Name Guest

      The problem is likely economics. The first seat - a Super Diamond? - probably takes up too much space. The A321-specific seats are much more space-efficient while still offering most (not always all) of what customers expect in long-haul business.

  10. D3kingg Guest

    What’s the range of these aircraft if a refueling stop is included ? Can they make it from anchorage to Tokyo or Seoul ?

  11. Maxpower Guest

    Can any a321 do Bog-NYC? The XLR doesn’t have any special takeoff ability I’m aware of, does it? I always thought it was tough for a 321 to take off with that kind of fuel requirement out of BOG?

    1. Jesper Guest

      BOG EWR is about 2500 miles, the XLR has an advertised range of 4700 miles. Even compensating for real world config, load and performance, and the high altitude of BOG, I would think it is a possible flight.

  12. Lukas Gold

    "...with most DELIVERIES planned for 2025 and beyond."

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UA-NYC Guest

Widebodies, in the short term...eventually UA will (re)give up on JFK, and thus poof there goes the final 757s

0
Paul Reynolds Guest

If they follow how SAS configured their A321 AA & UA will have awesome planes, if they don't follow that pattern they will disappoint.

0
Martin Guest

before you give all your money, don't forget Safran Seats (formerly Zodiac) VUE seat. Like Stelia Opera, it will be reverse herringbone. Safran Seats has secured two customers for VUE, one for the Airbus A321XLR, and another for the Boeing 737 MAX. The seat is expected to be on display at AIX Hamburg in 2022

0
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