United Air Lines, Inc., (NYSE: UAL) is a major American airline and the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees[1] and second-largest with 702 aircraft.[2] It is a subsidiary of United Continental Holdings, Inc. formerly, UAL Corporation, with corporate headquarters in Chicago. United's largest hub is George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. United also has hubs at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Washington Dulles International Airport, Denver International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Narita International Airport near Tokyo, Newark Liberty International Airport, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport in Guam.[3] United is a founding member of the Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance in the world, and offers connections to over 1,000 destinations in over 170 countries worldwide.[4] The airline's regional service is United Express.

As of November 30, 2011, United Airlines was issued a single operating certificate with the former Continental Airlines, meaning both airlines are now technically one airline and thereby marking the end of Continental Airlines. While United and Continental now have a single operating certificate, some parts of both airlines, such as check-in and frequent-flier programs, will not be fully merged until early in 2012.[5] The airline's regional service is United Express.


Main article: History of United Airlines
File:UAL Route Map 1940.jpg

United Airlines originated from the Varney Air Lines air mail service of Walter Varney, who also founded Varney Speed Lines which later became Continental Airlines. Founded in Boise, Idaho in 1926, the carrier flew the first Contract Air Mail flight in the U.S. on April 5, 1926, marking the first scheduled airline service in the country's history.[6] In 1927, airplane pioneer William Boeing founded his own airline, Boeing Air Transport, and began buying other airmail carriers including Varney Airlines. In 1929, Boeing merged his company with Pratt & Whitney to form the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation (UATC).

In 1933, United began operating the Boeing 247, which enabled passengers to fly across the US without an overnight stop or changing planes. After passage of the Air Mail Act in 1934, UATC separated into United Aircraft (the future United Technologies), the Boeing Airplane Company and United Air Lines. During World War II, United-trained ground crews modified airplanes for use as bombers, and transported mail, material, and passengers in support of the war effort.

File:United Airlines DC-10 N1803U.jpg

After the war, United gained from a boom in customer demand for air travel, with its revenue passenger-miles jumping five-fold in the 1950s, and continued growth occurring through the next two decades.[7]

In 1954 United Airlines became the first airline to purchase modern flight simulators which had visual, sound and motion cues for training pilots. Purchased for US$3 million (1954) from Curtiss-Wright, these were the first of today's modern flight simulators for training of commercial passenger aircraft pilots.[8]

United merged with Capital Airlines on June 1, 1961 and displaced American Airlines as the world's second largest airline, after Aeroflot. In 1968 the company reorganized, creating UAL Corporation, with United Airlines as a wholly owned subsidiary. The 1970s saw economic turmoil, resulting in "stagflation" and labor unrest. The 1978 Airline Deregulation Act, resulting in industry shakeups, further added to the carrier's difficulties in a loss-making period.

In 1982, United became the first carrier to operate the Boeing 767, taking its first delivery of 767-200s on August 19. In May 1985, the airline underwent a 29-day pilot strike over management's proposed "B-scale" pilot pay rates. Then-company CEO Richard Ferris changed United's parent company's name from UAL Corporation to Allegis in February 1987, but following his termination, the company reverted to the name UAL Corp. in May 1988 and divested non-airline properties.[9][10]

File:United Boeing 747SP Maiwald.jpg

In 1985, United expanded dramatically by purchasing Pan Am's entire Pacific Division, giving it a hub at Tokyo's Narita International Airport, and in 1991 purchased routes to London Heathrow Airport from ailing Pan Am, making it one of two US carriers permitted exclusive access to Heathrow under Bermuda II until "open skies" took effect in 2008 (American Airlines being the other, after purchasing TWA's Heathrow landing slots). The aftermath of the Gulf War and increased competition from low-cost carriers led to losses in 1991 and 1992.[11] In 1994, United's pilots, machinists, bag handlers and non-contract employees agreed to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), acquiring 55% of company stock in exchange for 15% to 25% salary concessions, making the carrier the largest employee-owned corporation in the world. The carrier also launched a low-cost subsidiary in 1994, Shuttle by United, in an attempt to compete with low-cost carriers; the subsidiary remained in operation until 2001.

In 1995, United became the first airline to introduce the Boeing 777 in commercial service. In 1997, United co-founded the Star Alliance airline partnership. In May 2000, United announced a planned $11.6 billion acquisition of US Airways, but withdrew the offer in July 2001 before the United States Department of Justice barred the merger on antitrust grounds. May 2000 also saw a bitter contract dispute between United and its pilots' union over pay cuts and concessions to fund the ESOP and overtime work, causing summer flight cancellations until a salary increase was agreed upon.


During the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, two of the four airplanes hijacked and crashed by al-Qaeda terrorists were United Airlines aircraft. An airline industry downturn resulted, and coupled with economic difficulties, skyrocketing oil prices, and higher labor costs, the company lost $2.14 billion in 2001. In the same year United applied for a $1.5 billion loan guarantee from the federal Air Transportation Stabilization Board established in the wake of the September 11 attacks. After attempts to secure additional capital failed, UAL Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2002 and the ESOP was terminated.

United's bankruptcy operations resulted in furloughing thousands of workers, closing all U.S. city ticket offices, cancelling several existing and planned routes, downsizing its Miami operations, closing maintenance bases, and fleet reductions. The carrier also negotiated cost cuts with employees, suppliers, and contractors, and terminated feeder contracts with United Express carriers Atlantic Coast Airlines and Air Wisconsin. The carrier launched a new low-cost carrier named Ted in 2003, and a luxury "p.s." (for "premium service") coast-to-coast service on re-configured 757s in 2004. In 2005, United cancelled its pension plan in the largest such default in U.S. corporate history.

File:United Airlines Boeing 767-322ER.jpg

In 2005, United announced it had raised $3 billion in financing to exit bankruptcy and filed its Plan of Reorganization, as announced, on September 7, 2005. In late 2006, Continental Airlines participated in preliminary merger discussions with United.[12][13] On June 4, 2008, United announced it would close its Ted unit[14] and reconfigure the subsidiary's aircraft for a return to mainline configuration.

On April 16, 2010, United resumed merger talks with Continental Airlines. The board of directors of both Continental and UAL Corporation's United Airlines reached an agreement to combine operations on May 2, 2010. The combined carrier would retain the United Airlines name, but use Continental's logo and livery, and Continental's CEO Jeff Smisek would head the new company.[15] The merger was contingent upon shareholder and regulatory approval.

File:United Airlines Boeing 777-200 Meulemans.jpg

The Continental–United merger was approved by the European Union in July 2010.[16] On August 27, 2010, the US Justice Department approved the Continental–United Merger.[17] On September 17, 2010, United shareholders approved the merger deal with Continental Airlines.[18] Both carriers planned to begin merging operations in 2011 to form the world's biggest carrier.[19]

On October 1, 2010, UAL Corporation completed its acquisition of Continental Airlines and changed its name to United Continental Holdings, Inc. The airline received a single operating certificate from the FAA on November 30, 2011.[20]


Company affairs and identityEdit


File:Chicago United Continental Building 07.jpg

United Airlines has its corporate headquarters in 77 West Wacker in the Chicago Loop, Chicago, United States.

In 2006 United Airlines announced that it would be moving its headquarters and its 350 top executives from 1200 East Algonquin Road in suburban Elk Grove Township to 77 West Wacker Drive.[21][22] Before making its choice, United was considering moving its headquarters to Denver, Colorado, or San Francisco.[23] In the Chicago Loop United had considered 115 South LaSalle Street, 190 South LaSalle, and 200 West Madison Street.[21] Douglas F. Beaver of the Los Angeles Times described the United Airlines operational center in Elk Grove Township as "sprawling for acres over the northwest Chicago suburbs."[24]

The top 350 executives were moved in the first half of 2007 to 77 West Wacker. The Elk Grove Village campus was renamed an Operations Center, and United Airlines consolidated several of its offices in the suburbs of Chicago into the Elk Grove Village campus.[25] After the City of Chicago submitted a $35 million incentive, including $10 million in grants for United to move its remaining employees to Chicago, United proceeded to schedule a move of about 2,500 employees out of the former Elk Grove Township headquarters into the Willis Tower (Sears Tower) in Chicago in fall 2010. Monica Davey of The New York Times said that the move may have contributed to United's decision to base the new merged airline out of Chicago instead of Houston.[26] The move was begun in October with 280 employees and one thousand are expected by the end of 2010.

Other facilitiesEdit

United owns a crew training center in Denver, Colorado with 36 flight simulators and 90 computer-based training stations. Its primary maintenance base is at San Francisco International Airport and has nine hangar bays and 2.9 million square feet of floor space. United also owns a hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii which is used by its flight crews.[27]

Fuel burn reduction strategyEdit

Despite a pursuit to cut fuel burn and reduce carbon output, United was one of the last US based carriers to pursue blended winglet additions to their 757 aircraft certified for the fuel saving installation and has been slow to implement similar improvements on 767 aircraft. This while Continental has made every certified retrofit to its fleet to boost efficiency and has commenced biofuel flight testing. On December 9, 2009, United officially announced orders for 25 Boeing 787–8 aircraft and 25 Airbus A350-900 XWB aircraft[28] The orders are worth $4 billion and $6 billion, respectively, at list prices. United's purpose is to reduce fuel burn on typical flights by up to one-third, saving 175 million gallons of fuel per year, and to simplify maintenance by reducing the number of classes of aircraft used on United's network. The 787 will replace the 767; the larger variant of the A350 will replace the 747. Ultimately, United intends to fly only three types of widebody aircraft: The 777, 787, and the A350. Narrow body replacement bids for the 737-300/-500 fleet are expected to begin in 2010, with Embraer of Brazil and Bombardier of Canada participating along with Boeing and Airbus.[29] On November 7, 2011, United Airlines flew the world's first commercial aviation flight on a microbially-derived biofuel using Solajet™, Solazyme's algae-derived renewable jet fuel. The Eco-skies Boeing 737-800 plane was fueled with 40 percent Solajet and 60 percent petroleum-derived jet fuel. The commercial Eco-skies flight 1403 departed from Houston's IAH airport at 10:30AM and landed at Chicago's ORD airport at 1:03PM.[30]


Scope clauseEdit

United and Continental pilots have differing “scope clauses” that enforce different capacity constraints on regional jet service. Relatively speaking, United has a more relaxed scope clause that allows regional carriers to operate jets with up to 70 seats, whereas, Continental has a more restrictive clause of 50 seats. This remains an obstacle for a single pilot contract.[31]


File:United Airlines Boeing 747-400 KvW.jpg

The post-merger United Airlines logo retains the United name and uses the former Continental Airlines "globe" identity and livery, designed in 1991 by the Lippincott company.[32] The "United" typeface was updated in August 2010, resembling more like the most recent United typeface, rather than the same font that was used to write "Continental Airlines". Currently, over 450 planes have been painted in the "new" livery,Template:Citation needed which features a white and gray fuselage with a thin gold stripe and blue "globe" tail.

United Airlines has promoted its post-merger logo as reflecting its efforts to attract corporate clients and the airline's worldwide network,[32] but many marketing experts and graphic designers have criticized the logo change, stating that the previous "tulip" logo has stronger brand recognition and is a stronger mark than the Continental globe, while faulting CEO Jeff Smisek and former United CEO Glenn Tilton for devising the "new" brand and livery between the two of them with no outside input.[32] After the new United announced its new logo, supporters of the previous United logo started a Facebook group called "Save the United Airlines Tulip" in order to convince the airline to change its logo to the old United logo.

File:2010-07-15 B767 UA N663UA EDDF 02.jpg

The pre-merger "tulip" logo was developed in 1973 after the airline commissioned designer Saul Bass to develop a new brand image.[32] It replaced the original United red, white and blue shield logo, adopted in 1936. The "tulip" logo of colored stripes representing overlapping letter "U"s remained in use until the Continental merger with only slight modification. The "Rainbow" (or "Saul Bass") livery, which was the first to feature the "tulip", had a primarily white fuselage, & red, orange, and blue stripes along the "cheatline".

Other "tulip" liveries included 1993's CKS Group-designed "Battleship" livery, using a grey and dark blue fuselage, with blue stripes on the tail and a smaller "tulip". The 1997 Pentagram-developed "Blue Tulip" or "Rising Blue" featured a white and lighter blue fuselage, along with cropped version of the tulip on the tail. This livery was used until the merger with Continental.

Marketing themesEdit

The current slogan and ad campaign since 2004, is "It's time to fly." United's earliest slogan, "The Main Line Airway," emphasized its signature New York-Chicago-San Francisco route, and was replaced in 1965 with "Fly the Friendly Skies." The "friendly skies" tagline was used until 1996.

United's theme song is George Gershwin's 1924 "Rhapsody in Blue", which it licensed from Gershwin's estate for $500,000 in 1976.[33] "Rhapsody" would have entered the public domain in 2000, but the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 extended its copyright another 20 years. United announced that they will continue to use the theme song, "Rhapsody in Blue" following the merger with Continental.[34]


United is a sponsor of all five of Chicago's major professional sports teams—the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox—as well as the U.S. Olympic Team. The Blackhawks and Bulls play their games in the United Center, which the airline holds the naming rights to until 2014. The Cubs use a United 757 as their charter aircraft for transport between games, and the White Sox, similarly, use an Airbus A320 as their charter aircraft operating under flight number UAL9904. In addition, the luxury seating area directly behind home plate at the White Sox U.S. Cellular Field are the "United Scout Seats."



United Airlines flies to 73 domestic mainline destinations and 41 international destinations in 25 countries across Asia, Americas, Europe, Oceania, and Africa not including cities only served by United Express. United Airlines, along with Air Canada, Air France, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and South African Airways, is one of the few airlines that fly to all six inhabited continents.

Route networkEdit

File:United Airlines' hub at Houston.jpg

United operates an extensive domestic route network concentrated in the Midwest and western United States. United is also prominent in transcontinental, transatlantic, and transpacific service. It is the leading US carrier to Hawaii and largest to Asia and Australia, flying 26.15 billion transpacific revenue passenger miles in 2006 on 306 weekly departures. United also is the leading carrier in transpacific flights.[35]

In 1988, the bilateral (though not reciprocal) treaty with Japan was amended to allow additional routes between the two countries. United's application to fly from Chicago to Tokyo, a significant gap in its routes previously, was approved.[36]

United is focusing on its international presence, notably in the People's Republic of China, with nonstop flights to Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the former British territory of Hong Kong from its hubs in Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. In September 2007 United was granted a route from San Francisco to Guangzhou.[37] These routes offer a higher proportion of premium fare passengers while being relatively insulated from the cut-throat competition in the domestic market, especially from low-cost carriers. United competes vigorously with discount carriers on about 70 percent of its domestic market. United has also focused more on Latin America, a region from which it had largely retreated in the last decade, and added new destinations and frequencies to Mexico and the Caribbean. The airline was granted service from Los Angeles to Shanghai that began on May 20, 2011.[38]


United began service to Bahrain on April 18, 2010.[39] United also began service to Accra, Ghana on June 20, 2010 (which was the carrier's first African destination), making it the second-US carrier to fly to all six inhabited continents after Delta Air Lines, which has had that distinction since July 2009. United also began service to Lagos, Nigeria, via Accra on December 12, 2010 with nonstop flights began November 16, 2011; making it the carrier's second African destination. Services to Bahrain and Accra are served from the airline's Washington-Dulles hub. Service to Lagos from Washington-Dulles ended December 18, 2011 which was served via Accra and it is now strictly a Dulles-Accra route (vice-versa). The airline will continue to serve Lagos from the airline's biggest hub at Houston. United will also begin service to Doha, Qatar with a stop over in Dubai on May 1, 2012. The route will be served from the Washington-Dulles hub.[40]

Codeshare agreementsEdit

In addition to its Star Alliance and United Express partnerships, United codeshares and/or marketing agreements with the following airlines as of January 2010:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Avianca (future Star Alliance member)
  • Great Lakes Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Island Air
  • Jet Airways]]
  • Qatar Airways]]
  • TACA (future Star Alliance member)
  • Copa Airlines (future Star Alliance member)
  • Copa Airlines Colombia (future Star Alliance member)

Hub informationEdit

Current hubs, focus cities and maintenance basesEdit

  • O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas
  • Denver International Airport, Denver, Colorado
  • Washington Dulles International Airport, Washington, DC
  • San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California
    • Maintenance hub (MRO) San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco
  • Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California
  • Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan
  • Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark, New Jersey
  • Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport, Guam

Former hubs, maintenance bases, and focus citiesEdit

United's route network has been trimmed and streamlined to a few central hubs, resulting in the closure of these former hubs or de-listing as focus cities:

  • Miami (Latin gateway) – purchased from Pan Am, dismantled in 2004 due to retrenchment and competition with American Airlines[41]Template:Verify source
  • Seattle (Focus city) – some destinations downgauged to United Express, due to consolidation to SFO and LAX[42]
  • Oakland (Maintenance base) – Oakland Maintenance Center (OMC)
  • Indianapolis (Maintenance base) – Indianapolis Maintenance Center (IMC)



United Airlines operates 702 aircraft with 78% Boeing and 22% Airbus equipment, with an average fleet age of 14 years.[43]

The Boeing customer code for United Airlines is 22, yielding a model number such as 747–422.[44] Aircraft acquired from Continental Airlines still have an 24 code, yielding a model number such as 737–724.

United announced plans to provide Wi-Fi internet service from Panasonic on its 737 and International 757 aircraft beginning in 2012 and plans to have all mainline aircraft equipped with WiFi by 2015.[45]

As of December 2011, United operates the following aircraft:[46]

United Airlines fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Options Passengers Notes
F</abbr> <abbr title="Business">C</abbr> <abbr title="Economy Plus">Y+</abbr> <abbr title="Economy">Y</abbr> Total
Airbus A319-100 55 8 40 72 120
Airbus A320-200 97 12 36 90 138
Airbus A350-900 25 50 TBA To be delivered between 2016 and 2019;
Boeing 737–500 27 8 106 114 Retired in 2009 but returned to service following merger with Continental; all have winglets. Retirement: 14 in 2012
Boeing 737–700 36 46 12 112 124 Acquired in merger with Continental; Orders can, and are, being converted to other 737 models
Boeing 737–800 8
2 14
Acquired in merger with Continental
Boeing 737–900 12 20 153 173 Acquired in merger with Continental
Boeing 737-900ER 33 19 20 153 173 Acquired in merger with Continental; 19 deliveries expected in 2012
Boeing 747–400 24 12 52 70 240 374 To receive wireless streaming video
Boeing 757–200 13[47] 12 26 72 110 All to receive winglets
41 acquired in merger with Continental
CO frames being converted to three class interiors 16/45/108
All long-haul international flights refitted with Economy Plus[48]
121 2450108182

Boeing 757–300 21 24 192 216 Largest operator of the Boeing 757–300. Acquired in merger with Continental
Boeing 767-200ER 8 25 149 174 Retired in 2005 but returned to service following merger with Continental. All feature Boeing's signature 777-style interior.
Boeing 767-300ER 35 6 26 71 80 183 13 domestic/Hawaii 767s to be retrofitted with lie flat seats
All to receive winglets starting in early 2012
Exit from service: 2016-2019; to be replaced by Boeing 787-8
Boeing 767-400ER 12
Acquired in merger with Continental. 1 aircraft refitted with "Economy Plus" seating.[49]
Boeing 777–200 19 36 89 223 348
Boeing 777-200ER 55 10 45 84 114 253 22 acquired in merger with Continental, 2 of which were leased from ILFC
Boeing 787–8 36 50 36
Entry into service: 2012–2019
Replacing 767-200ER and -300ER[51][52][53]
Boeing 787–9 14 <abbr title="To Be Announced">
Entry into service: 2013 (projected)
Total 702 142 100



# Aircraft Year retired Replacement Notes
Boeing 80A 1934 Launch customer
Boeing 40A 1937 Launch customer[54]
Boeing 247 1942 Launch customer, all 59 of the base model were built for United[55]
Ford Tri-Motor
Laird Swallow J-5 Single seat biplane used to carry US Air Mail (CAM 5) by predecessor Varney Air Lines.
Douglas DC-3
Boeing 377 1954
Douglas DC-7 1964
Convair 340 1968
Vickers Viscount 1969
Douglas DC-6 1970
Sud Aviation Caravelle 1970 Boeing 737–200
Lockheed L-1011 TriStar


1989 McDonnell Douglas DC-10 Bought from Pan Am; Sold to Delta
Boeing 720 1976 Boeing 727 Launch Customer
Douglas DC-8 1992 Boeing 757–200 Launch customer,[57] Largest DC-8 operator in the world
Boeing 727–100 1993 Boeing 737–500 Launch customer
Boeing 747SP 1995 Boeing 747-400 Bought from Pan Am
Boeing 747–100 1999 Boeing 777-200/200ER
McDonnell Douglas DC-10 2001 Boeing 777-200/200ER Launch Customer
Boeing 747–200 2000 Boeing 747-400
Boeing 727–200 2001 Airbus A320 Launch customer
Boeing 737–200 2001 Airbus A320 Launch customer
Boeing 737–300 2009 May be replaced with Bombardier C-series or Embraer Jets, some sold to S7 Siberia Airlines.[58][59]
Boeing 737–500 2009 May be replaced with Bombardier C-series or Embraer Jets, some sold to S7 Siberia Airlines.[58][59] Returned to service in 2011 as a result of merger with Continental

United was the launch customer for a number of aircraft types, including the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and several Boeing aircraft: the Boeing 727, the Boeing 737–200, the Boeing 767 and the Boeing 777. Although not a launch customer, jet aircraft operated by United has included the Lockheed L-1011 (received in the Pan Am Pacific Route purchase, later traded with Delta Air Lines for the DC-10 aircraft Delta received in their merger with Western Airlines), Douglas (later McDonnell Douglas) DC-8, and Sud (later Aerospatiale) Caravelle. In 1965, United placed an order for six BAC/Sud (now BAe and Aerospatiale) Concordes but the order was later canceled.


United has stated it would rather wait until the next generation of narrow-body aircraft arrive as they will be able to replace their A319-100, A320-200, and 757–200 fleets at the same time. To cut down on money going out of the franchise, United had retired its entire Boeing 737 fleet. United, however, reacquired the Boeing 737 aircraft after its merger with Continental Airlines. On June 3, 2009, United announced they have submitted proposals to both Boeing and Airbus for an order for up to 150 new aircraft. The order is expected to include new widebody aircraft to supplement the current Boeing 777-200/200ER aircraft and new narrow-bodies to supplement United's 96 strong 757–200 fleet.[60]

In December 2009, United announced it would to split a 50-aircraft order between upcoming Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.[61]

On April 2, 2008, United Airlines temporarily withdrew its entire fleet of 19 Boeing 777–200 and 33 Boeing 777-200ER aircraft until functional testing of the fire suppression system could be completed. The move was the latest in a series of temporary groundings by U.S. airlines in late March 2008 following a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) review of compliance with airworthiness directives.[62] United has expressed interest in becoming the sole GoldCare maintenance, repair, and overhaul provider for the Boeing 787.[63][64]

United Airlines will take the Continental Airlines globe, and color scheme for all aircraft. The "Continental" title will be replaced with "UNITED" printed across each aircraft.Template:Citation needed


Template:Advert United offers in-flight entertainment on all mainline aircraft, the only mainline legacy carrier to do so. Audio programming is provided by Zune.[65] The entire fleet features "From the Flightdeck" on channel 9. This program allows passengers to listen to live radio communications between the cockpit and Air Traffic Control. "From the Flightdeck" can be disabled at the pilot's discretion. United also has partnerships with various television networks who provide programming for video-equipped aircraft. The most prominent of these programming partners was NBC, which provided branded "NBC on United" programming. This long-standing partnership ended in early 2009, when NBC signed a two-year deal with American Airlines.[66] Despite the loss of this partnership, United's television entertainment continues to include several prime time NBC programs.

First classEdit

File:United Airlines B747-400 first class.jpg

"United First" is offered on all flights.Template:Citation needed United First passengers check in at separate counters and can use priority security screening where available. On board, passengers receive a pre-flight beverage service, table linens (on mainline flights) and (on international flight segments only) a five course meal. Passengers are also given priority when boarding, priority baggage handling and access to the International First Class Lounge (on international and p.s. flights only). United kept its First Class seating after the merger with Continental.[67]

  • (New) United First Suites are offered on all Boeing 747-400, all internationally configured Boeing 767-300ER, and 24 Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. United has begun retrofitting this new seat on its entire international fleet. The new First Suite is 6 feet-6 inches long and has 180 degrees of recline, creating a fully flat bed. All seats are equipped with a personal 15.4-inch screen personal LCD television with Audio-Video-on-Demand (AVOD), an adjustable headrest, lumbar support, a USB power port, an Apple iPod adapter (to play audio or video through), XM Satellite Radio, a US-style 120V/60 Hz power outlet, a reading light, noise-cancelling headphones and a large tray table.[68] The 767–300 international continues to use the original (smaller) overhead bins.
File:IMG 7814 United 747-400 First Class 2005.JPG
  • (Old) United First Suites are offered on most internationally configured Boeing 777-200/200ER aircraft and feature 78 inch-pitch flat-bed seats which recline to 180 degrees. Each seat has a personal video screen with a collection of compact videocassettes. Passengers have access to personal satellite phones, laptop power ports, noise-canceling headsets, pillows and blankets.
  • United First (Domestic) is offered on all domestically configured United aircraft. Domestic United First includes a cradle seat similar to the old international United Business seat, but without the personal reading lamps, legrests, or personal entertainment units. The seats have a 38 inch pitch, and passengers receive priority boarding and baggage handling, pre-departure beverages, free meals and separate check-in desks. United has updated substantially all of these seats with leather seat covers. Occasionally, 3-cabin widebodies will fly between hubs and Domestic First Class will feature the United First Suites (old and new).
  • United First (p.s.) is offered on all flights from JFK to SFO and LAX and features twelve angled-flat, leather-trimmed seats, with a 68-inch pitch, along with individual portable digital media players offering a wide selection of movies, TV shows, music and games through noise-reducing headsets. Passengers receive full meals, chocolates and signature champagne cocktails, as well as an invitation to the United International First Class Lounges at Los Angeles, New York-JFK, or San Francisco. Seats include personal reading lights, privacy screens and laptop power ports.

United International First LoungeEdit

United also offers an International First Lounge which feature snacks and a self-serve bar at several airports. Access is restricted to customers traveling in long haul international first class or p.s. first class. Seven lounges are currently operated in seven different airports worldwide, including Chicago-O'Hare, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York-JFK, San Francisco, Tokyo-Narita, and Washington-Dulles.[69]

United Arrivals SuiteEdit

United also offers United Arrivals Suite service which has shower facilities and complimentary breakfast. Access is restricted to international United First and full-fare United Business customers. There are presently four Arrival Suite locations including London, San Francisco, Chicago, and São Paulo.[70]

Business classEdit

File:United Airlines B767-300ER business class.jpg

"United Business" is offered on all internationally configured aircraft and on a few select domestic flights. United Business passengers check in at separate counters and can use priority security screening where available. In-flight service includes pre-departure beverages, table linens and (on international flight segments only) three course meals designed by chef Charlie Trotter. Passengers are also given priority when boarding, priority baggage handling and access to the United Club (on international and p.s. flights only).

  • United Business Suites (New) are offered on all Boeing 747-400, all internationally configured Boeing 767-300ER, and 24 Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. United has begun retrofitting this new seat on its entire international fleet. The seats alternate between front-facing and rear-facing.[71] All seats are 6 feet-4 inches long and have 180 degrees of recline, creating a fully flat bed. United Business Suite was the first flat-bed business seat to be offered by a U.S. airline. All seats are equipped with a personal 15-inch screen personal LCD television with Audio-Video-on-Demand (AVOD), an adjustable headrest, lumbar support, a USB power port, an Apple iPod adapter (through which to play audio or video), XM Satellite Radio, a US-style 120V/60 Hz power outlet, a reading light, noise-cancelling headphones and a large tray table.[68]
File:United 747-400 Business Class Upper Deck 2005.JPG
  • United Business Seats (Old) are offered on internationally configured Boeing 777-200/200ER aircraft and feature recliner-type seats with a pitch of 55 inches and 150 degree recline. The seat also features laptop power ports which require EmPower adapters. Each seat includes an individual entertainment system offering nine channels of video (seven films and two short-subjects) and noise-reducing headsets.
  • United BusinessFirst Suites (Formerly Continental) are offered on all internationally configured planes acquired from Continental Airlines in the merger. BusinessFirst is the sole premium cabin on those aircraft, as no First Class service is offered. The Flat Bed Seat offers a seat measuring up to 25 inches (640 mm) wide when the adjustable armrest is positioned flush with the seat cushion. Electronic controls enable customers to easily move the seats to an infinite combination of seat adjustments, including lumbar support, leg and foot rests. iPod connectivity is available in the Flat Bed Seat. The new BusinessFirst seats have a six-way adjustable head rest, an individual overhead reading light and an adjustable seat light allowing customers to read in bed without disturbing their neighbor and a privacy shell that allows for seclusion from other travelers. BusinessFirst customers also receive one of the highest crew to passenger ratios (1:8) among all international business class products.
  • United Business (p.s.) is offered on all flights from JFK to SFO and LAX and features twenty-six leather recliner seats with 54 inch pitch, individual portable digital media players offering a wide selection of movies, TV shows, music and games through noise-reducing headsets. Passengers receive full meals, chocolates and signature cocktails as well as an invitation to the United Club. Seats include personal reading lights and laptop power ports.
  • United Business (Domestic) is offered on select domestic flights between hubs when 3 class international widebodies are being repositioned between international flights. There is never any guarantee of which routes these planes will appear on as schedules will change according to United's international needs. Aside from the superior International Business Class seats, service is similar to Domestic First Class. Note that Rows 13 and 14 on the 767s receive Business Class service despite being sold as economy seats as they are physically located within the Business cabin.

Economy classEdit

File:United Airlines B747-422 Economy cabin.jpg
File:United Airlines A320-232 cabin Iwelumo.jpg
  • United Economy (International) is available on all internationally configured aircraft in United's fleet. Seats range from 17 to 18 inches wide, and have 31 inches of pitch. All United Economy seats on Boeing 767-300ER and 777-200/200ER aircraft feature an adjustable headrest and a 5 inch personal television at the back of each seat showing videos on loop. United Economy's in-flight entertainment system on these aircraft features nine channels of entertainment (Seven films and two short-subjects.) Some B777-200/200ER's are already updated to Audio-Video-on-Demand (AVOD) with a 7 inch Panasonic eFX touch screen LCD. United serves free meals on international flights between the US, South America, Europe, the South Pacific and Asia. Shortly after takeoff, passengers are served cocktail snacks and free non-alcoholic drinks. On flights with meals, the main meal consists of a salad, an appetizer, a choice of hot entrées and dessert. On longer flights, United also offers a light pre-arrival meal.
  • United Economy (Domestic) is available on all domestically configured aircraft in United's fleet. Seats range from 17 to 18 inches wide, and have between 31 and 32 inches of pitch. Economy seats on all A319-100, A320-200, 757–200, and domestic-configured 767-300ER and 777-200/200ER aircraft feature adjustable headrests. United offers a buy on board program. On United flights between three and five hours in duration, snackboxes are available for a fee. On United flights of five or more hours, fresh sandwiches, salads and snackbox options are also available for a fee. Water, soft drinks, and coffee are complimentary on all flights. Alcoholic beverages are available for a fee on most flights.[72] All aircraft feature overhead television screens. Short subject television program is shown on flights between 1.5 and 2.5 hours and feature-length films are shown on flights over three hours.
  • United Economy Plus is available on all aircraft in the domestic and international fleet from the United subsidiary and is progressively being installed on mainline aircraft from the Continental subsidiary. Economy Plus seats are located in the front 6–12 rows of the economy cabin and feature up to 6 inches of additional legroom. Economy Plus is available for free to all MileagePlus Elite members. It can also be purchased at check-in depending upon availability by members of the United MileagePlus program. Economy Plus seats are restricted solely to members of the program. All other customers including passengers from other frequent flyer programs in the Star Alliance are prohibited from purchasing Economy Plus seats at the time of ticket purchase. All seats in economy on the p.s. flights from JFK to LAX and SFO are configured into Economy Plus. United kept the "Economy Plus" seating for the combined carrier after the merger.[73]

Frequent flyer programEdit


Main article: Mileage Plus

MileagePlus is United Airlines' frequent flyer program. United announced that its MileagePlus program will be retained after the merger.[74] The revised Mileage Plus program for the merged United Airlines will become effective on March 3, 2012.

From its inception until June 29, 2011, United's frequent flier program was known as Mileage Plus. Following United's merger with Continental Airlines, United retained Mileage Plus as the frequent flier program of the new United and, subsequently, renamed the program MileagePlus.

Tom Stuker became the first United flyer to reach 10 million miles flown since the introduction of Mileage Plus; the milestone was celebrated at a reception at Chicago's O'Hare airport on July 9, 2011, where a United Boeing 747-400 (N127UA) was named in his honor.[75]

United ClubEdit

Main article: United Club

The United Club is the airline lounge associated with United Airlines and United Express carriers.

Incidents and accidentsEdit

1930s NC13304 Flight 6 NC13317[76] NC13323[77] NC13355[78]
1940s Flight 14 Flight 28 Flight 404 Flight 521 Flight 608 Flight 624
1950s Flight 129 Flight 610 Flight 615 Flight 7030 Flight 16 Flight 409 Flight 629 Flight 718 Flight 736
1960s Flight 826 Flight 859 Flight 297 Flight 823 Flight 389 Flight 227 Flight 266 Flight 14
1970s Flight 611 Flight 553 Flight 2860 Flight 173
1980s Flight 2885 Flight 811 Flight 232
1990s Flight 585 Flight 863 Flight 826
2000s Flight 175 Flight 93 Flight 955
2010s Flight 663 Flight 497

In popular cultureEdit

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  • Leanne Scott's country pop tune, "L.A. International Airport", which became a Top Ten Country hit for Susan Raye in 1971, refers to the airline in the closing lyrics, "Captain's voice so loud and clear; Amplifies into my ear, Assuring me I'm flying friendly skies."
  • The Crosby, Stills, and Nash ballad "Just a Song Before I Go", released in 1977, features the lyrics: "Driving me to the airport / And to the friendly skies." It reached number seven on the Billboard singles charts, the band's greatest hit.
  • Tom Hanks' character Viktor Navorski is stuck at New York's JFK airport in the United terminal in The Terminal (2004). Viktor flew into JFK on a United 747 and the woman he falls for played by Catherine Zeta Jones, is a flight attendant for United.
  • The crash of United Airlines Flight 93 was the focus of the 2006 movies United 93 and Flight 93 (TV film).
  • In 2008, Canadian musician David Carroll had his guitar damaged by United's baggage handlers, and United refused to repair it. He and his band Sons of Maxwell wrote and performed a song about this incident, "United Breaks Guitars", and posted it on YouTube. The video was a big hit on YouTube and has reached more than eleven million views; United thereafter compensated Dave Carroll who donated the money the charity. United has since utilized the video in customer service training.
  • In the finale of the hit television series Seinfeld, Elaine is about to admit her love for Jerry but stops herself. Instead of saying "I've always loved you," she says "I've always loved You-nited Airlines."
  • In the Fountains of Wayne song Mexican Wine, the band tells the story of a United Airlines pilot that is fired for reading High Times.
  • In the O.V.A. Read or Die, Nancy says "Thank you for flying the friendly skies." Just before attaching the chord to the train of paper dolls, causing the glider to crash.
  • In the 2001 Rush Hour 2 film a United Airlines Boeing 747-400 appeared as a commercial flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Hong Kong International Airport
  • In the premiere episode of its third season, Modern Family showed its cast flying to Jackson Hole, WY, on a United 757.


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External linksEdit

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