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United Places a Sizable Aircraft Order With an Eye Toward Growth

James Larounis's image
James Larounis
James Larounis's image

James Larounis

Senior Content Contributor

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James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...

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United Airlines is set to place one of the largest widebody aircraft orders in U.S. airline history, with over 100 Boeing 787s, and over 50 Boeing 737 MAXs. These new aircraft will serve both domestic and international locations, as United seeks to grow its footprint and make its stamp as the hallmark U.S. flag carrier.

United’s Massive Aircraft Order

United is placing an order for 100 Boeing 787s, set to deliver to the airline in increments between 2024 and 2032. These aircraft will serve as replacements for the aging Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 fleets, as these aircraft have exceeded over 30 years of service.

Though the Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 fleets won’t be immediately phased out and will continue to be operated towards the end of the decade, the 787 order marks a milestone in working to replace these retiring workhorse fleets.

In addition to the order of 100 firm aircraft, the airline also has the option to purchase an additional 100 aircraft as part of a purchase options program. United will determine how many of these aircraft it wishes to exercise its purchase options on, though it has said that any additional orders will help it open more opportunities for routes and international destinations.

This is the largest widebody order of any U.S. carrier, and although the financials of the purchase haven’t been shared, this marks an enormous step forward for United as it already holds the top position as the leading airline for capacity to Europe and the Pacific.

As part of the order, there will be Boeing 787-8 aircraft, Boeing 787-9 aircraft, and Boeing 787-10 aircraft. The -8 is intended to serve smaller markets requiring a widebody, the -9 for medium markets, and the -10 for larger routes.

United Polaris cabin 787 9 dreamliner
The new Boeing 787 aircraft being delivered will feature United’s signature Polaris seats. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

You’ll find the -8 planes in new emerging markets, such as those to Africa and the Middle East. -9 planes have an excellent range, so you can expect these planes on routes to Singapore or long-haul Asia, for example. The -10 is the largest of the 3 models and will be placed on core routes to Europe where a heavy capacity is needed.

Hot Tip: The size and configuration of cabins are subject to change, as aircraft orders will take nearly 10 years to complete, so there’s plenty of time for changes as necessary. Each aircraft will feature a Polaris cabin, Premium Plus seating, and a Main Cabin section.

As part of the United Next strategic plan, United is also completing an order for 44 Boeing 737 MAX options, and an additional 57 aircraft that are potentially coming in 2027 and 2028, in an effort to replace either aging aircraft or increase market growth.

Final Thoughts

This new aircraft order will help United expand in international markets, and serve more domestic routes with widebody service, such as flights to Hawaii or transcontinental flights. With this order, over 80% of United’s widebody flying will be on Boeing 787 aircraft, so you can expect a more comfortable experience in the years to come when flying with United.


James Larounis's image

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.


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