United Airlines, the major subsidiary of UAL Corporation, is a major airline of the United States. It is headquartered in Elk Grove Village, Illinois near its largest hub at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
As of autumn 2005 it was the world's third-largest airline in terms of total passengers transported (behind American Airlines and Delta Air Lines), second-largest in terms of revenue-passenger-kilometers (behind American Airlines), and third-largest in terms of total operating revenues (behind Air France-KLM and American Airlines). It employs around 61,000 people and operates nearly 500 aircraft.
On February 1, 2006 United emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, under which it had operated since December 9, 2002—the largest and longest airline bankruptcy case in history.
United operates extensive domestic route networks in the Midwestern and Western United States and is prominent in transcontinental, transatlantic, and transpacific service. It is by far the leading US carrier to Hawaii and to Asia, flying 37,191,711 transpacific RPKs in 2004. It is also one of only two US carriers permitted to fly to London Heathrow Airport under the Bermuda II agreement, and the only US carrier which operates its own aircraft from the mainland US to Australia (Hawaiian Airlines flies from Honolulu to Sydney and Continental Airlines maintains a route from Guam to Cairns).
United operates a low-cost leisure airline called Ted. The name is taken from the last three letters of its parent United. Ted serves leisure destinations within the United States and Mexico with 240 daily flights utilizing 54 aircraft.
United has focused for the last several years on its international presence, notably to the People's Republic of China (with nonstop flights to Beijing and Shanghai from its hubs in Chicago and San Francisco). These routes offer a higher proportion of premium fare passengers while being relatively insulated from the cutthroat competition in the domestic market, especially from low-cost carriers. United has also focused more on Latin America, a region where it had largely retreated in the last decade, and added new destinations and frequencies to Mexico and the Caribbean and will continue to do so into the next decade.
All of United's mainline fleet feature Economy Plus, a forward section in the Economy cabin that offers an additional 5 to 6 inches (127 to 152 mm) of space although cabin service is the same. Seats in Economy Plus are reserved for passengers on high-fare tickets (Y, B, M, E, and U fare classes) and for United's frequent flyer Premier members and Star Alliance elites. Economy Plus seats are also available, as of August 2005, to non-elites paying an annual subscription fee or a per-flight upgrade fee.
- Boeing 747-422
Number in fleet: 29 (plus 2 Boeing 747-451 leased from Northwest Airlines)
Services:East Asia, South Pacific, Washington to Frankfurt and London (Heathrow), ferry and positioning flights between hubs
- Boeing 777-222 (including the 777-222ER)
Number in fleet: 52
Configuration: 36/312 (North America, 777-200A model), 12/49/197 (transatlantic, 777-200ER and B777-200A model), 10/45/198 (transpacific, 777-200ER model)
Services: international, transcontinental, interhub, Hawai'i
The international subfleets feature personal video in all cabins, while the domestic subfleet only has overhead monitors and projectors. United Airlines was the launch customer and primary design partner in conjunction with Boeing during the development of the 777.
- Boeing 767-322ER
Number in fleet: 35
Configuration: 34/210 (domestic), 10/32/151 (international)
Services: transcontinental, transatlantic, interhub, Hawai'i. United possesses 14 B767-322D and 21 B767-322ER
The Boeing 767 family of aircraft makes more transatlantic flights daily than any other type of aircraft.
- Boeing 757-222
Number in fleet: 97
Configuration: 24/158 (standard), 12/26/72 (JFK to SFO and LAX)
In 2004, United began service with three-class 757s between New York and the West Coast: these aircraft have larger seat pitch than 3-class 767s and an all-Economy Plus main cabin.
The Boeing 767 and 757 have a flight crew commonality rating; flight crews are certified to operate either aircraft without any additional training.
- Boeing 737-522
Number in fleet: 27
Configuration: 8/96 (standard), 8/102 (former shuttle)
Services: domestic short-haul
- Boeing 737-322
Number in fleet: 60
Configuration: 8/112 (standard), 8/120 (former shuttle)
Services: domestic short-haul
- Airbus A320
Number in fleet: 97 with 18 on deferred order(including Ted)
Configuration: 12/126 (mainline), 0/156 (Ted)
Services: domestic short-haul, transcontinental
These, along with the A319s, are replacing 737s throughout the system, due to their speed and range advantage. In addition, with better passenger amenities and comfort, the Airbus aircraft can be used on any previously-flown 737 route with a higher degree of passenger satisfaction. They also have LCD video screens over the seats. On Ted configured aircraft, there is no United First Section and there is an expanded United Economy Plus section.