United Makes A Few Cool New Changes To Your Flight Experience (And One Dumb One)

I was working on a few things yesterday when a friend of mine who reads the blog regularly started texting me some pictures.  I was immediately intrigued, even if I try to avoid coach as much as possible!  Mike L was sitting on a Boeing 777-200 yesterday when he saw a few new bits United had installed for coach passengers.

As part of the refurbishment, coach passengers will now have access to a small stand where they can clip their mobile phone or rest a tablet while they’re watching TV/movies on their mobile device.

United AIrlines Changes

Coach Seat Back with Mobile Phone Holder

United AIrlines Changes

iPhone in New United Seat Back Mobile Phone Holder

It also appears you could clip a smaller iPad into the shelf as well, though maybe not this big boy:

United AIrlines Changes

Oh, And That Dumb Idea

United AIrlines Changes

New United Armrest Idea?

Why, yes.  That is a flight attendant call button on the armrest.  I applaud United for trying to improve the customer experience.  But, putting the call button on the top side of the arm rest just strikes me as a really bad idea.  Kinda like this United tray table.

The Final Two Pennies

Mobile phones are ubiquitous.  I’m happy to see airlines building this type of functionality into the next generation of seats.  I suspect these will get used a lot more than those in-flight phones that were installed in the backs of seats when I was a kid.  All you had to do was swipe a credit card, pay $6 a minute, and you could call anyone you wanted!

I can’t fathom why they would put a flight attendant call button on an armrest.  I’ve never come across that before on the top of an armrest.  It’s possible I’ve seen a seat where it was on the side of the armrest with other controls, but I don’t specifically recall one.  Just strikes me as something that won’t go over well in today’s heightened angst both crew and passengers seem to have while flying.

I asked Mike about seat power.  No big changes there, two power ports per row in a slightly better location.  Setting aside the call button, I’d call this a slam dunk if they’d have added some USB charging.

The post United Makes A Few Cool New Changes To Your Flight Experience (And One Dumb One) Was published first on Pizza in Motion


  1. Several airlines have call buttons etc in the armrest. United is not the first or only one. But I agree it is a dumb idea.

  2. The bad idea call button reminds me of a story from my high school drivers ed teacher. He said that Ohio once experimented with a 3 lane road. One lane for one way, one lane for the other way, and one lane for passing.

  3. I hate in-arm rest buttons. I was just on a United flight from LAX to IAD that had the horrid DirecTV entertainment system still installed (no United in-flight wifi entertainment). Wouldn’t you know it, my seatmate purchased access for the 5 hr trip which meant that both she and I found the armrest difficult to use without changing the channel, activating the channel guide or altering the backlight on her monitor. Ugh.

    In this new design, I can’t imagine how many times the flight attendant will be accidentally beckoned vie this ill-placed array of buttons. They need to google “user centered design” before their next product idea even gets put down on paper (actually, bits and bytes, I suppose).

  4. The part you don’t mention is that these are the horrid 10-across seats on the “new” 772 domestic config.

    I flew one last fall and the FA call “dings” were literally going off every 10 seconds for the first hour until people were settled. Holy crap that was annoying.

  5. I recall that, back in the days of L-1011s, DC-10s, and 747-200 service, the call button was always on the armrest. On the other hand, whilst the adjacent buttons for lights and audio were “press” to activate, the call button was “pull” to activate, so as to avoid inadvertent activations.

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