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United recently moved its P.S. (Premium Service) flights between New York and Los Angeles / San Francisco from New York’s Kennedy airport to Newark Liberty, United’s global hub, creating more frequent service that on some days is almost hourly.
These flights usually use Boeing 757-200 aircraft with either 28 or 16 lie flat seats in its BusinessFirst cabin, which makes for a great ride and a good value for your miles if you can snag a seat at the Saver level. But finding award or upgrade space to those lie flat seats is tricky, just as it is on Delta and American’s competing transcontinental routes with lie flat seats.
There is some relief coming for April, as United has scheduled a big international Boeing 777-200 on both its Newark – Los Angeles and Newark – San Francisco routes once a day in both directions.
These planes have 48 premium seats (8 First Class and 40 Business Class), almost double the size of a typical P.S. plane. They also mark an unofficial return of 3 cabin service (First, Business, Coach) to P.S. routes after United ditched First Class in favor of more Business seats about two years ago.
There’s lots of award space in Business and even First Class on these flights.
The Los Angeles flights run by a 777 are pretty wide open in both Business and First with 9 or more award or upgrade seats per flight, while the San Francisco flights mostly have availability in First Class.
Space runs from about April 6th to the first week of May and you can snag a Business seat for just 25,000 miles one way and First Class for 35,000 miles one way.
United MileagePlus is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, so your Sapphire Preferred points can be used to book these flights if you transfer some to United.
If you want to upgrade a coach ticket, you’ll need Regional Premier Upgrade or Global Premier Upgrade certificates, which are earned at the Premier Platinum and Premier 1K levels of MileagePlus. Or you could pay a cash copay of $75-$225 plus miles, though that’s not a good deal at all considering you can snag an award seat outright for 25,000 miles and just $5.60 in taxes.
The 777 seems to be running the 4:45 or 5:00pm flight on both the Newark – Los Angeles and Newark – San Francisco runs, making it great for pairing with flights back from Europe. And the 777 is running the 7:00 or 7:30am flight on both the Los Angeles – Newark and San Francisco – Newark runs, also pairing well with getting to Europe, or returning on a redeye from Hawaii.
In BusinessFirst, the seats might be considered a downgrade from the usual 757s that run, because the Business cabin is set up in a 2-4-2 configuration, which means 2 middle seats in every row, while half the rows face backwards.
But it’s still a very comfortable seat and ride for an upgrade or Saver award, especially if you avoid a middle seat.
In First Class you’ll find a very private 1-2-1 setup, so it’s possible to have no one seated next to you, and is the most spacious way to fly across the country.
Don’t expect any different service in First Class versus Business on these flights, but on the ground at Newark you’ll be able to use the Global Services check-in which lets you cut to the very front of the security line.
So if you’re looking for a Spring Break to California, or live on the West Coast and want to get to Europe in flat bed seats the whole way, start searching and booking now.
It’s possible these plane assignments are a placeholder, especially given United is in the process of reconfiguring some of its 777s for exclusively domestic service, and those may not have the full 48 seats up front, so this award space could disappear if you don’t act fast.
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