United Upgrades to Wi-Fi, Streaming Video

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — United Continental Holdings Inc. (Stock Quote: UAL) announced Sunday that it will put $550 million into improving its fleet’s cabins.

Planned improvements will include doubling the overhead storage capacity, installing advanced broadband Wi-Fi and streaming video to mobile devices onboard more of its planes. The airline will also add flat-bed seating on more of its long-haul aircraft, Economy Plus seating, which essentially affords passengers extra legroom, and Channel 9 air traffic control, the ability for passengers to listen to air traffic control, to more of its standard fleet.

“When we announced our merger, we committed to building an airline that our co-workers would want to work for, our customers would want to fly, and our investors would want to invest in,” said Jeff Smisek, president and chief executive officer of United Continental Holdings in a written statement. “These product enhancements announced today, coupled with our unbeatable route network and loyalty program, will provide an unsurpassed travel experience for our customers.”

While we give United-Continental credit for spending money on cabin improvements, the changes it will make are really nothing new.

Delta (Stock Quote: DAL), Virgin America, Southwest (Stock Quote: LUV) and American Airlines (Stock Quote: AMR)  all offer Wi-Fi on many of their flights and American Airlines lets passengers wirelessly stream movies and TV shows to their devices during flights

What’s more, the changes almost entirely involve services and features that passengers will have to pay extra for. For instance, United Continental charges between $9 and $109 extra for its Economy Plus seating, a service that is also currently offered by Delta.  Flat-bed seating is sold as part of a first-class ticket, which is much more costly already than flying coach.

But hey, at least they’re not announcing a fee to pay to print your boarding pass.

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