United Airlines made announcements regarding their new business class product in a launch event held in New York today (more of that later).
Buried in the details was a note that United Airlines will phase out their international first class product.
Here’s the text:
“Will there be changes to United Global First?
In December 2016, when United Global First becomes United Polaris Global First, travelers will see enhancements to amenities, dining and service that will improve the overall travel experience. In addition to receiving the higher-quality United Polaris amenities, United Polaris Global First will still have the elevated amenities and specialized attention you’ve come to expect from our international first class service. As we update our fleet over the next several years to incorporate our signature United Polaris direct-aisle-access seating, we will be phasing out the first class cabin and moving toward a two-cabin experience for international travel.”
I don’t think that this came as a surprise to anyone. United Airlines is in reality the old Continental that didn’t have an international first class product regardless of what they called BusinessFirst (and continued to call it after the merger).
Many airlines that previously used to have first class on most on their routes have either cut the capacity of the cabin or routes where it is offered. The demand just isn’t always there and the new business class seats that many airlines have are good enough for most.
Delta doesn’t offer first class and American Airlines only on select routes. If someone wants to travel to/from North America in first class, they need to rely on European, Asian and Middle Eastern airlines.