The past week saw an important event take place for the United Airlines short to medium haul fleet. The US airline has in fact taken delivery of its very first Airbus A321neo so let’s look at how the aircraft was delivered and how it’ll operate under the United colours.
The First Of Many Airbus A321neo to Come to United
The latest addition to the United Airlines fleet is the brand new Airbus A321neo. The aircraft will fly in the UA colours under registration number N44501. This is the very first A321neo the American carrier has taken delivery of.
N44501 is the first arrival of A321neo planes and is part of a very large order the carrier has with Airbus. As a matter of fact United will be incorporating into its fleet another 119 of the type in the coming years. Some of these A321neo will possibly also be in the XLR version, enabling the airline to also operate it on long range routes.
Why Is United Airlines Getting the A321?
United Airlines already operates a substantial number of Airbus single aisle planes, 171 to be precise. However none of these 171 planes are the A321 variant of the A320 family. So why has United decided to opt for this variant now?
For many US carriers congestion at major airports is becoming an issue. There are less and less slots available and therefore there is a growing need to operate planes with higher capacity on each trip. Clearly though you can only operate single aisle planes on certain routes and that’s where the UA Airbus fleet comes into play.
Upgrading from the A320 and A319 Airbus planes to the larger A321 allows United to sell more seats on its routes where the only option is to increase capacity.
How Was United Airlines’ New A321 N44501 Delivered?
The latest addition to the United fleet had to make a very long trip in order to reach its new home in the US. This particular A321neo rolled out of the assembly line in Hamburg, Germany, and therefore had to make its way across the Atlantic to join the UA fleet.
N44501 departed Hamburg on October 16th 2023 making a refuelling stopover in Reykjavik Keflavik international airport to the land in Cleveland before making its way to its final destination Houston, Texas.
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The total travel time clocked in at 11 hours 44 minutes.
Image by GCmap.com
The New United Airlines A321neo Configuration
The plane is likely to be fitted with a 3 class configuration, which means it’ll have a quite premium heavy layout. What its configuration should look like is something like this:
- 20 Business Class Seats
- 57 Premium Economy Seats
- 123 Economy Class Seats
This plane, along with the other Airbus A321neo that will arrive, are likely to be used only on domestic routes and flights within the American continent. Once the XLR version arrives we might see these planes crossing the Atlantic as US carriers did with the Boeing 757, another narrow body aircraft.