The latest United Airlines A319 conversion from China Southern is finally joining the company’s fleet. The aircraft spent the past few months in Xiamen being modified to United’s cabin configuration. It will now make the long trip over to the United States via Tokyo and Anchorage, flying under its new registration N876UA. That the plane is finally ready for the active fleet is not particularly special in general, though this aircraft represents a few significant changes for United’s Airbus A319 configuration.
This newest batch of A319s for United are fitted with the Viasat Ka-band inflight wifi connectivity solution. Until now the United A320 family fleet was exclusively flying with Panasonic Avionics wifi kit. That deal was first announced in February 2019.
The cabin also features the newer seating configuration with 12 first class seats, 36 Economy Plus seats and 78 in the regular economy cabin. This is two fewer seats overall than the older configuration, with four extra up front and six fewer in E+. This is only the second retrofit cabin to enter the fleet, with N850UA also sporting the new configuration. This transition was also announced in February.
Finally, on the in-seat power front reports suggest that the new (to United) A319 deliveries will feature plugs nose-to-tail rather than the older configuration of only from the exit row forward. This detail remains unconfirmed.
Getting the planes used and in need of a full retrofit allows United to make some changes along the way, improving the in-cabin experience and setting the new standard for the fleet while still keeping costs down. Especially relative to adding a new ~130 seat type to the fleet. At least for a few years while the used A319s and 737-700s remain readily available in the market.
A prior version of the story called this the first used A319; it is not. It is the first of this 2019 tranche and new configuration. The content and headline have been updated to reflect that.