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United to Offer Upgraded Economy Section on Some Global Flights

United Continental Holdings Inc. is set to debut an upgraded economy section with bigger seats and free booze on some international flights, following similar moves by U.S. rivals.

United will introduce what it’s calling Premium Plus later this year, spokeswoman Maggie Schmerin said, without giving further details. A memo sent to United employees Thursday said the new section will have additional perks including upgraded dining on fine dinnerware and Saks Fifth Avenue blankets and pillows.

The Chicago-based carrier is playing catchup to rivals, many of whom already provide a similar product. Foreign carriers have offered mid-range premium seating for years, typically consisting of a separate section of the aircraft between the coach and business cabins. American Airlines Group Inc. was the first major U.S. carrier to install the sections on its Boeing Co. 787-9 aircraft, used on long-haul international routes, while Delta Air Lines Inc. has placed them on its new long-haul Airbus SE A350 jets.

While United hasn’t revealed much about its plans for Premium Plus, if it follows the mold set by other carriers it would have more legroom, nicer food, and occasionally a more generous baggage allowance. A major distinction of premium economy cabins is they have wider seats as well, making them more spacious than many airlines’ extra-legroom sections in coach. American’s premium economy section has seats that are 19 inches wide, compared with the typical 16 or 17 inches in coach, according to SeatGuru.com.

News of United’s decision to debut Premium Plus was reported earlier by Skift.com.

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