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United is upgrading service for business, Premium Economy passengers from LAX to Newark

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Business-class passengers can snooze while they cruise on United’s premium-service flights from Los Angeles to Newark, N.J., making their debut July 1.
(United)

United is beefing up its transcontinental service, announcing on Wednesday upgraded features on its LAX-Newark, N.J., flights starting July 1.

For business-class passengers, United’s service on this route will mimic what they receive on international routes, including lie-flat seat/beds with duvets, and hot-towel service.

What United calls “seasonally refreshed menus” have been engineered by a quartet of chefs, including Della Gossett of Spago Beverly Hills and David LeFevre of MB (as in Manhattan Beach) Post.

Premium Economy passengers also will get some new perks, including a hot meal and drinks.

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United is still trying to repair its reputation after it booted a passenger off a plane April 9 to make room for crew members. Dr. David Dao, who was in his seat, was dragged up the aisle by airport authorities.

Videos showing Dao, his face bloodied, went viral, and United’s lukewarm initial response added fuel to red-hot fire of customer discontent. Dao reached a settlement with United for an undisclosed amount.

In the wake of the fiasco, United announced a 10-point customer service plan that offers up to $10,000 in compensation for those who give up a seat. It also promised to reduce overbooking, a common practice among airlines.

Dao was flying coach, where customer discontent has simmered for years as passengers in upper classes enjoy better meals, more legroom and other perks. Yet the vast majority of passengers are economy passengers.

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I asked Jonathan Guerin, United representative, about improving service for more elite fliers while their brethren in economy are leading a more bare-bones existence at 35,000 feet.

“United Airlines is working harder than ever to put our customers at the center of everything we do, and we continue taking action on the policy changes announced on April 27,” Guerin said in an email.

“We are also continuing to work on ways to differentiate our products and services — as we are announcing today with our premium transcontinental service — to better serve our customers and make their experience with United Airlines the best one possible.”

The airline also will offer the premium service from San Francisco to Boston and Newark.

Many airlines are already offering premium transcontinental service, including JetBlue, which last month announced expansion of its premium and highly praised Mint service.

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