United just showed off their "new" first class seat, it is modeled on a seat they already retrofitted in their A319's earlier this year. Unfortunately I am not a fan of these new seats, but there are some redeeming perks.
There seems to be a growing trend by the major airlines to introduce more privacy and perks to first class seats, however I think these airlines are going the wrong way. First, they are assuming that most travelers are traveling alone and thus most features are individual focused with fixed dividers that degrade any sort of sociability on the aircraft.
To give credit to the likes of both Delta and United, who seem to be pushing ahead with the biggest seat redesigns, they have brought many modern features on to these jets. The biggest is Bluetooth connectivity, any headphones that airlines provide to you always seem to have some sort of lack of quality, comfort, or likability. I have flown on many aircraft, and I don't think I've been on a single one that has given me good quality audio from the headphone jack, there's always some sort of line static or hum produced by the aircraft's IFE system that just won't go away. Bluetooth is the way, I first tried it last year during the inagural flight of Delta's A321neo and I am hooked. United seems to be ahead of the game in Bluetooth rollout, while Delta only has it on their A321neo in first class, United has rolled it out to all classes of service on their modern jets.
These new seats do have some great quality perks. One of the biggest is the wirless phone charger, I tend to use my phone a lot on airplanes and always end up with a nearly dead battery on the other end. While there are typical plugs and USB ports at most seats I find it cumbersome when I already have my other gadgets out with me in the seat. Otheres might be agaisnt it but I embrace a cableless world.
In seat storage seems to be in a better position, along with the power plug. I have traveled a couple times on Delta's A321neo which I will compare a lot here as I think these seats directly compete with each other, and the over should plug location isn't the best position to be in. Along with the cubby hole in the center that looks to be shared between the seatmates it looks much better to access and if you're throwing something on the charger and not intending to use it, the storage area looks much better equipped.
As I alluded to, moden seats from Delta and United now seem to be focused on the solo traveler adn thus there are a lot of fixed privacy features that I believe will be a massive downside for anyone traveling with a partner.
The first privacy feature is the fixed divider between the seats, this thing can not be removed and would make reaching between seatmates awkward. Along with that are the "wings" at head level mean to give you a more private feeling seat without giving you a full suite. I am not a fan. I don't like them on Delta and at least United's are as prominate as their compeditior but they still give you that locked in feeling. I have not tried these new seats but if they're anything like Delta's they will constantly be in your peripheral vision giving you the constant locked in feeling in the seat. Thankfully I don't have claustrofobia, but I like open spaces rather than feeling locked in.
Another thing I will allude to is the comfort of the seat, while they look nice I think they will be inferior to older seats. One thing I like about older first class seats is that they seem to have much better padding. These new United seats look very similiar to Delta's which doesn't have as much padding in the areas that matter and after a long flight (like Newark to San Francisco) your butt will be feeling the fatigue after the long flight.
These new seats bring a lot to the table and overall they bring a more modern feeling to United's cabins. I have no doubt their IFE features that will go along with the new seats will match with Bluetooth connectivity and I will enjoy the wireless charging. I think United could improve the companion expirence with these seats and they seem to be extremely tailored to the solo traveler. Overall United's seats do keep up with the time, but I hope they condinue to refine these seats and make them better.