Is United Airlines’ Partnership with Jaguar the Ultimate Airline Upgrade?
Cars & motorsport

Ride Wit Me: Is United Airlines’ Partnership with Jaguar the Ultimate Airline Upgrade?

In 2022, Jaguar’s all-electric I-PACE SUV made its runway debut in partnership with United Airlines to offer exclusive plane-side transfer services to United’s elite MileagePlus members. Is this the ultimate upgrade?

By Nate Chapnick

It’s a pretty safe bet that watch aficionados are often frequent flyers. United Airlines has partnered with automaker Jaguar to deliver yet another perk to the top level of its loyal customers: chauffeured private plane side transfers with reduced carbon emissions.

United has chosen Jaguar’s all-electric I-PACE SUV as their vehicle of choice to reward their most loyal frequent flyers with chauffeured rides between gates. Bruce Lesher has worked for United at Los Angeles International Airport for over twenty years and told me, Our MileagePlus Premier members always smile when they see the Jaguar parked plane side waiting to bring them to their next gate or to the new Polaris lounge at LAX.”

For Lesher, the opportunity to drive the Jaguar is also a highlight, noting that: “We take the Jaguar outside of the airport to wash it about once a week, and on those trips, you really get to feel how impressive it performs.”

Moments in Performance

He is not wrong. The I-PACE’s electric motor generates 394 horsepower and 512 pounds of torque, rocketing the I-PACE from zero to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds (not recommended on an airport tarmac, BTW).

Also, because Jaguar’s engineers placed the I-PACE’s batteries as low as possible, situating them between its two axles, the SUV handles like it is on rails, remaining incredibly flat through corners no matter how hard you push it.

More importantly for the humans driving the I-PACE, a 90kWh lithium-ion battery provides enough juice for 246 miles of all-electric driving, with about 80% of that charge being recoverable after only 40 minutes at a recharging station. As a result, after a day of transferring passengers, the I-PACE gets recharged to be ready for the first flight out the next day without its drivers having to deal with LA’s notorious traffic.

“The convenience of not having to refuel is terrific. We just plug it in at night, and the I-PACE is ready to meet our first guests in the morning,” said Efrain Diaz, a United agent who also drives the I-PACE.

Plus, as Lesher, who regularly carries passengers’ luggage as part of United’s exclusive plane side transfer service, recalled, “Travelers often have two carry-on bags with them and travel with a companion, but with the I-PACE’s generous cargo area and trunk storage area we always have more than enough space.”

Rear passengers have plenty of room to spread out without having to fight for space with a transmission tunnel, an advantage that also plays out in the front seat as clever cubbies and storage areas for all your miscellaneous items.

See For Yourself

To experience this luxurious transfer program, you, well, have to be invited, as United only selects MileagePlus Premier members for the Jaguar service who have particularly tight connections. However, some VIP flyers can also find a Jag waiting to meet them plane side, “just as a way to surprise, delight, and thank our most loyal passengers for flying with us,” said Diaz.

Currently, the United hubs in Houston, Denver, Newark, Dulles, Los Angeles, and San Francisco feature the Jaguars, which altogether make around 60 trips and transfer more than 1,000 customers per day. That sounds like something that would be very easy to get used to on a hectic travel day.

To learn more about the United MileagePlus program, check out the program’s website. Or, if you end up falling in love with the ride on your next high-end airport transfer, Jaguar’s I-PACE SUV starts at $72,000.

(Photography by Watchonista)

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