United Reconfiguring Boeing 777s, Wants You to Be Less Comfortable in Domestic Coach

A year ago I wrote about a plan for United to move from 9 seats across in coach to 10 seats across on their Boeing 777s.

Now we know what they’re doing. They’re going to move forward with 10-abreast economy on their 777s that fly domestically.

  • These operate on routes like Hawaii which are primarily leisure-oriented
  • They’re going to add to the domestic fleet of 777s. There are currently 10 and that fleet will grow to 19, all getting the new 10-abreast configuration.
  • The layout will be 3-4-3: 3 seats at the window, 4 seats clumped together in the middle of the aircraft, and 3 again at the window.

At least you may get a stroopwafel.

American began its plan to move to 10-abreast seating on its 777s four years ago. That applies to their full fleet of Boeing 777s, though not all of the 777-200s have yet been reconfigured. (American has 777s that are 9-abreast in Main Cabin Extra though that more generous configuration will remain only for a subset of the airline’s 777s.)


American Airlines Economy Seats (787)

Other airlines like Air France and Emirates offer 10-across Boeing 777s, and indeed Boeing reports that about half of new 777s are getting this configuration.

That’s Flyer unFriendly. And if it were domestic flights within the Continental U.S. only then perhaps the flights would be short enough as to matter less. But Hawaii flights, especially from the East Coast and middle of the country, are long flights. They’re also low yielding, so United wants to pack as many people in as possible.

Notably though at this time United hasn’t announced plans to reconfigure their international 777s 10-across. That makes their 777s more desirable in economy than American’s.

(HT: @joshchessman)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Race to the bottom
    United is toast
    The second to last choice for me only Delta would be in last place with Spirit

  2. I have no doubt that United’s new 77Ws will be delivered with a 10-abreast configuration in economy. As for the remaining international 772s, its possible that the airline is waiting for the next big reconfiguration (perhaps when UA’s next generation business class seats are installed) to make any changes to the coach cabin.

  3. So you’re criticizing United for adopting the accepted standard that most major airlines around the world use?

    And if this change means that we’ll see better benefits (or at least won’t lose benefits) in the forward cabins, it sounds like smart business.

    I’m a premier platinum with United, and I usually purchase P or Z class fares. I’m the customer that United should be catering to – not Ma and Pa Kettle from Des Moines who shopped Orbitz and chose the $99 fare because it was cheaper by $5 over another carrier.

    I don’t have a problem with this at all.

  4. I can not understand why the so called Legacy carriers – reporting multi million USD in profit, are opening up for the LCC-Low Cost Carriers in this manner
    First by ruining their Frequent Flyers programs, and second of all their hard product.
    The soft product in US Domestic marked disappeared in the UA/CO merger some years back.

  5. Hey, this is less bad than I expected, I figured they’d be changing all of them. The international 9 across still makes it quite a bit better than most legacy carriers international flights (like Uniteds 747s and 787s)

  6. I’ve flown this configuration before on Emirates 777’s. Does it suck. Suuuuuure. I just don’t see it being that huge of a deal.

  7. If United goes 10 across on their international 777’s that’s when I’ll stop flying them.

  8. I won’t miss AA as much when they stop giving miles flown in the second half of 2016, especially when I see them matching prices on LAX-MIA nonstop recently changed to 777 3-4-3 config while adding insult by charging $35-65 for every single window and aisle set in economy. It’s hard to believe a major US carrier would accept a race to the bottom from the likes of Spirit, but they’re hard at it and pitching off their planes long-time (40 years here) customers in droves.

  9. To heck with 10 across. I just flew Japan Airlines 777-300 JFK-NRT in economy. All economy seats are 3-3-3. They are 19 inches wide and have 34 inch pitch. Plus the seats have great adjustable headrests and side support for the lower torso like a sports car seat.

  10. “And if it were domestic flights within the Continental U.S. only then perhaps the flights would be short enough as to matter less. But Hawaii flights, especially from the East Coast and middle of the country, are long flights. They’re also low yielding, so United wants to pack as many people in as possible.”

    The UA 772As that are being converted to domestic configuration don’t have the range to fly EWR or IAD to Hawaii. ORD and IAH are the limit. That’s why UA flies 764s from EWR and IAD.

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