United Coach is About to Get Worse: Planning a New High Density 777 With 100 More Seats

Aviation Week carries a story about United planning for a less comfortable Boeing 777 experience.

They’ve mapped out a strategy for 10-across seating in economy, like American has in their new and reconfigured 777s and has become common worldwide such as with Air France and Emirates.

Ten seats across in the regular economy section has quickly become the standard for new deliveries, with roughly 70% of new 777s now being delivered by Boeing with that configuration.

Economy Plus would retain 9-across seating, like American has done on with its ‘Main Cabin Extra’ product.

Overall the plan involves adding about a hundred seats into a 777, as follows: 28 business class, 98 economy plus and 238 regular economy.

This would be for 777s from the legacy United fleet for this retrofit. One hopes that in removing business class seats they’ll also put in the Continental business class, rather than the 8-abreast United dorm-style lie flat business seats that are currently on these aircraft.

This continues the trend of:

  • Fewer premium seats
  • A better premium experience
  • Tighter economy

And it makes the importance of elite status — to at least secure economy plus — all the more important.

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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  1. The Hawaii fleet has 344 seats. The proposed config has 364. That’s 20 more seats.

    Let’s at least try to diffuse the absurdity of saying 100 more seats.

  2. @Mark

    Yes, that’s what the hypothesis is, and it would make the most sense.

    Gary, can you please not change the entire meaning of the article you’re citing? “Planning” and “Considering” are two TOTALLY different things. We all love bashing United, but only when it’s validated.

  3. The two 777 configurations (Hawaiian and international) are used for completely different tasks. It’s 100 more seats on those international routes. Put another way, it’s like putting those Hawaii aircraft on much longer routes.

    What’s depressing is that this move is probably directed at replacing and retiring 747s, which have a total of 374 seats right now.

  4. Three times while on active duty, I flew MAC flights between St. Louis and Frankfurt Germany. Can’t give the capacity, except four sections, each with four seats. First time, there was a one to two hour delay on the ground at an airport in Newfoundland.

  5. >And it makes the importance of elite status — to at least secure economy plus — all the more important.

    I hate to say it, but with the way things are going, I have my doubts about whether elite status will secure economy plus…


  6. With one of the worst First Class (Global First Class) and now runningfor the worst economy experience in the US – AC Rouge still beats them at this point – just another north american airline to avoid like the plague.

  7. Sad to see J get smaller. With all of the bad changes, I’ve at least found that my GPUs clear with regularity (as opposed to my AA SUs which I find almost never clear). I guess we can kiss those goodbye as well.

  8. The legacy UA Hawaii sub fleet that would be converted does not have lie flats in F; rather, standard domestic F seats.

  9. That article is mixed up on info. There are really 3 different 777 configurations. The PMUA 3 class international birds, the PMCO 2 class international birds, and the PMUA 2 class domestic Hawaii planes (with a domestic F seat in the premium class). This is the same news that came out a while back – the 77A fleet is going to be converted to a high density domestic configuration with 10Y, with the Hawaii fleet joining. I believe it will be a domestic F recliner, not LF seat. this article from USA today has a lot more clear (and specific info). The international birds are remaining 9Y for now.

    “United Airlines plans to retrofit 19 of its 74 Boeing 777 widebodies into a high-density domestic configuration that will include 10-abreast seating in economy, the carrier confirmed to Today in the Sky.
    United will apply the change to nine of its Boeing 777s that are already used for domestic flights, mostly on flights to and from Hawaii. The other 10 Boeing 777s to be retrofitted will be shifted from United’s long-haul international routes…
    …With the retrofits, all 19 of United’s 777-200 models of the jet will be in the domestic configuration. All 55 of United’s 777-200ERs will retain the international configuration. United has not yet revealed what its plans will be for the new 777-300ERs that are yet to be delivered to the carrier.”


  10. I have to correct myself. They are getting flatbeds, including the Hawaii birds, which will be an upgrade. From the USA today article:

    “In business class, United will replace the recliner seats now on the domestic 777s with flatbed seats.”

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