United’s New ‘Dense’ 757: Routes You Want to Avoid

When US Airways took over American Airlines one of the first moves new management made was to squeeze more seats into planes. For instance they took 737s from 150 seats up to 160 and are now squeezing 172 into that plane.

US Airways-turned American President is now United’s President and the airline is on a quest to ‘densify’ aircraft making them less comfortable for passengers.

United Boeing 757-300s currently have 213 seats (189 coach and 24 first class). In December a leaked memo showed that they’re taking Boeing 757-300s up to 234 seats (210 coach and 24 first class). That’s 21 more coach seats. Delta has already densified their 757-300s with 234 seats.

United Boeing 757 Prepares to Depart for Hawaii

Routes Online has the routes where the new tighter coach seats will appear starting in June. Routes like Los Angeles – Hawaii and San Francisco – Washington DC really seem like a little much for this aircraft from a passenger experience standpoint.

Chicago O’Hare – Las Vegas eff 07JUN18 1 daily (until 20AUG18)
Chicago O’Hare – Orlando eff 07JUN18 1 daily
Chicago O’Hare – Seattle eff 29JUN18 1 daily
Denver – Chicago O’Hare eff 07JUN18 3 daily
Denver – Los Angeles eff 07JUN18 3 daily
Denver – San Francisco eff 07JUN18 4 daily
Denver – Washington Reagan eff 07JUN18 1 daily
Los Angeles – Chicago O’Hare eff 07JUN18 up to 7 daily
Los Angeles – Honolulu eff 07JUN18 1 daily
Los Angeles – Kona eff 21AUG18 1 daily
San Francisco – Chicago O’Hare eff 07JUN18 up to 7 daily
San Francisco – Honolulu eff 07JUN18 8 weekly (7 weekly from 24JUN18, until 20AUG18)
San Francisco – Kahului eff 07JUN18 2 daily (1 daily from 21AUG18)
San Francisco – Orlando eff 21AUG18 1 daily
San Francisco – Seattle eff 07JUN18 1 daily
San Francisco – Washington Reagan eff 07JUN18 1 daily

At least these planes are still six-across, which has always been tight with Boeing’s fuselage which is narrower than a comparable Airbus. United’s (and American’s) Boeing new 777 configuration has gone from 9-across to 10-across creating a new tighter shoulder width experience.

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. You act as if USAways invented denisification. I believe Delta led they way in this contest and the others are playing catch-up

  2. @ Gary — Pretty sure the densification extends to first class as well. It does for Delta, and it sucks. The best thing about 757’s used to be the first class cabin being forward of boarding door 2L. You boarded, turned left, and never saw the masses again until deplaning. Now, these new densified layouts place some of the coach rows forward of 2L. Ruins the exclusivity of the up-front experience for me.

    It’s a sad day when the most comfortable domestic first class has become AA 737-800s and various E-175s. Pitiful.

  3. “At least these planes are still six-across” — seriously??? Is that supposed to be a silver lining? Is there any narrow body plane that is more than six-across???

  4. UA’s planes to Hawaii are already awful and I avoid them like a disease…this densification will not alter my travel patterns at all.

  5. One of the reasons this year marks a change for me. I’m now going to be flying Hawaiian to Hawaii for the foreseeable future. Got the 50K in flight signup bonus on their card to cement the move. Yes, the route for me is currently stocked with their ancient to-be-phased-out 767s with no in seat video but it means I can fly out of my home airport SJC and not have to trudge up to SFO and the prices are generally cheaper. And the service is better. Free booze in Economy (albeit one drink)? I’ll take it…

    Between the Hawaiian switch and my move to stockpiling Chase Ultimate Rewards points last year, United really has lost my loyalty with its race to the bottom for everyone not paying through the nose to fly Polaris class.

  6. largely within expectation – PMUA hub-to-hub, trunk leisure (LAS/MCO/HNL/OGG/KOA), and slot restrictions (SFO/DEN-DCA).

    The only ones that caught my attention were ORD/SFO-SEA. Maybe they saw an opening to gain market share given recent AS merger woes ?

  7. It’s definitely deplorable for all air lines, and it flies in the face of humanity’s evolution into bigger and longer bodies.

    The big “BUT’ in the whole thing is:
    People want it cheaper. This is the outcome !
    So don’t book the air line that’s cheaper.
    Make enough money, or don’t fly !!

    I know this sounds arrogant, but it’s really coming from a place where I’m angry that people get crammed into tighter and tighter spaces. That causes aggression.

  8. I already kind of wondered if anyone chose to fly to Hawaii from the SF Bay Area on United. This just seems like it will help drive even more traffic to Hawaiian and Alaska/Virgin (and maybe let them raise prices a little) for those flights. Maybe enough people connect to those SFO-Hawaii flights to keep them full anyway?

  9. I finally figured out a solution to prisoner overcrowding. Buy old mothballed planes and put them near prisons. Put in the denitrification seats discussed above, including small toilet. Give prisoners a 50% torture reduction in their sentence for sitting in those seats for 10 hours a day. That way, prisoners will get out sooner reducing prison populations, and the airline executives can continue to crow about the humane treatment they are giving their prisoners / passengers.

  10. Yup. And also taking away workspace for crew. They are removing our mid-galley.

    Additionally, instead of 5 lavatories, there will now only be 4, as they are removing one on the 757. More people. Fewer lavs. Less space for flight attendants to set up carts. And more people. This has me and many of my colleagues fuming.

  11. Last week I flew coach on United from Ft Lauderdale to Denver and the slimline seats are hard, no legroom and sat shoulder touching shoulder the entire 4+ hour trip.

    It should be a “race to the top” for customer loyalty but unfortantely, UAL’s quarterly investor meetings is all about revenue growth by trying to scheme up new seating configurations. In all fairness, all airlines play with seating configurations to justify revenue growth at the expense of passenger comfort.

    Any idiot airline exec can do that.

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