Wednesday, March 9, 2016

United confirms 10-abreast seating on some of its 777s

United Airlines Boeing 777-222(ER) (30549/291) N216UA departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) bound for Honolulu International Airport (HNL/PHNL) on December 19, 2012.
(Photo by Michael Carter)   

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, a move that comes as the carrier’s new Boeing 787 “Dreamliners” pick up more of that flying.

United’s move to 10-across seating in the coach cabin of its 777s echoes a broader industry trend on the popular widebody. Boeing says airlines ordering the aircraft requested 10-across seating on about half of the 777s delivered last year. That’s up from about 30% in 2008, according to the U.S. jet-maker.

Even among U.S. carriers, American already flies some of its 777s with a 10-abreast layout in coach. Emirates, All Nippon Airways, Air New Zealand, KLM and Air France are among global carriers flying at least some of their 777s with 10 across in coach, a configuration that allows them to add more revenue-producing seats to the plane.

As for United, the update to its 19 Boeing 777s – set to begin this May – will increase capacity to 364 seats, including 28 in business class and 336 in coach. That will be a 20-seat increase over the comparable domestic-configured 777s that United currently uses on the domestic routes from Hawaii.

As has been rumored, the coach-class layout will feature 10-abreast seating in a 3-4-3 configuration. Currently, United’s domestic-configured 777s seat nine across in coach in a 2-5-2 layout. United expects to have all 19 of the 777s scheduled to get the retrofit completed by May 2017.

United’s 777s that remain on international routes will continue to seat 9-across in coach. Those 55 aircraft have up to 269 seats total.

While the economy cabin in the reconfigured domestic 777s will go from 9- to 10-abreast, there will be some upgrades. United will install in-seat power outlets throughout the cabin, including in coach.

The 777s will be Wi-Fi-enabled, allowing passengers to stream entertainment options to their personal devices. United also will install two mobile device holders – one for tablets and one for phones -- at each economy seat.

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

(Ben Mutzabaugh - Today in the Sky / USA Today)

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