United’s Domestic 777s Are Getting a Big Downgrade in Coach

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Update: United shared the seat map for its new domestic 777-200 configuration, which consists of 336 economy seats in a 3-4-3 configuration and 28 first-class seats in a cramped 2-4-2 configuration, rather than the 2-2-2 previously expected. Here’s a screenshot of the seat map, courtesy of @AirlineFlyer.

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 3.24.25 PM

United currently operates a 747 on a domestic route and plans to add an internationally configured 777 flying EWR-LAX soon as well, but the carrier also flies 777s within the US in a special domestic configuration, that’s about to get a bit more… special.

Today, the airline shared its plans to retrofit 19 777-200s, including 9 that currently service flights to and from Hawaii and an additional 10 that are used for international flights. After the retrofit, all 19 planes will be used primarily on flights within the US, including to and from Honolulu. The reconfiguration will begin in May of this year, with all 777s scheduled to be have the new layout by May 2017.

Some of United's economy cabins are in bad need of a refresh.
Some of United’s economy cabins are in bad need of a refresh.

As part of the retrofit, United will be adding 24 seats to each plane, replacing the current 2-5-2 or 3-3-3 with a 3-4-3 configuration. That means rather than having 9 seats in each row, these 777s will instead have 10 seats — the airplane’s width won’t change, of course, so United will need to make each seat more narrow to accommodate the additional passengers.

United isn’t the first US airline to adopt 3-4-3 seating on the 777 — American launched the concept with its 777-300ER, which provides a very comfortable ride in business class, but not so much in coach. Similarly, United’s new domestic 777s will be getting a business-class upgrade — 32 recliner seats will be replaced by 28 lie-flat beds, but fewer premium-cabin seats means fewer opportunities for elite upgrades. Additionally, all of these 777s will have Wi-Fi on board with streaming entertainment (instead of seat-back TVs, most likely), and each economy seat will have a tablet and smartphone holder as well.

H/T: USA Today

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