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As first and business class products get better across airlines, the Great Squeeze continues in economy. While Delta’s CEO has pledged never to drop economy pitch below 31 inches, American Airlines’ CEO wouldn’t even commit to not going below 30 inches. Now, United’s actions show they have no limit either.

While still maintaining 24 first class seats, United plans to add 21 more economy seats to its 757-300s. That’ll increase the economy cabin seating from 189 to 210 seats. The obvious question is: Where is all of the space needed for these seats going to come from?

Currently, United’s 757-300s have:

  • 24 first class seats with 38 inches of pitch
  • 57 Economy Plus seats with 35 inches of pitch
  • 132 economy seats with 31 inches of pitch

Without eliminating bathrooms, there’s not much space to work with. We can assume that the economy coat rack (currently across from row 41) and front economy galley space (next to row 7) are going to be eliminated. Those spaces will allow six seats to be added.

The next easiest victim is Economy Plus. Of the 57 Economy Plus seats on United’s 757-300, 24 are bulkheads and exit row seats. Leaving those as-is and slashing four inches from all of the non-exit, non-bulkheads gives another 132 inches (33 x 4 inches) of space. But that’s only space for a few more seats.

Even dropping non-bulkhead, non-exit row economy seats to 30 inches of pitch throughout still doesn’t give United enough space with an economy cabin redesign alone. So, it’s clear that something more drastic will have to be done to United’s 757-300s — whether that’s dropping below 30 inches of pitch in some rows, cutting bathrooms (while adding passengers), cutting first class galley space and/or squeezing first class pitch.

Until United releases its new 757-300 seating plans, we won’t know for sure where this space will come from. However, just like AA flyers want to avoid the 737 MAX, it looks like United flyers will want to steer clear of the retrofit 757-300s.

H/T: View From The Wing

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