When the Boeing 777 launched, 9-across seating in economy was the standard. These days, many airlines are adding a seat to make 10-across economy class. Until recently, I have been able to avoid this tight configuration. Due to a weather delay on my inter-island flight to Honolulu, I misconnected. We rebooked on another flight; losing confirmed upgrades but at least able to get 3 seats together, albeit in 10-across economy.
It is unfortunate that economy seats continue to get the squeeze, while on average passengers are often getting larger. I have sat in economy on a 9-across 787, which is tight, but seats are about 1/4 of an inch (0.5 cm) wider than the 17.1 inches on 10-across economy on 777s. After my flight, I’m shocked to report that this narrow seat was not as bad as I feared. There are a few caveats to that statement. While I’m not happy United and American are joining this 10-across economy phenomenon, our situation was such that it was not too bad.
Thankfully our seats are in Economy Plus, giving 4 inches more leg room, plus due to quite a few open seats, our seat mate moved to the row behind us so we all had more space. I’m tall, but not very wide, and my daughter sat next to me, so I avoided bumping shoulders all flight with another adult male.
United’s New Domestic 777 Has 10-across in Economy
After our flight change, I noticed the new configuration when I was selecting seats. We got 3 seats together, although coming on a plane with a 2-year-old often makes people more than willing to move seats around if needed. The seats themselves look nice enough, and are relatively comfortable, even for the long flight from Honolulu to Chicago. There are 2 power ports under seats in front for each seat group. The seat on the domestic 777 seems is the same seat as on the brand new United 777-300ER, although instead of an in-seat monitor, the domestic flights only offer a tablet holder to utilize content from the onboard server.
The tablet holder worked well, although the spring-loaded clip at the bottom is loud when removing a device. I got a few dirty looks about that. The United Private Screening content has decent selection of movies and shows. There are new movies, and some classics like the movie shown above. United claims to have more free entertainment streamed to personal devices than any other airline.
Seat Comfort in a 10-across Economy Seat
Economy plus seats on this plane have 35 inches of pitch vs 31 in standard economy. That helps me with my long legs. I though the pitch felt pretty spacious. As mentioned, there are 2 power ports for the 4 seats, and unlike most other United power ports, they are located under the seat in front. One strange feature of the bank of 4 seats is that there are 3 seat mounts, so under-seat storage is odd. Notice below, the D aisle seat has somewhat obstructed leg room due to seat mount, power port and seat frame.
There were quite a few open seats allowing our family of 3 to have 4 seats available to us. United has multiple configurations for their domestic 777 fleet. During transition to the new 10-across economy configuration, it seems they use seat maps for the older configuration. That has 20 less seats, so for now, it seems that flights in the new configuration should have open seats. In our case, the flight wasn’t full.
Conclusion: Better Than I Feared
Despite minimal sleep on the long redeye flight, the seat was better than I feared. I don’t like economy seats having less and less space, but its the reality these days. Thanks to some open seats, and having a toddler as a travel companion, I had decent space for my first time in a seat this narrow. Economy Plus helps for more leg room as well, so the squeeze was only in one direction. Those that aren’t so fortunate likely won’t be as positive as I was. A full cabin, and a seat in Economy minus would likely not be very pleasant. This is the future for economy flyers. This same seat is on United’s new 777-300ER, which is planned for many of the airline’s longest routes. Despite the deluge of Polaris marketing, there are only 60 Polaris seats on that bird, compared with 204 in Economy (minus). Ouch!
Have you flown in United’s newly configured economy class cabin, and what was your experience?