CHICAGO — United Airlines plans to retrofit 19 of its Boeing 777 fleet to include 10-abreast seating in economy class on domestic routes.
Most of the newly configured planes will serve routes to and from Hawaii, according to a USA Today report on March 9.
United will rip out its current nine-seats in a row, 2-5-2 layout, to squeeze 10 passengers per row into a 3-4-3 configuration. That means the aisles in economy class will become narrower by around 3 inches each.
The new layout will also mean a reduction in elbow room, as seat width decreases from around 18 inches to 17 inches.
But legroom shouldn’t be affected. The only way that would be reduced is if United added extra rows of seats.
Capacity on a typical United Airlines Boeing 777-200 flying domestic routes will increase by 20 passengers from 344 to 366, including 28 in business class and 336 in economy, USA Today reported.
The airline expects to complete the retrofit by May next year, according to USA Today.
International routes on United will retain a 9-abreast, 3-3-3 configuration in economy.
But the move reflects a growing trend in aviation, with a 3-4-3 layout on 777s used on at least some jets by carriers including Emirates, Air France, American Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Air New Zealand and KLM, according to USA Today.
More than half of the 777s sold by Boeing last year had 10-abreast seating in coach class, up from 30 per cent in 2008, USA Today reported, citing the U.S. manufacturer.
Increased capacity can help airlines raise revenue, which they say keeps fares lower.
Adding an extra seat per row is one of the less extreme ideas floated recently by airlines.
More out-of-leftfield plans have included an Airbus patent for split-level seating and French manufacturer Zodiac’s idea to make passengers sit facing each other in a hexagon layout.
Both Ryanair and Chinese budget carrier Spring Airlines have even said they would like to offer standing seats on passenger aircraft.