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Old Dec 6, 06, 12:40 pm   #1
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Everything You Want to Know About Where to Sit on a United 747

[Moderator's Note - I'm going to add this very comprehensive write-up to the top of the thread; thanks to SAT Lawyer!
Please also see: http://seatexpert.com/seatmap/320/Un..._First_&_Biz)/ and http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Uni...747-400_B.php]

What follows is my assessment of where to sit on the newly-configured 744, which I sampled on a recent flight from SYD-SFO. I sat in E+ for three hours before a flight cancellation on Tuesday and in 15K in the upper deck in business for 13 hours the following day, so I feel sufficiently well-informed to dispense advice for those cabins. I cannot, however, make a recommendation for business class seating on the lower deck or the E- minus cabin, so with that caveat, here is my feedback on the upper deck . . .

Where should I sit in the upper deck? Any seats better than others?

Unlike the old configuration of the upper deck where certain seats – especially the exit row seats in row 15 – are appreciably better, on the new configuration, there is not really much to distinguish between the upper deck seats except for the limited caveats noted below. Given this, I personally would prefer one of the seats in row 15 in case the equipment is switched to the old configuration. Of course, with an equipment substitution, there are no guarantees that your seat assignment will stick.

What seats should I try to avoid?

There are only five seats that are nominally less attractive than the rest. 12 J & K are close to the forward lavatories and the flight deck so you can expect increased foot traffic and noise during the flight. The shell for 14K protrudes backward into the exit door area and partially overlaps with the exit door causing a nominal reduction in the view and a possible cold spot due to airflow penetrating the door seal. 17 J & K lose a good deal of privacy because they are visible from the top of the stairs and suffer from increased noise and light from the galley and traffic to and from the galley.

Window or aisle?

Window, definitely. And I say this as someone who is typically an aisle guy. You get the side bins for storage, the view, a little more peace and privacy being further removed from the aisle, and avoid the possibility of being disrupted by a seatmate climbing over you. Climbing over a seatmate in the aisle seat who is in the sleeping configuration requires a little bit of dexterity, but certainly is not terribly difficult for anyone who is at least 6 feet tall. Those who are substantially shorter than 6 feet may want to avoid the window, however.

Forward or backward?

Doesn’t really matter. Due to the pitch of the aircraft, those facing backwards will have their feet slightly below their heads in the sleeping configuration, but we are really splitting hairs here. Personally, I prefer the backward-facing view from the upper deck because you can see the wing and the engines.

What if I’m traveling with more than two people?

You will not be able to see or converse with the passengers whose feet oppose yours behind the wall adjoining the foot pocket and video panel. In other words, to give one example, the passengers in 15 J & K are fully walled-off from the passengers in 16 J & K. The shell of the seat also provides full privacy from behind. So, if you want to keep an eye on travel companions, you should try to sit diagonally across the aisle from one other. Passengers in 15 J & K, for example, will have a good view of passengers in 16 A & B, and vice versa. Actually, if you are travelling in a group of more than two and being able to chat is important to you, you'll probably want to sit in the middle section of the lower deck.

What happened to the exit row?

For all intents and purposes, it doesn’t exist. The seats in both rows 14 and 15 both back up to the exit area creating something more akin to an exit corridor. No extra legroom or particular advantage to these seats.

How is the seat for sleeping?

It’s a true, parallel-to-the-ground lie-flat seat, which is the big improvement. The arm rests on both sides can be manually lowered so that they don’t extend above the seat in bed configuration, which further increases arm and shoulder room. Unfortunately, for window seaters, there will be a healthy gap between the lowered arm rest and the side bins which means that the extra room on one side isn’t particularly useful since if you stick your arm far enough off the seat, it will essentially drop off a cliff with nothing to prop it up. As a 6-footer, my left foot was a little bit cramped due to the curvature of the foot-pocket, although this was not terribly bothersome. Both my seatmate and I felt that the seat lacked sufficient padding in the lumbar region of the back so we both woke up with sore lower backs.

What is the audio and video on-demand like?

For United and in comparison to the old configuration, great. The video screens are positively huge. There aren’t as many movies as one may find on airlines like Singapore, but still, there should be enough features to keep all but the most demanding and fickle passengers entertained.

As for the E+ cabin . . .

Seat pitch seems indistinguishable throughout, the bulkhead row 19 excepted. I don't care for the seats in row 19 myself because the hard bulkhead without cutouts effectively prevents all but the shortest traveler from stretching out his or her feet. This is true of both the outside seats as well as the middle section.

I would strongly advise against any D seat -- the aisle seats on the port side of the middle section -- because the audio boxes are beneath those seats and inhibit leg room for the left foot. There still should be enough room to place both feet, but only at a fairly sharp and uncomfortable angle.

As an aisle guy, I would go with one of the G seats. No audio box inhibiting leg room and landlocked middle seat passengers can access the aisle in either direction cutting in half your chance of getting bumped or bothered while you are trying to sleep.

There are still no individual seat-back video screens, unfortunately, so you are stuck with whatever programming UA runs on the main screens. Fortunately, the main screens have been upgraded to LCD screens. Sit at least a few rows back from row 19 to avoid being uncomfortably close to the screens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cricketer View Post
First, the caveats:
  1. Measurements may not be 100% precise, but I pretty definitevely vouch for the relative scale in so far as if I said one measurement was bigger than another, then it was. Don't go after me if I'm off by an eighth or two here and there.
  2. I only measured two seats on the upper deck, but a quick look at the others suggested that they all followed the same pattern and measurements.
  3. I did measure several seats on the lower deck, *except* for the row 9 and 10 seats which I was only able to visually observe. I'm pretty confident in my measurements here.
  4. All pitch/bed length measurements were down the middle of the seat/bed.

Now, the overall findings.
  1. There are 11 different types of seat. This is absolutely astonishing.
  2. All the seats are in pairs, and in each pair, one seat is about an inch better off than its partner, both in terms of seat pitch and bed length. This is always the right hand seat, in a pair that angles to the right, and the left hand seat in a pair that angles to the left. The reason is obvious - the seats are at a slight angle, but the center console is straight.
  3. As the hemispheres photos earlier in this thread showed, there is a difference in the centre armrest to IFE console gap. On the upper deck, this gap is 9.75". On the lower deck, this gap is 14.75".
  4. The above does NOT translate in itself to a greater seat pitch. All seats have either a 54" or 55" sitting pitch. This measurement is taken from the front of the seatback (i.e. where your back rests when sitting) to the end of the footwell.
  5. There are two factors contributing to #4 above. Firstly, the center console is thinner on the lower deck. I couldn't figure out what was going on with my measurements until I realised my shoes almost fit in to the console on the upper deck, but were not even close on the lower deck. The cushions for your feet are the same length in all cases, but measured at the floor (where you would store your shoes), on the lower deck the footwell in the console is 8.75" deep, and on the upper deck it is 11.75" deep. Well spotted, GadgetFreak!
  6. The second factor, quite shockingly, appears to be the length of the seat bottom cushion. Unfortunately, I failed to measure this upstairs (because I didn't think it was going to be relevant), but I did notice that my table was a little closer to me downstairs, and visually I think this is where the other 2 inches of difference comes from. The telltale sign was the position of the lines of stitching on the cushion. Extremely odd, but them's my findings! Someone else will have to verify to be sure, but this seems to be where the other two inches come from. The lower deck seat bottom cushion was 20", so I'm predicting around 22" upstairs. It may also be worth measuring the armrests upstairs - 16" long on the lower deck, and I suspect 18" upstairs.
  7. All seats on the upper deck are angled to the right. On the lower deck, half the seats, specifically seats 6CD, 7CD, 8CD, 7AB, 9AB, 6JK, 8JK, 10JK all angle left.
  8. Although the width of all seats with armrests down, as measured from edge to edge on the armrests, was 23.5", as advertised, there is a significant width difference that is not mentioned. In some seats, the armrests are fully within the seat shell, but in others, the armrests actually go wider than the shell. What this means is that your shoulder width also differes from seat to seat. Just to make it more exciting.
  9. The difference in bed length between the shortest and longest seats was really noticeable. A world of difference for anyone over 6'1" I'd say.

So with all that, it boiled down to three key variables on each seat. The bed length, the shell or shoulder width, and the direction faced. In truth, there's also the footwell shapes as half the footwells have a height restriction which will impact you if your feet are above a size 10 and you want to have them pointing upwards.

Unfortunately, I failed to note down exactly which ones are which way, so for fear of misleading people on that score, I won't say anything at all.

And without further ado, here's how the seats break down. Measurements are in the order of bed length, shoulder/shell width, and direction facing (R = rear, F = forward):
  1. 78", 23.75", R -- middle seats 6D, 6G, 8D, 8G
  2. 78", 23.75", F -- aisle seats 7C, 7H
  3. 78", 22", R -- aisle seats 7B, 7J, 9B, 9J
  4. 78", 22", F -- aisle seats 6B, 6J, 8B, 8J, 10B, 10J
  5. 77", 23.75", R -- no seats matching this criteria
  6. 77", 23.75", F -- middle seats 7D, 7G
  7. 77", 22", R -- window seats 7A, 7K, 9A, 9K; aisle seats 6C, 6H, 8C, 8H
  8. 77", 22", F -- window seats 6A, 6K, 8A, 8K, 10A, 10K
  9. 75", 23.75", R -- window seats 13A, 15A; aisle seats 13J, 15J, 17J
  10. 75", 23.75", F -- window seats 12K, 14K, 16K; aisle seats 14B, 16B
  11. 74", 23.75", R -- window seats 13K, 15K, 17K, aisle seats 13B 15B
  12. 74", 23.75", F -- window seats 14A, 16A; aisle seats 12J, 14J, 16J

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there are 6 seats that are the longest and widest beds on the new 747-400 in business class, and 4 of them are MIDDLE SEATS!!!

If you're like me, and you're about 6'3", need the lie-flat to be rear-facing to sleep well with the bed flat, and like to be by the window, you're pretty much out of luck. Ouch.

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Apr 16, 09 at 7:18 pm. Reason: adding this to the top of the thread
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Old May 15, 08, 9:50 am   #2
 
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Everything You Want to Know About Where to Sit on a 747 (New International Cabin)

Ok, heading to FRA this weekend and the seat map has finally opened up...

Seat Guru seems to indicate the 2x2 is better than Econ Plus ?

Thoughts?
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Old Jun 24, 08, 7:41 am   #3
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Everything You Want to Know About Where to Sit on a 747 (New International Cabin)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post

Old C seats - 20.5". New C seats - 19.0".
Old F seats - 20.5". New F seats - 22.0".

That backs up my impression after sitting in the 2 rows of working 747 x C seats they had set up there at the Sydney UA big-deal launch tonight.

Only UA could spend mega, mega, millions keeping up with the Joneses, (far too late) and decrease seat width by near 10%.

Especially as they are marketed as a "bed". Be the narrowest "bed" in the skies is my guess.

Well we were stuck with them for another decade or so, the history books tell us.

How could anynoe have signed up for a new age 'C' seat that narrow? How do other airlines get them wider?

Sat in the new F seat suite and yes, you really get the impression that has some serious extra space over current ones.

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Old Jun 24, 08, 7:50 am   #4
 
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I must have had a premonition about the new narrower C seats: I wondered what finally motivated me to join Weight Watchers last week!
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Old Jun 24, 08, 7:52 am   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozstamps View Post
How do other airlines get them wider?
Do any other airlines put them eight-abreast?
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Old Jun 24, 08, 7:54 am   #6
 
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I agree that the seats can be a bit narrow...in the seated position. But compromises had to be made somewhere, and this was it. In the bed position, you get another 5 inches or so because the armrests come down.

I can't speak to other carriers and how they get their C seats to be wider, but I would imagine is has to do with the number of C seats relative to Y. That is, UA felt they needed X seats in C for revenue purposes and so jammed them in as best they could.
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Old Jun 24, 08, 8:05 am   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iflyfish View Post

I must have had a premonition about the new narrower C seats: I wondered what finally motivated me to join Weight Watchers last week!
Hey I am no beanpole by any means, but I do know quite a few guys who will NOT be comfy seated in these seats for long haul.

A widebody premium seat should surely never make anyone feel squeezed in.

To compare the new 19" 747 C, to something we all have experienced, a current UA 757 F seat is 20.5".
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Old Jun 24, 08, 8:08 am   #8
 
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That was my only complain after experiencing the new C seat from IAD to FRA earlier this year.

I am not big, but found myself sleeping on the side as result of the narrow width of the seat. I recently tried CX's new seat ( at a demo event), and found an extra one inch ( 20" versus 19") makes a huge difference.
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Old Jun 24, 08, 8:22 am   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
Do any other airlines put them eight-abreast?
I just took BA's 777 which is 8 abreast and that was a first and a last experience for me. I agree with ozstamps on this one, what kind of thought process led UA to this C product now in 2008?!?!

As to the argument that this is some kind of compromise that UA "had to make," I can only say that must be because they are doing something wrong from a business standpoint. I can take NZ C or SQs new C product which (with 1x2x1 seating) far exceeds UAs new C, all this and not pay a penny more than UA. After my experience on BA with this configuration, I'm not going to go out of my way to try UA any time soon.
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Old Jun 24, 08, 8:33 am   #10
 
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The idea of the width loss is frustrating because I always consider the extra wide seat as the main joy of C for the extra money; the meal / free drinks aren't that special, nor is the entertainment system. I always liked the bigger seat

Also, how do people feel about facing the rear of the plane - is it similar to being on a train while facing the rear? I like flying and seeing the back of other people's heads, but not sure if I want to be looking at fellow pax faces or other pax seeing my face for a long flight Even with passengers next to me, I still feel that I have privacy if nobody is looking directly at me.

Michael
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Old Jun 24, 08, 8:52 am   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
Do any other airlines put them eight-abreast?
The 8 abreast CW seats on BA are listed as 20" wide but feel larger given the pie shape of the area.

I'm a pretty good sized guy and they fit me OK.
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Old Jun 24, 08, 9:01 am   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gaobest View Post
The idea of the width loss is frustrating because I always consider the extra wide seat as the main joy of C for the extra money; the meal / free drinks aren't that special, nor is the entertainment system. I always liked the bigger seat

Also, how do people feel about facing the rear of the plane - is it similar to being on a train while facing the rear? I like flying and seeing the back of other people's heads, but not sure if I want to be looking at fellow pax faces or other pax seeing my face for a long flight Even with passengers next to me, I still feel that I have privacy if nobody is looking directly at me.

Michael
Facing the rear of the plane sucks. It is a weird felling that only a FA needs to experience.
It also is uncomfortable to stare at the person across from you the whole flight.
Virgin did it the right way by angling them.
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Old Jun 24, 08, 9:38 am   #13
 
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So the seats are narrow, but if you put your arms on the arm rest, do you bump arms with the person in the next seat, like in Y?
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Old Jun 24, 08, 9:42 am   #14
 
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Yes, 19" is narrower than 20.5"

However, I just don't see how 19" can be considered 'narrow'

I'd say that's plenty wide, especially considering the arm rest folds down to sleep.

But, we are living in an obesity epidemic. bigger portions, less exercise, more sedentary lifestyle... so the BUSINESS rationale for reducing seat width doesn't quite add up.

Maybe UA is trying to do a civic duty by indirectly telling people to LOSE WEIGHT... LOL

But, then again, that would be a mixed message... Wasn't there a thread a bit back about some guy claiming "United is Making me FAT"? ... LOL
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Old Jun 24, 08, 9:49 am   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BDLORD View Post
Facing the rear of the plane sucks. It is a weird felling that only a FA needs to experience.
It also is uncomfortable to stare at the person across from you the whole flight.
Virgin did it the right way by angling them.
I would challenge you, on a future flight, (with the help of a friend and an empty cabin) to close your eyes, spin around, sit down in an arbitrary seat, and say what direction you're flying in without seeing the ends of the cabin. I bet you will not know the difference. It is just the knowing that you're flying backwards that is a problem. And a short time during takeoff and landing.

But maybe your issue is seeing others facing forward at you? I believe others have reported that passengers in cross-opposite seats do not see each other that well.
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