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United Airlines

You’ll Get Even Less Space on Transatlantic Flights with United Next Year

You’ll Get Even Less Space on Transatlantic Flights with United Next Year
Jennifer Billock

Happy Holidays from United Airlines! Your gift is even LESS room in economy seats on international flights.

Starting next year, passengers on international flights are going to get an unwelcome surprise: even less room in economy on United planes. The airline made the decision that come January, a plane designed for domestic flights – the Boeing 777-200 with 336 seats in economy – will be used internationally.

“We continuously monitor demand and supply in all of our markets and make adjustments to our schedule and our aircraft and because we are seeing high demand this summer to Europe, we are responding by placing a larger aircraft on these routes and offering customers more opportunities to get to Spain,” a spokesperson for United explained to Inc.

There are going to be some passenger concessions, too. In addition to being squeezed in even more like sardines, the amount of outlets per row will be decreased. So passengers sitting in a four-seat row will fight over three outlets, and passengers in a three-seat row will battle for two outlets.

United wouldn’t say definitively whether the denser domestic planes will continue to be used for international flights, or if it’s just for the holidays – instead telling Inc. only that the normally domestic configuration “offers the right mix for the high demand for leisure economy traffic while still being able to offer our customers a lie-flat Business seat option.”

Of course, the safety issues of squeezing more and more customers into economy remain a concern. Passengers who can hardly move would hardly be able to quickly and effectively evacuate a plane.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (21)


  1. 54321

    December 6, 2017 at 7:05 am

    This is one of the stupidest articles I have read about air travel. Suddenly the plane is unsafe because it is flying transatlantic? When the same plane flies over the pacific it is ok.

    Face it…the people have spoken and what they want is cheap travel. You can’t have it all.

  2. jonsail

    December 6, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    What is the new seat pitch and the old seat pitch?

  3. BJM

    December 6, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    Currently they operate a 767-300.
    Seat pitch is 31 inches and seat width is 17.3.

    Planned to operate 777-200
    Seat pitch is 31 inches and width is 17.1.

    That’s a difference of less than 1/4 of one inch in seat width.

    The actual leg room is a different matter. The pitch is the same, but that does not mean leg room is the same based on potentially different physical seat.

    Business is a different matter.
    On the 777 you gain 1 inch pitch, but two less in width. Plus you get the added benefit (sarcasm) of four across in the Polaris center section.

  4. dvs7310

    December 6, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    UA 772s have always only had 2 outlets in 3 seat sections.

  5. jjonathan

    December 7, 2017 at 4:04 am

    Why ANYONE would fly this ROTTEN airline is beyond my comprehension. People need to smarten-up and resist this treatment

  6. fl1ger

    December 7, 2017 at 4:38 am

    The seat pitch is identical 31 eco and 35 in eco plus, but the seat width goes from 18 to 17 inch.

  7. bennos

    December 7, 2017 at 4:54 am

    This article seems to imply that the plane does not meet FAA evacuation regulations, which would be a pretty serious charge if true. (“Passengers who can hardly move would hardly be able to quickly and effectively evacuate a plane.”) But I’m guessing the plane is compliant and the author is engaging in unsubstantiated hyperbole.

  8. MimiB22

    December 7, 2017 at 5:05 am

    I don’t think the “people have spoken” and want cheap travel INSTEAD of reasonable comfort. Of course passengers want reasonable prices, but reasonable comfort too, especially on a long transatlantic route. No one wants to overspend for a small cramped seat. The general discomfort and gross inconvenience of flying these days is a major reason I fly as little as possible for leisure. But sometimes, one has no choice and in those instances, I’ll balance comfort and cost as best I can. There are a number of reasons I avoid United and American [with it’s ongoing personnel problems], this is now another.

  9. drewguy

    December 7, 2017 at 5:11 am

    It’s 10 across (3-4-3) instead of 9 (3-3-3) across. Pitch is about the same. These are the same 777s that were flying transatlantic previously (the non-ER versions).

  10. Fyd

    December 7, 2017 at 5:20 am

    This article and the article it is quoting from are misleading. It is not a question of B777 designed for domestic or international use.
    The B777-200 in question has a 3-4-3 layout in Economy, one more seat per row than previous configurations. The seat pitch is the same at 31in.
    But that’s the new layout for all B777 in economy – the brand new B777-300ER with Polaris seats also feature 3-4-3 eco layout at 31in.
    Get used to being cosy on UA!

  11. lbotez

    December 7, 2017 at 5:27 am

    This is so absurd. Why not just raise the price of the airline tickets and leave well enough alone. Transatlantic flights are long, and sitting squeezed next to your fellow passengers for 6-10 hours is horrible enough. What’s wrong with these airlines?

  12. c1ue

    December 7, 2017 at 5:30 am

    This article looks like the author didn’t do their homework.
    I just flew on a 777-300ER a bit over a week ago.
    According to SeatGuru, the flight I was on has the smallest pitch (34) and width (17) on all of the 777 variants. The others are 34 or 35 and 17.1 to 18.3.
    The 777-300ER I was on had 54 rows of seats, the other variants have 45 or 46 rows.

  13. scottsol

    December 7, 2017 at 6:07 am

    As per Seatguru, the only change is a reduction in width from 17.3” to 17.1”.

  14. chadbag

    December 7, 2017 at 6:15 am

    Just fly with the United foreign partners. Better service. Better planes. And with code share, you can book at United prices often. (Have not checked any specifics).

    While not United, we are flying AA coded flights to Japan next week. But when I booked I made sure the planes were JAL. NO way I am flying across the Pacific on an AA plane.

  15. SMHarman

    December 7, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Safety concerns? United have proved they can evacuate a 777 in this configuration, why does that change based on the route?

  16. Austin787

    December 7, 2017 at 7:09 am

    31″ seat pitch in economy and 35″ pitch in economy extra – comparable to the old configuration. The big change is seat width – UA moved to 3-4-3 on this 777 config (3-3-3 on the old version) which cuts width to 17″ (18″ previously).

  17. tods27

    December 7, 2017 at 7:40 am

    This is the “hawaii” config that has 10 seats across in coach. The plane is flat-out awful.

  18. RoaminRoman

    December 7, 2017 at 7:50 am

    According to SeatGuru, the seat pitch in Economy and Economy Plus on the domestic 772 is the same as the international 772. The difference is the width. The international version has a 3-3-3 arrangement with a seat width of 18.3 inches, while the domestic version is 3-4-3 with a width of 17.1 inches. The bigger problem, in my opinion, is the reduction in the number of business class seats from 50 to 28. There won’t be many upgrades available on those flights! Seat pitch also gets shortened to 76 inches compared to 78 inches on the international version.

  19. Greg Satterfield

    December 7, 2017 at 8:00 am

    I agree, one of the stupidest articles. They are just using a domestic aircraft on a international route because of demand. The safety requirements remain the same.

  20. ksandness

    December 7, 2017 at 8:17 am

    The public “wants” cheap tickets because only an idiot would pay more than necessary for a bad experience.

  21. poopbunny

    December 7, 2017 at 11:13 am

    The evacuation test done for certification is of course total BS, because they always use fit and able bodied persons. If they were to use the typical demographic to include aged, infirmed, obese, etc. the plane would probably be certified for much less pax.

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