Tight Squeeze! United Airlines will add a seat per row on some Boeing 777s

United will add a seat to each row on 19 Boeing 777s. But not this one. Photo: Oliver Holzbauer/Flickr (Creative Commons)

United will add a seat to each row on 19 Boeing 777s. But not this one. Photo: Oliver Holzbauer/Flickr (Creative Commons)

United Airlines said Wednesday that it is retrofitting 19 Boeing 777 so they will have 10 seats across in economy class, instead of the current nine. 

This is a story I broke for Aviation Week in February 2015. At the time, the airline declined to confirm my piece, which relied on sources within United. But Wednesday's announcement is the same as I predicted. These 777s will have 28 lie-flat seats in first class, 102 in Economy Plus and 234 in economy.

Many of United's 777s fly international routes, but United says these 19 planes with the tighter configuration will fly domestic sectors. Some of them, however, will be long. United plans to use these 777s to Hawaii and Guam. 

In a story published for employees, United said the planes are also getting in-flight entertainment upgrades.

The cabins will feature power in all rows, Wi-Fi and personal device entertainment. The lie-flat seats also will offer audio and video on demand, and United Economy seatbacks will include mobile device holders. The aircraft will have new carpeting and other fixtures and the new United Economy seats will be leather.

United also reminded employees that many other airlines have 10-abreast seating. "The United Economy cabin will be laid out with 10 B/E Pinnacle seats across in each row, three on each window and four in the middle, similar to the 777 configurations already in use by a number of major airlines including ANA (NH), American (AA), China Southern (CZ), Emirates (EK) and others," the airline said. 

As many of you know, United has 14 Boeing 777-300ERs on order, the first coming later this year. I asked United on Wednesday if those planes will also also have 10 seats across in economy. A spokeswoman would not say. 

What do you think of United's move?