How can an airline increase passenger capacity when it can’t add more flights? One way is to add more seats in each aircraft, and we’re seeing that emerging as a trend in some carriers’ Boeing 777 fleets. The latest airline to announce such a change is Cathay Pacific, which flies 777-300ERs on its routes to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and New York JFK.
Cathay chief executive Ivan Chu Kwok-leung told the South China Morning Post that the airline is faced with a shortage of takeoff and landing slots at its Hong Kong base, and the only way to boost revenue is by adding more seats per slot. So Cathay will start reconfiguring its 777 economy cabins from nine-across to 10-across seating, although the job might not be finished until 2018.
He said Cathay wants to preserve its 32-inch seat pitch, so it will shrink seat width from 18.5 inches to 17. He noted that 3-4-3 seating on Boeing 777s is becoming the “standard” among international carriers.
And he might have a point about that. Boeing has noted that about half of the 777s it delivered in 2015 were had 10-across coach seating; in 2008, only 30 percent had that configuration.
Among U.S. carriers, American has 10-across seating on some 777s, and United earlier this year confirmed it is installing the tighter configuration on 19 777s that it uses mainly for domestic routes. Delta currently has 9-abreast on its B777s.
Other international airlines with 10-across seating on at least some of their 777s include Emirates, Etihad, China Airlines, China Eastern, ANA, Air New Zealand, Swiss, KLM and Air France. A few months ago, Taiwan’s EVA Air said it would switch from nine-across to 10-across seating on its new 777s.
Readers: Would you pay more to fly nine-across vs. 10-across seats in economy? Avoid airlines with 10-across? Please leave your comments below
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