As United Airlines puts more 787 Dreamliners onto international long-haul routes, it will remove 777s from some of those markets and reconfigure them with higher-density seating for domestic flights, according to USA Today.
The newspaper said United confirmed that the plan calls for 19 of its 777-200s to get an extra 20 seats, including nine planes that are already used domestically — mostly to Hawaii — and 10 coming off international service. By switching from nine-across, 2-5-2 seating in economy to 10-across in a 3-4-3 layout, the reconfiguration will boost the planes’ total seat count to 364, with 336 in coach and 28 in business class. Those extra dreaded middle seats will be 17 inches wide versus the current 18-inch width.
Other than Hawaii, the report didn’t indicate where the higher-density 777s might be used. It noted that American Airlines also has some 777s with 10-across seating, and so do some foreign airlines (such as Emirates); it also said that about half of the 777s Boeing delivered last year had 10-across economy seating. The work is expected to take a little over a year, and will also involve the installation of in-seat power ports and Wi-Fi for streaming entertainment. New business class seats will recline to a fully flat position. The new economy seats will also get mobile device holders for both tablets and phones, the newspaper said.
Meanwhile, United this week also announced plans to buy another 25 new 737-700s for delivery starting at the end of next year, in addition to the 40 it has already ordered. The company said the orders will help it move its fleet toward “larger, more efficient aircraft” as it continues to phase out 50-seat regional jets. “United expects to have fewer than 100 aircraft in its 50-seat fleet by the end of 2019,” a spokesman said.
The new 737-700s will feature larger overhead bins and the new “Boeing Sky” interiors with sculpted sidewall panels and LED cabin lighting with soothing colors.
Finally, United said it will move up the delivery dates for some additional widebodies – four 777-300ERs and five 787-9s – to start in 2017, in order to speed up the retirement of all remaining 747s from its fleet. Those 747s should all be gone by the end of 2018, United confirmed this week.
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