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787 Coach Class: United Joins the Bad Guys

United announced it has outfitted its spiffy new 787s with ultranarrow 737-size seats. Its just published seat map shows the unfortunate nine-across seating arrangement, rather than the considerably more comfortable eight-across some other operators have adopted. Clearly, big domestic lines remain intent on making the coach experience as dismal as they can: As previously noted, American decided to go with equally tight 10-across seats in its newest 777s.

The airlines–and Boeing–keep hyping the advantages of their latest planes, and the 787 has two big ones: A lower effective in-flight cabin altitude and higher cabin humidity. But beyond these, airlines and manufacturers focus on the trivial “sizzle” items, such as mood lighting and cabin décor, rather than on the “steak” of real improvement in economy class.

So far, United is the only US-based airline to order the 787, which it will start flying in a few months. Air Canada has also ordered the plane, as have several leasing companies that could presumably supply them to domestic lines. Now that Boeing has solved the near-disastrous production problems, you can expect other domestic lines to order 787s, too, although they’ll probably confine them to international routes.

Among the good guys operating eight-across 787 seating so far are ANA and Japan Airlines, with other lines still to announce. We can hope at least some of them opt for eight-across.

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