United Airlines Is Adding A Lot More Seats To Their Planes. Because They Can

Adding seats to airplanes is what all the cool kids airlines are doing right now.  Who am I kidding?  Even not-so-cool airlines are trying to add seats.  A leaked memo from United Airlines details how they’re adding a lot more seats to certain planes.

According to Edward Russell, writing for Flight Global, adding seats to airplanes is apparently a very popular topic:

Quoting from the article:

United Airlines will retrofit its Boeing 757-300 fleet with slimline seats by the middle of 2018, increasing the number of economy seats on the aircraft to more than 200.

The Chicago-based carrier will add 20 seats to the economy cabin on the aircraft for a total of 210 seats, a notice to pilots on 17 December viewed by FlightGlobal shows. First class will continue to have 24 seats.

United‘s reconfigured 757-300s will have 234 seats, up from 213 currently. Delta Air Lines, the only other US carrier flying the aircraft, also configures its 757-300s with 234 seats.

I think the math is off here somewhere.  The article says that United is taking a 20-seat boost, but also says the planes are going from 213 to 234.  I think the 234 number is right, since airlines generally increase coach capacity in increments of 3.

At first blush, it’s a lot more seats.  It doesn’t appear to break new ground since Delta already flies 234 on their version of the 753.

However, that’s a lot more people on those planes.  The 753 is a single-aisle plane with a really long aisle.  If you’re in the back it takes quite a bit of time to deplane.  There will now be 21 more people fighting for overhead bin space (unless United sells more Basic Economy seats).  And, less space for everyone.

United isn’t alone in arguing that the seats are smaller, so your personal space is the same.  That ignores the fact that the seats just really aren’t that comfortable.  And, the seat in front of you really is closer.  It’s not just an illusion, especially at eye level.

Every time an airline adds seats, I say I can’t imagine how they could add more.  I need to stop saying that.

The post United Airlines Is Adding A Lot More Seats To Their Planes. Because They Can was published first on Pizza in Motion

For the AVGeek folks, I’m pretty sure the featured image is a 752.  Can’t quite tell if I don’t see that last rear exit door behind the wing, but I don’t think so.  I couldn’t find an image of 753 for commercial purposes, so apologize for a bit of photographic license.  😉


  1. No issue. I won’t be flying any US airline under any circumstances anyway. They have fallen so far behind the Asian, ME and European airlines in terms of service that they have become a story of the past already.

  2. My home airport is IAD, a United mini-hub. In 2017, I flew approx. 150,000 miles and 130 segments on all airlines. I flew on United for six of these segments. 6/130 in their hub. I see even less flying on UAL in the future. To quote CEO Munoz – actions, not words.

    1. Robert, my stats are similar to yours in total. However, the vast majority of my flights (out of the same airport, IAD) are on United. I value the extra time home with families and don’t see enough incremental benefits elsewhere to connect when nonstop flights are available.

  3. On one hand, my 25 or so flights on United this year have nearly all been on time, staff relatively pleasant, and a PDB served on those where I cleared into First. On the other, every time I think United may have turned a corner, something happens to change my mind. My experiences with slimline seats is that they are fine for about 2 hours. After that, I need a chiro appointment to get over the flight.

    1. MJ, the slimline seats are rough. I sit up front a fair amount on UA. The PDB doesn’t really carry a lot of weight with me (I don’t drink booze too often on planes and generally carry a bottle of water). Some crews are good, others ambivalent, still others obstinate. Unfortunately for me, more of the latter two groups.

  4. More evidence that, unless you have high enough status to fly first class, you should be using Southwest or Jet Blue for domestic flights. Both have retained a humane seat pitch in economy and should be supported by the traveler for doing so.

    As for international flights, that is a tougher problem.

  5. @StogieGuy7 : After 4M miles on AA or CO/UA, I’ve done exactly what you said. SWA for all domestic and LH for Europe. It’s been a better than expected transition, especially the value in the SWA program for frequent travelers.

  6. I have been flying SWA domestically, exclusively for the past ten years. They are wonderful. I simply check in online the day before and always board in the “A” group assuring my pick of seats on on empty aircraft. If you are comfortable with online check-in, open seating is the the only way to go.

    SWA’s FF program is the best out there. I fly SLC to LAX monthly and flights are always 9000 to 12,000 points roundtrip with my choice of 12 flights per day. Try that on United.

    I have not paid one dime for any flight since charging everything on the SW Visa. I zero balance the card each month and pay no interest. My wife has a “Companion Pass” and literally walks on anytime she wants to go with me. That means when I fly, she flies free.. no money, no points.

    Lastly, try this on your favorite domestic airline: Two checked bags up to 50 lbs each, and two carry-on bags- hidden costs, No charge. Oh, and don’t forget, a friendly crew and all the peanuts, pretzels, and soft drinks you want on every flight : )

    1. Slimline seats don’t change pitch, they simply give you more knee room (usuallyabout an inch), at the cost of less comfort. But with all these changes, they’re likely cutting the pitch 1-2 inches, so it would be 30 inches or (maybe 29) inches from the current 31.

      1. Thanks for the explanation. I think I’ll be sticking with ANA if at all possible. Their regular economy class is 34 inches.

  7. OK, United says the seats are smaller so your personal space will be the SAME? How does THAT work? More smaller seats with more people in them – but your personal space is the same. I think physics say noooo, space doesn’t work that way.

      1. That makes me laugh SO hard. My inseam is 24″- knee room has never been a problem for me. Now, butt room? That can be a problem. But thanks for the explanation because the knee room would have never occurred to me.

          1. Actually, I cleaned it up – I was going to put a** room, but didn’t want to offend.

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