PSA: Look at Seatmaps

It was another Thursday afternoon and I was flying to SFO from PHL. However, today was a bit different. I couldn’t get an aisle on the nonstop so I booked a connection. PHL-ORD then ORD-SFO. All was good until I noticed the seat map for the ORD-SFO leg.

It was a 777-200 that was reconfigured with 10 across in 3-4-3. This is the typical layout for the 747-400, and the A380. However, airlines have been trying to squeeze every last drop out of economy while making business class better and better (and the airlines wonder why there are so many altercations on flights?).

These seats are just 17 inches wide. The only way to sit and not touch your a neighbor is to have your arms crossed. For comparison every other seat on a United aircraft is wider. This includes the all variants of the 737, the A319, A320, and 757. That’s right, narrow body aircraft have more room than this wide body twin aisle plane. To add insult to injury, United uses this configuration on the new 777-300ER from SFO-HKG/TLV. Now the longest trans Pacific and trans Atlantic flights have the narrowest seats.

Additionally, the arm rest has buttons for the overhead light and flight attendant call button. The flight attendant call button kept getting pushed by people’s elbows constantly and making that annoying ding throughout the cabin. Do airlines not realize people’s elbows go on arm rest (this also goes for the aircraft with DirecTV remotes on the armrest)?

One redeeming feature is the seat back. There is a clip to hold a phone all the way up to an iPad. In the days of people watching content on their own devices I agree with removing outdated seat back entertainment (on domestic flights).

Surgery Says

Keep an eye out for what you’re actually purchasing. For example, if flying to Hong Kong, you can fly United in the awful 3-4-3 layout or Singapore Airlines in the conventional 3-3-3 and have better service.