Major Airlines Are Squeezing Extra Seats Into Their Boeing 777’s

By: Ethan Zheng

10 Abreast Seating in an American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER. Photo Credits: Brent Lewin

Major airlines are condensing their Boeing 777 economy cabins to 10 abreast seating for increased profits and to better compete with rivals. Emirates, American Airlines, Air France, and more are introducing this cramped configuration.

By introducing a 10 abreast seating, airlines are able to squeeze tens of new seats into their aircraft. Since there are additional seats to make money from, airlines can enjoy the subsequent boost in revenue. British Airways is a prime example of this: by replacing their Boeing 777’s 9 abreast configuration with the 10 abreast arrangement, British Airways is able to squeeze in 52 more seats. Adding an extra row in their triple seven’s allows British Airways to squeeze in some extra profit.

Next, increased competition from rivals are also bringing the need for denser Boeing 777’s. When an airline introduces 10 abreast seating, the price of a fare for the airline to break even is less than a fare in a 9 abreast configuration. Passengers who are looking for the cheapest airline end up flocking to that airline, due to their lower fares. As a result, the airline that is losing passengers switches to 10 abreast seating in order to match the competition. An example of this is on the Hong Kong to Los Angeles route: Cathay Pacific Airlines and American Airlines both use the Boeing 777-300ER for this route. American Airlines 777-300ER has a 10 abreast configuration compared to Cathay Pacific’s 9 abreast arrangement. Since American Airlines has a 10 abreast configuration they were able to lure in Cathay Pacific customers with its lower prices. Cathay Pacific recently announced they were also switching to 10 abreast seating on their 777s, and the competition from American Airlines could have been a factor.

However, switching to 10 abreast seating has drawbacks for the passengers. 10 abreast seating creates an even more excruciating experience for passengers, as the extra row of seats reduces each seat’s width. But, many passengers will gladly take the cheaper fares in exchange for a smaller seat.