Qatar Airways 777 Economy Going 10 Abreast

There’s an ever increasing disparity when it comes to space distribution on planes, perhaps akin to those arguing that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

While economy seats are more high tech than ever before, they’re also as tight as they’ve ever been. Meanwhile at the pointy end of the plane, we’re seeing premium cabin seats take up more and more real estate.

One trend we’ve seen on the Boeing 777 is that airlines have gone from nine seats per row to ten seats per row. The 777 was originally designed to have nine seats per row, and then a few airlines started making the seats and aisles narrower, so that they could add in an extra seat per row.

Emirates-777-Economy
Emirates’ 10 abreast seating in 777 economy

At first having 10 abreast seating on the 777 was the exception rather than the norm, though the tables have turned on that over the past several years.

Singapore-Airlines-777-First-Class-45
Singapore Airlines’ comfortable nine abreast seating in 777 economy

The latest airline to add 10 across seating on the 777 is Qatar Airways.

Specifically, earlier in the month Qatar Airways quietly introduced a Boeing 777-300ER with 10 seats per row in economy on the Doha to London route. This raised questions as to whether this would just be the case for newly delivered planes going forward, if they were planning this configuration for certain high density routes, or if this was the new norm throughout the fleet.

Business Traveller has an update regarding this, and unfortunately it doesn’t look good. Qatar Airways has confirmed that:

  • All future Boeing 777-300ER deliveries will feature 10-across seating in economy
  • The 28 existing Boeing 777-300ERs will be retrofitted with the new 10-across slimline seats by the end of 2016
  • The nine Boeing 777-200LRs will maintain nine seats per row — they won’t get the tighter seating

So it looks like now there’s a considerable benefit to flying Qatar’s 777-200LRs in economy over their 777-300ERs.

Qatar is the last of the “big three” Gulf carriers to go 10 across in 777 economy. Just to compare the capacity of the three airlines’ two cabin 777-300ERs:

Admittedly the quality of the products varies by airline, as do the size of the premium cabins. That being said, it’s pretty glaring when Qatar’s 777-300ERs feature almost 100 fewer seats than Emirates’ version of the plane.

Bottom line

Even though the Gulf carriers seem to have virtually bottomless pockets, they’re certainly not above cramming seats onto planes in hopes of maximizing revenue. At this point Singapore Airlines remains one of the few major 777 operators with just nine seats per row in economy. I guess we’ll see when that changes!

Does an airline adding 10 across seating on the 777 impact your decision to fly with them?

(Tip of the hat to @nassirsabri)

Comments

  1. At what point does this become a hazard? With so many people packed in that tightly with little room to move, the potential for developing DVT is an issue. And what about evacuating in the event of an emergency? How do you get people moving quickly in those tiny aisles and in the narrow floor space between the seat rows?

  2. It does make me wonder if the decision to increase to 10 seats per row negatively impacts the safety of the aircraft and the ability of the passengers to exit quickly in the event of an emergency. It took several years for the recommendations of the 1985 British Airways Boeing disaster ( http://www.airdisaster.com/special/special-bakt28m.shtml) to be implemented, even then, the aviation industry was forced to do it. This is why you now see floor level lighting but other recommendations like smoke hoods and a sprinkler system still await implementation.

  3. Perhaps another concern is how many different cabin configurations Qatar plays with on their planes… a guaranteed pain in the neck.

  4. How much of your news is actually original – most of the time it’s just what you’ve regurgitated from other proper news sites

    Also, BA still has 9 a breast too

  5. I’d rather not fly in one of them seats but thats EXACTLY where you’ll see me the next time I’m on a 777300. I found it rather uncomfortable on my NRT-LAX flight on AA last year but that’s life for most of us 🙂 The ticket was something like $350 from ICN to SEA and for that price I couldn’t have complained.

    Flew on 773 Garuda a few weeks back and it was 3-3-3 configuration. My lady and I had 3 seats to ourselves so that was actually quite comfortable given the leg room.

  6. The East Asian carriers are the one who seem to be the ones not going 10-abreast: NH is really the only “major” carrier in the region who has gone that way. (CI and PR have as well, but they’re not nearly as high-profile). SQ, CX, KE, OZ, they’re all still 9-abreast.

    Since you did mention SQ… I don’t think they’ll go 10-abreast, but I can see them not operating 777s at all in the medium-to-long term. SQ has a lot of A350s ordered… and no 777Xs

  7. When’s the last time you actually sat in a long haul intl economy seat? These articles I scoff at because you simply haven’t experienced it.

  8. @James: I agree, most of the stuff declared as news on this site is either old or not newsworthy. Only aim: get clicks for your site with blaring content.

    I remember when back in the days there were trip reports and really interesting tricks and not this stuff that you can find everywhere about credit cards; seating arrangements and what hotel values your status most….

  9. Oh look at me! I’m going to whinge about a free blog which doesn’t produce its own news content! I’m so incensed I’m going to post about it at the bottom of the free blog and hope I get famous by being rude to the blogger!!!

    Am I famous yet? No?! Then I will go write about it on another post! Or maybe if I really hate this website I could just leave and allow others who DO enjoy it, to do so IN PEACE!

    Take a hike if you don’t like it, bitches! Or maybe go create your own content elsewhere. Many of us are actually HIGHLY SATISFIED with the content. No-one’s stopping you from leaving!

  10. In other news air Canada is doing the same including the 200LRs however the J seats will be reverse Herringbone and there will be premium Economy

  11. You bet it influences my choice. What is very disturbing is that even if you do your homework before booking, you may still get hit with an equipment swap putting you in a tighter config. This happened to me when I booked ANA’s 787 8-across coach seating (when that’s all they had) only to be swapped to a 9-across aircraft later when it came time to fly almost a year later. They had since added premium economy at 8-across. I demanded to be given 8-across seating since that’s what I paid for. Of course it was fruitless because I paid for standard economy and that’s what I got although they downgraded standard economy. (I did get magically upgraded to PE after I complained and was denied). I think airlines should be held to giving the customer the specific configuration that they book (not just “class” which is now re-defined regularly). They would also need to clearly state to the customer what their seat width/pitch would be if they purchase and be held to that size or better – upgrade or compensate.

  12. “Singapore Airlines’ comfortable nine abreast seating in 777 economy”

    I have a problem with this, I do not think that @Lucky, ever travelled on Economy SQ,

  13. I try to book away from 3-4-3 seating on Boeing 777s, as the seat is more uncomfortable in terms of narrowness of the seat and likelihood to be bumped by a neighbor or people/items in the aisle.

    When it comes to injury/death risks in the event of a serious accident with some survivors, my bet is that the more dense passenger seat configuration worsens the risk of injury/death for passengers on board..

  14. The worst will be when airlines implement 11-across in an A380, which is what airbus recommends

  15. Delta has only 9 abreast on their 777’s.

    In economy comfort (more leg room) it makes for a pretty decent experience even on transpacific flights to Asia or Australia.

  16. @high end hobo

    Airbus recommends an 18″ wide seat, which it claims is the Airbus standard. The 11 seat wide arrangement was made simply to show that the possibility is there.

  17. EK has had 10 across in its 77W planes for years. I think it is only uncomfortable when the flight is full full. During off-peak season you get to have your own row or an empty seat next to you which makes the experience more comfortable.

  18. I am 6’3″ tall. I would never fly an airline with 10-abreast seating in a 777 aircraft. I fly between India and USA about 5-6 times a year. I have flown most of the bigger airlines. Air India operates their 777s with 9-abreast seating and they do not charge for advance seat selection. Looking at where things are heading with the European and Middle-eastern airlines, I might have to converge on Air India as my first choice airline.

  19. AC is cramming their 777 also

    Air Canada Outlines Re-Configured Boeing 777 International Routes in S16 | Airline Route
    http://airlineroute.net/2015/08/21/ac-777-s16update1/
    Quote:
    Posted at 2145GMT 21AUG15

    Air Canada has outlined planned Boeing 777-200LR/-300ER operations, featuring the revised 3-class configuration. By May 2016, all Air Canada’s Boeing 777 service will feature new Business Class, as well as offering Premium Economy Class on most markets, while overall Economy class layout will move to 3-4-3.

    Planned newly-reconfigured Boeing 777-200LR/-300ER operation as follow. Planned launch date remains subject to change.

    New 300-seater 777-200LR (J40W24Y236):
    eff 17MAY16 Toronto – Hong Kong
    eff 17MAY16 Toronto – London Heathrow
    eff 17MAY16 Toronto – Vancouver – Sydney
    eff 30MAY16 Toronto – Sao Paulo

    NEW 400-seater 777-300ER (J40W24Y336), effective 11MAY16:
    Toronto – Beijing
    Toronto – Frankfurt
    Toronto – London Heathrow
    Toronto – Paris CDG
    Toronto – Shanghai Pu Dong
    Toronto – Tokyo Haneda
    Vancouver – Beijing

    NEW 450-seater 777-300ER (J28W24Y398):
    eff 04MAR16 Montreal – Paris CDG
    eff 30MAR16 Vancouver – Hong Kong
    eff 30MAR16 Vancouver – London Heathrow
    eff 01MAY16 Montreal – London Heathrow

  20. Good to see that BA are listening to customer feedback from their 787-8s and making the economy seats wider in their 787-9s (while still retaining 9 abreast).

    Kudos to BA for not only listening to customer feedback, but actually actioning it.

  21. I can testify that the Singapore Air 9-abreast configuration is indeed more comfortable, and the Emirates 10-abreast is less, because I flew both, on 7-hour flights, over the last 2 months. The 10-abreast config’s aisles are narrower, which causes the food trolleys to bump more often into the passengers (including me, several times), and causes the crew to have more difficulties in many ways, so they are more stressed. The seats are narrower too. I’m happier in SQ.

  22. Perhaps someone with some historical knowledge of plan configs may know the answer to my query:

    I recall flying econ on United from Paris to Washington DC back in 1998. I could swear that the econ config had 4 seats in the middle, rather than 3.

    If so, is the 10 seat config really so new?

    Thanks.

  23. James/Ben
    Email Lucky directly with your feedback, or QUIT READING HIS BLOG. It’s his blog – he chooses what’s on it. If you dislike the content, don’t read it. KTHXBI

  24. How many people buying economy actually know the difference when booking, or even once they’re on the plane? They know it will be cramped and will complain, but they want to pay the cheapest fare and that dictates limited space. As for the rest of us, we’d be back there too if we didn’t earn elite status or have generous employers. Suppose when an airline gives so much space to its F and J/C customers, the space (and off-setting revenue) has to start coming from the back. Ironic when the largest cost of operations, fuel, is now at an almost all-time low. (At least AA has given its elites a break on its 77Ws with a very pleasant and comfortable Y+ cabin, still 3-3-3 with extra pitch but unlike UA’s E+ actually screened off from regular Y, even has two dedicated washrooms for for about 30 lucky pax!).

  25. Air Canada, is changing its 777 fleet to 10 across, not only will the seats be thinline they will also have horrid seat pitch and remove washrooms to increase density.
    I guess the best advice is use airlines that use 9 across. UA/Delta/British/Air China/Asiana/Cathay

  26. The slave ships that crossed the Atlantic in the 18th and early 19th centuries had far tighter “seating” than 10 abreast on a 777. So the airlines have some more room for “innovation” on this front.

  27. Ryan Air floated standing room for short flights. Pretty soon the airlines will seal you in a bag and stack you horizontally. Sleeping pills optional.

  28. @James: You total tosser, pull our head out of your arse. If you don’t have anything positive to say, then shut the hell up or better still try writing your own blog.

    Air New Zealand has 10 seats per row on all of their 777 aircraft. A very tight squeeze for all concerned. The crew at meal service have to move back to a galley when a passenger wants to get past. Meal service as a result of this takes longer.

  29. Most new international long haul planes (777, 787, 380) have essentially unbearable economy configurations. On these new planes, I would only fly economy plus / comfort / premium economy (whatever it is called).

  30. CZ doesn’t have 10 abreast. In fact they switched from 10 abreast to 9 last year with deliveries of 777-300er and retirement of 777-200

  31. If you can get a full row to yourself, 4 is better than 3. I had this version of a poor man’s lie flat on an AF flight a few years ago and it was great.

    I’m a tall person and I’m much more concerned about pitch than about width.

  32. Sadly that´s the future of Economy and, to me, when it comes to Y-flights the rule is more and more “the older the seating, the better”.

    I have a strong preference for the 330/340/767 on long hauls, as those are the only ones left with non-HD seating (aside from a few charter carriers maybe) and the few 777s that dont have the 3-4-3 hell.

    Wherever possible, I will avoid that super-HD seating, even if it means paying significantly more or making the trip itself a bit longer. Now, Y+ seems like a good in-between product, so that´s what I will be looking for increasingly.

  33. Qatar’s website still says ,” Our B777 cabin is wide, with a high ceiling and a lot of natural lighting. While many of our competitors have configured their B777 to fit 385 seats in the Economy Class, we fitted ours with 293. This means that we have one less seat per row giving you more space to stretch, rest and sleep. ”
    Likewise there are no updated 777 seat maps on their website with the new 10 abreast configuration.
    I have written to them to point this out, no reply so far.

  34. I specifically choose Qatar for flights to Europe and Africa from Perth because of their wider seats and extra legroom in their 777. The moment they change that, I will look for another airline. For the same reason I will no longer fly emirates.

  35. Being short & slim has advantages after all. Bring the cramming on (with nice looking people plz)

  36. When it comes to United D.C. To Paris flights in the 1990’s, I believe they were on 744’s, so the main cabin Economy was 3-4-3.

    The original cross sections of 777s were made for 9-abreast seating, either in 3-3-3 or 2-5-2. That 2-5-2 is still found on American’s 772s.

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