An updated estimate on the Continental/United 787 seat map

Today marked the beginning of the last phase in the delivery of the first Continental 787 Dreamliner aircraft: it began the roll down the final assembly line in Washington. And, given that the delivery is now not too far away it seemed like a good idea to revisit the seating configuration question.

787COSeatMapI spent a decent amount of time a few months back putting together a bunch of numbers and trying to figure out if they could add a section of the economy cabin with extra leg room seats to make the long flights it is destined for more bearable. At the time, based on the announced seating capacity of the plane, the answer was decidedly no. With today’s press release, however, the seating configuration has officially changed.

The first United 787 will be configured with 36 flat-bed seats in BusinessFirst, 63 extra-legroom seats in Economy Plus and 120 seats in Economy

That economy cabin configuration has 9 fewer seats than the previously announced 192 economy seats. Given the previous statement that the plane will have 9-abreast seating in coach, along with the move to Economy Plus, it is pretty clear that a row of seats (9) is being removed to make that work out. Combine that data with the map from ANA, the first carrier to take delivery of the 787 and some other quick and dirty hack jobs with an image editor and you get the image here. It is my best guess as to what the cabin will look like.

Based on the previously announced numbers I expect that the BusinessFirst cabin will be remarkably similar to the existing 777-200 cabin in terms of seat layout, though there will be fewer total seats in that cabin. Behind the BF cabin will be 9 7 rows of Economy Plus with a seat pitch of approximately 35-36 inches. Behind that will be another set of doors and then finally the economy cabin. Based on the number of seats announced it is almost certainly going to be 13 rows fully across and one extra set of 3 seats in the middle. I’ve shown that at the back in the mock-up to account for the narrowing of the fuselage in the back of the plane. That section will likely have 32" of pitch based on the previously announced numbers.

The only bit that I’m not completely certain on is the location of the lavatories in the front of the cabin. Right now there is the empty space marked by door 1L that, on the 772 that I use as the basis for this map, is the pilot rest bunks. There has to be a lav up there for the flight crew to use so maybe they’ve managed to squeeze in both that and the rest bunks or maybe it is a bit different.

Like I said before, I’ve basically completely made this up, but I did so using the numbers from Boeing and Continental/United and I’m pretty confident in them at this point.


UPDATE (21 Aug 2011):

I received a bit of feedback on the numbers and layout of the seats and have made some adjustments from the above estimate to the image below. Based on my sources I’m quite confident in this latest iteration.



Related Posts:

Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.

Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. 63 seats of Economy Plus would be 7 rows of 9 seats each (not 9 rows). I would think that the bulkhead row at the exit would also be part of Economy Plus since it probably has great legroom.

    1. It is definitely going to be 7 rows at 9 across for E+. That’s what I drew on the map; I just got the number wrong in the text. Whoopsie.

      Regarding the exit row at 3L/R being E+ I don’t think it is included in the numbers just based on the need to get the rest of the seats into that rear cabin. Not enough space based on the distance between the third and fourth doors. There’s barely enough to get the E- in there.

  2. I think this is a pretty spot on analysis. I am just sad that this plane was not available to use my 2010 SWUs on. Y (and Y+) look like a bleak experience.

  3. The cabin is 38 cm less wide, so about 1,5″ per seat. Given the current 18″ width of that gives less then 17″ wide.
    I’m really looking forward to NOT flying this anytime soon.

  4. The one time I am planning on flying on a 787 is IAH-AKL in BF (which is a shame considering UA Business is better than CO BF) on a *A RTW trip in business class. I would love to see some of these birds end up with the 3 class config, but unfortunately with the management right now, I don’t see that happening.

    1. Just curious, Kris, but what part about the UA Biz product do you like better than the CO BF product? The narrower seat? More limited choices on the AVOD? The ability to have a middle seat? I’m not saying that CO BF is all things to all people – and my most recent experience had a less than stellar crew – but the hard product is, umm, hard to dispute.

      Something of a shame that the aircraft won’t have a proper F cabin, I suppose, but there are very few destinations where the F cabin makes money and the whole point of the 787 is long, thin routes, not those with high premium demand. If the F cabin is going to sell anyways then a 747 or 777 will likely be the aircraft to offer it.

  5. E+ does almost nothing for me, I’m dissapointed they couldn’t make it a little wider for long haul flights.

  6. It’s very disappointing to hear that Continental will be going with 9 seats across in coach, and 6 seats across in BF.

    The 787 is narrower than the 777, which will result in about 1.5″ less width per seat. This may make the 787 seat the smallest seat of the fleet – width wise. I thus wouldn’t agree with Smisek’s assessment “The 787 will be a very comfortable…aircraft.” Imagine being on a 12 hour flight to Auckland (one of their first routes for the 787) in the narrowest seat in the fleet!

    ANA airlines is going 8 seats across ( )- now that plane I would enjoy flying.

    1. Although not for an extended period of time, I have sat in a 787 in a 3-3-3 config. It wasn’t all that bad, and I was sitting next to a pretty big guy (who had similar observations, other than that I’m similarly big). The 6 across in BF is really not all that bad at all and will mostly be taken up with aisle space if i had to bet. As for it being the most narrow out there, I’m not sure that it will be much worse than the 747s currently run at.

Comments are closed.