The United 787-9 entered service this week making it the third carrier in the world to have the type in service. And, like most aircraft, there are some seats which are better than others. I was fortunate to be able to join on the inaugural flight and I spent a bit of time walking through the cabin taking photos and notes on which seats looked good to me and, perhaps more importantly, which do not. Here’s what I’ve got.
To be clear, every seat up front is better than the ones in the back. That’s a given. But within the forward cabin there are a few subtle differences worth noting. The BusinessFirst cabin is split into two smaller cabins, forward between the first two sets of doors are five rows and aft of the second door three more rows of seats are available. The seats are in a 2-2-2 layout similar to pretty much every 2-cabin plane Continental and United have rolled out for the better part of the past decade; there is nothing particularly new there. The IFE controller is new and the seat recline controls have moved but the functionality is pretty much the same. Also nearly identical is the situation with the foot-wells on the seats. As a passenger reclines into bed mode their feet extend into a space in the seat frame of the row ahead. Because of the shape of the plane and the seats that means three very different setups for your feet.
I still believe that the bulkhead is the best choice for taller passengers and it offers the most room. But I have now also spent a couple flights further back in the “small” footwell seats (A, E and L columns) and did not find it too restricted. The B, D & K columns are the slightly larger space while rows 1 and 6 have the much wider bulkhead option.
There is limited overhead bin storage over the center column at the very front of the plane due to the pilot rest bunks but there is also plenty of space in general up front for bags.
Also the seats at row 4 have no windows. That’s a deal-breaker for me.
The EconomyPlus section of the cabin is quite large; there are 88 seats with that designation. And they are all pretty much the same, save a few. As is typical the bulkhead rows have the video screen in the arm rest which is good or bad, depending on your preference. The center set of the three is a bit different than the outside sets in that it has something akin to a “cuddle” seat available. The bulkhead seats also have power ports at all three positions rather than only two per three seats.
Row 16 (forward bulkhead) also has lots of legroom but no bag storage space. And power for all three seats.
United’s official published spec for the seat recline on the –9 type suggests that the recline is limited a bit more than the –8 type. Not included in the spec is the part where the seats now recline with an articulating base. The bottom slides forward as the back reclines. This means the passenger reclining also reduces their own knee room a bit and impacts the passenger behind them less.
Also on the bulkhead front, seats 27A/L are NOT flagged as EconomyPlus in the system. There is no window in that row but there is still quite a bit of legroom. The slide in the door interferes a bit but not a ton. This would be my preferred choice as a “free” seat most likely, though the lack of window would probably frustrate me a lot.
The back of the plane is a tight squeeze, just like most other economy cabins. The very last row does recline so that’s not so bad but there is limited overhead bin space in the center starting at row 39 due to the crew rest bunks.
Also, row 38 has no windows.
Overall this is a pretty standard setup for a United Airlines plane. Nothing too surprising on board one way or the other. But some seats are definitely better than others. Make sure this isn’t you.
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