With the new United 777-300ER set to enter service with the Polaris product later this week the company finally let some travelers on board to try the plane out. I was one of the fortunate few invited along and, while I spent most of my time in business class during the flight I also poked around in economy class to come up with recommendations of where to sit and, possibly more importantly, where not to sit on board.
Polaris Business Class
There are 60 Polaris Business Class seats on board split into three main shapes/layouts. As with the other 2-class planes United flies the bulkhead seats are likely to be the most desirable thanks to the notably wider foot well. The “straight” seats are next best with a square foot well though not quite as wide. The “angled” seats (even rows) have a tapered foot well that reduces the effective full bed length though compensating somewhat for that with greater width around the elbows.
For couples traveling together the odd row number center pairs offer the best shared travel experience (the divider goes down). If you love window seats and your travel partner (like I do) you’ll be forced to make a choice between the two on this layout.
Row 16 has no windows on either side and row 1 does not have overhead bin space in the center section due to the pilot rest bunks overhead. That shouldn’t be a major problem given the plentiful bins and relatively low passenger density, but if you want your bags directly overhead pick other seats.
From a galley noise perspective row 8 is to be avoided while 6 & 7 may get some overflow. The galley at 2L/R handles all the crew meals so that makes it slightly more busy throughout the flight on typical trips.
And for those looking to change into PJs on board the lav at 2L is your best chance. It is the larger of the accessible lavs on board with a decent amount of room to move around in plus a changing table on which you can put your clothes.
Based on my desire for a window seat, bulkhead and access to the larger lav I believe 9A is the best seat on board with 9L the runner up. I’d pick 1A/L after that and then other odd rows then even rows with 16 dead last due to no window at all.
This is 10-abreast and tight. Finding a good seat is not easy. That said, there are some that are worse than others. The aisle seats measured at a quarter inch narrower than the window and middle seats between the armrests. Arguably that is made up for by the ability to lean into the aisle, but that won’t work so well during the meal service with carts coming and going so be wary. The aisle measures 18″ wide between the armrests.
The bulkhead rows are the only seats with 110V outlets for all passengers; the rest of the economy cabin has two plugs per bank of seats, whether a 3-block on the outside or a 4-block in the middle. On the plus side, the plugs are facing the seats from in front rather than hidden underneath and requiring great contortionist skills to reach.
The worst seat on the plane prize probably goes to 24 A/L. These are exit door seats marked as Economy Plus on the seat map but I wouldn’t want to sit there. They are very close to the door and narrow slightly because of it (~16.5 inches inside the arm rests). Plus they are freezing cold thanks to the exit door. And no window. Avoid at all costs.
The exit seats at row 39 are better than at 24, with more space and further from the door. Still no window and there is a galley and lav there so you might have to balance space with noise concerns.
The center bulkhead seats at rows 24 and 40 have good foot room. It is maybe a couple inches shorter than being able to extend feet fully under a row in front but not significantly truncated like many bulkhead rows can be. Of course, these are also bassinet locations so odds of being swapped out or next to a baby increase with that selection.
At the very back of the plane the fuselage narrows, leaving two rows with pairs on the outside rather than triples. The forward of these two rows is a decent option for a couple without E+ access. The rear row has an offset window and no overhead bin space. The center of rows 51 & 52 at the very back are also lacking overhead bin space due to the flight attendant rest bunks overhead.
The rows at the rear of the cabins (22, 37, 51/52) offer full recline though for 37 & 51/52 noise due to lav/galley proximity is a concern.
The center column of 4 seats presents several challenges for coach passengers. The double middle seat is annoying, of course, but that is exacerbated by having only one of the narrow armrests to fight over. And, just like the aisle seats on the outside blocks of seats, the space is slightly narrower than middle or window seats. But the mounting bars that hold the seats to the fuselage may prove to be the biggest problem for passengers in these seats.
United is advertising its new Boeing 777-300ER biz class, but not coach. It'll be tight back there. This went to flight attendants. pic.twitter.com/CnuBHLd0jF
— Brian Sumers (@BrianSumers) January 12, 2017
The company sent a notice to FAs noting that “there is only under seat storage for three of the four seats” but that’s not even the worst part. For passengers in the aisle seats the space between the riser and the protective railing is under four inches. That means a foot won’t slide in to that space so both feet have to go “inside” the riser. That will be uncomfortable on a longer trip and also reduce bag storage space. From a passenger comfort perspective this is a most unfortunate design.
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