United’s New Dense Configuration Boeing 737 Seat Map Leaked

America Airlines is going to offer the densest coach configuration that a major US legacy carrier has ever flown with their new Boeing 737 MAX. They’re taking the same aircraft body of the Boeing 737-800 which currently has 160 seats and taking it to 172 seats. (They’re also going to retrofit the existing 737s to have more seats, too.)

They squeeze in an extra 12 seats mainly by reducing the distance between coach seats down to 30 inches from 31 inches. They’re going to have smaller lavatories. And I believe the legroom will shrink an inch in first class, too.

United’s densest Boeing 737-800s already have 166 seats, or one more row than American’s current configuration and one less row than American’s new plan.

United has said they plan ‘densification’ (more seats in the same amount of room) as well.

The unstoppable Brian Sumers has the seat map that United is planning for its Boeing 737-MAX 9 (a larger plane than the MAX 8).

Adding six seats means adding one row of seating compared to the current configuration. Since United today offers some rows in economy with 30 inch pitch and others with 31, this tells me they’re likely settling on a similar 30 inch standard as well. I’m not sure I’d agree with Brian that it doesn’t look horrible, since United coach today looks pretty bad in my opinion, at least without the extra legroom Economy Plus seats.

    Update: Contra Brian Sumers tweet about 185 seats, United tells me that they will be sticking with 179 seats on the MAX 9, the same as the current 737-900 configuration.

United President Scott Kirby was President of American when they developed their most draconian customer-facing plans like doubling down on Delta’s Basic Economy by eliminating the ability to bring a full-sized carry on bag onboard and the devaluation of AAdvantage.

Despite what seemed like positive changes under United once CEO Oscar Munoz came onboard, it’s seemed to me that they’ve been moving in the wrong direction since appointing their new President.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Agree, Kirby is a disaster for customers. However longevity is not characteristic for these positions, so hopefully he will be gone before he does too much damage (assuming he’s not being groomed for CEO job). It is hard to fanthom that any UA executive could be worse than corrupt Jeffy, but Kirby is certainly trying hard.

  2. Is it just me, or does the diagram actually show 159 seats rather than 165? That would be the same as current 739 Y

  3. So when does “safety” work it’s into this? This seating is pushing the envelope on cramming people into a tight space.

    Gary, flying is becoming less and less fun as the days go by, for which I am grateful that I am not having to fly in the “back”

  4. the key difference really is the large sections of economy plus. most of UA’s layouts, both single aisle and twins, allocate like 30-40% of the coach cabin to economy plus. That’s a very meaningful offering that’s free for elites and available for up-sell.

    my *only* gripe about UA’s slimlines are those painfully hard grey ones they have on the Airbuses. The newer dark-blue slim-lines are perfectly comfortable.

  5. Blood clot city! Wait til the lawsuits start rolling in. Show them the money for now! Sick!

  6. Again, this proves that its time for regulation of a minimum seat, because the market will NOT regulate itself.

  7. “Again, this proves that its time for regulation of a minimum seat, because the market will NOT regulate itself.”

    While I’m no fan of regulation, I genuinely fear for the safety of PAX who ride in these cans, including me. I doubt that everyone in the Sully “miracle landing on the Hudson” could have escaped had the configuration been as crammed as these are. Unfortunately, it will take a disaster for things to change. The majors’ race to the bottom will continue full speed, until trapped PAX literally race to the bottom during a water landing or die from smoke inhalation in some other “incident.” I can only hope that I am not on that plane, nor are loved ones and friends.

  8. 20 F seats on a 737? Do they really make enough revenue on those to justify 20 vs the usual 16 seats?

  9. We all need to start referring to United as a Low Cost Carrier. Who else has 8 across in business on 777’s and 30″ of pitch in coach. Face the facts, United = LCC.

  10. So as people’s bodies continue to get larger, the airlines are shrinking the space available to carry the larger passenger frames. Time to put the crack pipe down and do some re-engineering based upon reality on the ground.

  11. Delta’s old MD-88’s look more and more attractive. The problem with inserting this compacted seating arrangement into the fleet is that, even if you book your flights to avoid the smaller seating, any disruption in your plans, such as aircraft change, missing a flight, flight cancellation, etc, could find you on the plane you tried to avoid.
    Then that carry on you planned on bringing, or that computer you thought you could use during the flight, or the above average sized passenger (roughly 50% of the population, so don’t get offended) sitting next to you is potentially a two seat customer with only one seat purchased.
    Forget about in flight services, there will barely be enough time to serve everyone between takeoff and landings except on longer flights.
    Hopefully you don’t need to use the lav, because at the exact time you need to get up, the crew will be serving and their cart will likely be in the way. About the lav, smaller with more people on board? Please be quick and by all means, plan ahead before you board the aircraft.
    Hats off to UAL for attempting to break a Guiness Record, not so much the number of people, but the total revenue generated from the aircraft over its life.
    I am not so much against the smaller seats, I just hope they pass the cost savings onto the customers. I will say that UAL is very price competitive lately, although not as inexpensive as the LCC’s

  12. I may be comparing apples to oranges, but am I the only one that would actually pay more just for a bigger seat if it was available?
    eg: Business class type lie flats or 40+inch pitch shell seats with standard economy amenities and service on a long haul? Something like Spirit’s big front seat, except not on Spirit?

    …or would taking up that much cabin space for an economy fare just be so unprofitable to the airline that nobody else would consider doing it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.