Scoop: United To Install Lie-Flat Seats On 737-10 Fleet

by Giovanni

As teased on Twitter, United Airlines is officially joining the trend of installing lie-flat seats on narrowbody planes.

According to an internal LOPA (layout of passenger accommodations) shared exclusively to Point Me To The Plane, United Airlines will be installing lie-flat seats on a number of their Boeing 737 Max 10s currently on order from the manufacturer.

Leaked Layout of Passenger Accommodation

As previously reported by One Mile At A Time, United announced in 2018 that they were exploring the option of installing lie-flat seats on their 737-10 fleet. According to the seatmap, which multiple sources at Boeing tell us has been internally locked, United has settled on 22 seats in a herringbone format.

The 737 Max 10 is the largest variant of Boeing’s troubled Max aircraft. It would typically have capacity for up to to 230 passengers in the densest configurations. Obviously, with so much of the plane taken up by the lie-flat seats, the new United planes will have far less capacity.

How will United use the planes?

United is the biggest customer of the 737 Max 10 with 100 of them on order from Boeing. The airline currently plans for 50 of their 737-10s on order to be delivered with the new seats, representing fully half the order.

United plans to use the Boeing 737 Max 10 as a replacement for its very old fleet of 15 Boeing 757 aircraft. Business travelers prefer frequency so operating the small planes more often will allow United to better compete than by operating a bigger aircraft with less frequency.

American Airlines A321 Business Class

United’s competitor American Airlines operates an A321 configured with their Flagship Business lie-flat seats on transcontinental routes. Photo: One Mile At A Time

With 50 of the 737-10s with lie-flat seats on order, United will be able to offer significantly more transcontinental lie-flat capacity and not just in typically premium markets.

United competes with a significant handicap in the New York City market with its hub outside the City at EWR rather than JFK. If United can expand premium service to secondary markets using new planes with lie-flat seats, that could provide them with a competitive advantage.

United Airlines would be joining competitors like American which operates a “Flagship” A321 configured with 10 reverse herringbone lie-flat seats in first class and 20 more lie-flat seats in business in a 2-2 configuration. JetBlue also offers 16 of their fully-flat Mint seats on key domestic routes. Of course, Continental was one of the first carriers to fly narrowbody aircraft to Europe from Newark and so this wouldn’t be a new approach for United.

United could also take advantage of the 737 Max 10’s range to unlock key international destinations.

The new 737-10s will allow United to offer a better premium experience on key markets that may not be able to support a widebody. Key secondary markets in Europe are unlocked by the 737-10s range from the east coast as well as many destinations in Latin America.

Aer Lingus operates a narrowbody A321LR equipped with fully-flat seats in business on key transatlantic routes.

Aer Lingus operates a narrowbody A321LR equipped with fully-flat seats in business on key transatlantic routes.

United’s fellow Star Alliance-member, TAP Air Portugal, already utilizes the A321LR on transatlantic routes as does United’s MileagePlus partner Aer Lingus.

In fact, Panama-based Copa Airlines, a United partner, is installing lie-flat seats on their 737 Max 9 aircraft which will be deployed on key international routes in Latin America.

Bottom line

United’s plans to install lie-flat seats on the 737-10 fleet have been rumored for a while, but this is the first time we’ve gotten concrete confirmation like this. With the ongoing Max situation, the planes will likely be delayed for a while, but it will be interesting to see exactly which markets United chooses to deploy this aircraft on.

Chris Dong contributed to this post. Have a tip? Feel free to reach out over email, Twitter, or Instagram.

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Christian March 7, 2020 - 1:32 pm

Any idea why not reverse herringbone? The higher privacy level would seem to be a big seller.

Bryan March 7, 2020 - 6:47 pm

Because they can fit more seats in a herringbone pattern. The effective pitch of the Thompson Vantage Solo is 31” herringbone seat compared to about 44” for a Collins Aerospace Super Diamond reverse herringbone seat. For something like a 5-6 hour transcontinental or short transatlantic flights it should be comfortable enough to get a quick sleep or relax and do some work.

Christian March 7, 2020 - 7:00 pm

Thanks. That makes a good bit of sense.

Greg March 7, 2020 - 3:42 pm

Nice get. Can you show the rest of the LOPA to see how many Economy+ seats the a/c will have?

Bryan March 7, 2020 - 6:50 pm

I’m hoping for the Thompson VantageSolo seats which have been around for a couple years now with no one yet to install them on their fleet. The newest iteration seems to offer the option of a sliding door which would be a great bit of added value especially for seats that face the aisle.

Herman March 8, 2020 - 11:31 am

Uh, the 737-10 has the shortest range of all the MAX series. This is not an international aircraft.

Giovanni March 8, 2020 - 12:48 pm

It has a 3,300 nm range, there are international destinations (especially in Latin America) they can be used to reach. Here’s a GC Map.

Joanna Nicholson March 9, 2020 - 10:15 am

A premium heavy config would increase the range too


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