Updated on August 20th with statement from Qatar Airways.
Passengers booked to fly in the economy cabin of Qatar Airways‘ 777 fleet may soon find themselves feeling squeezed in a smaller seat.
The national carrier has announced that most of its Boeing 777 fleet will soon be fitted with 10 seats per row in the economy cabin, instead of the current nine. The move reduces the width of each seat by almost two inches, to 17 inches across.
In a statement sent to Business Traveller, Qatar Airways confirmed that all new 777 orders will be 10 across in economy.
It also said that it will fit out all of its existing fleet of 28 B777-300ER aircraft with the new layout by the end of next year.
However, nine of its 777 fleet – the B777-200LRs – will remain nine-across, it said. These aircraft have a longer range than the airline’s 777-300s and are usually used on the longer routes in the airline’s network, like São Paolo in Brazil and southern US destinations like Houston in Texas.
Qatar Airways’ 37 Boeing 777s fly the airline’s long-haul routes to the USA, Australia, Japan and China, medium haul routes like London, and shorter regional trips to Bahrain, Dubai and cities in Saudi Arabia.
Qatar Airways is the last of the big three Gulf airlines to decide to adopt the 10-across seat configuration in economy.
Both Etihad and Emirates already solely offer 10 across seating on their 777s, giving passengers around 17 inches of seat width versus Qatar Airways’ 9-across width of 18.9.
Although the extra seat per row will disappoint many travelers, many industry analysts said the move makes financial sense.
“It’s simply because Doha’s national airline cannot afford to see its Gulf rivals have a cost advantage. By going 10-across, the airline’s B777-300ERs can accommodate an additional 23 economy class passengers per flight. It means that on a busy service to Europe, the carrier can garner many hundreds of pounds in additional revenue.”
In its statement, however, Qatar Airways said it had decided to add the extra seating in the economy cabin due to “ever-increasing passenger demand across a range of Qatar Airways routes coupled with new developments in slimline seating.”
Though Qatar’s Boeing 777s are destined for increased capacity, the airline seems to be retaining its relatively comfortable seating arrangements for the Airbus A380 superjumbo and the Airbus A350.
The former gives economy passengers a seat width of 18.5 inches, and the latter 18 inches.
Ten-across seating does however bring the 777 fleet in line with the Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which at 17.2 inches offers one of the smallest economy seats of all 787 operating airlines.
Are you booked to fly on a Qatar Airways 777 soon? Thoughts?