Why I tell people to avoid flying on a 787


“New rule: never fly on a 787.” That’s what I found myself advising some non-aviation industry friends who were planning a trip this week, despite all the benefits of the newest generation of composite airliners — lower cabin altitude, bigger windows, power and USB sockets, on-demand entertainment, bigger bins.

I would love to recommend the Dreamliner. I truly believe that it, and the Airbus A350, are huge design and manufacturing leaps forward. Even after the fire issues it has had, I think the 787 is a safe aircraft. I know it is opening up long and thin routes that allow nonstop or fewer-stop services between cities. I know its per-kilometre costs are lower, which is good for airlines, good for ticket prices and good for the environment.

But I wouldn’t recommend that anybody sit in economy on one — and economy is where almost all of us sit when we’re paying the fare.

The nine-abreast 787 economy seating on an aircraft frequently used for long-haul and ultra-long-haul flights gives passengers less space than any other jet — even the previous lead standard of a 10-abreast 777. Nine-abreast on a Dreamliner means a seat width of 17” or below, narrower even than a short-haul 737, an aircraft for which the six-abreast cabin diameter dates back to the 1950s’ Boeing 707.

Yet the 777 brand isn’t as toxic in economy as the 787 is, not while there are still some 777s with decent nine-abreast layouts, although their number is shrinking as carriers refit or retire older models and add new 10-abreast aircraft to their fleets. With the 777 it’s possible to be more nuanced — fly British Airways, Delta or United rather than Air Canada or American.

Not so with the 787.

As existing operators add more Dreamliners to their fleet, and new airlines take delivery, they’ve chosen the nine-abreast layout exclusively.

The one exception is Japan Airlines, which offers significantly better 18”+ seats in a 2-4-2 layout on its 787s, including the newer Sky Wider version, with 33” pitch. Local competitor ANA has one of four layouts with eight-abreast, yet the writing is on the wall for this configuration, and I wouldn’t recommend anybody chance getting it while ANA is in the process of removing it from service.

As ever, the story is completely different in international premium economy — not extra-legroom economy, which has the same nine-abreast seats with a few inches more legroom — where a 2-3-2 layout and spacious seats are a real sweet spot for passengers who care about #PaxEx and have the cash (or travel policy) to spend on it. But premium economy comes at a premium price, usually in the area of 35-45% over economy. 

In business class, too, the Dreamliner is great. But my friends — a family of four with teenage kids crossing the Atlantic — are probably going to spend less on their entire holiday than they’d spend sending even half of the family in business class.

Boeing — and its 787 customers — have a problem. There needs to be a product at a price point attractive to flyers for whom a sub-17” seat is a deal breaker yet an 18”+ seat is entirely acceptable, but for whom a 35%+ price jump for premium economy isn’t feasible.

The other option? The 787 becomes known as an aircraft nobody wants to fly.

Air Canada 787

An Air Canada 787


    • I wish I’d had the space to elaborate on that, actually — the maths I used was dividing the cabin width by number of seats, which gives 62cm per passenger for the 10-abreast 777 and 61cm per passenger for the 9-abreast 787. Of course, aisle space has to be removed from that, which seems to me on the plane to be similarly narrow on both aircraft. I’m willing to entertain arguments about the extra middle seat in the four making the 777 subjectively worse, though.

      • Shammas

        Who can I complain to at United about the narrow seating in 787’s? Plane is great , but the seating ( in economy+) is very uncomfortable .
        I’m sure United and other companies are aware of this problem. I just hope they do something about it.

    • David

      This article is total garbage. United’s 787-9 seats are 17.3 inches wide. Their 747 seats are 17 inches wide, 767 seats are 17.3 inches and 777 18 inches- hardly a noticeable difference. I have flown the 747-400, 777-200 and 300, 767 and airbus A340 and there is not a noticeable;e difference between these planes in seat comfort

  1. Kosta Gianakopoulos

    Some real facts from real LOPA’s. B777 10 abreast: 16.8″ wide PAX & B787 9 abreast 17.3″ wide PAX. Assuming 2″ wide arms.

    For reference a B777 9 abreast is 18.5″ wide and a B737 6 abreast is 7.3″. Again assuming 2″ arms.

    The majority of Airbus configuration have 18″ wide PAXs. Airbus designs the cross section of their aircraft with a 18″ PAX width in mind. Meaning from the inside out.

    Best aircraft to fly in a B777 9 abreast, followed by any Airbus.

    • Thanks for engaging via email, Kosta — as we discussed there, this is all a little relative depending on what is selected.

      I generally agree with you that seat width is superior on Airbus aircraft, with the exception of course of the nine-abreast A330 operated by AirAsia X, Cebu, Philippines and a number of charter and discount carriers. Fingers crossed nobody gets ideas about 16.4″ seating on a ten-abreast A350.

  2. Sahir Siddiqui

    The boycott should be on the airline for doing this to you, not on the aircraft. ANA destroyed my excitement for the 787 – I’ll never fly ANA again. I did certainly find it extremely uncomfortable – though not in terms of seat width, but in legroom and of course the non reclining seats. I’ll stick to Singapore Airlines 777-200, -300ER and A388 fleet, thank you, and leave ANA to everyone else!

    • Sahir, the point that I’m making is that there is only one single 787 configuration worldwide in 2-4-2. Until that changes, it seems to me that “don’t fly on a 787” is a good piece of advice for everyone not flying JAL.

  3. Patrick

    99.9% doesn’t care about your 0.5inch difference between the 787 high density layout and the Airbus planes you’re talking about. If that was the case, the 777-300ER wouldn’t be the most popular twin with long haul airlines.

    Articles like these will apply to aviation enthusiasts who are less than 0.0000000000000000000000001% of the world’s total population. Most people who fly economy only care about price otherwise if indeed seats were an issue to everyone, then how would you explain the rise of low cost carriers which in some places are making premium airlines lose business.

    99.9% of the flying public don’t know which aircraft type they’re flying. Make a survey on your next flight.

      • Pegasus

        Yes people DO care about seat widths and sizes.
        It punishes tall people, for example, when seats are too small.
        And favors the short skinny types.
        Epic fail for aviation.
        Take the train or drive ?

        • Lorena G Paz

          it doesn´t favor any skinny types. Im only 5’2” and almost have a panic atack in economy class seats . Speacially L and A seats. 787 is the hellLiner in economy

    • I don’t think I mentioned Airbus apart from linking the materials design of the A350 to that of the 787. The difference is, of course, more than 0.5″ — up to 1.5″ — and isn’t just Airbus vs Boeing, which you seem to suggest: it’s often Boeing vs Boeing, like Air Canada’s fleet right now.

      Like it or not, people are aware of the plane they fly, especially when it is a notable or new type like the A380 or 787. The friends I was advising were certainly aware of it — but their impression was that it was a great new plane, rather than one to avoid if elbow room is something a passenger cares about — and, frankly, since 17″ is a Brooks Brothers XS across the shoulders, it should be. Even if you happen to take an XS, the person next to you likely won’t.

    • MHalblaub

      You have to tripple the seat width to get the additional space for center seat on a 3-3-3 configuration;-)

      That is why even 0.5 inch per seat make a difference: it is 1.5 inch for the middle seat.

      Another problem for 787 at 9 abreast is aisle width. Check the allowed luggage size for cabins. Only the smallest trolleys can pass the aisles without contact.

  4. We’re flying (family of 4) to Bali in the summer, from LHR, in Y. Best price was Qatar, on the 787 (9 abreast) both legs. Timing didn’t make a big difference. Cathay was next, on a 777 9-abreast. I gladly paid UKP400 more in order to avoid the torture the Qatar flight would have been for us. On the other hand, one of the nicest flights I recently had was LHR-AMM in J on RJ’s brand-spanking new 787, and that was nicer than a BA A380 in J, or a Finnair A330 in Y (even though they’re the same seats). Of course, on the return leg the 787 went tech, and we all got squashed into an A320… I will go out of my way to avoid 10-abreast 777s and 9-abreast 787s, and will pay more to do so.

    • I’m generally in agreement — but Royal Jordanian’s 787s use the B/E Aerospace Diamond seat, while Finnair’s refurbished A330s use Thompson Vantage, and BA uses its own B/E-manufactured product.

      • Thanks for the correction on the seats. I know the BA J suite well (too well), although I haven’t flown it on an A380 (but since it’s the same cabin as on their 777s, I feel qualified to make the comment). Don’t like it one bit. It’s embarrassing that they are still 8-across in J when even AA has gone to 4-across. BA should have taken the opportunity of introducing new types to also upgrade J. But of course, on-board service being what it is, dislike about the seats is always second to upset about the quality of the service!

  5. Adam

    I don’t think anything in the sky has been as uncomfortable as the Emirates 777 10 abreast configuration. I have flown on a 787 with a 3-3-3 config and it was nowhere near as bad as the EK one.

    • Vladimir

      I have flown Emirates 77W 10 abreast twice: at the front of the economy cabin (seat 20A) and in the rear (47K in two-seater). I’m 177 cm/70 kg.
      20A was pretty tight in seat width and pitch, but still bearable for 4-5 hr flight for me.
      47K was noticeable better in pitch and luckily adjacent seat was empty, so comfort was great.
      Who complains about crampy 3-4-3, simply take 2-seaters in the rear beforehand.

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  7. Alex Fong

    I think you are not being neutral. Not all people have a 9 abreast. JAL and ANA use 8 abreast I STRONGLY advise those people to avoid direct flight of CX from HKG to JFK and take the JAL 3/4, so they can take on 787-8 of JAL.. I will riding on JAL 3/4 on first week of Feb, and I am so looking forward to it.

  8. Consumers need to understand that the goal of an airline is to maximize the wealth of its shareholders, satisfy government regulations, and pacify their union workers. Last on the list are the customers who are left holding the bag to pay for it all.

    • ck

      Airlines should also understand there are customers who are willing to pay a little more for the extra space which would result in higher yield for the airlines although not to the point of double their original price.

  9. Accidental Analyst

    Not so! Consumers already understand this and ultimately, airlines have got their priorities wrong. Unhappy passengers have unprecedented power over corporations thanks to social media. Air travel is an increasingly common global experience and globally connected people who’ve witnessed the Arab Spring, “Occupy” and other groups and movements that gather momentum when people “bypass” the established (filtered and controlled) channels of communication in favor of saying what they think. Why not unite disgruntled (taller) passengers under the banner of a we’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it any more social media movement and let’s test the theory that airlines don’t care about passengers! #madashellgroup

  10. AT

    I’ve flown on two ANA 787s on the SEA-NRT with 8x and NRT-SEA with 9x. Let me tell you, the difference is soooooo night and day. Never again will I fly a 9x 787. Combine that with 31-inch pitch most airlines are going with on these planes…no thank you! That flight was total misery. It was a full flight, everything was so tight i never got comfortable during the 9-hour flight. That’s coming from someone who is only 5-7 150-lb small framed guy. It really felt like if I was on a 737, which is another plane I try to avoid. Even the FA’s had to carefully move around the aisles during the meal service so they wouldn’t bump into anyone.

    I haven’t flown in a 10x 777. After flying on a 9x 787, I’m too scared to be on a 10x 777.

    • Jim

      My wife and I recently returned NRT to SEA on an ANA 787, 9 abreast economy. Even though we each had aisle seats, and the flight was only 8 hours, it was total torture.
      We have been flying this route on ANA with 777s and 787 for a couple of years, and WERE very satisfied and happy with ANA, even though we were paying full price out of our own pocket. However, it appears that ANA’s code share with United has been the monkey wrench in the works. Lots I could say about this, but we’re disappointed with ANA now.

  11. Dan

    I was flying on a 787 in business, and went into economy to see how it looked. I have to say I was pretty shocked. This was Ethiopian Airlines, the passengers were generally quite slim built. But the cabin was really full with no empty seats, and this meant that everybody’s shoulders were overlapping.

    For me, the overriding impression was that paying for a seat on a 9 abreast 787 effectively means paying for a seat you have to share with someone else.

    I just can’t see how this is an acceptable proposition, bearing in mind that these flights last longer than most people spend working in their office in any one day.

  12. You can find dozens of trip reports on cramped seats and often its 777 at 10 abreast and 787 on 9 abreast. Boeing and the airlines committed for 20 years though. So they keep quiet & any other conclusion then 17 inch is OK is not an option.

    Moving to narrower seats if often accompanied with Slimline for more knee room and great entertainment, to camouflage deceased seat width. The narrower aisles make trolleys & fellow passengers bump into you.

    Airlines should buy 787-10 at 8 abreast and compensate seatcount loss with extra rows. Please share on social media any direct or indirect responds / advise / invitation you get from Boeing on this!

  13. Dave

    The seat width is 17.3 for 787. 17 for 777@ 10 abrest. The seat for a350 is17.5 . If you do 18 for a350 the aisle become very narrow and arm rest 1.5 inches. A350 is 5 inches wider than 787. 777 is 11 inches wider than a350 and 777x is 15 in wider than a350.

  14. TC

    Here’s a calculation for seat width, measured center to center of a 2″ armrest.
    Aircraft width, minus two aisles(18″ plus an inch on each side to center of armrest is 40″), minus two sidewall to center of armrest(3″)
    then divide by number of seats
    subtract 2″ for the armrest




  15. TC, I do this for a living. Take a tape to measure everyone of this airplane to verify for yourself. A350 can only do 18 inches with 17 inch aisle. It is only 5 inches wider than the 787. Also no 777 at ten abrest is 16.8. They are all 17. Qatar airways is the only airline that uses 16.9 seat on their A330 and 787.

  16. Ian - New Zealand

    My wife and I flew Air New Zealand recently, AUK-LA 12hours and LA-HEA 10 hours. It was a truly miserable experience. For the first time ever, we clashed elbows as the seats are so narrow. When the passenger in front reclined the seat, the screen was 6″ from my face. I don’t believe the seat pitch was 32″ – it felt much less. Fitting 10 abreast in a 777 means that not only are the seats too narrow but so are the aisles – so much so that it is not possible for an aisle passenger to escape being banged and brushed against during the flight. 10 abreast on a 777 might be OK for a 4-5 hour flight but not for longer stages. This is probably the poorest long distance Economy offering out of Auckland and we won’t use it again. We returned on an Emirates A380 – still in Economy but 10 abreast in a bigger diameter fuselage. Much more comfortable. We will NEVER again fly in a 10 abreast Cripple7!

  17. Alex Tan

    The 787 is very cramped in a 3-3-3 seat configuration. Recently, I flew on the Qatar 787. On top of cramped seats, they had this large IFE box that blocked so much legroom. The negative experience moved me to write an Ode to Qatar and make a video rant.

    Video rant link – https://youtu.be/aUsyhMg_YTQ

    Qatar, Qatar, how cramped you are
    Your 787, so beautiful from afar
    Your airplane food was delicious to eat
    But my shoulders fall out of your Economy seat

    Qatar, Qatar, how cramped you are
    Your 787, so lovely from afar
    Your stewardesses, attentive and kind,
    But the lack of leg space blows my mind.

    Qatar, Qatar, how cramped you are
    Your 787, so awesome from afar
    Your website says a wide and spacious seat
    But my back hurts, did I mention my feet?

    Qatar, Qatar, how cramped you are
    Your 787, So beautiful from afar
    Flying your A350 was aviation heaven
    But never again your Seven-Eighty-Seven!

    • Dr. Seuss

      Alex Tan, Alex Tan, how annoying you are
      Your elementary rhymes, the stupidest by far.
      You think you are both clever and witty.
      But your poems have no meter just like this little ditty.

      Alex Tan, Alex Tan, how annoying you are
      Your elementary rhymes, the stupidest by far.
      Reading your “poem” actually made my eyes bleed,
      And made me wish I never learned to read.

      Alex Tan, Alex Tan, how annoying you are
      Your elementary rhymes, the stupidest by far.
      Repeating the same lines is what amateurs do,
      So see? I can make juvenile-sounding poetry too.

  18. disgruntled

    Worst plane ride ever. Id rather s*&t in my hands and clap before I took another dreamliner flight

  19. Steve

    You can still enjoy flying with Dreamliner, depending on the airline you’re choosing. Airlines have their seat maps shown on their websites. I suggest trying Japan Airlines (JAL), the only 787 operator that implemented an 8 abreast or 2-4-2 configuration for their economy class at 19 inches of seat width. Plus their light capacity 161 (88 Y Class) passengers on the 787-8 and 195 (116 Y Class) on their 787-9 give a more comfortable ride for those travelling on a budget.

    • 679Richardo

      Currently sat in a Qatar Airways Dreamliner as i write this comment.
      Whilst the Pay-As-You-Go wifi is a novelty, i have to agree that for me the leg pitch is ok( well, it would be if it wasn’t for thr metal box in every othe4 footwell) the seat pitch IS very cramped as as thr cost of the flight was quite expensive to start with, I will be looking for alternative routes or times to acess an alternative aircraft.

    • 679Richardo

      Thanks for that Steve but I’m not a plane buff, I don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing the airline I fly with.
      I’m a little unconventional and choose my flights based mostly on the country I’m flying from and the destination I need/wish to go to, more of a ways to a means – if yoy will.

  20. Luke

    I 100% agree with you, and call the seating NIGHTMARE-LINER (not just me), thankfully someone said the truth and calls it out like it is!

  21. Manny

    I flew BOM-LHR-IAH on a combo of Air India and United 787’s back to back recently in Y on a last minute arranged trip. The difference between Air India’s 787 and United’s 787 is night and day.

    Both airlines and for that matter all airlines other than than one exception have 9 abreast seating. The major difference being Air India has a 33 inch seat pitch instead of the usual 31/32 inches on most airlines. Did not feel cramped at all on the Air India flight. I am 5’11”. Infact enjoyed the extra leg room. But on the LHR-IAH segment with United’s 787 i could never get comfortable the entire flight and could not wait for the flight to get over. I would highly recommend avoiding United’s 787.

  22. SkinnySanta

    Seriously, how fat are you people? 9 abreast 787 is a delight to fly, epic airplane! Bet the A350 is awesome too. But then again, I’m not a fat American 😀

    Also, seat width is 17,2″, the same as an 737-800.

    • Jagroop singh

      I am going on a 15 hour flight on AC 787-9. I am 195 pounds well built and 5 feet 11 inches. Should I be worried about economy seat?

  23. Double

    Head of QANTAS responded with a glib “9 abreast is the standard, so that is what we are doing on our 787’s” when questioned on passenger quality (comfort). Airlines are actually pretty dumb machines, and customer satisfaction is not their priority…over time they do themselves in chasing profit while knowingly disappointing customers.

    The game is changing as consumers become empowered with information on play / airline pitch and seat layout…changing more rapidly than dumb slow airlines can comprehend. I have never flown in a 787, and based on what I know I never intend to. Old QANTAS has no plan for that reality, and Joyce thinks I don’t care (or have no choice) and will fly 9 abreast “because it is the standard”. You tell me, who is the fool in this situation?

    • J_sh

      The Qantas PR announcing the 787 was very misleading when they claimed 3-3-3 economy will have 1″ more than on the A380 without also mentioning that the A380 economy seat squabs are 20″ across and 18.3″ between inside arm rests, i.e. over 1″ narrower, or more than 2.5″ narrower depending on the basis on which they measure is taken .

      The fact that Australian travel sites have people lined up to defend this appalling sleight of hand speaks volumes to the fact that Joyce is right: the customers are dumb. I even spotted one travel agent site referring to how the 787 was to be 9 across as opposed to the A380 with 10 across for heaven’s sake, totally forgetting that the A380 is a lot wider.

  24. BlackBox

    Oh, John, John. You think 787 with 9-abreast is bad? Here’s an idea. Go to airliners.net (I’m sure it’s on your speed dial), go to Search, select Boeing 767 and Rossiya – Russian Airlines. Select Cabin views. Now count the number of seats. Yes, EIGHT ABREAST on B767. They mostly use the aircraft on the LED – VVO route. That’s an 11-hours flight. After that, even DXB-GRU with the 10-abreast Emirates (No 64 virgins for you, Clarky!) doesn’t seem so bad.

    On an even sadder note, since you published this article, Boeing announced that 777X will have 10-abreast as standard and Airbus said they will install 10-abreast in their new A350 “for airlines who want to order such configuration”. I don’t think any of them will pass this opportunity.

    • Seat width Nazi

      The 777x will have 18 in seats so basically we have to wait until then to be comfy in Y in a 777.

      Airlines are asking to be regulated, by cramping us all in like this. And the Wonder why air rage is increasing.

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  26. Nick

    I totally agree. I would argue that if you want to fly the 787, the only airline to really fly is JAL – Japan Air Lines. They, and ANA (All Nippon Airways) have 8 abreast. JAL separates the middle 4 abreast seats with an additional armrest whereas JAL just used the cabin width to increase the width of each seat. It is ridiculous that airlines have to cram seats the way they do but passengers want to fly on the cheap and Choose to take a 9 abreast vs 8 abreast if it will save them money. My favorite widebody to fly is the 767 – 7 abreast and never more than 1 seat away from an aisle and a much better chance of getting a window!

  27. Jeff

    I just flew on a United 787 from GIG-IAH and it was an absolute nightmare. I felt like I was in an MRI for 10 hours. I will stick to the 767s for all future flights.

  28. R7alph

    Sounds to me you bit**ing high livers need to travel by Conestoga wagon for a month so you can learn to appreciate the marvelous travel available for you at low cost. Or pay some more for a bigger seat.

  29. Kurbis

    Thank you so much for this article! I flew Qatar 787 economy and I was really disappointed. Like you wrote, it is a great aircraft, but for economy passengers with 9 abreast it’s terrible for longhaul flights. Airbus did well making the A350 an extra wide body. With high competition, frequent flyers will choose the airline with the better seat. Boeing should oblige airlines to use 8 abreast only, now the dreamliner has become a nightmareliner for economy longhaul. Such a shame for this beautiful lady.

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  31. Rick

    My first experience flying on a 788 was with ANA on economy class from YVR-HND with a 3-3-3 configuration. To be perfectly honest I didn’t see any problem with it. Mind you I’m a 5″7″ male but my shoulders are quite broad, but even then my shoulder was a good 5-6″ away from the shoulders of the people next to me. The bottom line is that if you’re reading this post, then you’re most likely an airplane enthusiast which means you know that the highest gross profit margin for airlines are in their 1st class/business class seats. by FAR. The rest of us who want to get from point A -> B shouldn’t really be complaining. Airlines have an obligation to their shareholders too, remember this is capitalism. So the next time you purchase a below market value ticket and find out your seat 1.5″ smaller so they can fit an extra seat in each row , remember you get what you pay for. (Actually I was lucky because even though my flight cost $200 less than the next cheapest carrier, ANA is one of 6, 5star carriers by Skytrax)

  32. Julia

    We have just had a family trip to Canada (2 adults and 4 young adult children). We flew economy BA LHR to Calgary on the Dreamliner. The daytime flight out was just about bearable but the overnight flight back , trying to sleep and feel comfortable was pretty awful. No shoulder space or legroom, we felt cramped with the pillow, blanket and earphones ready waiting on the seat in addition to our hand luggage, storage was awkward and I’m afraid that I was reduced to dropping empty water cups on the floor under my seat because the net in the seat in front was already full of BA literature and left no space for anything else. I will definitely be looking for alternative planes/operators next time. The Dreamliner is not comfortable in Economy.

  33. Steve

    Flew from Melbourne to Bangkok with Jetstar 787 (yes a budget airline) which of course had the 9 abreast seats. Paid a bit more for an exit isle legroom seat on account of the 30′ pitch in the rest of the plane. IT was a 9 hour day flight and it was still torture regardless of my extra legroom, my arms were constantly in contact with my neighbor and my hips were so restrained that after a couple of hours into a 9 hour flight felt like I was in a full body straight jacket (and I am not massive). The next leg was a Emirates A380 which of course was a different world.
    I would pay more for a civilised seat, ‘They’ say we only go on price but lets face it, when it comes to advertising fares then price is the only bit of information we get. Why cant airlines give us proper legroom and width but just charge a bit more but at the same time make a big noise about it like other advertisers do with their products? No one over the age of 25 or so is so impressed with an a/v system in comparison to comfort on a long flight ( and I mean from Aus to Europe 20 flight hours or so)
    So why do we have to pay 50% more for enhanced economy? They could fill a plane easily on the long haul routes for a slight premium price if they gave us what we NEED, rather than what they want.
    As we are getting older, my wife and I, I suspect that instead of traveling more, we will be travelling less on account of this built in torture that ‘THEY’ deem we deserve. Of course ‘THEY’ think that if they torture us enough we will move up a class or two, well we wont, we just cannot afford it.. nor justify it.

  34. Simon Stocks

    Just recovered from a long haul Etihad (Abu Dhabi – Brisbane) on a B789 and it was hell. The other legs of the flight were on Airbuses and nowhere near as uncomfortable. The seats were narrow and hard and we sat in row 22 with a wall behind us that prevented full-recline. With the seats on front reclined, we could not see the food on the tray or watch the (quite large) screens.

    The other aspect of this tightly packed trip was that I do not believe it would have been possible to reach under the seats should the life vests have been required. I’m just on 6′ and my wife is quite tall (the young man next to us couldn’t put both his legs into the space in front of his seat). My main issue (and I’m just about to write to the airline) is that we were not warned about row 22 – the cabin manager assured us that the seats reclines to the same degree as all the other seats, but that was plainly not the case.

    Our trip out was all on a Dreamliner – the same configuration – and was very uncomfortable, but at least we had full recline. The Airbuses offer a far superior experience.

  35. Ann

    From the photos, it looks like the United 787 economy armrests do not lift up. This would mean no more sleeping across seating and more awkward to get in and out of seats.

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  40. Bergie

    I just few United’s 787 from Melbourne to Los Angeles. The seats are ridiculously narrow. I’m a non-overweight 6′ tall man as a size reference. The reading light, volume, channel and call buttons are on the side of the armrest next to your leg. My hip kept turning on the reading light. I kept jostling my neighbor for armrest space. Since I was in a bulkhead seat, legroom was fine. United took a nice airplane and totally screwed it up with their greedy configuration.

  41. I just got off an eight-hour flight from ORD-WAW on LOT Airlines. I was really looking forward to flying the Dreamliner, and it is certainly a beautiful plane. But the seat was the narrowest I’ve ever encountered on any flight — it certainly seemed like it was more than just one-half inch narrower.

    I was traveling with my son and a friend of his. They are teens and thin. I weigh 200 pounds. No complaints about leg room; I’d gladly give some up for some seat width. But the left side of my body was hanging out into the aisle and my right arm was hogging the armrest. I simply haven’t had this problem, at least to this degree, on other airlines.

    I will fly the Dreamliner again, since I have to get home. But after that, never again on a nine-across configuration.

  42. Tom

    I have not flown either configuration. I flew a five hour red eye from anchorage. on a 737The seat was supposed to be economy plus. United switch aircraft. My knees where pinned into the seat in front of me. I could not recline because of the knees but also because the man be hired had the same issue. The passenger next to me made stink about me touching the armrest.

    I was on an . I said never again. The airline pulled a bait and switch on about 30 people on that plane.

    Unless my employer makes me. I will not fly economy on these planes, even if that means no travel.

    I was on the aisle.

  43. Sam

    I had the joys of trying out 3 of QR’s newest aircraft on a Bali & Singapore trip – A380, B787 & A350, and just as I never had tried it, booked AF’s 10 across for the short CGK-SIN hop.

    It was absolute chalk and cheese in terms of comfort of the A380 & A350 vs B787 & 777-300W. I will never board these aircraft in Y again. But if you ever get the chance to fly the A350 do – it’s great. 787? NEVER again!

    I hate the Airbus vs Boeing debates as it normally resorts to jingoistic rubbish – but is there a reason why the Airbus planes have not had an extra person squeezed in – whilst both Boeing variations have?

  44. Smart

    Flew on Qatar on a Dreamliner 3-3-3 configuration Doha – Jhb – Doha. There were not one seat open on the entire flight. If you have a disc problem in your back, this configuration is to be avoided. There is severe strain on the back if the seat in front is fully reclined, forcing you to recline as well to fit in your knees. The two next door male passengers much bigger than me , who needed some of my space to breathe, put me in a skewed position that had landed me with disc pressure so severe that I had to be put on muscle relaxants and bedrest for three days unable to walk. Needless to say on the flight back I did not recline, did not sleep and sat bolt upright. Worst flights of my life.

  45. Andy Zhou

    Seating is chosen by the airlines,not manufactured by Boeing,it is the problem of the airline, not the aircraft.

  46. Try Jetstar at 314 economy seats (21 star class). It is the worst example of over crowding of a 787 I have seen so far. Add in everything as an extra (if you want food on a 10 hour international flight as an example) and you really can have a sour experience. The other thing with these 787s that seems apparent is their breakdown rate. They seem frequently grounded with technical issues – none of which I understand but have spent 12 hours in airports waiting for whatever it is to be found.

    Worst really long hail flight seat from Australia – Etihad A380 economy seats in front of the galley. These seats recline about 1 inch, dont lock in place and have little leg room. When you complain they just roll their eyes as if what do you expect. A hell of a way to flight SYD – Abu Dabi on route to CDG Paris. I couldn’t believe how the bean counters destroyed the A380 experience in their desire to stuff another seat row in. Abu Dabi to Paris – an old, well maintained and hugely more comfortable A340. 2 seats on the side that reclined properly, no one behind us and better seat padding. I wished this plane went the whole way to Australia.

  47. I prefer the 2x4x2 of tha airbus a330 this is what thry should have stuck with on the 787 as far too many complsints are now coming in regards the narrower seats and less legroom on it so come on qatar listen to your passengers if not you might lose them to your competitors

  48. Kenny Smith

    Very informative, article and most comments. We have yet to travel on a 787, will be certain to not do so, at least in coach, thanks.

    We travel a lot worldwide, mainly to catch a cruise ship or come back from one. In 2010 we did a 17 hour flight on Emirates in coach on a B-777, 3-4-3 it wasn’t too bad as we both had isle seats.

    Of all the large transports we like the 2-3-2 on the B-767 twin isle the best (only one claustrophobic seat out of 7, while a 747 has 4 claustrophobics out of 10), but it doesn’t have the range of these newer aircraft.

    I’m about 5’9″ and 175 lb, I really feel for passengers larger than I, as most flights in coach are extremely uncomfortable even with isle seats and we won’t travel without. Matter of fact, we don’t do long hauls anymore unless we get at least business class, the down side of that is the air fare rivals the cost of an entire luxury cruise.

    I used to be in the airline game as a pilot and manager, so I still follow the industry through Aviation Week and S.P. I have been following the Air Bus attempts to place their A-380s in 3-5-3 configurations, they been at it for at least two years, Emirates is extremely opposed to that, however it looks like they are close to getting some takers. I doubt if these aircraft manufacture management personnel ever ride in coach anywhere, just imagine, 5 claustrophobics out of 11 seats.

  49. Wayne

    I agree 100%.

    First flight on a 787 last week with Virgin Atlantic in economy – and it’s the first time I’ve actually gone to the effort of googling the plane details to get more info.

    Seriously, what were they thinking? It was the worst long-haul flight I’ve experienced and I am by no means large or overweight. It gives new meaning to the term ‘cattle class’.

    Avoid if you can.

  50. Peter

    I flew in a 787 in coach in a 3-3-3 configuration from Dallas to Buenos Aires. On the outbound segment I was able to get three seats across but it was uncomfortable because it was not possible to stretch out and I kept getting bumped by everything and everybody that walked by.

    The return was worse. The flight was packed. You touch against your fellow (normal sized people not a POS) passenger and get repeatedly bumped by the service cart, crew and other passengers when seated in an aisle seat. Leg room is negligible. When the passenger in front reclines it becomes difficult to eat from the tray table, or see the entertainment screen. I could hardly walk when we got to Dallas

    Really, the passenger space is inhuman. I know the 787 is the way of the future and it has all this neat, new technology , but I kept thinking that a sardine in a can doesn’t really care what kind of can he’s in.

  51. Paul C

    Had 14 hours on the Dreamliner with Ethiad from Australia to AD in Economy. Brings a new meaning to flying cattle class…. disgusting Boeing. 9 abreast seating with horrible seats. Flyers ,do not use the Dreamliner.

  52. Malcolm Cumming

    Should airlines ever be required to pay serious attention to disabled wheelchair users, the aisles will need to be widened well beyond what they are now. 10x 777s will need to return to 9 abreast and 9x 787s will need to go back to 8-across — as those planes were originally designed by Boeing engineers.

  53. Ian

    As long as customers keep paying for painful and torturous seats, the airlines will keep putting smaller and smaller seats in planes. It’s as simple as that. The only way to stop the trend of painful seats is to stop flying.

    One possible other solution is for everybody to band together and pass a new law for passenger rights. It could be done based on safety requirements. Movie theaters and public spaces have a maximum occupancy based on evacuation requirements. Aircraft should have the same.

    But again, nothing will be done to prevent painful and torturous seating until people are willing to stop flying.

  54. Joe Blo

    This reminds me of an issue with airline travel I have long pondered: While all airlines charge extra for, or prohibit overweight baggage, passenger weight has no impact on ticket price. As fuel costs are directly related to total weight, it makes sense that a lighter passenger should pay a lower fare than a heavier one (albeit probably marginally)…

    While a 17″ wide seat may be uncomfortable for a larger person, it seems fine for someone of a smaller stature. Why not design seating for the smallest expected passenger, and configure them so multiple seats can be combined into one seat for larger passengers.

  55. Vladimir

    Flew GRU-SCL and back on LAN’s (now LATAM Chile) 787-9 and -8. It seems like you are in good old crampy narrowbody 737 – to be short. Luckily, these flights were just 3.5 hr long each, so, despite packed backs of the planes, it wasn’t so painful as it definitely could be when flying long-haul on these planes.

    Recently have flown DOH-SIN-DON on QR’s 359 and it is waaaaaaaaay much more comfortable and spacious than 787.

  56. Sahir Siddiqui

    I flew to Tokyo last week on ANA’s 787-9 and was pleasantly surprised! There was ample leg room in economy even for my long legs (I’m 6’2″). The IFE screens were terrific large and superb UI driving it – if I am not wrong, they may even have been Android tablets!
    On the return flight, the airline changed the aircraft to a 787-8 for technical reasons. The difference was amazing – cramped legs… though the screens were smaller, they were still good… the only win for the 787-8 was that it had additional air vents overhead for each passenger. These were missing on the -9 and it did feel a bit stuffy…

  57. Janet Hughes

    Recently flew dreàmliner with Unjted. NEVER AGAIN!
    Cramped conditions led to a torturous flight – both ways!!
    The 3/3/3 configuration is a nightmare!

  58. Josh

    For me the loss of a half inch is more than compensated for by improved features such as larger windows, more entertainment options, better cabin pressure and humidity, and power outlets,

  59. K. Kuromori

    After a half-dozen trans-Pacific flights in 787’s, including 2 on JAL (since removed from the route), I now avoid them as well. I’ve come to the conclusion that most airlines that have acquired them have done so with the “bottom line” firmly in mind. Consequently, the aircraft are usually overcrowded to the point that even their overhead and baggage capacity is being strained. The aircraft interiors don’t seem to be wearing well either, with a litany of broken and malfunctioning interior bits and systems (broken ventilation, lavatories, lighting, entertainment and environmental systems, plastic…). I’ve also decided that the windows need blinds, as every flight has included a glaring low sun in the eyes at some point.

    The 787 might be a perfectly fine aircraft if airlines chose to fly them on shorter routes, with fewer passengers and better seating, better maintenance or sturdier interiors, or at least with a competitive ticket price. Unfortunately, airline acquisitions of the aircraft seem mostly oriented toward maximizing profitability at passengers’ expense.

  60. David

    I completely agree. There is indeed a toxic mentality among post bankruptcy/merger U.S. Airlines that survival is everything and passengers should be thankful that they can fly at all. As a result business decisions all lean on passenger convenience. An example would be the tendency to oversell available seats so that 5 additional tickets are sold over the actual capacity of an aircraft. This means that SOMEONE has to get bumped. I have experienced chronic delays at Delta for years due to maintenance failures. The incoming aircraft is held up due to not passing inspection and must be repaired or replaced by another aircraft. I don’t know much about aircraft maintenance but I’m imagining that airlines are squeezing every last mile out of high cost expendable parts. Recently I repeatedly had the same experience on United’s regional feeder partner. When I traveled over the holidaze this business as usual approach produced travel nightmares for thousands of travelers. In Charlotte we waited on the ground for an extra 30 minutes because United did not have any ground crew available to close the under carriage doors! I recently flew through Minneapolis. Avoid this airport: it’s endless with no trains yet the waiting areas are inadequate and jam packed with anxious travelers. The food services all appear to be owned by an expensive monopoly whose employees are unpleasant and unmotivated to provide service). Well I had sufficient time to order a burger because Delta was waiting on our flight attendants to get in from another delayed flight. All in all American Airlines seems to be the most sane with newer equipment and enough staff to get the job done. However their flight attendants serve the food and drinks when it’s convenient for themselves and DO NOT appreciate being bothered. They take frequent breaks leaving passengers hungry and thirsty. Service and attitudes are also deplorable on United. They no longer provide blankets in main cabin. Delta staff seem the nicest but I once stood at the gate counter unacknowleged while the female staff gathered around and endlessly fawned over a tall captain. I have been told that U.S. airline service is heaven compared to dealing with Air Canada workers who are secure, entitled and utterly unmotivated. Canadians have no choice when it comes to flying. Well the Europeans are not trapped in this mentality as demonstrated in the Airbus comfort commitment. But what is Boeing to do? The airlines seem to dictate the passenger comfort and convenience policies. Historically Boeings seem to be much more affordable to maintain and renew. The Best Buy I ever made on flying was upgrading at checkin to Delta’s Comfort Plus on my recent trip from San Diego. I loved go through the fast lane at Airport Security and the free cocktails during my flight. I also enjoyed the extra legroom. Since most folks are to cheap to spend the extra $39 I was not crammed in like a sardine. On both legs of the journey I had no one sitting directly next to me. I guess the airlines have learned the hard way that most travelers are penny pinchers. I’m one to use the valet parking at special events. To me it’s $20 well spent to walk right in the front gate rather than walk for miles or illegally park at risk of being towed like many otherwise well off attendees choose to do.

  61. Willie Wonga

    I cannot agree more with the commentators above that the BOEING 787 Dreamliner is indeed the worst aircraft I have ever flown on. The narrowest, hardest seats with entertainment boxes in every footwell of the aisle and window seats. Take your pick; a nightmarish claustrophobic middle seat with no box in the footwell or a cramped window or aisle seat with no room for your feet. Yes, airlines are all about the money in economy class and Boeing has given them the perfect excuse to make a complete hell out of any long haul flight in Y-class on a Dreamliner. The aircraft is quiet but the engines seem to produces a high resonance tinnitus-like ringing sound, perhaps more noticeable because of the low outside air-roar. The tint adjustable shades are dreadful; even at their darkest setting when flying with a setting or rising sun on your side of the aircraft they filter the incoming light into a nasty green colour that is visually disturbing and headache inducing. I flew Cape Town/Doha on 787 and Doha – Frankfurt on the brand new A350 XWB. Take a bow Airbus. The A350 has wider body, wider seats, more legroom and is almost as quiet. A vastly superior aircraft. I am 6 ft tall and weigh 170 lbs and I found the 787 so unbearable that I will avoid any airline and flight using it in future. I used to fly extensively on extreme long-haul flights (15 hrs+) and every other aircraft that I have flown on regardless of cross configuration or airline (B747, B767, B777, A330, A340, A350, A380) has been more comfortable and pleasant to fly on than the awful Dreamliner. The only thing that resonates with the name of this awful aircraft is the fact that a pleasant flight on it in Y-class, will always remain a dream! Passengers who care about comfort and are discerning enough to know the difference; avoid the Dreamliner at all costs!

  62. Trev from Oz.

    O YaY (Not).
    The Australian carrier Qantas have just announced their new 787’s and guess what, its got 3-3-3 economy seating.

    I had a 16 hour Brisbane to Abu-Dabi flight in an Etihad 787 with this configuration and it was the most miserable flight of my life.

  63. Carolyn Bloom

    Was absolutely shocked at how small the 787 legroom was on a 14 hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Brisbane. I am only 5″3 and it doesn’t usually bother me but this plane did, it was so uncomfortable especially for the 6 foot men next to me who’s shoulders had to lean into mine to try and get some room. I also accidentally grabbed the feet of the guy behind me a few times when looking for my eye mask l had dropped on the floor. Would go to great lengths not to fly on this plane again, even the 330 had heaps more room and that was only a 4 hour flight. This flight was with Etihad very disappointing.

  64. Glenn Worsley

    I totally agree with you. Having spent a 9.5 hour flight and then a 10 hour flight, theses are not only the smallest seats but with the lack of padding for your butt, the MOST uncomfortable seats I have ever fly in. I will not fly with them again. I will make it a point to avoid all 7787 flights in the future, and on my next holiday I have changed airlines so I could fly on an A330 flight.

    • exasperated ken

      hope your tactic of changing airlines worked. Last year, having had an awful journey in a BA Dreamliner, we booked our December 2016 trip to Calgary with Air Canada in an Airbus.
      However, a few weeks before we travelled Air Canada changed the plane to a Dreamliner, and at the same time dispensed with our pre-paid preferred bulkhead seating!
      Seems you can’t win

  65. Anthony Wilson

    Just flew 787 LAX-LHR and back – worst aircraft economy seating I’ve experienced in 3 million miles, cramped, no storage, thin seats, so the guy behind jams his tray in your back , or pummels your head when punching his touchscreen. Also, the plane is small, so there is no where to stand and stretch . Overall a miserable way to tolerate 10 hrs.

  66. Exasperated ken

    The pain continues. Narrow seats, overly cool air conditioning, video screens 9 inches from your face in the reclined position, passengers unable to exit from window and aisle seats without using the seats in front as leverage, no footwell available in many seats due to video electronics equipment under the seat in front , window seats require the passenger to “curve” themselves to fit in with curve of the aircraft body. Watch out for row 29/30 aisle seats; toilet door is 24 inches away across the aisle!
    This 3x3x3 economy configuration is not suitable for long haul. We have travelled London to Calgary on the BA and Air Canada versions, and equally awful. It forces the purchase of either extra legroom bulkhead seats( which have their own failings of zero storage space for travellers essentials ) or premium economy. We will try to avoid using the plane but becoming more difficult as increasing numbers of carriers purchase them, seeing what their competitors are getting away with.

  67. Al

    Flew Etihad from Brisbane to Abu Dhabi Dec just gone. No windows row 42, info re lack of window seat selection info not on seatguru or seat selection with the airline. Seat pitch and width awful, not acceptable for a 14+ hour flight, no where to stand really and stretch, narrow isles and tiny loos, smaller it seemed than a shorthaul 737.

    In comparison flew back on Virgin Australia on a 777 and was upgraded to premium economy which was like heaven, it felt like business or first class in comparison to the dreamliner economy.

    If QANTAS is going to fly the dreamliner Perth to London using 3x3x3 in economy then we can say that convict transportation standards of the 18th century have finally shown their modern hand. At least the convicts were not billed for the cramped below decks accommodation.

    To sum up I fly a lot and now find myself going out of my way to avoid the dreamliner (and 10 abreast 777’s) Even taking longer sectors if needed. Thank god Singapore Airlines goes most places I need to go, with them I should just manage it.

  68. Kevin T. Kelly

    I agree with the other posts. I am platinum on United and I call it the “nightmare-liner”. At least they managed to make every seat bad, which is sort of an egalitarian achievement. The window seat gets you trapped for the whole flight by two sleeping strangers. The narrow aisle gets you run over by the cart in the aisle seats. And then there are the three narrow middle seats per row. Enjoy it for the next 40 years.

  69. Gary

    As a very experienced long haul business flyer I believe the 787 is a massive step backwards for passengers. Over the past few years aircraft have been getting bigger, giving more space for passengers and gradually improving standards across the board, however we have now gone back in time to when the philosophy was to shoehorn as many passengers as possible into as smaller aircraft as possible. The 787 is being sold to airlines on the promise of lower operating costs than larger aircraft on long haul routes and this can only be achieved at the detriment of the passengers. The times I have flown on the 787 I and several other passengers suffered from swollen ankles and legs, something that has never happen before or since on any other aircraft. I also believe it is operating beyond its margins of error flying ever increasing distances in such a small and overcrowded plane and with the future introduction of a non stop 17/18 hour journey from London to Perth surely it is only a matter of time before people start to actually die on this aircraft. Imagine sitting in economy class and not being able to move for nearly 18 hours – what is that going to do to the human body ? Try this test at home – sit upright on a chair with your arms by your side, keep your legs bent and put another chair in front of you so you cant move. Now see how long you can last !

    I will no longer travel on the 787.

    I also disagree with claims that the 787 has a lower impact on the environment, how can it as smaller planes = more planes & more planes = more journeys and more planes and more journeys = more pollution !

    The other thing I can’t understand is Boeing thought process because every time they introduce a new aircraft they make one of their existing aircraft redundant for example – they focus on the 777 and this destroys the 747, they introduce the 787 and this kills the 777 ?

  70. camille anctil

    Never use United airline for flight from MEL TO LAX … SEATS… No leg room and when the front set till you have to force yourself
    to stand up…. .. food service was and experience.. they did serve us free beverages after about on hr in flight . the main course for our meal was dry chicken are Lasania that I didn’t even touch . 6 hrs later they come around with drinks , and if you wanted anything to eat you had to pay for it .. Now we are taking about over 12 hrs in the air ( I have been flying for many of years and never was I so desapointed .. By the way it was a new Dreamliner 787 plane , and Last mount I flew from LHR TO YUL on Dreamliner again NEVER AGAIN

  71. monnides

    Comfort and seat arrangement is not the responsibility of the plane manufacturer , the AIRLINES decide how many seat abreast an the pitch. If they want to cram people that is their choice………………

  72. Sheik Yerbyti

    Off-topic…but ALL medium-range flights are uncomfortable these days. We now can fly single-aisle 737’s or A-320/321 on route which formerly used 767’s and even 747’s.

    Thisbis why I cringe every time I come across an article touting the latest/greatest 737 neo’s. it means we will now be flying one these narrrow-body planes for7-8 hours.

    I won’t be surprised if we soon start flying technologically-advanced CRJ’s or Embraers from LAX-HNL…or from JFK-CDG!!!

  73. d_ei

    i guess the 3-3-3 layout would be fine for long distance lcc, where price is the main factor for booking. but regular airlines on longhaul flights simply shouldn’t fly a plane like that. or at least sell the ticket with the remark that it includes a cuddle fee, because that is what u will have to do with your neighbor on this plane. recently flew amm to kul via bkk on rj’s 787 and in terms of seat width even easyjet felt more comfortable. constant shoulder touching, kind of claustrophobic, especially when fully booked. compared to the a350 passenger comfort in eco is just poor. will definitely avoid the 787 in the future (except if airlines change to 2-4-2)

  74. Ive flown 1st more as a kid than as an adult. My father and grandfather always traveled to Asia for work. They always had status and points for upgrades. I remember the first time I had caviar I was 10 in first class and I asked the FA what it was. I then asked for 2nds 🙂

    Im all for kids flying in 1st class, but it really comes down to the parents. If your child can be well behaved and not be a distraction then its fine.

  75. Peter Labaziewicz

    I fly about 100K miles a year and I completely agree that most airlines have destroyed any comfort advantage the 787 has by packing in as many seats as possible. Seats are smaller, less comfortable and with 9 across seating much too narrow. Add to this the fact that 787 is used on many long haul routes such as DFW to PVG which is 15 hrs one way, you end up with a significantly worse experience than on other long haul aircraft. I love the 787 design but now avoid flying it if possible.

  76. William Fence

    I feel vindicated after reading your article. 3 years ago almost to this date, I was happy to learn my plane was changed via BA, to a 2 month old brandy new 787. My daughter and I were coming back from Heathrow to JFK and like you said, the economy seat was as bad as Spirit Airlines. I specifically avoid the 787 at all costs. It was miles past uncomfortable, almost painful.
    To hell with the 787.

  77. I am already making the choices….airlines that have 10 across seating on the 777 do not get my money. Saw some good prices on KLM recently, but then saw that it would involve the 777 and 10 across, so no booking with KLM. Same thing with Swiss, they also went to 10 across in the 777s so lost my custom there too. And the 787 is far from comfortable when it is 9 across. So checking the aircraft to be used is now becoming the norm before I book any tickets. There is a limit, and I think that some airlines have now gone beyond what is acceptable for long flights. Cheapest is not always best.


  78. Robert (Gus) Sanders

    Flew on a 787 from Doah to LHR about 3yrs ago , the worst flight ever , I am not small but have never had problems in cattle class my knees were in the back of the seat in front & I could not put the tray table down correctly to eat etc , I also had trouble with my shoulders touching the people either side of me. The only way I handled it was to take a couple of sleeping pills & sleep , these space problems will lead to air rage one day as people become agitated when very uncomfortable, needless to say I avoid 787 planes & 10 across 777s like the plague as I do not need the experience again.

  79. Toby

    While breathing seems more pleasant on the 787,the plane moves alot in turbulence.The smaller 737 and bigger 777 both, seemed more comfortable going through turbulence. The wings on the 787 seem too small as well.

  80. Ross

    I am passionate about aviation and about the technological advances. However…..I always always try and fly on A330-300/200 or A340 when flying with the other half since 2-4-2 config is perfect for 2 people flying. I avoid 787 at all costs…having flown them on Qatar, BA and more recently on KLM. It is simply horrendous…even if we fly as a family of 3 the seats are just so uncomfortable its not even funny.

    Sadly, the A340 is not operated by many in Europe, and the A330-200/300 will be replaced by A330-800/900 (neo) that will still retain the 2-4-2 config. The only other alternative to get better seat as some people have mentioned is to find the seats right at the back where there is only 2 seats per row but you will be stuck right by the lavatories for the whole flight.

  81. Two weeks ago flew Etihad from Brisbane to Heathrow via Abu Dhabi and returned from Paris to Brisbane again through Abu Dhabi. The Dreamliner was used on both Abu Dhabi Brisbane legs with the Airbus 380 on the other 2 legs. The Dreamliner experience was simply a nightmare. Torture. We were absolutely crammed in. I could not even reach my handbag on the floor. The aisle was so narrow that the food trolleys blocked any people movement which caused big problems with the toilets. I only went once in 13.5 hours and queued for over 30 minutes. The atmosphere was awful as passengers and staff were miserable. I will never ever fly in a Dreamliner again. Just greed by the airlines.

  82. Tim

    Just flew the 787 Dreamliner for the first time. I fly a lot. And the article is accurate. In addition to the seats being very narrow with reduced legroom, the electronic hydraulic system has an annoying shrill sound both at take-off and landing that is extremely loud. Boeing branded it the Dreamliner, marketed the name and a few useless benefits like the mood lighting, to distract prospective passengers from recognizing the plane was designed to be a cost-efficient bus with wings.

  83. John

    First flight on 787 was disappointing. Loud shrill from hydraulics at take-off and landing. Seating is very cramped. Whineliner? Crampliner?

  84. Johannes Bols

    Hi John, I enjoyed reading your article. Airplanes seem to bring out internecine battles between otherwise civilized minds. My reason for posting this comment is to suggest yet another reason for choosing the 787, or anything: cost. 50+ years of immersion in commercial aviation [I grew up under final to JFK 1962 – 1972] has brought me much knowledge about booking flights. My parents were flying SEA – New York City one Christmas. They told me they got a cheaper fare because the flight stopped in Chicago. I pretty much told them they were bloody insane, that they stood a good chance of getting snowed in in Chicago. Rubbish, they told me. Guess what? They got snowed in in Chicago. So, if a price on travelocity or some such website is one dollar less for a 787 than any other aircraft, or two dollars less for a flight to make a stop rather than be nonstop, Joe Average Consumer will click ‘ok’ in a heartbeat.

  85. Chris

    I flew China Eastern from Auckland – Guangzhou – Changchun – Vladivostok last May. Ak to Guangzhou was 11 hours overnight on a 787 – my first experience of one – and it was agony. The seat seemed to be made of some hard un-springy material – like lying on sand. Every 10 minutes I had to twist into a new position to try and ease my aching muscles. I tried sitting on my coat or anything else I had to try and achieve some ‘padding’, but to no avail. I got no sleep and I thought old age had caught up with me. And the much-vaunted electric window dimmer wouldn’t undim (or the pilot overrode it) so I couldn’t even see our crossing of the Chinese coast.

    The old domestic A320 to Changchun was such a contrast, I promptly dozed off in the middle of the day – what a relief. I will quite simply never book on a 787 again, ever.

    The best flights I’ve had remain A340 (in 2-4-2 seating) and A380’s (in 3-4-3) – the first time I’ve had more room than I need in an airline seat.

  86. Peter McLaughlin

    I flew with my fiancee from DFW to Santiago Chile on AA. It was our first time on a 787 and it was 9-1/2 hours of the most excruciatingly uncomfortable flying experience in our lives (and we fly often between the US and AU, NZ, and Europe). The seat configuration on the 787 is way too tight. We a both just under 6 feet and our knees were touching the seat back in front of us. The seat itself was very uncomfortable on our backs, with hardly any leg room. We could never recommend flying on this airplane and we never will again. Maybe 1st class would be alright, but we cannot afford that. As far as passenger comfort, it’s absolutely the worst plane ever.

  87. Ben

    Planning a 4 person family holiday 6 weeks Sept/Oct 2018, from Melbourne London, with Asian stopovers both ways.

    Initially we hoped to stop in Japan for a week on way over. But the Tokyo -> London leg proved impractical.

    JAL/BA offer a 8-seat 787, but at the ridiculous price of A$12500 one flight (what’s up with JAL pricing generally??). LOT have a good value flight via Warsaw but its on these cramped 9-seat planes. Sounds awful from stories above, we’ll pass.

    So now we’re thinking about Asiana through Seoul or Malaysia via KL, much better seat room on airbus 330s, 350s, 380s and 9seat 777s. We’re on a budget but we want to be comfortable during the flights.

  88. I agree. Will not fly on a 787 again as long as airlines fit them out 3x3x3 and slimline seats. Slimline seats , which other posters seem to have overlooked, are significantly shorter under the bum!, a 32″ pitch is really more like 30″ And back to the width issue – the armrests are also narower which contributes to the lack of width.

    This is based on physically shoe horning oneself into the seat, where your neighbours elbows and shoulders are, feeling where the seat edge is under your thighs, how narrow the fold out meal tray is and where the seat in front is when reclined in your face. All the measurements in the world do not relate to actual physical space. They can and do come up with measurements to make people think it is great when all they have done is shrink the seat depth, armrests, aisles etc etc to still make it sound good on paper.

    Wife and I spent 9 hrs on a 787 for the most uncomfortable and cramped flight of our lives, then another 9 hrs to come home. I still, after 18 months, have significant neck and shoulder issues from these god forsaken seats that I never had before. Our next flights just 2 months later were a bit over 7 hrs each way on a dreaded 10 abreast 777. I am another one who wasn’t overly impressed with 10 wide 777 seating but so soon after the 787 flights it was very obvious that the seat does give a little more room both in terms of width and leg room, also a bit more padding.

    All you purists out there – Don’t shoot me and tell me all the measurements and facts say I am wrong. I have actually sat in the back of one of these planes fitted out in this horrible manner and endured what people need to start fighting against. We will NOT step foot on one again while the airlines continue to fit them out in this manner.

    We have (show our age here) flown on all types of aircraft over 50 or more years. The pick in economy: The trusty old 747 and in todays fleet the A380 wins followed by 9 wide 777.

  89. Andrew Downes

    Just off my first 787 flight, which I was really looking forward to, but will attempt never to do again! I flew American from Chicago to London in standard economy and it was one of my least comfortable flights ever.

    Seat width as mentioned was a problem. I’m 184cm and 100kg. I normally book an aisle so I can overflow a bit but on this occasion my earlier flight was cancelled so was just grateful not to be in the middle, I was in 27F where the fuselage possibly starts to narrow a bit.

    However i also experienced other discomforts:
    My shoulders were almost level with the TOP of the seat! Although taller than average, I don’t consider myself excessively tall yet the seat simply wasn’t high enough for me to get my shoulders under the headrest, and all the padding was consequently in the wrong places. I’d prefer a less shaped seat.
    The seat was of a kind I dread, where the seat pad slides forward as it reclines, reducing the already limited legroom and causing my head to further overextend the headrest.
    The window with electrochromic tint is clever but controlled mainly by the crew and for some reason got hot enough toward the end of the flight for it to be perceptible against my face, causing me to feel I was overheating even though I wasn’t leaning against it by then. At least that wasn’t the case when I was trying to sleep because pillow and blanket against the window was my workaround for the uselessness of the headrest.
    The ventilation was inadequate, non-directable and behind my head, not blowing on my chest or lap as I prefer.

    • Savvas Savva

      What a bummer. I was looking forward to flying a 787 on any airline just for the experience . I’ve been an avid enthusiast since a child. I recently booked a trip to Luxembourg and avoided the 787 on purpose because of the 9 abreast seating. Instead I booked Virgin
      A330-300 2-4-2 searing. An absolute joy. I’ve flown these types before including the big brother A340-600. Wonderfully quite and comfortable aircraft. Even a 767 2-3-2 is wonderful.
      Shame on the Airlines !
      Customers do notice and especially with social netw

  90. Johannes Bols

    Thanks for an erudite study on the 787 and the cruelty an airline chooses to inflict on a paying passenger. You might agree that the average person will choose the cheapest fare, even if a nonstop is a dollar more. They simply have no idea. And then they gripe. Tut.

  91. Ann

    I just dont want to fly on the 787 and am annoyed that airlines have chosen a layout in economy of 3-3-3. Unless you are a family or group of 3, this layout is appauling. It totally puts me off flying on one, incase I am unfortunate enough to get wedged between 2 people I dont know for 17 hours. I think it is a backward step in aviation. True cattle class economy. I think airlines have made a real mistake with this layout and the purchase of so many 787s.

  92. Jill

    Really I have no issue with narrow seats or the economy service level, what I would like is a choice in pitch with rational pricing. Seats in most Boeing seat mounts are on tracks so the airline can reset the pitch during any B, C or D maintenance check at insignificant cost(B checks are about 6 months, C 2 years).
    Fool managers of the airlines put in too many economy and too few economy-plus seats and then try to charge 25-35% more money for 12% more space.(36/32 inch pitches)
    I would pay more for more legroom(I’m not tall, just that knees get stiff) but they are basically calling me an idiot right to my face with that pricing scheme so I refuse to upgrade on principle. (even with that price gouge, on some routes e-plus seats seem to sell out long before the std econ)
    Lets say the economy cabin holds 100 people at pitch 32, if pitch increases from 32 to 40 keeping the same width, then 40/32 =1.25 times the floor area per seat, now the cabin can hold 80. increasing the ticket exactly 25% for this 25% increase in seat pitch results in the exact same gross revenue, however it significantly increases net profit because you only need to ticket and check in 80 carry the weight of 80, provide overhead bin space for 80, may be able to drop one cabin crew(legal minimum ratio of crew to passengers), and turnaround time will be 10-20% faster.

    They really should try a 3 tier short medium tall economy setup with something like 30,34,38 inch pitches (add 2-3 inches each for flights over 2-3 hours) with initial prices directly proportional to seat area and see what fills fastest then adjust the proportion of seats on later flights to fit this demand curve.

  93. John Medhurst

    I think the 787 is dreadful . The reduced width in the 3-3-3 configuration is totally unacceptable. Also, how do Boeing manage to make the seats so hard ! Even with my memory-foam whoopee cushion, 2 x 12 hour sectors between UK and New Zealand cause really severe discomfort to my undercarriage. Great plane for operators because of its low fuel costs but Dreamliner – NOT; more of a nightmare for those who fly in Steerage.

  94. Percy Smith

    I worked backwards from seat width, assuming 16 inch regulatory minima aisles, 2 inch armrests and 1.5 inch seat to seat wall distances on all aircraft.

    On 777 10-abreast I got 17.0in
    9-abreast 19.11in

    787 17.44in https://cimg3.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.flyertalk.com-vbulletin/661×481-1/untitled_f42563c687107f5c2faaf3447396646d0ea5bcff.png
    (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/cathay-pacific-marco-polo-club/1718701-cx-considering-confirmed-having-10-seats-per-row-39.html#post29641139 )