Is This United’s New 787 Seatmap?

United Airlines is in the midst of a widebody fleet-wide upgrade. The airline is ditching some of its old business class products in favor of a new, upgraded Polaris business class and the addition of a true premium economy product, Premium Plus, in order to boost the carrier’s long-haul offerings. Now, it appears that leaked United Boeing 787 seat maps could offer a clue as to the carrier’s ambitions with these aircraft.

United 787
United is going for a retrofit of Boeing 787 cabins. Photo: United Airlines

It appears that United is making some pretty significant changes based on these seatmaps. Let’s take a look at what this would mean for passengers.

What is coming on retrofitted 787s?

Currently, United offers lie-flat business class seating onboard 787s in a 2-2-2 configuration. This is similar to some Polaris cabins on the 777 as Paul Lucas got to try out earlier this year:

Is This United’s New 787 Seatmap?
United’s current 2-2-2 Polaris business class. Photo: Paul Lucas – Simple Flying

United, in these retrofits, is doing away with these outdated business class seats in favor of a new lie-flat product with direct aisle access. This true “Polaris” is already aboard United’s 787-10 aircraft, 777-300ER aircraft, some retrofitted 777-200s and 767-300ERs. The remaining 777-200s and 767s will be finished through 2020. However, the 787s are just getting started.

United Polaris
United will be adding its new, true Polaris offering on Boeing 787s soon. Photo: United Airlines

In addition, the 787s will gain a Premium Plus cabin which is United’s true premium economy product. These seats are a little wider, have more legroom, and are located in a smaller cabin than the economy section.

United Premium Plus
United will add a new Premium Plus cabin onboard 787s. Photo: United Airlines

How many seats?

Based on the leaked seatmaps, United will have the following configuration onboard Boeing 787-8 aircraft:

  • Polaris: 28 new Polaris seats down from 36 old Polaris seats
  • Premium Plus: new cabin of 21 seats
  • Economy Plus: United will offer only 36 Economy Plus seats, a whopping decrease  from the 70 onboard current 787-8s
  • Economy: an increase to 158 seats from the current 113

This will bring the total passenger count to 243 from the current 219. It is unclear if United will trim seat pitch in economy, however, it seems likely in order for United to fit that many passengers onboard a 787-8.

United 787
United’s 787-8 is set for a significant capacity increase. Photo: United Airlines

Meanwhile, the 787-9 will have the following configuration:

  • Polaris: 48 new Polaris seats (no change)
  • Premium Plus: new cabin of 21 seats
  • Economy Plus: 42 seats, down from 88
  • Economy: 146 seats up from 116

This will bring United’s overall seat count on the 787-9 to 257 up from 252.

United’s 787-9 will see a marginal capacity increase of five seats. Photo: United Airlines

The big winners

Premium travelers will benefit greatly from United’s new seatmaps. Not only is there a brand new business class product, but having Premium Plus means another option for a more comfortable ride if Polaris is too expensive or there are not any mileage options.

A new, upgraded Polaris cabin is great for business travelers. Photo: United Airlines

The big losers

Economy class passengers and MileagePlus members are likely to suffer the most from these proposed changes. Not only will economy class legroom likely shrink, but the lack of a significant number of Economy Plus seats means elite members who would normally be entitled to complimentary Economy Plus seating will likely have fewer options. Not to mention, a smaller 787-8 Polaris cabins means fewer miles redemptions and upgrade options.

Economy Plus
Economy Plus is taking a huge hit on both the 787-8 and the -9. Photo: United Airlines


For now, United has not officially confirmed the seatmap for retrofitted Boeing 787 aircraft. Simple Flying reached out to United, however, United did not comment in time for publication. But, if these seat maps really are true, which would seem likely since this would match some of United’s current trajectory, it appears that the 787-9 will likely fly to more business markets while the 787-8’s densification and Polaris reduction will likely lead to more leisure destinations, like Tahiti, on that type.

What do you make of these seatmaps? Would you be happy if United retrofitted the 787s in this way? Let us know in the comments!