There has been speculation that Qatar Airways (QR)’s newly delivered Boeing 777-300ER (ID: A7-BEE) features ten across in economy class.
The Five-Star SKYTRAX airline (refer to our coverage of the other airlines with this rating here) has been known for comfort in economy class due to nine across seating in a 3-3-3 configuration. One less seat can yield upwards to 1-1.5 more inches (2.5 to 3.8mm) of width for each passenger.
The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft (refer to our coverage for general information on the plane type here) is showing on GDS systems as being in a new 42J/316Y configuration. The increase of 23 Economy Seats over the usual 42J/293Y configuration may indicate that the aircraft is configured 3-4-3 in Economy. Refer to the following table for current configurations:
However, looking closer to both regular and high density Boeing 777-300ERs in operation, there are more than 23 rows in economy. As such, if Qatar Airways were to move to a 3-4-3 configuration, the net increase would be closer to 30-35 seats instead of 23.
We believe that the new aircraft may have a different galley/washroom layout which would have space to add three additional rows in economy (for example: two in the third section, one in the last). This will mean the third section will have 124 economy seats (up 16). The last section will have 131 economy seats (up 7). This will bring the total to 23 net new seats without having to adjust to a 3-4-3 configuration. This is also made possible by using streamlined seats made popular by many airlines currently.
It would be costly for Qatar Airways to reconfigure its aircraft to a 3-4-3 configuration and would create ill will to its passengers. More importantly, this configuration can play a role in whether it can keep its five-star SKYTRAX rating.
This particular aircraft has been used for London Heathrow (LHR) to Doha (DOH) to Bangkok (BKK) and Hanoi (HAN) runs currently.
It is unlikely that Qatar Airways is moving to a 3-4-3 configuration without any press release. The more likely scenario the combination of increased space utilization and streamline seats allowed the airline to add another 23 seats on the aircraft.