United Adds A 777 To A Transcon Route (Summer Months Only)

the tail of an airplane

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Savvy travelers are always looking to book the most comfortable cabins possible when planning their trips and with most domestic routes dominated by narrow-body abominations, the appearance of a wide-body aircraft on a domestic route is often a great chance to travel that route in considerably more comfort than normal and a great chance for flyers to try out an international premium cabin for a lot less than it would usually cost.

That’s why United’s scheduling of a Boeing 777 aircraft for 8 weeks of the summer season on one of its transcontinental routes is good news for the flyers looking to cross the country in a little bit more comfort then they were expecting.

United’s New Domestic 777 Route

Between 4 June and 17 August 2020 United will be using a Boeing 777-200 to operate one of its three daily flights between Washington D.C and Seattle.

Here’s what the schedule for those dates looks like right now:

UA1964 IAD 08:45 – 11:20 SEA (Daily 777 Service)*
UA1149 IAD 12:36 – 15:15 SEA (Daily 737 Service)
UA326 IAD 17:37 – 20:12 SEA (Daily 737 Service)

UA1201 SEA 07:00 – 14:50 IAD  (Daily 737 Service)
UA260 SEA 13:10 – 20:59 IAD (Daily 777 Service)*
UA2492 SEA 23:34 – 07:23+1 day IAD (Daily 737 Service)

Before anyone gets overly excited about this news, I should point out that this isn’t a 777 that has been equipped with United’s new(ish) Polaris Business Class seats…and it’s not even one of the old Continental 777s in which the Business Class cabin offers a 2-2-2 cabin layout.

This is an older United Airlines 777 where the Business Class cabin has an incredibly dense 2-4-2 configuration:

a diagram of a plane

But that’s still a big improvement over the First Class cabin offered by the A320 it is replacing and the 737s which also operate on this route.

This particular 777 offers 364 seats in total and this is how they’re spread across the aircraft’s cabins:

  • 28 Business Class seats
  • 78 Economy Plus seats
  • 258 Economy Class seats

Whatever you may think of this antiquated relic, being able to reserve a lie-flat Business Class seat on a flight scheduled to take over 5 hours is a very nice bonus…even if you get stuck with one of the center seats. And the fact that this aircraft offers an incredible 78 Economy Plus seats (free to reserve for select MileagePlus elites) means that it will allow considerably more Economy Class passengers to fly cross-country with a respectable amount of legroom than the 737 that the 777 is replacing.

From what I’ve seen so far, the fares for travel on the 777 are no higher than the fares being charged for the A320/737s and a transcontinental Business Class award doesn’t increase in price just because the trip is being taken on a larger aircraft so, if you were planning to pay (cash or miles) to fly upfront in this route before the 777 was subbed in, you’ve just been given a great opportunity to book a better experience without a fare premium to swallow.

Bottom Line

For travelers on the DC – Seattle route the introduction of a 777 represents a great chance to fly across the country in considerably more comfort than they were probably anticipating…it’s just a shame that the service won’t be on offer past the middle of August.