Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
Given my participation on two inaugural 787 Dreamliner flights (American Airlines and United Airlines), it isn’t a huge secret I’m a fan of that plane. I have started to see more and more of them when I fly United out of Houston Intercontinental Airport, and it looks like that trend is going to continue. Via airlineroute.net Houston will see the longer version of the 787, the 787-9, begin to operate new routes late this year including:
August 18, 2015 Houston – Rio de Janeiro 787-9 replaces CO 777-200ER
September 24, 2015 Houston – Frankfurt 787-9 replaces 787-8 and other aircraft types
October 25, 2015 Houston – Buenos Aires 787-9 replaces UA 767-300ER
December 17, 2015 Houston – Amsterdam 787-9 replaces UA 777-200ER
January 5, 2016 Houston – Santiago de Chile 787-9 replaces UA 767-300ER
March 3, 2016 Houston – Tokyo Narita 787-9 replaces CO 777-200ER
I’m excited about this development for a few reasons, but here is a big one. The 787-9 offers the best ratio of business seats to coach seats in the fleet of United’s two cabin aircraft. This more or less will often translate to a better shot at being able to upgrade using a System Wide Upgrade, or finding business class award availability. For example, on the 767-300 that operates several of the impacted routes out of Houston, just 14% of the seats on the aircraft are in business class. However, on the 787-9, 19% of the seats on the aircraft are in business class. If you want to look at it from a sheer quantity perspective, there are 48 business class seats on the 787-9 compared to just 30 on the 767-300.
The 787-9 does have two fewer business class seats than the 777-200, but it does have a very slightly more favorable ratio of business class to coach seats. More or less I’d call that one a wash, but any time you see the 787-9 sub in for the 767-300, the 787-8, or especially the 757-200, you are probably going to have a much better shot at having upgrades clear or finding business class award availability.
Number of Business Class vs. Coach Seats on United Two Cabin International Aircraft:
767-300 30 business class, 184 coach – 14%
787-8 36 business class, 183 coach – 16.4%
757-200 16 business class, 153 coach – 9.4%
777-200 50 business class, 217 coach – 18.7%
787-9 48 business class, 204 coach – 19%
I have yet to fly the 787-9, but hopefully that will change in the coming months as more and more of them will be operating out of Houston! Even if you don’t really care at all about what type of plane you are flying on, you should care about the configuration and quantity of different types of seats on board as that will have a very direct impact on things like award availability, especially in the premium cabins. So, embrace it, become a little bit more of an #avgeek and start considering, or at least being aware of, aircraft type when planning your next big trip.