With the average weight of an American rising, United Airlines has been forced to block a number of seats onboard its Boeing 757 aircraft. Savvy travelers, however, can take advantage of this to ensure an open middle seat on their flight.
United Airlines Blocks Middle Seats On 757
This winter, you will notice a number of seats permanently blocked onboard United’s 757 series of aircraft.
As United explains:
The temporary change is a result of the increased average customer winter weights as prescribed by the FAA. To be compliant with the current B757 weight and balance requirements, United will block specific seats between November 1 and April 30, 2023.
United is referring to a 2019 FAA circular that updated average weight requirements:
- Airlines must increase the average weight of female passengers (which includes their carry-on items) from 145 pounds to 179 pounds in summer months, and from 150 pounds to 184 pounds in winter months
- Airlines must increase the average weight of male passengers (which concludes thier carry-on items) from 185 to 200 pounds in summer months, and from 190 pounds to 205 pounds in winter months
That circular caused quite a stir by suggesting that passengers should be weighed prior to boarding. Rather than weigh each passenger to determine whether seats must be blocked on a specific flight, United has chosen general blocks of up to six seats during the winter months onboard the Boeing 757. This occurred last winter as well, then was lifted in the spring. Effective this week, it has returned in 2022.
Why the increased average weight in the winter? The problem is not simply that passengers are growing larger (though this is certainly an issue), but also that carry-on items are not weighed in the USA and the FAA has calculated that people are bringing on more items and heavier items onboard. This is exacerbated by winter coats and other accoutrements during the colder months.
Which Seats Are Blocked On United 757 Aircraft?
The following seats will be blocked through the end of April:
- 757-224 (75S) – 24B, 27E, 30B, 24E, 37B, 40B
- 757-224 (75B) – 29B, 32E, 36B
- 757-324 (75E) – 16B, 19E, 27B, 30E, 36B, 39E
When you board your aircraft this week, you may notice these signs over those seats:
Starting next week, there will be a red sleeve over the seatbelt that says “Seat inoperative – Do not occupy.” The seatbelt will also be zip-tied together.
A memo to flight attendants reviewed by Live and Let’s Fly instructs them to “monitor these seats throughout all phases of flight to ensure they remain unoccupied.” Should a passenger request one of these seats prior to pushback, they are to be referred to a member of ground staff.
Of course, this presents a great opportunity for ensuring the seat adjacent to you is open when you fly in coach. Grab one of these seats and you can be assured that no one will sit next to you.
As Americans grow larger and also bring more carry-on items onboard, the FAA has instructed airlines to re-calculate average weight, previously based on decades-old assumptions that are no longer reliable. The practical impact is a number of seat blocks on United Airlines this winter onboard the 757 aircraft, which you can use to your advantage to ensure an open seat next to you.