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Heavier Winter Passengers Stop United Airlines Filling Its Boeing 757

Date: November 4, 2022

Heavier Winter Passengers Stop United Airlines Filling Its Boeing 757
November 4, 2022
Simple Flying
Jonathan E. Hendry

United Airlines has blocked up to six seats per flight on its winter schedule as aircraft loads get heavier during the colder months. The changes last for the winter season, which began on November 1st and continues until April 30th, 2023.

An updated seating chart for United Airlines' fleet of Boeing 757 aircraft has appeared on the carrier's website. The empty seats are scattered down the aircraft and removed entirely from the airline's online booking system. United Airlines made the modifications to adjust the weight and balance of the flight, as it did last year, a spokesperson for the airline confirmed to Simple Flying:

What is the cause?

The regulation in question is a 2019 Advisory Circular from the FAA, which provides operators with guidance on developing and receiving approval for a Weight and Balance (W&B) control program. The memo outlined average weights for passengers and their checked and carry-on luggage.

The note significantly increased the average weight statistics for both the summer and winter seasons, increasing them between 15 to 34 pounds per passenger. In the memo, The FAA updated the average weight of female passengers and accompanying carry-on items in the summer months from 150 pounds to 184 pounds in the winter. The average for male passengers rose 15 pounds across both seasons, reaching an average of 205 pounds, including hand luggage, over the winter months. Where no gender is provided, the standard average passenger weights are based on the assumption that 50 % of passengers are male and 50 % of passengers are female.

Winter clothing also accounts for the increased weight averages. The addition of winter clothes to carry-on luggage increases the total weight by 5 pounds for winter clothing, according to the FAA. Although carry-on baggage is not often weighed in the United States.

Which seats are blocked?

The airline responded by removing seats to rebalance the aircraft, with slight variations between models of the Boeing 757 family. The blocked seats are to be fitted with a red seat belt sleeve and zip tie to ensure passengers cannot use them during the flight.

The seats are not bookable online and are crossed out on the seat map on United's website. Notably, the adjacent seats are still selectable as of press time, providing savvy travelers the opportunity to choose a seat with no neighbor, much like European business class.

United currently has 30 active Boeing 757-200s and 15 of the 21 Boeing 757-300s, which it inherited from Continental. The following seats are now blocked for the remainder of the winter season.

  • 757-224 (75S) – 24B, 27E, 30B, 24E, 37B, 40B
  • 757-224 (75B) – 29B, 32E, 36B
  • 757-324 (75E) – 16B, 19E, 27B, 30E, 36B, 39E

Simple Flying has reached out to United Airlines for further comment and clarification.

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