To squeeze more profits from each plane, the airline industry in the last few years has begun to install extra rows of seats, leading to a crunch in legroom that has sparked tiffs and feuds among frustrated passengers.
Now, the squeeze may be on passenger hip room.
The new configuration would allow the airline to add up to 100 extra seats to each plane, depending on the current seat configuration.
In a statement, United declined to confirm the report, saying only, "We evaluate lots of options across our fleet and haven't made any further announcements specific to the 777 fleet."
Passengers sitting in United's current nine-seat economy configuration get a seat width of 18 inches. On European and Middle Eastern airlines that fly the 777-200, which uses ten seats abreast, the seat width is only 17 inches.
If the trend of squeezing seat width continues, it could clash with another unfortunate U.S. trend: More than one-third of American adults are obese, a rate that has been on the rise since the 1970s, according to federal health statistics.