Recently, I had the opportunity to fly EVA Air’s new 10-abreast economy class on their 777 from Singapore to Taipei. While EVA Air’s old 777s were configured in a comfortable 3-3-3 configuration, their newest 777s are equipped with an extra-dense 3-4-3 economy class layout. The day before my outbound flight, I wrote a post comparing the two cabins, as well as explaining my (very low) expectations.
With 10-abreast 777 economy becoming increasingly common (Cathay Pacific is planning to introduce it very soon), it’s time to answer the ultimate question – is 10-abreast economy class on a 777 worth going out of your way to avoid on a long haul flight?
EVA Air Boeing 777 New Economy Class Cabin
As I mentioned in a previous post, EVA Air’s new 777-300ERs feature 258 seats in a 10-abreast 3-4-3 configuration, with 31 inches of pitch, 17 inches of width, and 6 inches of recline. On the other hand, the existing economy class seats are roomier and feature a more substantial 32-33 inches of pitch, as well as a much roomier 18.2 inches of width (it may not seem like much, but on a longhaul flight, an inch makes a big difference!).
Let me start with the positives. While the seats were definitely a downgrade, I liked that they kept the generous recline, which proved comfortable for relaxing and sleeping. It helped with napping on the flight, especially since I was very tired on the day of the flight. The issue is that there is limited space to recline the seat, due to the lack of legroom, which I’ll elaborate below. Thus, if your neighbor behind you has long legs, it is pretty much physically impossible to recline your seat. Even if reclining is possible, chances are that you’ll have to deal with a lot of resistance from the person behind you.
EVA Air Boeing 777 New Economy Class Seat Recline
The 6-way adjustable headrest was another great feature of the seat. The wings on both sides can be folded, and can hold your head snugly. I found the headrest to be extremely comfortable and supportive. (Cathay Pacific, you should definitely use this kind of headrest on your upcoming A350-1000 economy seat, instead of the uncomfortable A350-900 headrest that’s stiff and poorly designed.) While all of EVA’s 777s feature this excellent headrest in economy class, EVA opted to omit headrest covers in this configuration exclusively, which brings hygiene concerns.
EVA Air Boeing 777 New Economy Class Seat Headrest
How comfortable is the seat itself? First off, the padding is alright. It certainly isn’t rock hard (it’s a few steps above Virgin Atlantic’s 787 or Cathay Pacific’s A350), but it isn’t anywhere near the plushest economy seat I’ve sat in either. The seat started to become uncomfortable after 2-3 hours, so I can’t imagine how one would feel on a 14-hour flight.
Next, the seat width of 17 inches is fine for a short haul flight, but it would definitely be uncomfortable on longer flights. As you’d expect, passengers are much closer to each other, and the narrower aisles don’t help either – I noticed the meal service carts occasionally bumping into the aisle passengers.
The cut in legroom was also disappointing. The decreased 31-inch seat pitch falls behind the standards of most of EVA’s competitors, and it felt very restricted for my 178cm frame. My knees almost touched the seat in front, and they pressed against the seatback when I reclined my own seat due to the articulating seat pan and the seat cushion sliding forward. I can’t imagine how painful it would’ve been to have the seat in front of me reclined.
EVA Air Boeing 777 New Economy Class Seat Legroom
I really shouldn’t complain after seeing my 190cm coach in his seat…ouch! Taller flyers, I would recommend avoiding this configuration at all costs due to the limited legroom.
EVA Air Boeing 777 New Economy Class Seat Legroom
As one would expect from a modern airplane seat, there’s the headphone jack as well as a USB port for charging. One thing that bugged me was that since the headphone jack was under the IFE screen, you were not allowed to plug it in during takeoff, taxi, and landing, thus preventing the usage of the inflight entertainment system during the initial and final stages of the flight. Also, the charging speed was painfully slow, to the point where it only gave 1% of power to my iPhone every 5 minutes.
EVA Air Boeing 777 New Economy Class Seat Features
The 9-inch touchscreen was adjustable to the viewing angle and the picture quality was decent. However, I found it to be laggy and at times unresponsive – quite disappointing for a brand new economy seat. The content of the system was also very limited.
EVA Air Boeing 777 New Economy Class IFE Screen
What surprised me a bit was that the entire cabin’s IFE system crashed during the meal service, and it took 15 minutes for them to fix it. This certainly isn’t what I’d expected from an aircraft that’s only a few months old…
EVA Air Boeing 777 New Economy Class Cabin IFE Crash
All in all, this was quite an eventful flight…stay tuned for the full flight review!
I was pleasantly surprised by the seat, but only because of my ultra-low expectations. While the legroom, seat width, and padding were, in fact, disappointing and fell behind other Asian rivals, I appreciated the adjustable headrest and generous recline (despite the latter being a double-edged sword, since there was barely any space even with the seat in front upright).
Since this was only a 4-hour flight, the seat wasn’t too bad due to the shorter duration of the journey. However, on longer flights, especially on the 14-hour flights this plane will be assigned to fly (e.g. to North America and Europe), I would recommend you avoid this configuration, as it would become quite unbearable on lengthier flights. Some airlines that still offer 18+ inch-wide economy seats include Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific (as of now), Asiana, and Japan Airlines, among a few others.
With 10-abreast economy on 777s becoming increasingly common, I felt like EVA was bound to resort to such a configuration sooner or later. However, I think EVA Air could have done more to make the seat a bit more comfortable, especially on long-haul flights (legroom comes to mind). Be sure to stay tuned for the full flight review, where I’ll cover more of the soft product aspects of this flight – there sure were some interesting incidents!
Have you flown in 10 abreast economy on 777s? How was your experience? Tell us in the comments section below!