I Flew on United’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 in Economy and Loved It; Review


The plane on display was the company’s first 737 MAX 8 with the new cabin, featuring new amenities like seatback TVs and larger overhead bins.

Inside United Airlines’ newest aircraft and interior.

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Since seeing United’s new cabin, I have been eager to try it out. So, I booked a ticket on the longest flight I could manage, flying six hours from Newark to Seattle, to get the full experience — here’s what it was like.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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I arrived at Newark at 5:30 am for my 7:00 am departure, and, even at the early Monday hour, the airport was already bustling with travelers.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.

A queue for the bag drop line was already formed.

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Security only took about five minutes with TSA PreCheck, which helped avoid the hectic lines during this busy summer travel season.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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Inside the terminal, I made my way to gate C71. There was plenty of space to sit and wait for boarding, as well as plenty of power outlets, which I appreciated.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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Boarding started 40 minutes before departure and I was in group 3, so I was one of the first people on the plane.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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I took my seat in 23A, which was the third row in the regular economy section and located right over the wing. I pre-reserved the spot for $22 during booking.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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The seat was marketed as a “preferred zone assignment” that is closer to the front of the plane.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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According to SeatGuru, row 23 is in the center of the jet, but I had fewer people to wait on when deplaning because there is less capacity in premium economy and first class, so it was worth the fee.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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Source: SeatGuru

While I waited for the rest of the passengers to board, I started exploring the updated seat. The first thing I noticed was the space.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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The economy seats offer 30 inches of pitch, which is on par with some competitor airlines, and even low-cost carrier Breeze Airways, which offers the same legroom on its A220 planes.

Breeze Airways A220.

Breeze Airways’ A220 economy seat.

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I had a medium-sized duffel, but I kept it stowed under the seat in front of me to leave space for larger carry-ons, especially since it was a completely full flight.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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This limited the amount of legroom I had to stretch my legs fully straight, but I still felt I had plenty of space in the window seat. Granted, I’m only 5’3″ and on the smaller side, so I fit in most airline seats easily — even Spirit’s miserably tight cabin.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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Without my bag under the seat, I could easily stretch my legs out.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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Meanwhile, the competitor’s width of the seat was also similar to 17.2 inches, just enough hip room to be comfortable leaving.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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However, taller or larger passengers may feel snug regardless and might want to consider booking an “Economy Plus” or first class seat instead, which offers 34 and 37 inches of pitch, respectively.

Exit row Economy Plus seats.

United’s Economy Plus exit row seats on the 737 MAX 8.

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Poking around the new seat, I also found a several other amenities, like USB ports…

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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…110v AC power outlets…

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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…large seatback pockets big enough for my laptop…

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


Taylor Rains/Insider


…a medium-sized tray table…

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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…adjustable headrests…

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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…and seatback screens, which offer over 2,800 selections of movies, TV shows, music, and games. I decided to watch Tom Holland’s new film, Uncharted, which was actually pretty good.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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I also like that the screen flips up when the seat in front reclines.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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The new inflight system also allows passengers to connect Bluetooth headphones to the seat.

Inside a United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 with new interior — United Airlines New Aircraft Interior


Thomas Pallini/Insider


I have wired headphones, so I stuck to those, but still appreciate the unique feature and am happy to know it’s available if and when I ever invest in AirPods.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


Taylor Rains/Insider


United has opted to bring back inflight entertainment screens to better compete with Delta, which has TVs installed on many of its narrowbody aircraft.

Delta Air Lines Airbus A220-300

Seatback screens on Delta’s Airbus A220.

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The upgrade will leave American Airlines as the only “big 3” carrier without seatback screens on most of its single-aisle jets. The carrier has opted instead for free inflight streaming, which is seen on other carriers like Southwest Airlines.

Southwest Airlines.

Southwest Airlines inflight streaming guide.

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For those that prefer to stream entertainment to their personal device, United still offers the option for free through its inflight portal.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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Also offered via the portal is free texting and for-purchase WiFi, which costs me $8 as a Mileage Plus member. The service is $10 for non-members. The WiFi was fast and I was easily able to work during the flight.

Flying on United's Boeing 737 MAX 8.


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