Boeing Unveils New 737 That Can Fit 11 More Passengers In Coach; Fate Of Travelers’ Knees Uncertain



The first of Boeing’s new 737 Max airplanes has made the journey from planned concept to reality, with the company quietly celebrating its debut Tuesday. But there’s still one question on everyone’s minds — are my knees going to be knocking against other fliers?

The company held a little party for its employees with a few media in Renton, WA, to celebrate the arrival of the first 737 MAX, which rolled off the line at the end of November. It’s the biggest upgrade to the company’s top-selling, single-aisle jet in 19 years, notes Reuters, and boasts new engines, more-aerodynamic wings and winglets, and cockpit displays lifted from the 747.

It’s also supposed to burn 20% less fuel than the previous line of 737s from the 1990s, which likely has many carriers seeing dollar signs. The first test flight is scheduled for early 2016, but the first delivery, to Southwest Airlines, isn’t slated until mid-2017.

That gives us some time to ponder the inevitable about one of the other benefits the airplane manufacturer touted to carriers: the possibility of cramming 11 additional seats into coach by adding an extra exit door.

At the time, Boeing’s executives said it would be up to each airline whether or not to crowd passengers with two inches less for their knees or not.

“With this, we’re just giving our customers another option to make more revenue,” a Boeing rep said in July. “If their routes can take this additional capacity, then that’s more revenue for them.”

We reached out to Southwest to ask if the airline would be taking advantage of that potential moneymaker, or if it’d be saving some room for tall people to exist. We’ll let you and your knees know if we hear back.

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