Vintage Airline Seat Map: United Airlines L-1011-500

As part of the $750 million deal when United Airlines purchased Pan Am’s Pacific division in 1985, they acquired 18 of the carrier’s widebody aircraft. For this installment of Vintage Airline Seat Maps I’ve selected a United Lockheed L-1011-500 TriStar, one the fleet types coming out of that acquisition.

I’m sort of surprised at how much real estate was dedicated for First Class and this is the first time I’ve ever seen the amount of seats in First being more than Business Class. Seating 36 people up front in a 2 x 2 x 2 format, I’d be in a window seat mid-cabin in row three or four. The incredibly small Business cabin seated 32 passengers in an uncomfortable looking 2 x 4 x 2 layout. Here I’d want to be away from the lavs, so probably a window in row nine.

Coach also looks pretty tight with a 10-abreast 3 x 4 x 3 configuration. The cabin width of a L-1011 is more than a foot shorter than a Boeing 747, where such a layout is common. I’d definitely go for row 17 or 18C/18H.

Where would you sit?

a diagram of a plane


  1. yuk… so many smoking seats… who said flying used to be glam? i think i’d rather sit on the ground and wait 20 years for them to make it more pleasurable!

  2. Last week I was looking at your American Airlines 747SP seat map and was shocked to see so much cabin space devoted to premium seats.

    Now after seeing this seat map, I’m guessing that the trans-Pacific market must have been pretty lucrative back in the late 80s and early 90s.

    • You’re right in that the 80s & 90s saw a nice boom of premium Int’l traffic, hence all that space. I guess UA here found they had more demand for the F product than C on this bird, whichever route(s) it flew.

  3. interior cabin width of L-1011 was 18’10” vs 19’3″ for 777 so 2-4-2 business seating is pretty comparable to UA’s new interior Business class in number of seats across. I don’t/didn’t like either one.

    • Yup, I’d hate to be in that 4-seater section downstairs on United’s 747s. Have flown on that bird many times, but either upstairs or on the two-seater side.

  4. These L1011-500s were acquired from Pan Am, and they flew with the Pan Am internal configuration and interior for the relatively brief time they were with United. The 2x4x2 business class was the Pan Am ‘Clipper Class’ of the day. In this setup, a pair of seats was identical in width to the 2x2x2 in the narrower 767, but with only average legroom. The 10-abreast in economy WAS tight, and a friend of mine who did Pan Am from Rome to JFK said it was downright torture.

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