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I'm curious what model and configuration of the 747 has the most seating capacity actually used somewhere in the world. The Wikipedia page lists "typical" seating, maxing out at 467 (the 747-8). But that list also shows "Exit limits" on the 747-400 as 550 or 660 depending on exit type, and the 747-400 article claims the 747-400 can be configured in a single-class setup with 660 seats (matching that upper exit limit). The 747 article says:

In Japan, 747s on domestic routes were configured to carry nearly the maximum passenger capacity.

The linked article "isn't available in my region" but a copy viewed via the wayback machine says:

At the opposite end of the luxury spectrum is what All Nippon and Japan Airlines have done to a few of their 747-400s for high-density domestic routes in Japan.

They carry nearly 600 passengers in one class.

So, is the 660-seat 747-400 configuration actually used anywhere? Or if not, what's the largest actually used, and what model is it?

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The maximum was likely 568 seats.

It is hard to find a definitive source for this, but it is likely that the 747-400D (Domestic) version had the largest number of seats since it was specifically built for this purpose. This type was used by Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA). JAL published the number of seats they used in a press release:

  1. How many seats in JAL's passenger 747s: We have many configurations for international and domestic airplanes. The latest international route 747-400 has 348 seats - 12 in First Class, 99 in business class and 237 in economy class.

    Our domestic Short Range 747s have as many as 568 seats in two classes: 24 seats in the domestic version of First Class, which we call Super Seat, and 544 seats in regular economy class.

(jal.com)

Here is the seat configuration used by JAL:

747-400D seat configuration
(image source: simpleflying.com)

I did not find a statement by ANA itself on their seating. The following article however lists 565 seats as their configuration, so 3 less than JAL:

The Boeing 747 – once dominant in the sky is slowly fading away. The latest airline to wave goodbye to the Boeing 747 is All Nippon Airways, who completed the final flights on its domestic routes.

It marks the end of Boeing 747-400s by a Japanese airline – and also the end of an era of the passenger heavy Boeing 747-400D aircraft.

These aircraft had a massive passenger load of 565 seats on a plane.

(economyclassandbeyond.boardingarea.com)

While not impossible, it is unlikely that another airline would have ever operated a 747 with a higher seating capacity.

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    $\begingroup$ That comports well with the quoted article. Thanks for the more precise and better sourced info! $\endgroup$ – T.J. Crowder May 18 '20 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ I'm surprised that neither airline went for the full 660 seats... $\endgroup$ – Vikki - formerly Sean May 18 '20 at 23:27
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    $\begingroup$ I dug up old flight schedules I had for ANA from 1997 and 2000 and they also had a 569 at the time, but it was reduced to 565 in the 2013 schedule I have. $\endgroup$ – Jeff B May 20 '20 at 3:13

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