Editors note: Thanks to @thatjohn and @Airlineflyer for tweeting pictures of the Airbus presentation that I couldn’t make due to me going back to Birmingham to pick up my passport. This post would not had been possible without them.
It seems Airbus is giving up with it its idea of wider seats in Economy Class as it proposes a three-class economy solution at Aircraft Interiors Expo today.
— John Walton (@thatjohn) April 14, 2015
The proposal goes to divide the economy cabin into three:
- A “Premium” Economy Cabin (as implemented today –based on max numbers of seats -2 to allow passengers to have wider seats), offering a 19” seat width
- Comfort Economy Seats (the normal economy seat) offering 18” width seats.
- “Budget Economy” Seats which packs passengers in, offering sub 17” seat width.
Looking at examples based on Airbus’s wide body products – the A350 and A380, this could translate as
Premium Economy Comfort Economy Basic Economy A330 2-3-2 (7) 2-4-2 (8) 3-3-3 (9) A350 2-4-2 (8) 3-3-3 (9) 3-4-3 (10) A380 3-3-3 (9) 3-4-3 (10) 3-5-3 (11)
Data: Airbus via @thatjohn.
What is worrying is that 10% of the Airbus widebody fleet already has this “dense” seating already installed. What’s even more worrying is that 27% of upcoming orders will have higher density seating.
Airbus today demonstrated how 3-5-3 seating would work on an A380 mock-up (with an 18″ seat width), and it’s going to be tight – I’ll try to get a look in myself later to update this story.
Geven and Zodiac Aerospace will be offering products that are compatible with the 11 across seating planes
It seems in the future, comfort will be something we will have to pay a lot more money for, rather than having a comfortable journey.
Passengers could well be making a very nasty choice soon – with the possibility of a five class plane if airlines deploy it, and it’ll be down to how much a passenger wants to pay.
Whilst there is room for such tight products in the market – will passengers be willing to accept them? There will always be the passenger who will want to pay the least possible fare to get to A to B – but this could leave the passenger with a negative perception of the airline.
For the long haul low-cost carriers startups (and those already operating long haul services such as Air Asia X and Cebu Pacific, today’s news will validate their tight configurations they currently operate. If the Middle Eastern carriers who operate Airbus A380s are paying attention – these new configurations do offer a denser fit – which could make the difference between profit and loss on some routes.
But even then, the thought of 3-5-3 in an A380 is pretty darn frightening to me, and from a passenger experience viewpoint – I can’t see much that’s positive here…
Economy Class and Beyond joins in with the latest from Aircraft Interior Expo 2015 this week, for the latest in how the next generation of interiors will affect you the passenger.
Follow me on Twitter at @EconomyBeyond for the latest updates!
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