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AIX2015: More and Narrower Seats Coming to the Airbus A380

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AIX2015: More and Narrower Seats Coming to the Airbus A380

AIX2015: More and Narrower Seats Coming to the Airbus A380
April 16
12:21 2015

HAMBURG — Airbus believes passenger choice is a good thing. At least that’s what the latest news about the Airbus A380 is set to convey. The company officially introduced an 11-abreast configuration for the lower deck economy cabin, offering “choice” to the economy passengers who care more about price and conveyance than being able to sit comfortably in the seat. Airbus notes that the target market is China and Southeast Asia where passengers are smaller but the new seats open up yet another scenario where passenger space is reduced for the sake of cost controls or carrier profits.

Airbus is advertising the configuration as still offering 18-inches of width per passenger. And while that is arguably true that the seat is still that wide, it belies the geometry of the aircraft interior a bit. Measuring inside the arm rests still gives the 18 inch dimension but the arm rests are narrower. There is actually less personal space in that seat because of that change. The window arm rests are the smallest – about a half inch narrower than the already narrowed others – and mounted at an angle to the seat cushion, making that an even tighter squeeze. And then there is the curve of the fuselage cutting in at the bottom, further compromising the personal space of windows seat travelers.

Yes, Airbus managed to fit in more seats, but saying that it is about passenger choice is a specious one. Airlines do have more choices now. Indeed, at least two seat manufacturers have joined Airbus in making models available for this configuration. Carriers can choose both the number of seats and who makes them. And perhaps passengers will have a choice on the amount of personal space they’re willing to pay for. But only if we see airlines choosing different configurations. That is not all that common a path as they see the revenue potential and feel competitive pressures.

 

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Seth Miller

Seth Miller

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