Isn't it ironic?

This one is a real head scratcher and very ironic. You may have read that Airbus is promoting new seating configurations for its widebody airplanes to give airlines more “choice.”

Apparently abandoning their heavily promoted push for an industry standard 18-inch economy seat width, Airbus is now talking about the A330 at 9-abreast and the A350 at 10-abreast. The last time I checked, Airbus cross sections hadn’t changed. So the only “choice” the competition is offering is the opportunity to squeeze passengers into the industry’s smallest seats.

Airbus has tried to gain market acceptance for 9-abreast A330’s several times over the years, and each time it has been soundly rejected by airlines with scheduled service. Tourist and charter operators have moved away from this configuration simply because it’s uncomfortable.

The proposed seats and aisles are too narrow. There’s limited head and shoulder clearance at the window seat due to the cross section at the sidewall. In other words, Airbus penalizes the window passenger twice on a 9-abreast A330. They may have done the impossible—making the middle seat more preferable than the window! The A350 at 10-abreast would be even worse — with even smaller seats, aisles and armrests for all.

Contrast that with the 777. Its wider fuselage allows for more seats in each row while still providing a good passenger experience. Airline acceptance of the 777 at 10-abreast has continued to grow over the years, now accounting for over 50 percent of recent 777 deliveries. And the 777 continues to win passenger preference awards year after year.

While we can all dream of an airplane that offers 1-abreast seating, the reality is that airlines need to the flexibility to optimize their configurations. And Boeing offers just that, with our focus on designs that make economic sense to airlines while providing a passenger-preferred experience.

Comments (12)

Bon (Jakarta):

Narrower width is actually less concerning than low seat pitch. What should be more of a concern is the 27 inch pitch on A320NEO as a rival to 737Max200.

Yes 9Y A330 and 10Y A350 for short haul only, but Randy I want to know more about how 777X is going to be for its interior. You have such a great blog to read, keep it up.

Andrew Boydston (Boise, ID USA):

Hucksters who insult PT Barnum are just Hucksters. Airbus is becoming known around the world as something/someone that will say anything just to be talking. If one A-craft has one 18" seat, then the standard is 18". If one A-craft can seat 350 passengers then all A-crafts can seat up to 350 passengers, and yes since they have an 18" standard, we assume all seats are 18". Hucksters!

Cristiano Arruda (Campo Grande, MS, Brazil.):

Airbus always snubbed Boeing for having the A300, A310, A330, and the A340 for carrying more passengers, but with seats narrower than the 767. The 777 was bigger, but keeping the seat width proportion/ratio according to 767's, what translates into more width room for the passengers.

Now with the A350, Airbus is at the same situation from the past. The A350 may be bigger than the 787, but to make it compete with the 777, its seats remain narrow as seen on the A300-310-330-340.

Also, pardon me, the RR engine used on the A350 makes it noisy.

V V (Montreal, Quebec):

One abreast is not good. I dream of a 2 abreast configuration.

By the way, would you mind giving us the cabin width of the A350 and the 777-9, at shoulder level?. Thank you.

checklist (Soisy, France):

And the A380 will be at 11 abreast

Passengers will be at the side windows, do not have space for feet ...

Bob J (California):

AirBUS. It fits their philosophy. Still never flown on one. Lucky me!

I will feel sorry for those aisle seated passengers as more and more carry-on luggage will be banged into them as people board with the higher abreast seating and narrower aisles. I assume that the meal and drink carts will hold less because they will be narrower too? That will take a lot longer to get my drink darn it!

Abrar Mohiuddin (california):

So first off, I really love Boeing and how they are major partners with southwest airlines. And there 737 and 777-300er plus 700-200 and lr.but certainly I love Airbus all the way. They have the A380 and A350 wxb witch has became a hit. And have a lot if legroom and space.

Boeing you have a long plane like 77-300 and 200, which are lovely. But I certainly want bigger legroom. Like Cathay and their really good recline. But I would like a bit more legroom and a way, not longer, but bigger plane, with a double deck and like a lounge area in the middle so people can walk around and relax. So they can stretch and have a little bar in the middle.

So that's what I would really look for in Boeing so they can beat Airbus. I love Boeing but I like airbus even more because of their lounge and bar and their bigger planes, like A350 and A350. But please consider my ideas. And I am flying in the summer, so I can't wait to fly. Thank you

Kevin (Los Angeles, CA):

It is indeed interesting that Airbus advocates an industry standard for wider economy seats and then reverses its position, while Boeing has left it entirely to their customers to decide--either 8 or 9 abreast for the 787; either 9 or 10 abreast for the 777.

Norman Garza (Long Beach, CA):

An A350 with ten abreast seating is the worst, having a 10 abreast 777 would not be comfortable at any range of flight but an A350 with that many seats across would be the sardine can standard. As an airline passenger I am in favor of stretching an aircraft in service or creating a wider aircraft but the money says for the airlines cramp more seats. At one time the 737 was offered at 5 abreast, the DC-10 was offered at 8 abreast and the 747 was offered at 9 abreast, times have changed.

N P Janus (Fishkill NY):

Ah! The good old days (1970's) when the 747 was the queen of the sky, initially with a bar lounge up front for all passengers, same space where they later put in first class, and then there was the TWA 747 (LA to DC), after your breakfast was served, they opened a deli and ice cream bar, anyone could step up and help themselves, if they were still hungry, that is. There were a lot of free magazines to read, if you got bored.

Fundamentally, computers were the death knell for the airlines, with computers they could do simulations on seats and prices, and air travel lost its sex appeal!

Wish an airline would bring it all back and charge accordingly.

desmond chiang (singapore ):

have flown sin/ams a few times on SQ B-777 / 200ER
with their 9 seats per row in the Y class is a best & comfortable even for my petite body size.

with 10 seats on this B-777 series will be narrow and uncomfortable for long distance flights.

advise your selling point that stick to 9 pax per row for the Y class is the safe bet.

B 777 is a good aircraft and less noisy than the Airbus.

have flown A380 nothing fancy on the aircraft, prefer the B-747 anytime or B-777 (any series).

for short haul the market for operators the selection have open. price per mileage verse the cost of operation mean a lot to budget airline. they strives on pax load factor verse fuel cost. nothing to compare with schedule airlines operates on full fares. 180 pax packed in a A-320 is a sardine can verse 130 to 140 pax on a B-737 ( 700 series )

Andre Garcia (Birmingham, AL):

I can't even imagine 9 abreast on a A330 with a 16.5 seat width. I recently flew on AA's 787 from DFW to PVG (China Shanghai) 15.5 Hours flight, and it was HORRIBLE, while the plane itself is AMAZING, the seat was so narrow that any attempt to enjoy this beautiful plane was quickly overthrown by an uncomfortable seat. While I did book in Main Cabin extra, the extra seat pitch and recline were not enough to offset the window partition into my shoulder and the lack of space between my right shoulder and the middle seat passenger, all 3 of us were uncomfortable.

I understand this to be an Airline choice and not necessarily Boeing's fault, but so it is the 9 Abreast option for the A330, so long as Government regulations allows for such cramped seat layouts airlines will shove as many as they can, considering that our flight from DFW-PVG was sold-out, I doubt that any amount of customer complaint would change AA's mind about aircraft configuration.

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