Airlines love to cram more passengers in less space, especially in the economy class cabin where seat pitch has been reduced significantly in the last 20 years. Ultra-thin seats have been installed and in many situations: seats, arm rests, and aisles width has been decreased. As airlines try to increase profit margins as labor and fuel costs rise, passengers comfort takes a beating in order to raise revenue and cram more people into the flying tin can. In the last few years, a number of airlines have started to squeeze 10 across on Boeing 777. Airlines such as American, ANA, Emirates, Air Canada, and Air France-KLM, are just a few of the airlines cramming more people into planes and offering 17 inch economy seats down from the industry standard of 18-18.5 inches. Airline seats are becoming so small, they are now some of the smallest seats for sale in the world, and are thinner than many stadium and train seats!
Yet, if you thought 10 across seating is snug, Airbus is pushing for 11 across on the A380 lower deck! Most A380s economy class cabins are currently 10 across, in a 3x4x3 configuration. Then last month, Airbus announced plans to push for 11 seats across the main cabin by raising the floor to take advantage of curves in the larger fuselage. By raising the floor just 2 inches, the seats can be placed closer to the fuselage, making room for an additional seat across the main cabin.
The seats on the 11 across A380 would still be 17.7 to 18 inches across, wider than Boeing’s 777 17.5 inch seats or Airbus 9 across A330 16.5 inch seat (seen on low cost carriers like Air Asia). Despite being the same size as current main cabin seats, the idea of being stuck in the middle seat with 2 people on either side sounds absolutely horrid!
Airlines have yet ordered 11 abreast A380, but the extra seat per row could easily add 35-40 more seats per plane, meaning more revenue and more passengers per flight. The middle seat would be among the last seats to be assigned, but industry experts are trying to claim the 5 across middle section would be popular for families. Furthermore, they say sitting in the middle would be no less comfortable than sitting in a window seat because either way that passenger would have to climb over two passengers to reach the aisle.
Flying is definitely not what it used to be. More and more people are being crammed into airplanes without widening the fuselages or providing more personal space. I thought 10 across on the B777 was bad, but now 11 across on the A380 sounds like a nightmare. I have yet to fly economy on the A380, but have enjoyed Korean Air’s A380 2x2x2 business class and Sky Bar and China Southern’s A380 1x2x1 business class along with British Airways’ 2x3x2 World Traveler Plus. I honestly will say I will not seat out an 11 abreast economy class A380 when these hit the market!