Airbus A350: the 'ten seat across' squeeze is on

By David Flynn, April 8 2014
Airbus A350: the 'ten seat across' squeeze is on

Airbus has made plenty of noise about the A350's 18 inch seat width in economy being 'the standard for comfort' on long flights, but there's no guarantee that airlines flying the next-gen jet will play the same tune.

At least one A350 airline has already chosen to stack 10 economy seats per row, an Airbus executive confirmed to Australian Business Traveller, in a layout which reduces the seat width to a tighter 17 inches.

"The A350's extra wide fuselage is designed to accommodate a standard nine abreast 3-3-3 configuration in economy at 18 inches between armrests" says Chris Emerson, Airbus' senior vice-president of marketing.

"But some markets where they want to drive the cost-per-seat as low as possible are looking at the 10 abreast option, where you would be around 17 inches depending on the armrest and aisle width."

This slide from today's Airbus A350 presentation details the seating configurations available to airlines.

Airbus tags the 3-4-3 layout as a "high-efficiency" configuration, although passengers will no doubt have a different name for it.

And while Emerson would prefer that all of Airbus' A350 customers got the 18 inch religion, he explains that "It's our job to give the airlines the platform – then they have to decide how to utilise it."

Airbus will sell three versions of the A350: the compact A350-800, the mid-sized -900 and the super-stretched A350-1000.

These are expected to respectively seat 270, 314 and 350 passengers in a standard three-class cabin, although only at up to nine seats across in economy and not the tighter ten-wide layout. 

Also read: Airbus A350 cabin, seats revealed

David Flynn is attending the Airbus A350 Cabin Reveal and Customer Definition Centre inauguration in Hamburg as a guest of Airbus.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 168

Cabin width for 10 abreast, do you prefer...

A380 - 6.54m
747 - 6.1m
777 - 5.86m
A350 - 5.61m

Makes 10 abreast 777s seem spacious, makes 9 abreast 787's seem so too.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Apr 2013

Total posts 46

Most airlines go for the 10 abreast on the 777-300ER. 

07 Aug 2012

Total posts 193

10-abreast !350s will be far less common than 10-abreast 777s. It's likely that the carrier who ordered a 10-abreast A350 is D7. They already operate 9-abreast A330s and it doesn't stop the crowds filling Y.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2204

When it's cheap enough, the cattle will take it. People will cry about LCC policies, but if Jetstar offered flights to Bali in Milk Crate Class for $5 people would happily fly it.

It is quite silly in my opinion for Airbus and Boeing to promote the cabin of their new aircraft to the general public. You don't need to be a genius to realise airlines who buy these new planes are the ones who decide what type of cabin product these aircrafts would be installed with. 

A budget airline will provide basic seating. Your leading airlines will try to do something different or install seating that is in line with their existing product.

 In fact, it can be quite misleading for Airbus and Boeing to advise on the cabin products of their new planes.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Sep 2013

Total posts 466

10 abreast ..high efficiency right up QANTAS,s alley...may they step up to the plate as allways.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1518

Do not moan – they will squeeze more and more to the point when it became physically difficult to seat. And do not blame carriers – this is what herd wants, carriers just deliver. It is impossible to fly cheap and in comfort, and herd putting price above all.

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