03 July 2015

Airbus working to increase A350 seat capacity.

Less than a handful of Airbus A350 XWB customers have selected a 10-abreast configuration in economy class for the twinjet, which has been advertised in the past as offering individual seat width of just 16.4”.

But Airbus has been quietly working on a configuration that would enable airlines to offer a seat that will be just shy of 17″ at 10-abreast, the airframer confirmed.

Though “we haven’t launched it” yet, said Airbus executive VP, strategy and marketing Dr. Kiran Rao in relation to the smidge-more-room 10-abreast layout, “you can play with the angles on the sidewalls and you can play a little with the armrest and then you can be very clever with the design of the seat. It will be 16.8” or 16.9”, something like that.”

This compares to the A350’s standard 9-abreast layout with 18” wide seats, which offers “a very comfortable layout” that 99% of customers have chosen, said Rao.

Source: Airbus

“We have been able to demo a near 17” seat at 10-abreast on the A350,” he revealed.

Kiran Rao admited that while airlines can get away with offering 17″ or less on longhaul flights of 12 to 14 hours, and “people will put up with it”, the configuration is far from ideal and “it’s simply not comfortable”.

“We have a few customers for regional operations that will choose a narrower seat. If you’re doing regional flights, with the A330 or potentially the A350, then a sub 17” seat works for them. And if they want to go 10-abreast, we offer the choice. The point of my story is that we offer the choice. Boeing cannot offer the choice therefore they are forced to give all of their customers a narrow seat, and in turn, their customers offer an inferior product.”

Rao is the first to admit that the difference between 17” and 18” width is noticeable.

The Airbus executive stresses that the economics of the A350 don’t require airlines to “go to that level of compromise”, and declined to disclose the airlines which have chosen 10-abreast for the traditionally 9-across aircraft, saying “I can’t give you the names of the customers.”

Source: Airbus

Based on the article “Airbus works to make 10-abreast A350 a smidge more comfortable” published in Runway Girl network


  1. I know Airbus has to offer its customers what they want, but for me as a long haul traveler, comfort is uttermost. Would have thought Airlines would have realised that too.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Its absolutely amazing that both Airbus and Boeing go to great lengths to advertise their new planes (350, 787) as being Groundbreaking, Revolutionary, Game changers plus being more efficient etc.and yet two very separate points have changed in importance over the years. In the beginning of air travel planes very inefficient gas guzzlers but offered great comfort and wide seats to everyone. Over the years the planes have become more efficient but the seat pitch and width started to decrease. Now we have super efficient wonderful game changing airplanes but the seat pitch and width are at ridiculously small and cramped levels. I guess there's a price to pay for all that efficiency and game changing technology and its us the passenger that has to pay for it.and suffer because of it. I long for those older less efficient planes...

  4. Well, there was very few (if any competition) back in the days and any flight would cost a little fortune. Now there are flight of 6 hours in length (East coast to West coast in the US) that would cost less than $300 on most days. If you add the amount of fuel that is consumed on a flight like that (even by this new wonder of efficiency) you will see that is not just penny. So, money have to come from somewhere to cover all these cost and is by cramming as many passenger as possible in a single flight.

    1. Good point but you know like I do that $300 isn't uniform across the board and that while some flyers will pay that $300 avg, some will pay much much higher because the options that used to be there are no longer there. I also think that while carriers have been shrinking capacity in the sky, they have been making up for it incrementally by adding seats and lavs. I was on AA 321 the other day that had an extra 4 seats in the exit row. The FA explained that it was added not long ago. Iv'e already accepted that because I am tall and refuse to sit cramped, that the new norm is to either pay a premium for the leg room in the premium economy or deal with cramped quarters. In the same breath, the legacy airlines are making hand over fist when it comes to revenue. They are making billions in baggage fees when Jet A is still par if not cheaper than the summer average. Don't forget about amenities like WiFi, IFE, catering and the fees for this and that. The airlines are competing with each other over fares and pricing while A and B are chasing each other when it comes to aircraft offerings and the regular Joe pays for it by getting a seat and a can of apple juice.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. To be fair, Airbus did bring in the 18" seat, with a great fanfare but is the Airline that calls the shots. Wish there was a website that told the public which airline had the best seats!