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Airbus A380 gets 11-across economy seating option

By David Flynn     Filed under: Airbus A380

Airbus is pushing ahead with plans to pack 11 seats per row in the economy section of its A380.

The A380's current layout is for 10 across economy seating with a seat width from 18.5 to 19 inches, but this would be reduced to 18 inches in the 11-abreast configuration.

The extra-squeeze superjumbo would retain three seats on either side of the economy cabin but five seats in the middle – leaving one unlucky traveller hemmed in by two passenger on either side.

That one extra seat per row would increase the A380’s capacity by as many as 40 passengers.

As a yardstick, the Qantas A380 has 371 economy seats but at a tighter 17.5 inch seat width,  Emirates has 399 to 407 (depending on the model) at 18 inches and Singapore Airlines’ superjumbos carry 311 to 399 economy passengers in 19 inch seats.

Airbus says its revised floorplan makes full use of the A380’s width by reducing the space between the window seats and the cabin walls for seating on the lower or main deck.

"What we've done is to make this optimised seating" explains Tom Williams, Airbus’ Executive Vice President of Programmes.

"On the sidewalls of the A380 you have a really deep section, and we don't have to win too much there (for an extra seat)" Williams tells Australian Business Traveller.

However, Emirates – which is Airbus' largest A380 customer, with a staggering 140 superjumbos on order – has already nixed the 11-across economy section for its fleet.

"It puts a middle seat in the five arrangement which is not very attractive," Emirates president Tim Clark says. "Imagine you've got a problem and you have to keep on getting out and going to the loo."

Read: Emirates to upgrade Airbus A380 economy but rules out 11 abreast seating

Airbus 'optimising' the A380 for airlines

The 11-abreast economy option is part of an overall rethink of the A380’s layout, driven by Airbus itself.

The company has already floated a revamped A380 design with as many as 22% more seats, and says that airlines purchasing the A380 are now enlisting Airbus to make the most of the superjumbo's passenger potential.

"Airlines today are asking us to help optimise their cabin" says Kiran Rao, Airbus Executive Vice President for Strategy and Marketing.

"There is a particular space that should be occupied for first class" Rao says, with this being the forward part of the upper deck rather than the main deck.

"There is also a particular space to be occupied by premium economy. There is a way to put economy seating  at 11 abreast and still maintain an 18 inch seat width."

"It's actually very easy to add 30-50 extra seats, and if we apply some (design) innovation and thought we can get more than that" Rao says.

Also read: Airbus studying Airbus A380neo, but "no plans to build it"

Australian Business Traveller is attending the 2014 Airbus Innovation Days media conference in Toulouse, France as a guest of Airbus.

Get the latest for business travellers and frequent flyers: follow @AusBT on Twitter


About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 13/6/14 by LR

I would avoid at all cost, just like 10 abreast 777, the 9 abreast A330 and the 8 abreast 767!

1 on 13/6/14 by qfflyer

Who runs nine abreast A330s?

1 on 13/6/14 by watson374

AirAsia X and Cebu Pacific to name two.

2 on 13/6/14 by Alvin

Who runs 8-abreast 767s?

1 on 13/6/14 by madge

A couple of EU charter airlines like Thomson/Thomas Cook/Arkefly.

3 on 13/6/14 by Phalanger

This will be much worse than 10 across on the 777, the design and computer graphics leave no room for the person's outside leg.  The will have to sit with this legs sidewards the whole time...

2 on 13/6/14 by Kristian

Aside from that middle-most seat, I think the window seat on the 11 abreat would be awful. Look where the sidewall meets the floor! About 1/3rd of the footwell room for the window passenger would be gone. I imagine that would be very uncomfortable. 

1 on 13/6/14 by Serg

True, but as least poor fellow passenger can lean toward window using his/her pillow. Most middle is true nightmare.


3 on 13/6/14 by Colin

Like most things these days, designed by people who never use the product, or dont bother to get feedback from the users.  These are designed for long haul travel - really 14 hours in the midde of 5, it was bad enough on an old A330 for 8 hours.

I think the design team should be made to sit in these seats for 14hours on a full flight before they start making these changes.

Good on Emirates for saying "No"

1 on 13/6/14 by LR

I agree with you colin, "designed by people who fly first and business class and would never ever fly economy". I cant see any airlines using this seating option.

2 on 13/6/14 by curly


Did an airline run 5 wide on an a330 in the past, if so who was it?

1 on 14/6/14 by watson374

No, but 3-3-3 has been done on A330s before by AirAsia X and Cebu Pacific.

2 on 15/6/14 by Colin

Sorry, my mistake its was a while ago, and it was a MH B777

4 on 13/6/14 by Serg

I like printing on pic "High efficiency (sic!) 18 inch wide (sic!) seats". I cannot get what means "High efficiency" (I guess more profit per flight) and it definitely should say "18 inch narrow.

5 on 13/6/14 by russell

Optimising is the new Enhancement which is the new Simplification...

6 on 13/6/14 by moa999

Given all the carriers currently are 10-abreast, what is Qantas doing with its extra 15" (1.5" x 10) compared to Singapore.

I don't recall the aisles being wider (or an extra aisle). Are we sure the measurements are comparable?

1 on 13/6/14 by madge

Unlike seat pitch, there is no standardised measurement for seat width. So some airlines measure width between armrests, some measure the width of the seat cushion.

I have sat in the QF A380 Y seat and found it noticably wider than a 737 or 747 seat, and slightly wider than an A330 seat (but that one was hard to tell).

7 on 13/6/14 by Broderick

I will pass on any airline who introduces 11 across on an A380. I struggle to fly 777's at 10 across!

1 on 13/6/14 by curly

Agreed, the first time I flew EK and saw 3-4-3 (777) I was amazed how they squeezed that extra row in.

An aisle seat on the middle set of 3 (D+F?) was always a winner on a 9 abreast 777 with a chance noone will be jumping over you. Kinda like 2-3-2 on 767.

8 on 13/6/14 by edawnedsram

if they took all the seats out, they could get a lot more passengers in.

Standing room only! Move down the Airbus. Is there any wonder it's called "cattle class"

9 on 13/6/14 by somethingy23

Qantas clearly isnt utilising it's space on the A380. How can it only provide 17.5 inch width with just a 31 inch pitch in such a large plane? Such numbers are expected of American carriers. 

The only economy class A380 ive travelled in is Emirates, and I have to say the seat was very comfortable, with no compromise to aisle width and food trolleys crashing here and there. I imagine singapore will be even better. Both have their seat pitch as a 32 inch standard. While I understand they do not have P/E class, their business class is 1-2-1 (and yet they are still able to provide the same number of seats with greater comfort).

Seriously, I am astounded at how Qantas is unable to utilise the space given to them.

10 on 14/6/14 by Ashan

Imagine if a budget airline were to outfit the aircraft with all economy class with the 11 abreast main deck. How many seats, do you think?

11 on 14/6/14 by Ashan

How come Qantas offers only 17 inches in width, whilst SIA has 19? They both use 10 abreast on the main deck, so why does QF cut back 2 inches?


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