Cramped. The design of the new A380 economy class will make way for 11 seats in a row as opposed to 10 currently in an A380 Image Credit: AIRBUS

Dubai: If you thought your struggle for an armrest with a fellow passenger was bad already, hold your breath, it could get worse from 2017 when Airbus puts its new A380 economy class seat configuration in place.

Unveiled recently at an aircraft interiors convention in Hamburg, Germany, the European jetmaker’s latest seating layout for the economy section of its A380 has more seats in the cabin, making the much-hated middle seat harder to avoid.

“This sounds like we will be cramped for space and it may not be the best news for a frequent A380 flier,” says advertising professional Indian Nicole Barua, 25, who flies to Mumbai almost once a month, often on an Emirates A380.

The makers of the world’s largest passenger airliner say their new design will squeeze an extra seat into each row in economy, thus making provisions for 11 seats per row, up from ten currently.

This, the new design suggests, will be done by raising the three seats near windows on each side of the plane by a few inches, freeing just enough space for a fifth seat in the middle section of the plane.

Airbus says that this could enable an airline to increase its passenger capacity from 525 to 544 keeping its current 18-inch standard width for economy class unchanged.

Some frequent fliers, however, aren’t impressed.

David McGhee, 43, a consultant in Dubai, frequently flies to his hometown Manchester, often aboard an Emirates A380.

He says the new design could mean a really long uncomfortable flight.

“As a paying customer, I demand only the best and common sense says five is more crowded than four. So I wouldn’t obviously want to see cramming myself in there anymore if that happens,” says McGhee.

Very comfortable

Fellow Dubai resident Jayanta Mukherjee, 45, who flies to Germany almost every month to report to his company headquarters, says it will mean looking at other options.

“I have come to like the look and feel of an A380 and it has always been very comfortable for me so far, but the new design doesn’t quite look that convincing that it will remain so,” says Mukherjee, the regional head of a European engineering firm.

The proposed new layout is one of three new economy class choices - Premium, Comfort or Budget, Airbus customers can select for their planes. However, it is only the budget class that will have the 11-across seating in the A380, apparently customised for carriers purely looking to attract more economy class passengers while keeping fares low.

However, for many like American Jo Skinner, 37, who’s flown twice on an A380, the new design doesn’t matter as much.

”I am a fan of the double-decker jumbo jet and flying the world’s largest passenger jet is a matter of pride everytime you board it. The standard width of a seat doesn’t change anyway even in a budget airline, so where’s the problem?” says the banker from New York.


YOUSPEAK: What do you think about the increase in number of seats?