It’s Happening: The First Airline Goes 10 Abreast On The A350

While airlines are investing nicely in onboard amenities (wifi, personal televisions, etc.), there’s no denying that economy seats are getting tighter on average, at least for those not willing to pay for an extra legroom seat.

For example, over the past decade we’ve seen the industry standard on the 777 go from being nine seats per row in economy, to being 10 seats per row. It’s a trend that started slowly, though in the meantime only a few airlines still have nine seats per row in economy on the plane.

The A350 is a lovely new plane, and I remember while attending the A350 delivery ceremony in Toulouse, Airbus was advertising how the plane can accommodate nine seats per row, and they didn’t even suggest the possibility of it going beyond that. Here’s the slide:

Qatar-Airways-A350-04

Indeed, the economy cabin is fairly comfortable, as I flew it briefly on Qatar Airways.

Qatar-Airways-A350-11

Up until now, all airlines that have taken delivery of the A350 have done so with nine seats per row in economy.

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but we finally have an airline pushing the boundaries on this.

Air Caraibes will be one of the next airlines to take delivery of the A350, and they’ll be installing 10 seats per row in economy.

Air-Caribes-A350

The airline is in the process of taking delivery of their first of five A350s (two A350-900s, and three A350-1000s), which will feature a total of 389 seats, including 18 business class seats, 45 premium economy seats, and 326 economy seats.

Starting in March 2017, the airline will fly their first A350 from Paris Orly to both Pointe-a-Pitre and Fort-de-France.

Air-Caribes-Routes

It’ll be interesting to see if other airlines follow Air Caraibes’ lead. They actually announced a while ago they’d introduce 10 seats per row on the A350, so I’m surprised others haven’t followed. Then again, it was quite a while before airlines consistently started installing 10 seats per row on the 777.

In case anyone is wondering, the A350’s cabin width is 18ft5in, while the 777’s cabin width is 19ft3in. So this is an even tighter squeeze than 10 seats per row in 777 economy.

(Tip of the hat to @DT35K)

Comments

  1. Wow! This is really pushing it. 10 abreast on the 777 is a TIGHT squeeze. I cant imagine how it would even be possible on an A350.

  2. I’ve already eliminated certain airlines from my Kayak flight searches if they cram rows with extra seats like this. My fave economy product (if any economy product could be described in nice terms!) is Air Canada’s 767 which is configured 2x3x2 and also has decent leg room. That’s what I try to choose when I fly from Toronto to LAX on business trips. Aisle seat, middle section. 5 1/2 hours and I get off the plane without any stress.

  3. Having been on Air Asia X economy (luckily with 3 seats to myself ) – you would be amazed what is possible. Very narrow aisles and very narrow seats – it’ll be torture on a long flight like this !

  4. Time will tell but this sounds more like a 9-abreast A330 or 8-abreast 767, both of which are similarly extra-tight and which have only been done by ultra-LCCs and charter carriers, and less like the 10-abreast 777s that have become common. Well, at least we can hope as much.

  5. This isn’t news at all…this config has been planned for the last 2 years. And everyone making purchasing decisions at airlines has known about it. While it’s probably true most of Lucky’s readers didn’t know about this, every buyer of A350s has for the last few years. 10 abreast and Air Caribes has been part of the Airbus pitchbook for the plane for crying out loud! This isn’t “news” to anyone who is responsible for buying or configuring these planes. Delivery doesn’t change anything.

  6. @Bob Trial

    Thank you for this useless outburst. Lucky didn’t say anywhere in this post that this is “news”, and he even mentions in the second to last paragraph that the airline announced this configuration a while back.

    And as you yourself said, most readers probably didn’t know this, so it’s a useful post. What’s your problem with it?

  7. Oh well… so much for the XWB! This reminds me of the 777X’s promo video, which at one point states “This cabin isn’t just called extra-wide, it IS extra-wide!!” LOL

  8. I think this 10 abreast is more likely to become as rare as 9-abreast a330s and less common than 10-abreast 777s as it is a tighter squeeze. I think that full-service airlines could get away with 10-abreast 777 economy as its not entirely unbearable but only budget airlines will probably install 10-abreast a350s as it is as unbearable as 9-abreast a330s

  9. Interesting move from a charter type carrier, when other big names in the European leisure market have moved away from 9 abreast on their A330 fleets. Just look at Thomas Cook, new cabin refresh including 2-4-2 seating in economy, and 2-3-2 in premium.

    Can’t see scheduled carriers going down this route.

  10. This is really surprising I considered the A350 to be smaller than the B787 at least on the looks. The A350 looks slimmer than the B787 and even than the A330 though it looks stretched. With 389 seats it is beating the capacity of B787 by almost 150 seats. It’s into B777 territory! Imagine if some airliner fits only 2 cabin class not PE then the capacity would cross 400!

    But not all airlines would go for such dense config as the A350 is a truly ultra long haul flight. There would be weight issues in sectors like SIN-SFO.

  11. Dennis, that won’t happen because of the need to be able to evacuation a plane in 90 seconds.

    The only widebody with a single aisle is Etihad First, I believe . .

    10-across is fine for short flights. Finnair uses a A350 from Helsinki to London, for instance.

  12. You can be sure that it is only a matter of minutes before EK will follow suit – they were one of the first to go 9 abreast on their 330’s and 10 abreast on their 777’s. Never fly EK economy.

    Their decision re 787/350 is still ‘up in the air’ but I am assuming that 9 abreast is part of the decision (how many sardines can you cram into an airplane)?

  13. Forgive me if i’m wrong, but according to my calculations a 10-abreast A350, considering an average seat width of 18 inches each in a 9-abreast configuration, would yield a 16,2-16,4 inch wide seats for economy (unless you shrunk the aisle)! That’s VERY tight, considering that the 787 in 9-abreast (which is done by every airline except JAL and ANA’s internationally-configured 787s) are already at 16,8 inches wide. Even me, who is only 5’5 tall (165cm), struggle to fit in 9-abreast 787s, like QR’s to the point that I actively avoid 787s now due to the fact that I always bump my shoulders into my seatmates everytime I sit. Horrible! But then again Air Caraibes is a leisure airline and I understand their business rationale in choosing the 10-abreast for economical purposes, but I feel like this is a step too far. You’re flying a 9h transatlantic flight, not a 1h turboprop commuter run!

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