10 Abreast Economy Will Become More Common On Airbus A350s

Last week at Airbus’ Innovation Days press event outside Toulouse, new chief commercial officer Christian Scherer spoke of ongoing efforts to decrease the discomfort of their A350s high-density configuration. The result: A very comfortable 10-abreast seating configuration. That’s the story at least.

10 Abreast Economy Will Become More Common On Airbus A350s
The majority of carriers today feature 9-abreast seating in their economy class. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

According to Runway Girl Network, Scherer said the following in response to a question about A350 capacity:

“With an enhanced cabin you can very comfortably go to 10-abreast seating in economy class on this airplane for long-range flying, and therefore offer — I use the adjective again, unmatched — capabilities to our airline customers.”

It’s bad enough there’s talk about shrinking airplane toilets. This shift and change in configuration options can only mean more discomfort for passengers. With major carriers these days using 9-abreast configurations, that extra seat space needs to come from somewhere. I guess some of it will also come from the aisles too. So perhaps this means more elbow bumping on your way to the lavatory.

Seat width

10 Abreast Economy Will Become More Common On Airbus A350s
Almost all 9-abreast configurations have 18 inch wide seats. Photo: Flickr user airbus777

Looking at SeatGuru’s “Long-Haul Economy Class Comparison Chart“, we can see that the majority of airlines and aircraft have a seat width between 17 and 18 inches. For airlines using the A350, 18 inches seems to be the most overwhelmingly common number with their 9-abreast configurations. We wrote an article on the widest commercial airline economy seats last year – that’s worth checking out!

However, if you scroll through the chart you’ll notice that some airlines and their A350s have seat widths of 16.5 inches. These airlines are Air Caraibes and French bee, both leisure/charter airlines. As many aviation blogs have already noted, their economy class sections are a high-density 10-abreast configuration, and it’s been like this for years. The blog One Mile at a Time writes a little more in-depth about this.

10 Abreast Economy Will Become More Common On Airbus A350s
A look at Air Caraibes’ seat classes. Notice the narrow seating in “Soleil” class.  Photo: Air Caraibes

However, if Christian Scherer is talking about 10-abreast seating at an “Innovation Days” event, then we can only hope that they found innovative ways to avoid a seat width that is less than 17 inches. Another nice idea would be to use those same innovations to make seats even wider in a 9-abreast configuration… but perhaps that’s just too much to ask!

French carrier Air Caraibes is one of the few airlines with a 10-abreast configuration for its Airbus A350. Photo: Wikipedia

Great for airlines

While we can only hope that Airbus’ new designs have mercy on our hips and bums, this can only be good news for airlines. A denser seating configuration obviously means more passengers and therefore more available seats to sell.

This increase in economy seating would also make each flight more efficient in terms of passengers carried. Therefore a denser configuration is better overall for the environment… that’s something passengers can be happy about, right?

This new configuration would put the Airbus A350 a tiny bit closer to the 777X in terms of capacity.


Perhaps the one and only direct benefit to passengers is the unlikely possibility that this will make a flight cheaper. A more profitable flight could lead to lower airfares, right? Hopefully? I’m always skeptical about things like that so I’m not holding my breath.

The answer might be obvious but I’ll ask it anyways: Are you looking forward to seeing 10-abreast seating on future A350 flights?