Are you ready for 11-across on the A380?


Forget about the huge suites of Etihad’s new Residences product or even the “luxury” of a 3-4-3 layout for economy class passengers on the Airbus A380. A 3-5-3 config is coming if aircraft lessor Amedeo (formerly Doric Lease Corporation) is to be believed. The company has published a seat map for what they expect the configuration to look like with 590 total seats on board; 456 of them will be for economy class passengers on the main deck. The 590 total seats is higher than Air France‘s 538 (the current “leader”) Lufthansa’s 526 (actually the current leader; AF put Premium Economy in so they have fewer seats now) but lower than Emirates‘ 617 or Transaero’s 652 (including 616 in economy!) layouts, both of which will take flight starting in 2015.

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Amadeo believes that Airbus will be able to deliver the new layout by 2016 when the company is scheduled to begin taking delivery of the 20 A380s it ordered. The leasing company has not yet announced any airlines for the deliveries though it has previously indicated it is looking to “unlock demand for the A380 and secure operators outside the existing customer base by concentrating on simpler, higher-density configurations.”

The 46 rows of economy class seats on the lower deck bests the 41 offered by Thai Airways on its A380 or the 45 Lufthansa has on its version of the aircraft. A glimmer of hope comes when comparing seat maps and discovering that Amedeo is planning on one fewer row in the forward-most section of the cabin. That hope is dashed when looking more closely and realizing that it is being replaced by a lavatory rather than extra legroom for passengers. It also means even more rows in the other sections so less pitch there.

The premium economy layout at the rear of the upper deck is showing as 2-4-2. That’s the same as the economy class offering from British Airways, Qantas and Air France on their upper decks while each of the three puts a premium economy cabin at 2-3-2 upstairs. Plus Amadeo appears to be putting 5 rows in the space at the far back where BA has 4. Galleys and lavs may adjust to offer additional pitch but an initial review of the seat map does not offer a lot of hope for passenger comfort here either.

For first class passengers there is some good news. The three rows of 1-2-1 seating is comparable to the generous space offered by Thai and fewer seats than Emirates places in the forward area of its upper deck. It is more seats than Lufthansa or Malaysia Airlines have on their aircraft in the same space.

This seating map offers up a whole lot of middle seats and not much hope in the way of increased pitch to counter the tighter squeeze passengers can be expected to feel. It is hard to get too excited about this news, at least in a positive manner.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

7 Comments

  1. I’m surprised they even have a First class cabin (I thought they would have business/prem econ/econ only.) I always felt the main reason for the 11-seat configuration for the A380 is to serve high volume & low yield routes like Middle East (DXB/AUH/DOH) to anywhere the guest workers come from (i.e. India, Philippines, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nepal, etc.)

    1. I agree that guest worker programs and South Asia are the likely target demographics for this sort of service. It is interesting to note that they’ve described the ease with which they can adjust the cabin layouts in terms of which types of seats are in which sections. It is entirely possible that they drop first class and slide everything else forward upstairs and add more economy or premium economy as well.

  2. No offense, but how is this post any different than what you accused another blogger of over the weekend? This seems to be a post about a speculative idea coupled with a headline that implies it’s a foregone conclusion.

    1. Because this is the vendor publishing the information and commenting on it publicly, stating that they intend to take delivery of the planes in this configuration. I’m not guessing that it is going to happen based on partial details from what I think the internal documents mean.

      If anyone had an authoritative statement from someone at United that they were changing the award rules then I would accept it. But they don’t. Here we have someone from the company explicitly saying this is what they expect to do.

  3. No matter how you look at it, the passenger in the middle seat has a most unattractive flight. Who wants to book those seats? Or different: who can prevent you are given those seats?
    The A380 now is praised for its space. Airbus even campaigned about it and how important space is on a longhaul flight. I have my doubts about this concept. It’s back to the days of the 747-200SR in Japan. Crampy and crowdy for Economy travellers. On the upperdeck there’s little to complain.

  4. I wonder if Airbus could carve out an extra inch for the poor passenger who will be stuck in the middle of five. Adding one extra inch of width (for a total of 19 inches) would make a difference to the experience. All other seats would offer 18-inch width. Bombardier is doing this for the middle of three on its 5-abreast CSeries.

  5. Any idea what 11 across would do to seat width? Airbus is the company that said 18 inches should be the absolute minimum.

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