Hooray, Density!

Want more seats on your airplane? Airbus has good news for you. The company now has a 195-seat max capacity certified on its A320neo model thanks to European regulators and “an enhanced egress rate that applies to the existing forward and aft doors of the whole A320 Family” according to stories from Leeham News and Runway Girl.

We’re not going to get to the 23″ pitch of the SkyRider seat, but 27″ pitch could be coming thanks to the new 195 seat certification for the Airbus A320neo.

The new layout is not in use anywhere yet and not even really in demand, at least not specifically from any particular airline. One of the reasons for the lack of demand is that it would require 27″ pitch seats, a place no airline is yet willing to go. That said, there are manufacturers with their eyes on that prize. And it could get mighty ugly by the time we’re there. This is not quite to the 23″ pitch promised by the Aviointeriors SkyRider seat some 5 years ago – another idea which never really progressed past the hype – but it is something manufacturers are at least talking about somewhat seriously. Especially after Boeing and Ryanair agreed on a 200 seat model of the 737 MAX type.

The Leeham story has some great quotes from Airbus about the possibility, noting that the company expects free market economics to drive such decisions in the end.

In short, nobody is forcing anybody to do anything – it’s just a question of what’s possible to offer customers. And the market – ie you the passenger, at the end of the day – is free to decide what they buy.

And lest anyone think this isn’t at least on the cusp of reality, take a look at the new Vueling A320 configuration with 186 seats. At least it also has WiFi available to help keep passengers distracted, though we can assume most usage will be on phones and tablets, not laptop computers, given the tight spaces.

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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.


  1. How is the passenger “free to decide what they buy” when there are only a handful of airlines left?
    If one airline dominates a route?

  2. That picture, is that the 23″ pitch seats or the 27″? I’m trying to visualize.

  3. Disgusting. And let’s watch the equally disgusting US carriers fighting over who gets it first. It’s getting to a point where governments have to start stepping in about the lack of humane treatment all driven by billions of dollars of profits by these carriers. Never! Ever! for me.

    1. Why do you think the US carriers are going to be chasing after this? Asia and Europe have more carriers which are already flying much more dense configurations than US airlines.

  4. Hi Seth ! Thanks for joining the buzz ! Airbus talk about enhancement of the egress flows @ A320 exit doors 1 and 3, but there has been no geometry changes to those doors. From where, how come, the pretended “enhancement” ? Circumstantial hype, folks, plain hype ! In real life emergency evacuation full scale demos, what you observe is that the escape egress flow – for whatever reason – naturally pressures onto the mid-cabin (overwing) twinned Type III escape exits, which shortly after the initial “GO, GO, GO !” end up bottlenecked, so the scared passengers redirect their search for a solution towards doors 1 or 3, moving upstream in the aisles creating chaos, panic and jamming … ’cause you move through an aisle pax density now culminating to an agonising six pax in each 27″ x 19″ = 3.56 sq.ft … that’s why Airbus are shying the live demo : it can’t be done !

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