The first couple A320neo aircraft are now flying for Lufthansa and, well, I’m not all that excited about the prospect of getting on one. I was earlier in the year when I thought I could get a seat on the inaugural flight as it was going to be a party. That fell through and I missed the second “inaugural” delivery event, too. But I’ve now taken a look at the seat map and I have some serious concerns.
We’ve known that adding two rows of seats was part of the plan. Part of that comes from adjusting the real galley/lavatory layout to offer the SpaceFlex option, removing the lavatories from in front of the rear exit door. It works exactly as advertised, allowing the carrier to add more seats. But seeing just what it looks like when rendered by the company on a seat plan is somewhat disconcerting.
Forward of the over-wing exits nothing really changes. Those customers will have what is the typical NEK product. Behind the exits, however, things get dicey. Pitch is reduced and the old, NEK layout was already slimline seats and not especially generous pitch. Even worse is the seats in the last couple rows, where the reduced pitch appears to be combined with reduced width as the fuselage narrows. Oh, and no windows in the last row. Sitting behind the exit rows will be bad. Sitting in the last few rows will be spectacularly so.
And we can expect to see more, similar layouts operating in the coming years, even on older A320 aircraft. The SpaceFlex galley/lav layout is being adopted by many Airbus customers as a retrofit and new delivery option. At least one airline studying the product balked based on the impact it would have on cabin crew and available service levels, so it is not a certainty, but there is no doubt that the growth in seat density on board is coming, and in some cases of it looks far less comfortable than others.
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