44 Responses

  1. Paul Thompson
    Paul Thompson at |

    I got that error as well.

  2. Matt Nevans
    Matt Nevans at |

    Me too. Pwnt!

  3. Mary Bernadette Kirby
    Mary Bernadette Kirby at |

    I know both were expected, but…I had rather hoped United would follow through on the A350. Yes, I’m thinking seat width for long-haul.

    1. Bill Sweetman
      Bill Sweetman at |

      So am I. As long as US airlines can depend on government preferences and protection and as long as the unions will defend those things, a 9-across 787 is the way to go.

    2. Mary Bernadette Kirby
      Mary Bernadette Kirby at |

      And as along as FAA and EASA continue to accept simulation tests to demonstrate that high-density LOPAs can be evacuated within 90 seconds using only half of the total number of emergency exits…

  4. Seth Miller
    Seth Miller at |

    That fun feeling when a hosting company runs apparently “scheduled” maintenance for 20 minutes right after you post a new story. Oy.

    Back online now for those still interested.

    1. Matt Nevans
      Matt Nevans at |


  5. Gordon Bethune
    Gordon Bethune at |

    seat width is selected by the airline, not by Airbus or Boeing. they can install any thing you want . If it’s bought by the pork chop assn. they make bigger seats special order…….If you want just one seat for you, YOU GOT IT !!!!!

    1. Matt Nevans
      Matt Nevans at |

      Troll level 10. Yes!

    2. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      Yeah, but not really.

      The air frame dimensions and operating costs have a direct impact on what seats are installed. The Airbus frames are designed to a width that get to the operating economics with the wider seats compared to what the Boeing options deliver. And when profits drive everything for an airline you get choices like 10-abreast on the 777 instead of the original 9-abreast design/delivery. Ditto for the 787s flying at 9-abreast, not 8.

      Sure, that’s an airline option, not the airframer, But the airframers absolutely enable such moves in their design decisions. And they do not design planes in a vacuum. They do so in partnership with their airline partners.

      You know as well as I do that the design for the MAX10 was finalized and announced only after many airlines – including United – agreed to the design specs and committed to an order. The MAX7 was changed to add a couple rows of seats after consultation with Southwest and WestJet, the pending orders, approved the move. The A350-800 was scrapped after minimal orders but in consultation with the airlines that had placed those orders, ensuring that other products would meet the mission profiles – including costs – that the original planes promised. And the DC-10/L-1011 frames were designed in part based on specific airline requests to be able to operate from LGA.

      They all work together on these decisions. No one party bears all the blame.

    3. Mary Bernadette Kirby
      Mary Bernadette Kirby at |

      I believe leisure carrier Air Caraibes is the only carrier to select 10-abreast on the A350 thus far (at least the only one publicized; Airbus said “less than a handful” have been ordered). 9-abreast with 18″ seat width is standard, so yeah, I was looking forward to it. Especially given industry’s 777 densification.

    4. Russell Rego
      Russell Rego at |

      Halal Pork Chop Assn.?

    5. Gordon Bethune
      Gordon Bethune at |

      Wrong. The Manufacturers design the airplane for MAXIMUM certification of passengers, Ergo, Maximum flexibility for a customer to use as THEY want,… that more seats offered.. more flexibility, less seats in some markets are what sells. The BBJ, (Boeing Business Jet) was the same as the SWA 737-700. I ran the 737 program. I know what we were trying to achieve.. Flexibility…range, payload and customer flexibility. The 737-800 is the most prolific design and best selling airplane in the world. If certification by the FAA will allow the evacuation of X people in the required time, the manufacture has an airplane that will fly, X miles with Y cost and carry up to Z people. They don’t negotiate with customers a limit, just the overall performance, cost and sales price. I actually bought AND sold new airplanes at my time at Boeing. I kinda know what drives the design requirements and objectives, cost and what our customers are asking us to build.

    6. Rick Bailey
      Rick Bailey at |


    7. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      So explain the MAX200 that included specific adjustments in the design to account for Ryanair’s requests to handle that many passengers? Boeing just made that change because they got a hunch the plane needed more seats inside, not because Ryanair brought up the topic? I’m not buying it.

      The max evac number matters but if you tell me that everyone at Boeing or Airbus (or Embraer or Bombardier or other commercial airframers) believes that the aircraft are going to operate at those max numbers I’d say that’s probably not true.

      The “X miles with Y cost carrying up to Z people” number is exactly what I’m talking about. When Oceanic Airlines shows up and says it wants a plane to carry 300 people 5000 miles both Airbus and Boeing will have an answer. The Airbus answer will nearly universally include an option that has wider seats compared to what Boeing brings to the table at a similar CASM. You chose the 777s at Continental with 9-abreast seating. At the time the company could afford the higher costs. Today airlines have decided that those increased costs are not worth it to their stock price.

      And passengers are starting to notice the difference.

    8. Dwayne Oleson
      Dwayne Oleson at |

      Gordon Bethune If Gordon says it, you can take it to the bank. Period.

    9. Tim Bennett
      Tim Bennett at |

      Gordon Bethune In a time where anybody with a social media account and an opinion become “experts”, its nice to see that there are actually people who know what they are talking about. On the subject of building Boeing airliners, and running successful Major Airlines, it’ll be hard to beat Mr. Bethune…..

    10. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      I respect Gordon a ton and have for many years. Even got to meet him and talk shop a while back, though I doubt he remembers that. But that doesn’t mean I agree with him on every topic nor that the answers are always simple, obvious or clear-cut.

      There is nuance to the discussion that is being missed for the sake of statements like The airline makes all the seating choices on its own or the max evac capacity is the only design consideration for an aircraft. There’s more to it than that and I prefer to have these conversations at that level.

    11. Stephen Reed
      Stephen Reed at |

      The airline daddy has spoken^

    12. Eric Henderson
      Eric Henderson at |

      God bless, Gordon. Pretty fundamental basics!

    13. Gordon Bethune
      Gordon Bethune at |

      Seth Miller well range , weight and payload and Mach cruise/ fuel burn / maintenance cost are the drivers for design , customers always go for total cost AND market capability. I think we’re saying mostly the same thing. The airbus seat width is more than offset by the pax head clearance difference against the curving fuselage. A round fuselage has the window seat passenger leaning his head toward the aisle. Chocolate or vanilla. They’re different…not “better”. You can theorize all you want but I do know how airplanes are conceived and sold as well as how they are evaluated and purchased. All manufactures listen to what the majors players want and need. That’s what they design, build an sell.

    14. Mary Bernadette Kirby
      Mary Bernadette Kirby at |

      Henceforth, when passengers complain about narrow seat width on the 9-abreast 787 and 10-abreast 777 (which they do, regularly), I can tell them: “Take it from Gordon Bethune – the Airbus seat width is more than offset by the pax head clearance difference against the curving fuselage.” That will surely comfort them, even if their hips and shoulders are rubbing up against their seat mates. Rofl.

    15. Gordon Bethune
      Gordon Bethune at |

      tell em to buy a first class ticket ????

    16. Mary Bernadette Kirby
      Mary Bernadette Kirby at |

      If passengers’ perceptions about comfort on certain high-density, long-haul aircraft are wrong, as you suggest, why would they need to buy first class? Under that logic, their discomfort is merely a figment of their imaginations. I’m certain this message will be warmly received by mobile, social, vocal passengers. This isn’t about Airbus or Boeing. It’s about the fact that passengers are increasingly educating themselves about what experience they can expect on board and yes, that includes scrutiny of aircraft type. Why? Because legacy airlines have taken delivery of 9-abreast 787s (though Boeing originally suggested a dreamy 8-abreast) and are densifying the 777 to 10-abreast. They get away with it, in my opinion, because, bar certain exceptions, the seat width comes in at roughly the same as that found on the 737, whereas moving to a 10-abreast A350, for example, means a super-snug – I’d argue inhumane – 16.4” seat width.

    17. Paul Wilson
      Paul Wilson at |

      Mary Bernadette Kirby The public has made it abundantly clear, they want the lowest fare! They don’t want to pay for a bigger seat, or food, or much of anything. A competitor with a seat priced $10 less will steal them away. If you are traveling on business and your comfort is paramount to you and to your company, you can instruct them to book you in first class. Or you can do like most, and accumulate your FF miles and eventually get that upgrade.

    18. Gordon Bethune
      Gordon Bethune at |

      Paul Wilson spot on. First priority is price. 2nd is schedule. Aircraft type rarely plays a role in purchasing a ticket. They wait till onboard to complain to the crew who have to listen to everything that’s not “perfect”.

    19. Gordon Bethune
      Gordon Bethune at |

      Mary Bernadette Kirby I didn’t suggest anything. Different air carriers configure the airplanes they purchase to fit their strategy to become profitable. Boeing nor Airbus tell a Norwegian Air how many seats to install except to conform to the maximum allowed by the certification authorities. Seat width and pitch are airline marketing decisions. If customers feel cramped, it’s because they bought a ticket priced to attract, or a schedule that was more convenient but not necessarily comfortable. If it’s too uncomfortable, they’ll buy from someone else or opt for a more expensive seat next time. There is a lot of variability in the long haul market and it appears there will be even more. Mostly you get what you pay for….not sometimes what you expect. Freddy Laker’s $99 transatlantic fares were popular but not enjoyable. There will be some ultra high density seats coming to market now that “open skies” are available to flags of connivence a la Norway flying under Irish authority and EEU membership

    20. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      Price & schedule still dominate most decisions. That has absolutely been the case historically and continues today. But there also was zero metadata available about aircraft during the search process historically. That’s changing.

      OTAs today are now able to advertise accurate information about on-board amenities, including seat pitch and width. Significant amounts of cash are being invested on this front by small startups like RouteHappy and larger players as well (a couple links at the bottom of this reply). And some passenger behavior is slowly beginning to shift on this front. Slowly, but it is happening. And if a consumer sees that two similarly timed and priced options offer different levels of personal space on board there’s a decent chance they’ll pick the more comfortable one. Which goes back to the challenge of CASM on twin-aisle aircraft and the necessary seating density an airline will need from each of the vendors to realize their operating targets.

      To pretend that people are behaving the same as they always have and that they always will is to play the ostrich and bury ones head in the sand rather than to recognize that things are changing and that the future will be different than the past. Much of that is because of the ability to easily share data and experiences, just like we are doing here right now.


    21. Dwayne Oleson
      Dwayne Oleson at |

      Gordon Bethune With several type ratings in my back pocket…”If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going!”

  6. Chris Rauschnot
    Chris Rauschnot at |

    The link works now.

  7. Carol Walsh
    Carol Walsh at |

    It makes me laugh when the student tries to school the teacher. ????????????

  8. Tony Reece
    Tony Reece at |

    The price one pays for having Mr. Bethune as a FB “friend” is having Mr. Bethune as a FB “friend”.

    1. Tony Reece
      Tony Reece at |

      Love (& respect) you both!

    2. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      Wouldn’t have it any other way. The friends willing to have a smart, sharp conversation about interesting topics are the ones I want around.

    3. Tony Reece
      Tony Reece at |

      Absolutely, Seth!

  9. Bill Coleman
    Bill Coleman at |

    Enough lipstick on the 737!!! It is NOT a 757 replacement!!!!

  10. Frank Brownie
    Frank Brownie at |

    If ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going. Although I did have a very nice ride on an Asiana A380 on the upper deck in Business.

  11. Michael Leung
    Michael Leung at |

    Looks like Airbus took another “hit” from Emirates too. They went with 777s instead of A350s.

    1. Michael Miller
      Michael Miller at |

      Yes huge week for Boeing, taking greater share from three customers and beginning the conversation about the end of the A380.

  12. flying joe
    flying joe at |

    The A350 is too good to wear United colors. This “new” 777-300ER is a 9 year old model and they want to compete with the European and middle east airlines?


  13. Andy
    Andy at |

    I wouldn’t be suprised to see American follow United on cancelling their A350 order. They sure have delayed the order enough that its pretty clear they don’t seem to want them.

  14. Barrie Prejean
    Barrie Prejean at |

    I fly Alaska Airlines afew times each year. They are first class.

  15. David Askren
    David Askren at |

    If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going.