No one likes the middle seat on a flight … well maybe someone does, but I have yet to meet them. Airlines need to add as many seats as possible to a flight, and fill them, to maximize their revenue potential, but with more airline options the competition to attract passengers is more challenging than ever.
Given the potential space within the Airbus A320 narrow body family of aircraft (A318/A319/A320/A321) Morten Müller, a former aircraft engineer with Airbus has designed an interesting interior that maximizes the space within an A320, which has been sold as a single-aisle aircraft only, since it entered service in 1988.
Müller’s seating design transforms the traditional 3-3 (3 seats – aisle – 3 seats) configuration into 1-2-2. This design allows airlines to potentially create a premium domestic or transcontinental product with smaller aircraft on strategic routes. For example, United Airlines operates Washington-Dulles to San Francisco 8 times per day with non-stop service; Airbus A320 aircraft operates three of these flights, with two other flights being served by the Airbus A319.
Given the passenger loads on these flights and the high frequency of high yield business travelers flying to, and through, San Francisco a sub-fleet of A319/A320 aircraft could be created to cater to a premium-economy class service, similar to United’s current United PS (Premium Service) sub-fleet of Boeing 757-222 aircraft.
The removal of 1-seat per row can be a loss of substantial revenue, but on certain routes potentially the loss of the seats could be made up for in revenue from a cabin configured entirely with ‘economy plus’ seats.
The competition among airlines to differentiate themselves is fierce. American Airlines installed in-seat power through out economy class on the New York – San Francisco/Los Angeles routes; United Airlines introduced its “PS” service on the same routes; Delta tried its hand “Song” all economy with a nice in-flight experience on its transcontinental routes from New York … and other upstart airlines are now finding their niche in passenger amenities.
Could Müller’s cabin design be the answer the airlines are looking for? Imagine looking at your boarding pass and never having to be upset you got a middle seat … isn’t that worth a slightly her airfare to you? It would be to me
Fewer passengers means less baggage and less passenger weight. Less passengers and a lower weight means more cargo capacity, which means more revenue…
…personally I’d love to see an airline give Müller’s design a try. It is an expensive gamble, but one that may offer profitable returns in both revenue and passenger loyalty.
Below are two graphic images of Morten Müller’s proposed new A320 twin-aisle cabin layout.