Suitable for children but not adults, an economy cabin in a 787 Dreamliner

Runway Girl Network has become the go-to site for cabin developments free of marketing spin, and has drawn attention to an admission by British Airways that the economy seats in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are too tight.

It quotes the internal publication Up to Speed on its plans to widen the nine abreast seats in its soon to arrive 787-9s by just over a centimetre because of negative feedback from passengers using its earlier intake of lower capacity 787-8s.

This is relevant to the Qantas order for an initial eight 787-9s to enable older 747 retirements and new route or frequency developments from later in 2017. Qantas group CEO Alan Joyce has been quoted as favouring the high density economy for its Dreamliners because that’s what just about everyone else is doing with them.

As the Runway Girl scoops explains, it isn’t known where British Airways will find what would amount to an extra 11 cms of space across a row of nine seats and two aisles, with those aisles, or perhaps the armrests, or even a redefinition of what constitutes seat width, being the source of more space within the fixed confines of the cabin diameter.

Narrower aisles would make life miserable for those with shoulders seated on the aisles, a problem already evident among normal sized adults seated in 777s that have adopted the new stuff-the-customer format in that once spacious bigger Boeing by adding one extra seat per row.

The move away from the original and very civilised economy format that Boeing intended for its 787s is turning into a significant problem. Airline seating is supposed to be for adults, not children, and adults are getting bigger with each generation.

This tendency to physically hurt passengers by airlines focused on the theoretical economic yields of maximum possible seating configurations also threatens the amenity of the new Airbus A350 family, which is wider than the 787s, but thus also vulnerable to being fitted with an extra seat per row that was never part of the maker’s original vision.

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