While poking around the MAS website I stumbled upon the carrier’s configuration for its A380, a nifty find considering its first bird is not due until April 2012 and airlines have so far liked to keep their configurations closely-held.
MAS will seat 420 in economy (the same as Lufthansa), 26 in its new premium economy, 54 in business, and 8 in first for a grand total of 508.
Location, location, location
MAS says economy will be split between the lower and upper deck. Premium economy will be on the upper deck, business on the upper deck, and first class on the lower deck.
We can reasonably expect first class to occupy the first zone (between the two main entry doors) on the lower deck and economy to fill the rest. But that will leave a small section of economy seats left for the upper deck, creating a small, intimate economy cabin like that found on the upper deck of some 747s.
It seems logical to place that small cabin at the back of the upper deck where the rear stairs will connect it with the rest of economy. I can’t see MAS wanting to sandwich business class, so business could presumably start at the front of the upper deck, leaving premium economy to be in the middle.
What does this all mean?
The 5 carriers currently operating A380s have an average of 495 seats, so MAS is at the upper end. The two newest A380 operators, Air France and Lufthansa, had large configurations: 538 for Air France and 526 for Lufthansa.
As the A380 becomes more standard and its allure dies down, we’ll continue to see the aircraft shift from an all bells and whistles aircraft to a practical piece of machinery that can haul a lot of passengers. Eventually, Air Austral will operate the aircraft with 840 seats. Before then, Korean Air has promised its A380 will be in the least dense configuration yet.
There have not been huge discrepancies yet with the number of first class seats and Malaysia Airlines, with Lufthansa, will have the least number of first class seats. Malaysia’s 9 seats will be suites with a seat that converts to a full-flat bed, a 23″ LCD PTV, a guest seat, and dining table. There will also be mood lighting.
MAS sets a new benchmark for the least number of business seats at 54. Previously Singapore had the least with 60 seats. MAS’ 54 seats will have a 75″ pitch in a 2-2-2 configuration with a 17″ LCD PTV. There’s also mood lighting in this cabin.
MAS becomes the second carrier to feature premium economy, a cabin that has grown in popular with corporate travelers no longer permitted to fly business while economy passengers look for a more comfortable cabin without going to business.
Qantas, the first carrier to have premium economy on the A380, will feature more premium economy seats on its next batch of A380s and will also retrofit its 747-400s to have premium economy. Elsewhere in the Oceania region Air New Zealand and V Australia prominently feature premium economy, with V Australia saying during its launch that premium economy would be its best-selling cabin.
Finally, in economy MAS has the second highest number of seats along with Lufthansa.
Although MAS’ new A330-300s and 737-800s will have the Panasonic XSeries IFE, the A380 will have the Android-based Thales TopSeries, which includes a USB media player, e-books, and very interestingly, 3D games.
You may recall MAS considering offering the iPad as IFE on some flights, but likely not on the A380.
Before we come close to seeing MAS accept its first A380, China Southern and Korean Air will place into service their A380s, which we do not yet know the configuration of. As they say, watch this space.
A look at the MAS A380 seating configuration
Configurations of in-service A380s as well as MAS’ expected configuration.
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