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INTERIORS: Why nine is the magic number on the 787

Is the Boeing 787 at a nine-abreast configuration too narrow for comfort? It depends who you believe. Airbus makes great play of the fact its nine-abreast A350 economy cabin is 12cm wider than the Dreamliner equivalent, allowing Toulouse to offer its standard 18in seat as opposed to Boeing’s 17in version.

Yet, as Flightglobal’s Fleets Analyzer database shows, virtually every major 787 operator has opted for nine-abreast economy cabins, with only two selecting a two-four-two layout – and one of them, Japan’s ANA, has switched to three-three-three, leaving it just seven Dreamliners in a two-four-two pattern.

Only one customer has stuck with eight-abreast in economy, Japan Airlines, which has 26 787s in service – with another 19 on order – all in two-four-two configuration. That means that of 260 787s in service with airlines flying at least 10 of the type, only 33 have an eight-abreast layout in economy.

Every A350 operator, by contrast, has specified their economy seating arrangements as three-three-three. Eight abreast in economy in an A350 would be a passenger experience more akin to premium economy, and difficult to justify.

As our data shows, only Qatar Airways flies the 787 and the A350, although LATAM Group operates 787’s through its Chile-based LAN subsidiary and A350s under its Brazilian TAM brand.

As our feature on P45 makes clear, social media has given passengers a chance to express their feelings on cabin comfort. From a very unscientific scroll through Twitter over the past few weeks, the 787 comes in for some stick for its economy experience, with Qatar Airways: “Their 787 planes r a disgrace to sit in economy”, rages @JassiSinger and British Airways: “I strongly urge all BA customers to avoid their new 787 plane in economy. It’s basically Ryanair”, says @DeeSeek34 – singled out.

But not all are unhappy with the Dreamliner. “First flight aboard the awesome Boeing 787. Brilliantly reworked interiors, but more airy, ergonomic and pretty relaxing even in economy”, says @NomadUnplugged.

A350

Operator

Configuration

In Service

On Order

Finnair

3-3-3

3

16

Qatar Airways

3-3-3

8

72

Singapore Airlines

3-3-3

1

66

TAM Linhas Aereas

3-3-3

1

26

Vietnam Airlines

3-3-3

4

10

Other

568

TOTAL

17

758

787

Operator

Configuration

In Service

On Order

ANA - All Nippon Airways

2-4-2/3-3-3

44

39

United Airlines

3-3-3

28

25

Qatar Airways

3-3-3

27

3

Japan Airlines

2-4-2

26

19

Air India

3-3-3

21

6

LAN Airlines

3-3-3

18

14

American Airlines

3-3-3

15

27

Air Canada

3-3-3

14

23

British Airways

3-3-3

14

28

Ethiopian Airlines

3-3-3

12

Jetstar

3-3-3

11

Scoot

3-3-3

10

10

China Southern Airlines

3-3-3

10

Hainan Airlines

3-3-3

10

2

Other

112

514

TOTAL

372

710

Get all the latest news and analysis from Aircraft Interiors here

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