Airbus squeezing extra economy seat into A380 superjumbo aircraft

Flyers are already feeling the squeeze in coach class but it looks like things may get worse.

While Southwest is adding extra seat width on new aircraft to accommodate growing bodies, Airbus is continuing the trend of shrinking seats, announcing plans to offer an 11-across economy seat configuration on new A380 superjumbo carriers, reports Aviation Week.

Currently, the Airbus A380 seats 10 passengers in an economy row with a 3-4-3 configuration. The new layout would add an extra seat to the middle row, squeezing people into a too-close-for-comfort 3-5-3 configuration. Though the new seats will be same width as the current design—18inches across—Airbus has slightly modified the entire cabin to raise the plane’s capacity from 525 passengers to 544.

But according to Harvard data, the average human shoulder width is also 18 inches. Airbus has not released official measurements detailing length on the entire row but given the seat dimensions, it does not take a professional mathematician to figure out that many passengers-- big or small-- may literally be sitting shoulder to shoulder in the new seat configuration.

Attendees at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany were offered the chance to test out the new seats and none seemed particularly eager about the possibility of welcoming an extra companion into a cramped economy class class row.

Emirates, which initially supported the idea of adding an extra seat to its existing fleet of A380 aircraft for more efficient service, says that it will not proceed with ordering any of the newly designed aircraft. But according to Aviation Week, Airbus is still moving forward with delivery, with two manufactures on board to make the seats available by 2017.

After unveiling the new configuration, Airbus Vice President-Cabin Innovation and Design Ingo Wuggetzer said that he sees major growth potential in the “budget economy” segment to help airlines increase annual revenues.