Many Airbus planes are wider than Boeings. So why don’t passengers always get roomier seats?

Here’s a fun fact for the day. According to Airbus officials, the cabin of the narrow-body A320 airplane is roughly seven inches wider than on the Boeing 737 – the airplane with which it competes.

Airbus officials made a big deal of this at this week’s APEXIFSA Expo in Anaheim – a trade show dedicated to improving the passenger experience for travelers. They say that the wider interior means airlines can install 18-inch wide seats, instead of the standard 17-inch ones. Or, they noted, an airline might put in two 17-inch seats in a row and then one 20-inch seat. Why might they do that? Because they could sell the extra wide seat for a higher price.

But here’s something that’s interesting. An Airbus official told me that many airlines still put in standard airline seats in the A320s, which means they don’t take advantage of the extra room. There seem to be two reasons. The first is efficiency. Airlines like to have the same seats for their entire fleet. So if they have Boeings and Airbuses, they may just prefer to have all 17-inch wide seats.

The second reason is less intuitive. A lot of the all-Airbus narrow-body fleets belong to low-cost carriers. Many of those airlines place a premium on having their airplanes on the ground for as little time as possible. For those airlines, an extra-wide aisle is very important. With an extra-wide aisle, passengers can take some time to put bags in overhead bins, while still allowing other passengers to walk behind them. This means planes can board faster.

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Boeing 787: Inside the pilot resting bunks

crew rest (1024x768)

After Asiana Flight 214 crash landed in San Francisco last week, casual aviation readers were reminded that long-haul flights usually carry three or for pilots, two of whom are usually in the cockpit at any one time.

The others are resting. But where do they sleep?

It depends on the airline. Sometimes they sit in a first or business class seat. Other times they might even take a row in the coach cabin. But on the longest flights on the biggest planes, airlines have usually installed crew bunks.

I recently took that shot of the pilot rest area on United new 787, which it flies from LAX to Tokyo. Comfy, right?

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United Airlines tests new fuel saving wingtips

United Airlines took another step forward in the quest for increased fuel efficiency today, when a 737-800 fitted with a new type of winglet flew its first flight in Everett, Wash.

Instead of merely having a wingtip pointed upwards, as on much of the carrier’s Boeing fleet, the new wingtips have two elements – one points up and the other, which is considerably smaller, points down.

United officials say the new winglet results in significantly less drag than the current model used by the airline on its 737 fleet. They say the winglet – called the Split Scimitar – will result in a roughly 2 percent fuel savings the 737s.

Eventually, when United puts the new technology on its 737, 757 and 767 fleet, the airline expects to save $200 million annually in fuel. Currently, some of those planes have traditional winglets, while some have none at all.

There’s a bit of a competition going between Boeing and Airbus over who can develop more efficient wings. Airbus, which has historically had relatively small wingtip devices on its planes, has started helping airlines retrofit their A320 family aircraft with 2.5 meter high “sharklets.” Airbus says their sharklets, pictured below, reduce fuel consumption by about 4 percent on the longest flights.


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Anthony Toth built a 747 inside a warehouse — and there’s video!

Anthony Toth is my hero.

You may remember him from my story in February. He loved Pan Am so much that he built a replica of a 747-200 inside a warehouse in the City of Industry, near Los Angeles. For now, he has first class in the nose, as well as a small section called Clipper Class, which looks like a current coach cabin, but, at the time, was considered more like business class. He also has a dining area, which he has built on the upper deck. I believe he also just completed a cockpit. It’s all just about perfect.

You intrepid blogger might be visiting the plane again this weekend. If that’s the case, he’ll be sure to update you on Anthony’s progress, with pictures. I know he eventually wants to complete an entire 747.

CrankyFlier, who is perhaps the best aviation blogger in the country, is organizing a trip to Anthony’s plane on Sept. 28. Competition for the slots should be fierce, but you can check out the plans on Cranky’s blog.  For the event, dinner will be served by ex Pan Am flight attendants. (I spoke with a couple on the phone for my story and let me tell you, these women take serving seriously.)

Can’t make it to Cranky’s event? Or simply want to learn more? Check out this video made by Anthony in which he explains how he built his replica.



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