Crammed Airplane Seating Just Got Worse

If you didn’t think flying could get any more uncomfortable than it already is, brace yourself, because a Russian airline is set to take the title for cramming the most seats on any commercial jet in the world.

Transaero Airlines is preparing to outfit its fleet of A380s and says it will furnish the planes with 652 seats across three different service classes — although naturally the vast majority of the seats (616 to be precise) will be dedicated to the economy class section of the plane. To give you a comparison, most other A380s are outfitted with 470-520 seats, so the Russian carrier’s plans represent a pretty significant step up in capacity.And while a body-constricting, knee-knocking, claustrophobia-inducing experience might be tolerable on a short domestic flight, the bad news is that these sardine-can-in-the-sky planes will be flying long haul. Some of the routes being proposed by Transaero include Moscow-Thailand and Moscow-Dominican Republic. But even domestic flights can be long haul when you’re talking about a country as large as Russia. One of the routes on the table includes Vladivostok to Moscow which clocks in at 4,000 miles. That’s a heck of a long distance to be squished up between 651 other weary fliers.

What do you think? Is airplane seating getting out of control?

Dine At An A380-Inspired Restaurant

Love to fly? Sure. What if you could have the experience of traveling first class without the hassle of security lines? We’d like that even better. But when the question comes to “do you love airplane food?” or “do you fly because of the food?” the answer is almost always “no,” unless, of course, you make a regular habit of first or business-class international travel.

But a new restaurant in China is making waves for marrying the luxury of first-class travel with a fine dining concept. The A380 restaurant is actually the second of its kind – the first is in Taipei – and is drawing regular crowds who come to be served by waitresses dressed like flight attendants in a fully recreated upper class cabin interior.

What do you think? Would this fly in the United States?

Thanks to BornRich for the tip.

Engineers call for grounding of A380 after cracks found in wings

The Daily Mail reports this evening that cracks found in the wing sections of several Airbus A380 jumbo jets have led to deep concern among a group of Australian aircraft engineers. Calling for the grounding of all A380 aircraft, the group highlighted recent faults uncovered in the wing structures of several Singapore Airlines and Qantas jets in their complaint.

Acknowledging the cracks, the airlines and manufacturer claim that the faults are in non-critical sections of the wings and that an easy detection and repair method has been identified. None of the seven current carriers that operate the aircraft are planning on taking the equipment out of service.

Nevertheless, news of the cracks is a significant concern for Airbus, which has been struggling to compete in a market that’s quickly moving towards smaller, more fuel efficient equipment. With the earliest delivery of their next generation aircraft slated for late 2013 2014, they need to rely on sales of the A380 to propel revenue. If technical difficulties keep plaguing the A380, it could significantly impact the future of the company.

[flickr image via Jlcwalker]

United Airlines to order A380 jumbo jet?

Things are going pretty well for United this year. Full approval for their merger with Continental Airlines went through, they became the first domestic carrier to adopt bio fuel and one of their biggest competitors has gone bankrupt. Their media and public relations departments should get the rest of the year off. In fact, they should buy us dinner.

In addition to all of that good news, rumors around the community are that the airline is eyeballing a new Airbus A380, the largest passenger aircraft on the market and a behemoth that’s usually only reserved for the major international carriers. Though United flies plenty of routes, the majority of their passengers fly short haul in the United States, and as such a heavy, fuel-guzzling aircraft is hardly worth the investment.

With growing focus in the Asian Pacific region, however, the airline may start investing in larger aircraft to serve that market. While they haven’t made any official announcement to lay public, Aviation Week reports that the COO of airbus claims “that United President and CEO Jeffery Smisek has changed his previously held view that the widebody was inappropriate for U.S. operators and now saw possibilities for the A380 in the new United fleet.”

Perhaps that means that the American carriers are finally willing to step into the long haul game. We sure hope so.