Airbus flags new system to help pick flights

March 01, 2017

Manufacturer to unveil initiatives to allow passengers to choose cabins and aircraft type.

Airbus already has a website to help passengers book on its A380 superjumbo.

Airbus will unveil technology next week that allows passengers to pick flights using an aircraft type or cabin configuration.

The European manufacturer gave few details of the  “range of initiatives”  it will unveil at the ITB Berlin Travel Show but it has been waging a campaign against rival Boeing about seat width as airlines opt to cram more seats into the US manufacturer’s widebody planes.

But any tool that helps passengers better navigate the complex array of seating and cabin configurations — often on the same airline and even on the same aircraft types within a carrier — would be useful for travellers balancing the scales between pricing and comfort.

“Every year, over 3.5 billion passengers travel by plane, and while most carefully plan their itineraries, until now they were unable to select the aircraft or cabin experience of their own choosing,’’ Airbus said in an invite to its March 9 announcement.

“Airbus has set out to change this. The world’s leading aircraft manufacturer will empower the flying public by offering a range of initiatives enabling passengers to put their choices first.”

The manufacturer already has a website,, where travellers can search for itineraries in which they fly on an A380 superjumbo for all or part of the journey.

The website allows customers to browse and search all flights, destinations and airlines involving A380s, displaying itineraries and pricing before sending passengers to airline booking sites.

Airlines tend to use the superjumbos as their flagship and have configured them with seating that is more generous than on some other aircraft.

Airbus cites research conducted at London Heathrow showing 98 per cent of A380 passengers would recommend flying on the A380 and 60 per cent are willing to make an extra effort to fly on it.

Emirates is by far the biggest operator of the aircraft type but other carriers that fly the A380 include Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Air France, Lufthansa, Korean Air, Etihad, China Southern, Thai Airways International, Qatar and British Airways.

Although the giant aircraft services 110 routes and more than 55 destinations, sales have faltered in recent years and Airbus has decided to cut the production rate.

However, company executives argue the double-decker, four-engine plane will make a comeback as air travel continues to grow and more airports become slot constrained.

Consumers also have the option of newer planes such as Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. These can offer additional levels of comfort in terms of higher cabin humidity and pressure, newly designed cabins and seating as well as technology that helps deal with turbulence.

Ultimately, though, the decision on how an aircraft cabin is configured — and how cramped it is — rests with the airline rather than the manufacturer.