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Three and a Half First Class Seats? SWISS Airbus A350-900

SWISS International Airlines plane on takeoff. (Photo: Chad Davis | flickr)

A new aircraft joining the fleet of a favorite airline is always a thrill. Every bit of information along the way is exciting. That is why the announcement made by SWISS International Airlines about the seat configuration of their incoming Airbus A350-900 made the news recently.

The carrier posted a blueprint of the floor plan of the aircraft on their Twitter. The picture does reveal the entire spacing and includes the precise number of seats allocated to each service cabin.

SWISS International Airlines Airbus A350-900 planned seatmap (Photo: SWISS)

First Thoughts

A four-class layout is nothing strange with SWISS. The carrier is proud to have first class seats present on each of its widebody aircraft types. One interesting fact about the cabin this time is that it got downsized – from the usual eight seats to… three and a half! Yes, you read that right. Apart from the two suites with window view there is one in the middle which could seat either one passenger traveling alone or two passengers traveling together. The personal space should not be an issue though, given the 1-(1/2)-1 configuration.

The recent addition is the premium economy cabin introduced already with the carrier’s 777-300ER fleet. Gauging by the number of seats allocated, the product must have been a hit. SWISS will offer 38 premium economy class seats, a staggering 58% increase over the cabin offered on its 777-300ER with 24. What’s more, this time, instead of a crowded 2-4-2 configuration, the carrier will offer a 2-3-2 configuration.

Looking at the blueprint, the economy class cabin seems like a mere addition to the rest. There is one interesting detail here for the aircraft connoisseurs though. Since the SWISS’ A350-900 deliveries will start only in 2025, the aircraft will be already including the latest Airbus’ cabin innovations. Thanks to the wider cabin interior, the new A350s will be able to comfortably seat 10 passengers abreast with the industry standard size of the seat. Having that in mind, passengers choosing SWISS might appreciate the carrier sticking to the 3-3-3 configuration, which should technically allow for more spacious travels.

The Most Premium Aircraft In Lufthansa Group?

Together with 45 business class seats the carrier will offer 86 premium seats in a 242-seater plane. That is nearly 36% of all the seats offered onboard the upcoming A350-900. No other widebody plane in the entire Lufthansa Group has such a high proportion of premium allocation onboard. The usual premium cabins allocation stands between 20% and 30%.

The trend for SWISS is set though. The 777-300ER fleet refurbishment left the type with a much heavier premium focus as well, reaching 29% overall. The introduction of the premium class on the type had been performed directly at the expense of the regular economy seats. This way it is easy to calculate that, in such an example,  the cost of one premium economy seat means for the carrier 1,8 regular economy seat.

Lufthansa Group widebody aircraft configurations (Photo: Filip Kopec | AirlineGeeks)

All the changes put together should not be called downsizing nor upsizing, but rather “rightsizing”. The carrier is said to be confident that the smaller first-class cabin will be sufficient to serve the demand for such a product. This might very well be true as it is quite common to see the first class reviews, where the passenger has the whole cabin to their own.

Simultaneously, the post-pandemic recovery is in full strength and a premium market such as connecting Zurich to the world calls for the premium-heavy product. It is worth keeping in mind that with more and more revenue management and merchandising techniques the airlines have more options to fill the premium cabins. Not only by selling the tickets outright but also through various options of upgrades and the loyalty scheme.

Filip Kopeć


  • Filip Kopeć

    A passionate aviation enthusiast that started off his career as an aerospace engineer, but found his true calling on the commercial side of the airline business. Now as a finance guy among avgeeks and an avgeek among finance guys, he has experience working in the Revenue Divisions of three airlines. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, but admittedly sometimes is more about the journey than the destination.

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