17" long haul seats aren't a new phenomena...they have been the standard for a very long time...long enough for passengers to have been able to choose between 17 and 18" long haul...and they still seem to be choosing with their wallets.
This same conversation was running rampant when EK went 10 abreast in their 777's more than a decade ago. It was going to ring their death knell. Instead, it turns out they read the tea leaves correctly and popularized what turned out to be the new 777 standard.
I don't think we have sufficient data to make this judgment. You're sort of assuming that EK's decision to go 10ab was "free" from a RASM perspective. Likewise with any 10ab operator. That simply can't be true - otherwise airlines like SQ and KE are leaving money on the table. Maybe they don't notice that they could fit another seat?
CX's decision to go 10ab on 777 was made pursuant to a long market study. Surely that market evaluated the impact on RASM versus CASM or revenue versus cost - however you want to phrase it. Surely JAL made the same evaluation in its decision to stay 8ab with its 787's.
That passengers vote with their wallets doesn't tell us everything we need to know. What entices those votes? And if it's lower fares, is it worth it? Regarding the 10ab 777, most airlines find the tradeoff "worth it." Ok, so a 10ab 777 is generally more profitable than a 9ab 777.
What we don't yet know is whether a 9ab A350 is generally more profitable than a 9ab 787, or vice versa. It took a decade for the industry to figure out the 777 question; a similar process may unfold for the 787/A350. Pretending there's no potential tradeoff, no issue here, just won't do.
We have lots of data on seat width...decades worth. Most people couldn't tell a 350 from a forklift from the seat. There is nothing particularly unique about the 350 v. 787 comparison that hasn't already been made in the marketplace. As mentioned, we have the 777 as the best example of all. Basically, in making a comparison about a single variable, it's best to have the fewest variables as possible. Well....with the 777, we have 9 abreast and 10 abreast, and both happening at the same time.
Now, airlines aren't charities. They operate on profit, so they are inclined to go with whatever configuration works best for them. EK took a chance on 10 abreast, and they packed their planes. The exact same argument we're having now between 787/350 9 abreast, took place, (and is still going on), between 777 9 and 10 abreast.
Passengers were going to stay away in hordes because of the much more comfortable 330's, 340's, and 9 abreast 777's. Well...it turns out that putting those extra seats in, allowed them to charge a little less for a ticket and still fill their now, higher capacity, aircraft. After a few years of this, the rest of the airlines, (with a few exceptions), followed suit.
There were lots of 18 Y seats to be had, but EK never had any problem filling their planes. In fact, they did so well, they pretty much forced their neighbor, EY to go 10 abreast in their 777 fleet. EY had been charging more for more room, but found they were losing out, and went to the dark side...as did most of the 777 world.
What this did, is create a need for those who just won't, at any price, fly on a 10 abreast 777....and so, Y+ came into being. Now, airlines and passengers get the best of both worlds; they can have cheapo 10 abreast tickets, or they can pay a bit more, (but still less than J), for a bit more room.
People seem to forget that 9 abreast in a 787 is strictly for Y passengers...the ones who are far and away the most 'price first' buyers of airline tickets. Any penny saved on an airline ticket, can be spent on the vacation. Maybe the price difference between 18" and 17" is $50. That's a couple of scuba lessons, or a few buckets of beer, or a gondola ride. 50 bucks is 50 bucks.
Regardless...there is plenty of data available, if one is willing to extrapolate a bit. The difference in cabin width between the 787 and 350 is 4 whole inches...spread across 9 seats. With the 777, it should have been even more clear cut, and there, at least, the smaller seats won. Hell, I have yet to find a non av geek who could tell the difference in cabin width between a 737 and 320, (7 inches across 6 seats), and yes...as a curious guy and an A.net geek, I've asked.
One thing to consider is that if 350 seats are so much more super duper than 787 Y seats, they won't have a need for a Y+ section, right? I'll be curious how that works out.
Anyone see a pattern here? The cramped planes seem to come from one manufacturer...
I know....it's amazing they managed to survive this long. It's almost as if it's not a huge issue with most Y passengers.
There is no basis to this argument.
To make a definitive conclusion, you would have to make a profitability comparison between airlines flying the same routes on different configurations.
EK is losing load factors right and left, which begs the question: what good is a 10-abreast if you can't fill at low yields? Fortunately they have the A380 fleet to bring the pax's satisfaction back.
More carriers are venturing into 10-abreast B777 and 9 abreast B787 territory, but are they more profitable for it? Are their customers more happy?
AF is one of the pioneers in 10-abreast B777's and they are neither profitable nor reputable.
After all, doesn't adding those 20 additional seats only make sense if 1. you can fill them and 2. it doesn't take you from having 160 happy pax to having 180 unhappy pax?
QR B787 seat reviews: http://www.airlinequality.com/seat-revi ... ar-airways
I have always been very happy flying with Qatar Airways and have used them many times now. But it is not what it has been. You sit too close, there is little leg room and I'm not so tall, 175cm.
Boeing 787, avoid flying on the Boeing 787 in economy. The seat width is terrible, the leg room is inadequate due to IFE boxes and once the seat in front is reclined you can't move in your seat.
Very narrow seats, flew out on QR2 and it was full and felt claustrophobic even though I was in the aisle. Came back on the A330 and seats were much wider.
NH B787 seat reviews http://www.airlinequality.com/seat-revi ... n-airways/
I had previously been on the same aircraft type on ANA in the 2x4x2 economy arrangement which was really nice. This new arrangement (3x3x3) is poor. There was much less space and the bassinet / wall design was sculpted making it awkward with reduced space since the cot is mounted low. It has much less space in comparison to their 777 cabin design in a similar seat; or A330/A340 cabin design on another airline. I don't think this narrower width of seat is suitable for long haul travel
I was really looking forward to a nice flight with ANA on Economy from Tokyo HND to Vancouver YVR, but there is a lack of space on the aircraft, especially for a gruelling 8.5 hours.
MUC-HND on B787. The tightest seating configuration I have experienced on a long haul flight. 16.5 inch wide seat and 31' pitch - this has to be the worst. The in-seat screen from the seat in front of me was so close that it was hard to focus. ANA has gone from having one of the most comfortable economy classes to the very worst.
I flew SEA-NRT via 787-8 and was a nice ride. I am Asian male but the seat width was a bit too tight. Seat pitch and recline was more than enough.
This is the smallest long-haul seat I've ever seen (and I fly a lot). It was 10 hours of discomfort (SEA to NRT) and I was in an aisle seat. The seat pitch is the same as or smaller than low-cost- carriers flying short-haul and the seat width is bad too.
BA B787 seat reviews http://www.airlinequality.com/seat-revi ... h-airways/
Felt like a monkey in a shrunken cage. Shame on BA for this inhumane treatment. I will never fly with BA again. Leg room is non existent, then wait for panic when the forward passenger reclines. Unable to comfortably eat, as there is no elbow room. No control for individual air flow.
Ridiculously restricted footroom in every other seat as they have massive metal boxes in the foot space, presumably for the inflight entertainment system. (...) I wrote to complain primarily about this and received an apology for the delay in departing - my complaint was ignored or not read. They really don't give a damn about people in economy and they have no qualms about showing it. Most uncomfortable flight I've had in recent years and clearly not something they can and want to change anytime soon so once I've flown the rest of my booked flights I'm done with BA
We flew return on BA from LHR to YYZ on a Boeing 787. The seating was very small. My seatmates are all over 6 ft. The seats in front are very close, the inconsiderate person in front of me immediately reclined the seat to its max. I had to put my book away because between the back of the seat and my face was 9 inches. This was 6+ hours that felt like 18 hours. When I turned on the movie the screen it was so close that I couldn't see the screen. I will never fly BA again.
NZ B787 seat reviews http://www.airlinequality.com/seat-revi ... w-zealand/
I was looking forward to flying in this Boeing 787 aircraft from Auckland to Honolulu. (...), but for a new aircraft I now know for sure what cattle class means - very poor uncomfortable seats - I do not think I would like to fly this aircraft again.
NZ also has plenty of bad reviews on their 10-abs B777's. What a surprise.
JAL's B787 reviews
The economy seats we had were very comfortable, even for the long journeys we had. The 787 is a wonderful airplane to fly in. Perhaps it may seem like I am gushing here, but compared to the torture of U.S. airlines, it was nirvana. If I return to the Far East again, this is the airline I am going to use.
I've been flying a lot lately (among many others including Lufthansa, Qatar and Emirates) and I've always been switching airlines. I've finally found my favorite. It's Japan Airlines. From ground service to in-flight to after flight. They were not only extremely friendly, quick and punctual, the seats were comfortable the crew had some humor, the entertainment system was easy to use (no annoying pressing 100 times until the movie plays) and the window brightness could be regulated which was an amazing alternative to the blinds in case one wants to sleep but the other wants to enjoy the view. Controllable sunglasses for the window - first time I saw that. Also they served some nice and good food including Milka chocolate, ice cream from Häagen Dasz and a "Bauer" yoghurt. We all know these are great brands. The service couldn't be better - and always a smile on their face, which makes you feel even better while travelling.
Tokyo Narita to Hanoi. Boarding was orderly and efficient. Due to air traffic congestion in Narita, we departed late.However, we managed to land on time. The crew were polite and efficient. The seat was really comfortable and the IFE were really great. Food was really tasty too. However, the aircraft was a little warm throughout the flight. Overall, a great flight with Japan Airlines.
So stop pretending that the 9-abreast B787 or 10-abreast B777 is the new norm.
I think that these configurations are the perfect reflection of what the airline management thinks about its passengers. Some airlines care and are running a humble and proper business, offering what you pay for, others want to charge you high fares while treating you like a worm.
9-abreast B787 and 10-breast B777 airlines are the shame of this industry and coincidentally very often the least profitable.
I'll summarise it with a question and an answer:
Question: Are they putting such dense configurations because they can't be profitable otherwise, or are they not profitable because they don't know what they're doing, including the choice of aircraft or aircraft configurations?
The only answer: a combination of both.