|Quoting Global2 (Reply 70):|
The first time I flew on an intra-European flight in "Business Class" I thought the 2x2 coach seats with the middle seat blocked was quite strange, and disappointing. Why is this the norm in Europe whereas in the U.S. we have better seats (than in coach)? I'm sure many here will have plenty of critiques of U.S. airline service vs. European legacies, but I just never understood the choice of seats.
Flexibility of layout. In the US and Canada the domestic First Cabin is fixed in size. Sell all the seats great. Don't sell them and your elites want upgrades. Too much demand? Tough luck.
In Europe, the trend in the 1980s was for flexible cabins with converter seats. So in the case of a narrowbody it was more pitch up front and the seats could be converted to (usually) a 2+3 layout, with seat 'B' being squashed as the seat frames were cranked together on the ABC side, whilst they were cranked apart on the DEF
side to give greater width.
For an Airline BA
the attraction was this (based on their Summer 1987 timetable): -
Lockheed TriStar 1
Could seat 325 in an all economy layout, but rows 1-24 were the converter seats so if all in use the seating capacity was 163 Club (2-3-2) and 146 economy.
Could seat 195 in the all economy 'Shuttle' layout, or 189 in an all economy layout where rows 1-34 could be converted to Club. This meant a theoretical 158 Club 0 Economy layout was possible, but also any combination inbetween.
So whilst the seat might not be anything like a domestic First seat in North America for the European carriers they had huge fleet flexibility. An inbound flight from say Frankfurt on a Friday evening might have been a TriStar with the maximum amount of Club seats on sale; on Saturday morning that same TriStar flies out to Spain in an all economy layout.
I'm sure others will be able to tell of the flights in the 1980's and 1990's that would operate with that maximum Club cabin full of passengers paying Club fares. Now the demand is just not there and the numbe of rows of converter seats has gotten smaller. For example,. I'm sure on the 767-336ER fleet, Club Converter seats used to stretch down to door 3. After their last refurbishment they are only between doors 1 and 2.