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Flight attendants and configurations

Posted: Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:53 am
by PacoMartin
14 CFR § 121.391 - Flight attendants.
...
(4) For airplanes having a seating capacity of more than 100 passengers - two flight attendants plus one additional flight attendant for each unit (or part of a unit) of 50 passenger seats above a seating capacity of 100 passengers.

Sometimes it seems like an airline picks a configuration based on this legal requirement for number of flight attendants.
For instance United configures their Airbus A320-200 with exactly 150 seats which seem to have been chosen to keep the staffing to 3 flight attendants.

Other times I wonder about United's configuration of the Boeing 787-9 which is configured with 252 or 257 seats which would seem to indicate the requirement for a 6th flight attendant. Maybe they figure they need two to work the premium cabins anyway.

Does anyone know if the number of flight attendants is a factor in selecting configurations?

Re: Flight attendants and configurations

Posted: Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:02 am
by MIflyer12
FAs are a non-trivial cost. Of course FA count is a factor. I could point out that DL and UA also have 160-seat 738s; AS configures 738s at 159. DL also has 320s at 157. What's the typical revenue potential (given load factors and marginal yield) of 7/9/10 extra seats vs. the cost of an FA?

Re: Flight attendants and configurations

Posted: Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:31 am
by mikegigs
It definitely has an effect on cost and decision. Forever, B6's E190's had exactly 100 seats and their A320's had 150 to keep it down to 2 and 3 FA's respectively. Same goes for 50-seater RJ's. Of course as the count of FA's goes up, say 248 seats versus 255 seats (5 vs 6 FA's), the cost of a single attendant becomes a bit more trivial, plus with int'l F and J class, usually there's more attendants that the bare minimum required.

So in short, yes - the number of required FA's are one of the many factors considered when selecting seating layouts.

Re: Flight attendants and configurations

Posted: Mon Sep 30, 2019 3:20 pm
by TWAL1011
An airline’s certification for its aircraft may require more F/A than 1:50 ratio. It is likely United’s widebody 787-9 requires a minimum of 6 F/A or even 7 at floor-level exits for FAA approval. Therefore the configuration isn’t as important as is keeping an A320 at 150.

Re: Flight attendants and configurations

Posted: Mon Sep 30, 2019 5:14 pm
by BC77008
The hourly wage and other benefits an airline pays for one additional flight attendant may seem trivial, but you also have to factor in the additional hotel costs for overnighting that FA; additional training costs; and not to mention the many gallons of extra jet fuel that gets burned just to fly that flight attendant around - due to the added weight of the flight attendant and all the luggage they sometimes seem to bring with them!

Re: Flight attendants and configurations

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:26 am
by rouelan
I never understood why easyjet, keen to save costs, operates A319 with 156 seats, adding a FA for just 6 seats

Re: Flight attendants and configurations

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:45 am
by Starlionblue
rouelan wrote:
I never understood why easyjet, keen to save costs, operates A319 with 156 seats, adding a FA for just 6 seats


Pretty sure you need four FAs anyway. One per exit.

BTW EasyJet's A319s also have two pairs of overwing exits like the A320, while standard 319s have one pair.

Re: Flight attendants and configurations

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 5:18 am
by VSMUT
Starlionblue wrote:
rouelan wrote:
I never understood why easyjet, keen to save costs, operates A319 with 156 seats, adding a FA for just 6 seats


Pretty sure you need four FAs anyway. One per exit.

BTW EasyJet's A319s also have two pairs of overwing exits like the A320, while standard 319s have one pair.


A319s are allowed to fly with 3 cabin crew under EASA rules. I even found a manual which is clearly from EasyJet (it mentions both a UK, Austrian and Swiss AOC) stating that they can go with just 3 in case they block the number of seats above 150.

https://hursts.org.uk/eom-summary/html/ch02.html

EasyJet crews have to clean and prepare the aircraft themselves. Less than 4 might be an issue, considering their short turnarounds.