Odds and Ends: Boeing to hike 737 rate; Passenger comfort, fees and PEDs

You read it here first: In June, we reported Boeing planned to take the 737 production rate to 47/mo by 2017 (and to 52 in 2019). Boeing announced on Halloween that it is taking the 737 rate to 47/mo in 2017.

Passenger fees and experience: We recently appeared on China’s CCTV, talking about passenger fees and seating comfort. Here’s the video:



Speaking of passenger experience, Personal Electronic Devices, or PEDs, will be allowed to operate on airplanes gate-to-gate (though no cell phone calls), under a new FAA rule. Airlines have to create new policies and submit them for FAA approval. This article provides a good summary of the status of US carriers. Alec Baldwin should be pleased.

35 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Boeing to hike 737 rate; Passenger comfort, fees and PEDs

  1. “Both airbus and Boeing have the 17 inch seats or the case of some of the Airbus airplanes seats are even 16.7 inches.”

    Not a 100% lie but Leahy won’t love you for the suggestion you leave behind.;)

  2. Seat width and pitch is selected by the airlines, not the OEMs. The OEMs offer X, Y, & Z seating configurations to the airline customers. The airlines then make one of these selections, or select a configuration that fits their business model.

    • Shouldn’t that be the customer’s choice? If they wanted 18″ wide seats, they could order their airplanes with them now. It is just a matter of writing the sales contract and placing the order.

    • Yes, definitely 18″ minimum on any new aircraft, and 3″ wide armrests between seats. A new narrowbody: 9′ of seats, 20″ of armrest, 20″ of aisle, and 8″ of sidewalls, 13′ wide.

    • I’m 190cm (6’3″ for our American friends). My shoulders don’t fit in any economy seat I’ve ever sat in.

      A few months ago, I few back-to-back EK A388 and EK 77W. Theoretically, the A388 should have been much more comfortable, right? No. I had an IFE box in my footwell, which meant the 77W won hands-down on comfort.

      For a tall person like myself, things that are more important than seat width:
      – pitch
      – seat headrests – do they go high enough? On some carriers they stick into my shoulder blades
      – IFE box location.

      The equation may be different for fat people; I won’t know about that for a few years yet 😉

  3. KCT, 737 6 abreast. 747 10 abreast, ,787 9 abreast and 777X 10 abreast do not enable 18 inch wide seats.

    A320 6 abreast, A330 8 abreast, 380 10 abreast and A350 10 abreast do support 18 inch wide seats.

    Since realizing this, many have decided it really is unimportant and up to the passengers / airlines. Period.

    • Are you sure about that? How can the A-350 support 10 across 18″ seats and the B-777 cannot? You do know the B-777 is 11″ wider than the A-350 is, don’t you? The B-777X will have the same fuselage cross section, but with thinner walls inside due to better insulation materials than is currently available for the A-350. I am sure the B-787 and B-737MAX will get this new wider interior too. The A-320 is only 4″ wider than the B-737NG, so how can it accept 6 across wider seats?
      The A-380 can only accept 10 across seating on the main deck, not the upper deck.
      Of course all of these can accept wider seats if they go less than a 17″ aisle.
      Many A-359s will be delivered with 10 abreast seating in Y, despite having a narrower fuselage cross section than the B-777.
      ANA has some of the narrowest Y seats of any airline, at just 16.5″ wide, yet have only 9 across seating in Y on their B-77W,V-3. Despite this, ANA is a very popular international airline to fly with.


      BTW, according to Airbus.com, there are 9 abreast 18″ wide seats in Y.



      A comfortable, efficient cabin

      “The A350 XWB’s wide fuselage cross-section was designed for an optimal travel experience in all classes of service, with passengers enjoying more headroom, wider panoramic windows and larger overhead storage space. With a cross-section of 220 inches from armrest to armrest, the jetliner’s cabin provides the widest seats in its category, being five inches larger than its nearest competitor. In addition to providing the space for unmatched premium first class and business solutions, the A350 XWB allows for high-comfort economy seating in a nine-abreast arrangement, with a generous 18-inch seat width.”

      The A-350 in a 10 across 18″ seats will have only 12″ wide aisles.


      Have fun with beverage and food service, moving about the cabin, as well as getting on and off the airplane.

      • KC, the FAA requires a minimum 15-inch aisle width at and below the armrests

  4. KCT,
    – there are minimal aisle width requirements. It’s not up to the airlines
    – A promotes XWB 9 abreast
    – B promotes 777x 10 abreast
    – I have heard nothing about wider MAX or 787 interiors
    – A380 has 18 inch upperdeck economy class seats

    Apart grom the usual exceptions you can discover on the internet, Airbus aircraft offer wider seats.

    • “it’s still the same old story” – pack ’em in and move ’em out

      – Some of the very early 707 and DC-8 operators had 5-abreast [2+3] coach. Economics forced them into the 3+3 arrangement still used today by 737’s, 757’s and A320’s

      – 747’s started at nine-abr [2+4+3] in 1970; by 1980 nearly all were 3+4+3 ten-abr; no one operates 747-100’s or 200’s any longer, but a lot of them still had 90-inch centerline galleys offset for their originally-asymmetric seating long after they had been converted to ten-abr

      – Similarly DC-10’s and L-1011’s started at 2+4+2 eight-abr but all were soon changed to 2+5+2 nine abr. Inclusive-tour trijets had impossibly narrow 3+4+3 ten abr.

      – Most 777 customers started at nine-abr, but Boeing guessed wrong: the centerline galleys and lavs were sized for 2+5+2 but most customers opted for 3+3+3. Mostly now being replaced by 3+4+3.

      Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it is the sound of vast herds of mooing (and moaning) airline passengers being crammed in tighter and tighter. Pay minimum fare and you get minimum comfort. That how it’s always been and always will be.

  5. Boeing to hike 737 rate…could it be that Boeing is desperate for cash? By the time 787 deferred cost is supposed to peak Boeing must have spent between 45 and 50 billion dollar on the program including R&D and supplier-bailouts – not yet accounting for risk sharing partner investment. Mr. Spock would call it a financial point singularity.

    • As you point out I think the real problem with the787 isn’t what it has cost Boeing so far but that the risk sharing partners are supposed to get half the margin. $1 spent on 787 is like $2 on 777, in theory, anyway. That’s why ROI is so, so far away.

    • According to all the financial reports Boeing must publicly file, they are very healthy. $45B-$50B spent, or will be spent, for the B-787 program, including R&D and everything else? I doubt that.

  6. There’s the Boeing accounting block trick that books extra costs on unsold future jets. Liberating todays results from them. Tomorrow is someone’s else concern, today we party.

      • You know. Telling half the story and leaving out perspective isn’t forbidden. Boeing, stockholders, the public, politics, everyone wants Boeing to be successful, now. So that’s what they get.

        • Perhaps you should audit Boeing? Perhaps we should also audit EADS? I’ll bet there are some programs some European Governments would rather not see the light of day.
          I’m all for an audit of Boeing, but let’s do EADS too.

      • It’s all in their reports to the SEC. You just have to learn to read those reports.

      • The SEC only requires US GAAP bookkeeping.
        GAAP is unregulated and mostly unsupervised _and_ internationally on the way out.
        The problem I see with Boeings project accounting is that it balances real outlay with “unreal” _potential_ future income.

    • “Healthy” is relative. There was no margin left on the accounting block of 1,100, it had to be expanded to 1,300 just to avert a forward loss.
      Deferred production cost will peak at $25bn alone, plus R&D, plus ~$2,5bn buy-out of Vought and GlobalAeronautica, plus advance payments to Spirit and Vought, $750m for new FAL in Charleston, plus triplification of final assembly tooling, plus re-tooling of all these, plus 50% tooling expansiion of ex-Vought production and pre-assembly in Charleston, plus significant redesign of 787-9, plus rework of 65 airplanes, some of them for 12+ months, plus $2,5bn write-off on first three aircraft, plus a looming write-off of another two, plus the terrible teens potentially not finding a customer, plus…too much to type. Read Bernstein, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo analysts and the like. They agree with me.

  7. “TC : Yes, definitely 18″ minimum on any new aircraft, and 3″ wide armrests between seats. A new narrowbody: 9′ of seats, 20″ of armrest, 20″ of aisle, and 8″ of sidewalls, 13′ wide.”

    Agree we are stuck with existing cabin and economics. But airlines should be open about it.

    “No you can’t have 18 inch on our Boeing fleets unless you book First / Business class. We think it is not that really important for you. We have a list of alternative flights that offer 18 inch wide seats.”

    Customer focus & transparency..

    • Great pictures! I’ll give Bombardier credit for raising the bar on the CSeries. Airbus did better on the A350 at 9 than Boeing did on the 787. Clearly the 787 was always destined to be a 9 abreast aircraft, so the ergonomic designers kind of hosed the passengers when they finalized the width.

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