Should passengers disturb the A321XLR?

I'm sure everyone is tired of hearing about the A321XLR now, but in this post I wanted to take up a big picture concern that many readers have had with the plane.

The A321XLR is undoubtedly incredibly innovative in terms of route options it opens, but should we passengers really dreading this plane? Here's my take:

A321XLR Basics

Airbus officially launched the A321XLR this week. When it enters production in 2023, it will be the longest interval single-lane in the world, as it will have the reach of floating around 5,400 miles nonstop.

As aircraft technology improves, we not only see aircraft becoming more fuel efficient, but we also see creative ways that more tanks can be added and maximum starting weights can be increased, so airlines can operate longer aircraft without compromising payload.

As such, the term long-haul aircraft with narrow body planes is not entirely new ̵[ads1]1; the Boeing 757 has operated transatlantic aircraft for many years, and recently, 737 has operated some transatlantic aircraft.

In all these cases, however, the long-haul of these aircraft was the exception rather than the norm, while in the case of the A321XLR, it is exactly what it was built for. Beyond that, the plane can fly longer than 737 or 757.

With a range of 4,700 miles (about 5400 statute miles), you can expect many passengers to spend 10-12 hours on these aircraft when you factor in boarding, taxi time etc.

So let's take a closer look at what A321XLR means for passengers, crew members and more.

Rendering of A321XLR

A321XLR represents a step back for business class?

We have seen a tremendous amount of innovation in recent years with business class. We have gone from angled seats to completely flat seats, to seats with direct access, to seats with doors.

Qatar Airways spectacular Qsuites

So will the A321XLR represent a step back for business class? I want to say yes … a little … in most cases.

In order to find a good medium between a good product and something that is economical, it is my reason that most airlines will choose a staggering business class configuration, with most seats having direct access but not all. Think something like JetBlue's Mint.

JetBlue's A321 Mint

I say this because airlines such as Aer Lingus and TAP Air Portugal use the A321LR for transatlantic flights, and that's really the configuration they've chosen. So in some cases I think this will represent a small step backwards for business class. In fairness, those airlines are the same places they have on their big body plans.

There are also some creative business class products with direct access to narrow bodies. For example, when JetBlue launches Europe flights, it is highly likely that they will offer the VantageSolo seat, which is from the same vendor they are currently using (Thompson Aero).

Thompson's VantageSolo seat [19659002] Thompson's VantageSolo seat

Thompson's VantageSolo seat

Thompson's VantageSolo seat

] Yet I would say that it is not as good as any other business class products . It is essentially the same as a herringbone seat, as it faces the corridor, and there is hardly any new technology.

Turkish Airlines herringbone A330 business class

So my point is that I think it is a small compromise when it comes to product for business class on narrow bodies, but they is very small when you consider that the A321XLR has the potential to open new routes.

Will A321XLR have premium economy?

Obviously, every airline will make a different decision here, but I have general concerns about the existence of premium economy on A321XLRs. One of the major innovations we have seen in the airline industry in recent years is the introduction of premium economy.

Qantas 787 premium economy

It's a great mid-term, as the economy gets worse and the corporate class continues to improve.

But my guess is that while many airlines install premium economy on a majority of their large body plans, many A321XLRs will probably not have a premium economy. It's a shame because it gives passengers fewer alternatives.

Of course I generalize here - I'm sure some airlines will choose a truly premium A321XLR configuration, perhaps where half of the plane is business class and premium economy, and the rest of the plane is economical.

However, the economy in a top heavy configuration can be challenging, especially during an economic downturn.

I doubt we will see configurations as premium as British Airways & A318

How will the economy be on the A321XLR?

The A321XLR should actually be good news for the economy, at least as far as the seats are concerned. The Airbus A320 family of aircrafts is among the widest seats in economics, as they are generally 18 "wide.

It is wider than you find on most aircraft, including at 737, 757, 777, 787, etc.

The good thing is that there is no way they will push in a seventh seat per row in economics, even at the A350, they now consider making a 10th place in each row by default, so the plane may lose a little width.

So from a comfortable perspective in the economy, the A321XLR should not be bad news, hopefully airlines choose to have personal television and wifi on these planes to keep people entertained.

SriLankan Airlines & # 39; A321neo cabin

The A321XLR cabin will not be spacious

The way I see it, the biggest drawback to the A321XLR will be the lack of space in the cabin, seats as such should not be significantly worse, but it just won't be room to stretch or walk.

On a broad body plan you can easily walk between the hallways to make a "loop", and there is also usually less crowding in the hallways, as there are larger city and exit areas where you can stand and wait for the toilet.

I guess no A321XLRs want an onboard bar

Unfortunately on narrow body plans you don't have that opportunity. In reality, if you want to stand, you just have to do it in the hallway and it's not nice for anyone.

So, as I look at it, it's the biggest drawback to the plane. If you want to get some movement, the A321XLR will disappoint.

A321XLR cabin press

Plans like the 787 and A350 promise to fight jet lag with how they push the cabin. They claim that the pressure is the same as being at 6000 feet, compared to other aircraft, where it is higher.

It is my understanding that the A321XLR does not want these features.

Here's the case - I've always found it to be marketing hype, and I can't say I've found I've been more well-rested to have flown a 787 vs. a 777, for example. So I'm not sure I'm buying into it.

Others swear by it, though. So there is something to be aware of with the A321XLR and I will put this all in "your mileage can vary" camp.

I have not found the A350's cabinet pressure to make a difference

Crews will hate A321XLR

Unless Airbus somehow becomes very creative (somehow installs berths in load), I think the biggest losers with A321XLR will be crew. In many cases they will have 12 hours of work on this plane, and on most modern wide body planes they are used to having private crews with fully flat beds.

The A321XLR will not be fun for them to work:

  • Unless Airbus shows something really creative, they will not have proper crew support, but rather airline companies can only have some financials blocked by (meanwhile, I think pilots will get a business class seat) 19659056] On larger planes, the kiosk is larger, so the crews have at least some privacy under the plane, but I think of the A321XLR, they will constantly be crowded by people.
  • Navigating a single long walk with the wagon is gong to be a pain, especially since people will constantly get up during the meal service

Clearly, the crews must only deal with it, but they will not like it. It is one thing to fly an A321XLR once in a 10-12 hour flight, but it pales in relation to crews who must constantly operate the aircraft.

A321XLR can launch new routes

If the A321XLR is only used to increase the frequencies of high traffic routes, I would probably avoid it. For example, if I could choose between a 787 and A321XLR between New York and London, I would go with the previous one.

On the A321XLR you provide some small comforts over the table, especially when it comes to the ability to move around the cabin.

But I don't think that's the right way to see this plane. The question should be, would you rather move nonstop on an A321XLR, or connect to a larger plane?

For example, we could see Aer Lingus launch routes like Dublin to Houston with this plane. Would you fly a flight or stop from Houston to Dublin on an A321XLR, or fly from Houston to London on a 747, connect to Heathrow, and then connect to a (very) unpleasant flight in Europe?

Personally, I think the former Sounds better, but separately.

Bottom line

My first instincts with the A321XLR are as follows:

  • I suspect that the A321XLR will represent a small step back in business class, simply because the narrower cabin limits creative design possibilities
  • I think The A321XLR will lead to a reduction in the premium economy, since many airlines will choose a two-class layout rather than a three-class layout
  • In the economy, the possibility of seats is more comfortable than on broad bodies, since we should expect 18 "with seat width, in instead of 17 "we look at many other aircraft

The big challenge with the A321XLR will be the lack of cabin space. On a four or five hour flight, it's not that much, but when you're on a plane for 10-12 hours, it's another story.

But if it lets you skip a connection, which saves time, eliminates the risk of connecting, reducing the risk of your bags being lost, and allowing you to avoid unpleasant regional flights, perhaps it is a fair trade -off?

I'm curious about what you're thinking - are you excited about the possibilities the A321XLR opens up, or do you fear the prospect of being on a narrow body plane for over 10 hours?

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