Airbus unveils the passenger cabins for the new A350 XWB plane

Story highlights

  • Airbus show off the cabin configuration for its new A350 XWB jet
  • Economy class has nine, 18 inch wide seats across each row
  • Near straight cabin walls and larger overhead bins give the plane more space, says the manufacturer

Last week Airbus announced a squeeze which will make most frequent flyers groan, but today the European firm unveiled how passengers flying on its new A350 XWB might travel.

Two test planes have been fitted out with full economy and business class interiors. The economy cabin has a nine-abreast configuration, with 18-inch wide seats, while business class has just four seats per row.

Airbus boasts that the new, extra wide-body planes will have near-vertical walls and larger overhead baggage bins compared to its current fleet of aircraft.

And for passengers with long legs, there shouldn't be any more issues with in-flight entertainment (IFE) boxes blocking the space under the seat in front of them; Airbus has placed all the electronic boxes and connections under the floor.

Another innovation is the full cabin LED lighting that Airbus says can offer a mind-boggling 16.7 million possible colors.

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"Passenger comfort is an increasingly important differentiator for the airline industry, becoming a fundamental deciding factor driving passenger choice and business success," said Chris Emerson, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Airbus.

Read more: Would you pay to cut in line for toilets on a flight?

    If cabin interiors are a deciding factor for passengers when choosing an airline, then Airbus has also tried to make it easier for airlines to customize them. It has also opened a one-stop interiors showroom and test center in Hamburg, Germany.

    The Customer Definition Center has mock-up interiors of the A350 XWB with a full range of materials and fourth generation IFE consoles, plus a virtual reality modeling tool to help airlines visualize their choices.

    Airbus says that 39 airlines have placed orders for 812 A350 XWB jets, with three versions offering passenger capacity between 276 and 369 seats. The first will be delivered to Qatar Airways later this year.

    The mid-size, long-range jet is set to go head-to-head with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and will be made of 53% composite materials. According to Airbus it achieves a 25% reduction in seat-mile costs and 25% lower carbon dioxide emission than existing, similar sized aircraft.

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