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Emirates outfits an Airbus A380 airliner with a record 615 seats

The current highest capacity actively flying airliner is Air France's A380, with 538 seats

The newly configured Emirates plane is expected to begin service in December

CNN  — 

The biggest airliner in the world just got more seats than ever before.

Over the weekend, Emirates airline unveiled a new Airbus A380 outfitted with 615 seats.

“For those keeping score, that is the most ever,” writes aviation blogger Gilbert Ott. Currently Air France A380s fly the largest capacity configuration in active service – 538 seats.

Think about it: 615 passengers is like an entire town flying on one airplane.

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Pilot makes scary sideways landing
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In fact, assuming the 2010 Census is accurate, this plane actually has enough seats to fly the entire population of Circle, Montana.

For those who don’t follow the industry, the A380 is basically a flying building.

It’s the monster truck of airliners, with four engines and two floors of seats.

The 615-seater is expected to begin flying a route between Dubai and Copenhagen in December. It also will be serving Bangkok, Emirates told CNN. “No other future routes have been announced, although it will be on high density routes that have a higher leisure mix,” a spokesman said.

More on CNN: Daredevil jetmen soar alongside A380 jetliner in Dubai

Is this a good thing?

The new configuration has airline and travel industry followers debating the pros and cons of capacity versus comfort.

“What are you thinking?” Chris Leeds asks on Twitter.

The A380 has “great customer experience and feedback in all cabin classes,” said Emirates.

With the new configuration, the potential for making a higher profit-per-seat goes up.

But there’s a tradeoff.

And one that Jennifer Aniston, Emirates latest celebrity spokeperson, might not be thrilled with.

This new Emirates airliner gained more seats by losing its roomy first-class section and legendary shower facilities.

Result: 58 business-class seats and 557 in economy.

How many bathrooms?

Before the new configuration, Emirates had 15 passenger lavatories aboard its A380-800s.

The new 2-class A380 will have 18.

Will that be enough for all the extra people?

More seats equals an improved in-flight entertainment system aboard the Emirates 2-class A380. Screen size increases by 10% in Economy Class – from 12.1 inches to 13.3 inches, said Emirates. All PC power outlets will have HDMI and USB ports for portable devices.

What about boarding?

Will boarding and de-planing so many extra passengers slow things down? Emirates didn’t say, although the plane’s double-decker design allows for boarding through its upper and lower doors.

Still more seats could be added

Four-engine wide-body jetliners have been falling out of favor lately among carriers, as new, super-efficient, lightweight, twin-engine planes fly longer and longer routes.

When the A380 debuted a decade ago, the design was based on the idea that airlines would need larger aircraft to fly passengers between expanding major air hubs.

But sales, though initially strong, have tailed off in recent years.

Related: Does the A380 have a future?

Believe it or not, 615 passengers aboard the A380 isn’t the maximum.

Even more passengers could fit on these giant planes.

Adding 11-abreast seating in the economy section of the main deck would increase the A380-800 capacity by an additional 35 to 40 seats.

Will Emirates and other A380 operators resort to that option?

Much depends on demand from the flying public.

CNN’s Barry Neild contributed to this report.