One of the defining trends in aviation is the movement towards long and skinny routes using narrowbody aircraft. This has led to the death of many aircraft designed for hub-to-hub transport, as point-to-point has become more common. However, much of these new long-haul routes are being operated (or are going to be operated) with narrowbody aircraft. so which is better? A narrowbody, or a widebody?
Long-haul narrowbody flights
One of the longest-range narrowbodies is the airbus A321XLR. With lots of orders for the type, airbus has successfully introduced a new middle-of-the-market aircraft that’s capable of covering long-haul flights without compromising efficiency and causing overcapacity. while some will complain that a long-haul flight on a narrowbody is going to be brutal, there are some other points to think about.
Narrowbodies are smaller. The A321XLR can seat between 180 and 220 passengers in a two-class configuration. A widebody, like the A330neo, can seat around three hundred passengers in a typical two-class configuration. As a result, this means that, with a smaller plane, less time is spent on the ground because boarding can be completed faster. additionally, deplaning will take less time.
At the airport, there’ll be fewer individuals queued ahead of you if you get off last. furthermore, with fewer passengers, it means airlines will have to handle fewer luggage so the wait at baggage claim should be less than it would be with a widebody flight.
Most widebody aircraft, like the A350, 787, and 777, have a 3-3-3 or 3-4-3 configuration. The A321XLR and 737 max both seat six-abreast in a 3-3 configuration. So, overall, flying on a narrowbody isn’t entirely less comfortable than on a widebody in terms of seating configuration. In fact, on some narrowbodies, the seat width is bigger than that of widebody aircraft!
Obviously, with a smaller narrow-body aircraft, it implies that there isn’t a lot of areas to maneuver around. With only 1aisle, there’s less house to steer round the cabin. additionally, throughout meal services, this may cause a problem in terms of navigating to a bathroom.
Cabin crew might have problems, as narrowbodies don’t leave crew rests. Airlines might block off some of the seats, or flight attendants could also be restricted to the galley throughout the flight. Ultimately, this might cause some discomfort for the cabin crew. Moreover, with a fewer range of crew aboard, some might expertise a lesser quality of service compared to a widebody with bigger staffing.
Long-haul widebody flights
Widebodies are exceptionally common on long-haul flights. Most people associate long-haul flying with widebodies. These aircraft usually have far more range than long-haul narrowbodies and operate some of the world’s longest flights.
Obviously, with twin-aisle aircraft, there’s a lot of room to move around. this enables for some flexibility for passengers who would like to use the lavatory during services. furthermore, there’s a lot of area for passengers who can then avoid crowding the aisle.
Cabin crew also have dedicated crew rest areas. no doubt these are welcome features for flight attendants working on a long-haul flight.
Furthermore, widebodies usually provide bigger overhead bin space onboard meaning most passengers will have access to their items mid-flight.
Another positive aspect of widebodies is that airlines can offer more flexible premium seating. Direct aisle access in premium cabins is more common on widebodies than narrowbodies. furthermore, widebodies allow for additional seating overall, which suggests more chances of either upgrades or award travel. On narrowbodies, more seating can come at the expense of key amenities like privacy or direct aisle access.
Obviously, with additional people on board, it will take longer for all passengers to disembark. For passengers who disembark last, this means longer lines at immigration and the baggage claim.
Some widebodies also have incredibly narrow seats and tight configurations. These configurations are possible because airlines can be more flexible with twin-aisle options. High-density widebodies can be more uncomfortable than narrowbodies.
Which is better?
Most people can prefer a long-haul flight on a widebody. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean a widebody is a superior option. Airlines are increasingly moving forward with narrowbodies on long-haul routes. This opens up additional options for connections, new routes, and additional capacity. At the end of the day, it depends on the passengers.
Passengers who would prefer to spend less time traveling may find that at a single long-haul flight on a narrowbody is better than two flights with one (or both) being operated with widebody aircraft.
Nevertheless, a narrowbody long-haul flight isn’t necessarily bad. what’s great about providing both is that passengers can opt for how they want to travel. After all, some of the fun is in the journey, right?
Do you like widebodies or narrowbodies for long-haul flights? Would you fly a narrowbody long-haul flight? let us know in the comments!