Passengers bemoan Space-Flex crunch on Lufthansa’s new A320neo

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Reaction to the new Lufthansa A320neo layout, including two more rows of seats and the Space-Flex v2 galley/lav combo, has been impressively loud and negative.

While the forward half of the plane offers a smidgen more space for business class passengers, the back of the fuselage – where the SpaceFlex kit makes its mark – sees the opposite effect. Reduced pitch, limited overhead bin space and no windows in the last row create a confluence of #PaxEx pain.

comparing the lufthansa a320neo layout to the prior version shows the crunch passengers can expect at the rear of the plane.

Comparing the Lufthansa A320neo layout to the prior layout shows the crunch passengers can expect at the rear of the plane.

Indeed, some of the grief the Lufthansa A320neo layout is getting stems from the personal space being more cramped than the ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCCs) it is competing against. But what is there to be done? The saving grace is that it is being operated on truly short-haul routes.

In the US, New York City-based JetBlue is so far the only carrier – to our knowledge – to commit to the SpaceFlex v2 layout, starting in July when the first 200-seat A321 joins its fleet. The rest of the all-economy ‘Core’ A321s in JetBlue’s fleet are set to be retrofitted by the end of the year (Mint business class-fitted aircraft are not changing) and the A320s will commence alterations in early 2017.

Read More: A Space-Flex setback: carrier chooses comfort for crew

JetBlue’s VP Marketing Jamie Perry acknowledged that the company “is aware” of the negative feedback about Lufthansa’s new cabin but he remains optimistic that the JetBlue version will not receive a similarly challenged reception.

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“We have been very inclusive with our inflight crew members in particular in terms of what we want things to look like. We believe we have a good solution set up for customers and crew, but the reality is you’re not going to know until the rubber meets the road,” he tells RGN.

And for JetBlue the stakes are somewhat higher. The average stage length it will be flying the configuration on is notably longer than what Lufthansa is running, though JetBlue still has 10% fewer seats on board its A320s than Lufthansa. JetBlue backed off its initial plans to add 15 seats to each A320, drawing the number down to 12 and bringing back a bit more space and flexibility for passengers and crew.

Sources suggest that the shift was also necessary to help meet FAA certification requirements for the new layout with respect to jump seat locations. But the company knows that all the planning matters far less than what happens when passengers and crew step on board.

Photo at top: Lufthansa management take delivery of the carrier’s first A320neo. Image courtesy: Airbus

11 Comments

  1. Sandra Arnoult

    I hate to think JetBlue is willing to dummy down its fine product by packing in passengers like sardines. Newer is not always better.

  2. Nownderwehatelufthansa

    Ja, let’s make more money from those bloody idiots who want to fly like sardines. God bless the suckers and let’s make more Oyros

  3. James Mahon

    The obvious solution is to remove one row of seats at the back and use the space to give extra legroom.
    You still get 1 extra row, but the passengers should end up no more cramped than usual.
    I would see the main problem with bags – in theory making the seats thinner should restore the legroom, but 12 more passengers’ bags will have to go somewhere.
    (So reduce it to a single extra row).

  4. Fergal

    European majors are damaging themselves in the long run.

    If they want to compete with ULCC then they should differentiate the cabin to the rear and clearly sell a tight no recline seat, with purchased food/bev, then economy plus… With legroom and recline, then a proper 5-seat row ‘hard business’ product… If they want this… 3 rows max.

    Or… Give up the pretence… And just go LCC.

  5. BillyS

    Newsflash: people don’t like having less legroom. Incredible!

    Of course people are going to find the conditions less favourable. But, as always, money talks, and if it generates increased revenue for the airline(s) then the complaints mean nothing.

  6. TonyL

    Delta is also reconfiguring its current A319 and A320 fleets to the “Space Flex” configuration. It seems difficult to understand the justification, given that fuel prices at still at historical lows.. It gives less space for passengers, but also far less space for flight attendants as well.

  7. Jason

    Seems more appropriate to call it what is actually is..

    A320Neo “Less Space” configuration.

  8. Steve

    Spaceflex has already been flying in the US since March 2015 on Spirit.

    It gets 4 more seats (182 seats on a SpaceFlex A320 vs 178 on a conventional A320) and
    10 more seats (228 seats on a SpaceFlex A321 vs 218 on a conventional A321)

  9. RaflW

    Delta has gone with the spaceflex lavs and the windowless last row in their A320 refits. Pitch won’t be as bad as Lufthansa, but that back row will still be miserable. And DL uses the A320 on some 3 to 4 hour flights.
    I can’t imagine the outboard aft lav is a picnic either.

    People hate flying, but they keep buying tickets, and airlines keep making the coach experience worse. I’m not sure how it gets sorted out….

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  11. Frequent Traveller

    Airline strategists work hand-in-hand with OEM Designers and Cabin Developers in the common understanding that the more you punish the Y-class passenger, the more he or she will eat out of your hand, meaning this : the more you make life miserable for the globetrotters in Y-class the greater proportion of them will migrate to E+, Premium Economy or Business where yields are higher. It’s the classic “carrot and stick”, nothing is new under the sky ?! And the ‘Nostalgia Corollary’ is even colder in its irony : the more Y-class passenger squeezed into the back end of the aircraft, the cheaper for the Elite Premium few to travel high style up front.