Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blast From The Past: 3-2 Airline Seating

In his most recent Salon column, Patrick Smith mentions that "some carriers tinkered with five-across seating back in the day, but these schemes were unusual and short-lived."

I'd never heard of or experienced five-across airline seating, so I scrounged up the photo above, which is apparently from a Continental jet.

Update: Be sure to check out the comments, especially Daniel's reminiscence of family flying in the 3-2 configuration.



Blogger Doug said...

I don't fly often, but I've been on a few 3-2 planes. I think the last time was from Syracuse to Atlanta on Delta in 2008. Didn't know this was a weird configuration.

3:04 AM  
Blogger nguyenhm16 said...

Uh, every plane in the DC-9/MD-80 family has five across.

Even better though was 2-4-3 (or 3-4-2) seating on 747's (now normally 10 across), or 2-4-2 on DC-10s and L-1011's (usually 9 across).

3:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yep, nguyenhm16 is right, for example the MD-80s that American Airlines flys.

4:28 AM  
Anonymous Daniel said...

When I was a young kid, in the 70's, 3-2 seating was pretty common; I'm an only child, so my parents and I always got seats on the 3 side and I always—always—called the window seat.

Nowadays, the only times I encounter 3-2 seating are on some American Airlines US domestic flights. They still use quite a few MD-80 series planes, which are 3-2 in coach. As a result, the 2-2 seats up in first class are also a bit narrower than most domestic first class seats, like those on the Boeing 737 and 757 series planes.

5:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto what nguyenhm16 said:
It wasn't an airLINE thing, it was an airPLANE thing. The DC-9, which became the MD-80, which then became the B717, was too narrow to have 3x3 seating. It was always 3x2 in back and 2x2 in First (when it had a First). That plane is now out of production in favor of CRJ's and the like.


6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fly Alaska (technically Horizon) all the time in the Pacific Northwest. I've seen this 3-2 configuration pretty often. They use Bombardier turbo-props for a lot of their flights, so maybe it's more common in those.

9:41 AM  
Blogger LoDog said...

I'm pretty sure I remember 3/2 seating on an Alitalia plane back in the '80s. What was more notable was that the smoking section was delineated lengthwise down the cabin rather than sectionally. (Not sure if the 3s or the 2s got to smoke.) Gotta love the Italians for coming up with that.

4:15 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I don't know if the 3-2 arrangement was more common way back in the day, but given the ubiquitousness of MD-80/MD-88s in Delta's and American's fleets, I'd say it's pretty common today. Not sure why anyone would find it noteworthy.

Now, if you find an airline with a comfortable coach cabin, that would be noteworthy. ;-)

7:19 PM  

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