“It's a pretty comfortable aircraft”.

I'm getting ahead of myself.

First things first: Airbus advertises its A300-300 as being able to carry 295 flyers in a Economy/Business/First cabin layout, 335 if you remove First and a maximum of 440 in all Economy.

A theoretical maximum, as Airbus actually recommends seats that are 18 inches wide, which would preclude that 440.

The airlines can chose which seat provider they want to work with and what type of seats to install, so those numbers are clearly estimates. One brave airline decided to see if it could get at the capacity limit.


That's what they've managed. We're talking 16.5 inches width here. 9 seats abreast.

Welcome to what essentially is a bus. (image credit: Cebu Pacific)

Welcome to what essentially is a bus. (image credit: Cebu Pacific)

For 8 hours…

Because yes, it's for international flights that Philippines-based Cebu Pacific is using this configuration. Those are thus probably the most cramped long haul flights you can board in the world (please contact me if you know another one!).

From Manila, you can go to Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul and, soon, Sydney as Cebu is receiving new planes.

For comparison, on the same aircraft, AirAsia X carries 377 passengers, Qantas 271, Emirates 267 and Singapore Airlines 255. 

The seat pitch (the distance between your seat and the one in front) is 30 inch—Qantas and Emirates give 31, Air Asia X and Singapore Airlines 32. 

You only chance for more comfort is to grab those bulkhead and emergency seats. They're of course more expensive—though we're talking about an airline that proposes flights for less than $100.

Cebu Pacific says it has chosen those newer thinner seats which are fast becoming the norm (at least in low-cost carriers like Cebu) and argues that there's thus extra leg room “around the knees”. Ok then.

“It's a pretty comfortable aircraft” says the CEO.