Bombardier is planning a higher density interior for the Q400, and apparently has an unannounced launch customer for that configuration. In a higher density seating arrangement, with thin-line seats and tighter seat pitch, the capacity of the aircraft will rise to 84 or 86 seats in two configurations, versus 74 for typically configured versions today.
This move is consistent with the industry, where we’ve seen thin-line seating raise the capacity of A320s at Lufthansa from 150 to 162 seats, and even extremely high density seating on 777-300ERs from several operators that seat more than 425 passengers. Low cost carriers need to squeeze every inch of space on an aircraft to maintain competitive advantage, and the new thinner seat technologies are enabling them to improve seat-mile costs within existing products. But it makes me feel like a sardine just thinking about it. Welcome to the new world of airline economics.