Economy seating on long-haul flights generally comprises of blocks of two, three or four seats. For example, the Airbus A330 typically features seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. Wider Boeing 747s will also have four in the middle, but three on each side.
A popular configuration that is no longer around is 2-5-2. This is where there are two seats on each side and a block of five in the middle, obviously. There are some benefits to this arrangement, so it’s curious as to why nobody uses it any longer.
Economy Seating As 2-5-2
Having two seats on each side is a real boon for couples travelling together. You can chill out and relax without having some unknown person sitting beside you. It is one reason I enjoy flying on the Airbus A330, even though I generally fly on my own. There is only one person to get past if you’re in the window seat.
Another benefit is for families of four and five. You can all sit together in the middle block of economy seating. This makes it easier for people to keep an eye on their children, rather than being split up over the cabin.
For those on flights that aren’t particularly busy, there is a lovely secret thing for the lucky few. Snag an empty block, flip up the arm rests and you have five (count ’em!) seats to lay down flat in. A comfortable sleep is virtually assured in a situation like that!
The original widebody aircraft in the 1970s such as the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar and it’s competitor the Douglas DC-10 often had a block of five in the middle. Airlines such as Finnair, Delta Air Lines, Air Canada, TWA and more all had this kind of thing.
How Come It’s Gone?
For one thing, imagine being stuck in the middle of the five seats as a solo traveller. You would feel quite hemmed in, especially on a long 12 hour plus flight. I couldn’t imagine much worse!
The other reason is apparently the inflight entertainment system boxes can only serve a maximum of three seats at a time. This plus that middle seat encouraged airlines to move away from 2-5-2.
While I have never experienced economy seating with five in the middle, it certainly looks interesting. The early cabins look more spacious as they have no overhead bins in the middle.
It would take a brave airline to bring this back today. I can’t see it happening, but you never know what might happen. Adding extra seats is an airline habit, after all.
Have you experienced the 2-5-2 seating in economy class? What did you think of it? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.