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Image: Maxim Sergienko

Airbus began its Tuesday morning press conference with a timely announcement: American Airlines began scheduled flights with the first of its 100 new A321neo aircraft on order today, on its Phoenix–Orlando route. The aircraft are equipped with new cabin interiors, including wireless IFE, LED mood lighting and Airspace XL overhead luggage bins.

American is the launch customer of the Airspace XL bins, which provide approximately 40 percent more storage space, resulting in a ratio of one to one, for passenger to roller bag. Each bin accommodates up to four bags instead of the current three, thanks to the ability for them to be loaded on their sides instead of inserted flat. “One of the feedbacks we always get from our passengers is, ‘How can I be sure I can get my bag on?” said Janelle Anderson, VP Global Marketing, American Airlines, who was in attendance at the press event. “That is why we are delighted to be the first to fly with the XL bins.”

XL overhead bins. Image: Maxim Sergienko

The US carrier also intends to retrofit an additional 202 A321 aircraft with the bins. “We are very pleased that American Airlines’ first A321neos with the Airspace XL bins are now entering service,” Ingo Wuggetzer, Airbus’ VP Cabin Marketing, said. “We constantly work with airline customers to improve our aircraft cabins, and American in particular played an instrumental role with us in developing our biggest and best overhead bins to date.”

Airbus displayed a slew of other innovations at its booth, including Airspace cabin mock-ups for the A320 and single-aisle A220, as well as the business-class Settee Corner. Developed in collaboration with Geven, the seat – marketed as a potential for the A321LR jets – is 30 percent lighter than traditional business-class products, thanks to the elimination of complex recline mechanisms. During the the taxi, take-off and landing phases of flight, passengers will be seating upright on a seat adapted from a lightweight economy design; for the rest of the flight, they can stretch out along the attached bench in a fully lie-flat position,

The Seettee Corner. Image: Maxim Sergienko

In Airbus’ last announcement of the day, it was revealed that the airframer’s concept for an open IoT platform is becoming a reality, with the signing of agreements with three partners: gategroup, Stelia Aerospace and Recaro Aircraft Seating. Delegates from the catering company, as well as the two seating manufacturers, shared Airbus’ vision for an open platform that links – in real time – galleys, meal trolleys, overhead bins, seats, lighting and other cabin elements, allowing for data exchange throughout the cabin and among crew, and eventual improvements to the passenger experience.

“As airlines drive to improve operational efficiencies and reliability, they can now look to the Connected Experience, offered by Airbus together with our industrial partners, to link different elements of the cabin, seats, galleys and trolleys into one central data system,” said Soeren Scholz, Airbus’ SVP Cabin and Cargo Program. “This seamless interconnectivity within the cabin will also be of tremendous benefit to passengers who will be able to enjoy individually tailored, personalized and high-quality in-flight service.”