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What is an Aircraft Cabin?

By T. Alaine
Updated May 23, 2024
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The cabin is probably one of the most recognizable parts of a plane to the typical traveler. An aircraft cabin is the segment of the plane, generally located in the midsection, where passengers are seated during a flight. Logistics of aircraft cabins can vary depending on the size of the plane, but typical commercial flights have cabins that consist of rows of seating, overhead compartments, restroom facilities, a galley, and safety amenities.

Anyone who has ever been on a commercial airplane has been in an aircraft cabin. The passengers’ seats are typically arranged in rows on either side of an aisle or walkway. Precisely how many seats are in each row depends on the size of the plane; smaller planes can have merely one or two seats per row, while bigger planes have more. Rows of overhead compartments meant for securing carry-on luggage during the flight are typically located above the seats.

Often, though especially on large planes, the cabin seating is divided up into class sections. Economy class, or coach, has the cheapest seats. These seats are smaller and have less room between both the seats next to them and those in front and behind. Business class is generally a step up in comfort and expense from economy, and the most luxurious aircraft cabin accommodations are reserved for first class ticket holders. First class seats are the most expensive option and are generally much more spacious and quiet, along with being better attended and usually boasting better meal offerings.

Restrooms are also available in the aircraft cabin for passengers to utilize. These miniature versions of regular bathrooms contain toilets, sinks, and sometimes mirrors. Another stripped-down facility is the galley, or kitchen. Flights that include in-flight meals require space and appliances to heat up the specially packaged airplane meals. Logically, these kitchens do not resemble the typical kitchen found in a house or hotel; instead, they are designed specifically to operate in the air.

One of the most important features of the aircraft cabin is that it must be pressurized. At high altitudes, the air is too thin for humans to breathe. Pressurizing aircraft cabins ensures that passengers will be able to breathe properly during their flights, when they will reach altitudes far higher than those in which people would usually be able to survive. Oxygen masks are available at every seat in an aircraft cabin, ready to be employed if an incident occurs that results in loss of air pressure.

Other safety features are also stocked in the cabin of an airplane. Flight attendants know where to find and how to use fire extinguishers and first aid kits in the event of an emergency. Special escape windows are also featured elements of the cabin in case evacuation is necessary.

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Discussion Comments
By Lostnfound — On Oct 23, 2014

@Grivusangel -- You are so right about US airlines, unless you have the cash to fly first class.

The best airlines are the ones from Asia and El Al, from Israel. Those people know how to treat their passengers! I was lucky enough to fly Singapore Airlines from LAX to Singapore. Oh my gosh, but their aircraft cabins are fantastic! Even the economy class seats are comfortable! On the A380, they even have suites! Wish I'd had the cash to fly in one of those, but I was in the economy plus class, and it was better than first class on most US airlines. The flight attendants were wonderful and the food was great. I couldn't believe how nice the cabin was.

I had to fly US cattle class from LAX to ATL on the leg back and it was a rude awakening.

By Grivusangel — On Oct 22, 2014

It's getting tougher to find a comfortable aircraft cabin. The last time I flew, it was like being crammed in a sardine can. It was pretty awful.

Most of the time, I think the flight attendants do the best they can, but they work under much less than ideal circumstances, too. They don't even start getting paid for their work until the plane takes off! That's really stinky.

I think most of the US airlines are absolute disasters, where customer comfort and service are concerned. The cabins are claustrophobic, the chairs are cramped -- it's an untenable situation.

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