This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The Airbus A380 can certainly be a great experience to fly, but as a commercial endeavor, it has not been a success, and now the program is on life support. Airbus hasn’t received a single order for the plane since April 2016 — which was negated by an Air France cancellation of two aircraft shortly afterward. Now, airlines are even starting to park their used A380s. If things don’t change soon, Airbus will have to reduce production of the giant aircraft to less than one per month.

But, at least Airbus has the A350… right? Well, kinda.

Last week, we learned that United had changed its Airbus A350-1000 orders to A350-900 orders, ditching the biggest Airbus plane short of the A380 for a smaller model. And on Wednesday, Cathay Pacific swapped some of its 1000 for the 900 too, in another indication of an industry trend that’s taking hold: Airlines don’t like really big planes anymore.

Not only are they shunning the A380 and Boeing 747-8, the largest and second-largest passenger planes around, which seat in general around 500 and 400 passengers respectively. They are also moving away from the A350-1000, which seats 350 typically, and aren’t rushing to order the 400-seat Boeing 777-9 either. And in place of those big jets, which make handsome profits when they are full but risk losing tons of money when they aren’t, airlines are gobbling up 250- to 300-seaters.

Hong Kong-based Cathay, known for its impeccable service but losing a lot of money lately, isn’t taking chances and is switching six A350-1000 orders to 900s, and deferring five deliveries by a year, saving the airline $288 million based on aircraft list prices.

The Cathay Pacific A350-1000 isn’t extinct quite yet. After this change, the airline still has 20 A350-1000s on order. With 16 A350-900s already in its fleet, the airline will now take delivery of another 10 of the smaller aircraft. The -900s in Cathay service are configured with 280 seats, 50 fewer than the -1000s will have.

CX-A350-Tour-business1
Inside Cathay’s A350 business class cabin.

These Cathay Pacific A350-900s can be seen on routes around the world, from Cathay’s hub in Hong Kong (HKG) to Vancouver (YVR), Tel Aviv (TLV), and soon San Francisco (SFO), Newark (EWR)Dublin (DUB), Copenhagen (CPH) and Brussels (BRU).

After a period when airline executives were fighting to show off having the biggest aircraft in the skies, it now seems that just Emirates’ President Tim Clark, who has bought as many A380s as everybody else in the world combined, and Portuguese wet lease operator Hi Fly, which is taking over used A380s from Singapore Airlines, are the only ones not afraid of buying new aircraft with more than 300 seats.

Instead, it now seems that airlines are salivating over the sweet spot of an Airbus A350-900 or a Boeing 787-9.

What seems to be dooming the larger A350-1000? While more fuel-efficient, its size is just too similar to the widespread Boeing 777-300ER for airlines like United and Cathay Pacific to justify operating both aircraft types, or to ditch the 777s for the Airbus. At this point, 777s are generally too new for airlines to be swapping an A350-1000 in already. With fuel prices remaining reasonable, there’s not that extra incentive to make the move.

Featured image by Marina Lystseva/ TASS via Getty Images

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.