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'Super sardine cans' to hold up to 1,000 passengers

Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

An Airbus A380-800 aircraft arrives at Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport last month.

If you’ve been feeling cramped on some of your recent flights, hold on to your armrests.

Several airlines are currently considering aircraft that will hold 900 to 1,000 passengers, according to a report in Australian Business Traveller (ABT).

The "super sardine cans," as ABT dubs them, represent the latest variations on the Airbus A380. Already the world’s largest commercial airplane, the double-decker plane carries 525 people in a typical, three-class configuration.

But in the fractured world of air travel, individual airlines are ordering planes with different configurations to suit their specific needs. This week, Korean Air became the sixth carrier to take delivery of an A380, a surprisingly spacious model with just 407 seats. Amenities include an upper-deck-spanning business class and the world’s first onboard duty-free shop with actual products on display.

Compare that to the two A380s on order for French carrier Air Austral. Forgoing first- and business-class sections, the carrier plans to squeeze in 840 passengers in a cheek-by-jowl, all-economy configuration. They’re set to go into service on the carrier’s La Reunion–Paris route in 2014.

But even those winged whoppers are expected to lose their XXL status if Airbus starts producing its proposed A380-900. Featuring 650 seats in three classes and around 900 in an all-economy set-up, the plane has garnered interest from several airlines, including Emirates, Cathay Pacific and others.

Still not big enough for you? ABT goes on to say that Lufthansa and Air France "are already eyeing an enhanced 1,000-seat version that's also on the drawing board called — you guessed it — the A380-1000."

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Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination.