The cross-sectional stability of double inlet systems is investigated using an exploratory model that combines Escoffier’s stability concept for the evolution of the inlet’s cross-sectional area with a two-dimensional, depth-averaged (2DH) hydrodynamic model for tidal flow. The model geometry consists of four rectangular compartments, each with a uniform depth, associated with the ocean, tidal inlets and basin. The water motion, forced by an incoming Kelvin wave at the ocean’s open boundary and satisfying the linear shallow water equations on the f -plane with linearised bottom friction, is in each compartment written as a superposition of eigenmodes, i.e. Kelvin and Poincaré waves. A collocation method is employed to satisfy boundary and matching conditions. The analysis of resulting equilibrium configurations is done using flow diagrams. Model results show that internally generated spatial variations in the water motion are essential for the existence of stable equilibria with two inlets open. In the hydrodynamic model used in the paper, both radiation damping into the ocean and basin depth effects result in these necessary spatial variations. Coriolis effects trigger an asymmetry in the stable equilibrium cross-sectional areas of the inlets. Furthermore, square basin geometries generally correspond to significantly larger equilibrium values of the inlet cross-sections. These model outcomes result from a competition between a destabilising (caused by inlet bottom friction) and a stabilising mechanism (caused by spatially varying local pressure gradients over the inlets).