About Delta’s narrow-body fleet “enhancements”


Look for 225 Delta narrow-body aircraft to see updates over the next three years. The move is the latest by the carrier in an effort to upgrade their fleet and provide a more consistent experience for their passengers. It represents the culmination of a multi-year effort to upgrade the interior of nearly all their mainline aircraft.

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And, while there are some things which are undoubtedly good – larger overhead bins on the A319/320s & 757s, power at every seat and IFE at every seat (except the A320s!) – I’m not completely convinced that this is a win for passengers. Sure, it means doing some math and wading through the details on the nine different 757 configs Delta currently has, but the numbers in the announcement today suggest that Delta customers are losing first class seats on 56 aircraft, down to only 20 F seats on 49 of those planes and 18 F seats on the other 7. The fleet today mostly has 24 F seats while some have as many as 26 or as few as 16 for the long-haul configs. Economy comfort numbers will improve, up to 29 seats from the current 18-26. And, as previously detailed on Runway Girl Network, the number of regular economy class seats will increase, up to 150 from the current 130-141 range. On the A319/A320s it is easier math – just a single extra row of economy class seats; the number of Economy Comfort seats remain the same on those planes. At least the A320s are getting an extra row of first class to help offset the 757 loss, though that also means less space per seat overall with two rows – one up front and one in the back – being added.

And somehow this is supposed to “increase passenger comfort.” Perhaps the only good news out of the slim-line seats addition is that the seats will be the B/E Aerospace Pinnacle model. Relative to the other options on the market these receive the best reviews from passengers on a consistent basis. JetBlue is rolling out similar seats as part of their new “Core” product and United is installing similar seats on their 737 and CR7 aircraft.

There will also be newer lavatories which take up less space and which are supposed to also be more comfortable. Newer interior lighting and galleys are coming, too.

I’m all for consistency of product. I think that it is a VERY good thing. It helps to set customer expectations and for the airline to consistently meet those expectations. And I like the idea of in-seat IFE and power nose-to-tail to augment their in-flight wifi systems. But it is hard to believe that adding 10-15% more seats on a plane makes it more comfortable for passengers. And new IFE is more a distraction than something which makes the seat more comfortable. Oh, and this move doesn’t actually make Delta’s fleet consistent. Cranky has a pretty solid breakdown on the different options one might still find when boarding a Delta flight. Plenty of variation available there.

Slim-line seats are the future of the industry. Nearly everyone is doing it and I understand that trend isn’t likely to change. Doesn’t mean I have to buy in to the theory that it is somehow better for me as a passenger.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

2 Comments

  1. Agree 100%. And let’s hope they put more thought into the design than they did when they put the *only* galley on the MD-88s/90s in the front (the carts can barely navigate the transition from 2-2 in F to 2-3 in Y).

    And who’s forgetting about the 753s? Talk about old seats…

  2. Thanks for a thorough review with some actual info and analysis of the pending changes…we didn’t get more than some fluff info from the Delta-centric blog on here, about this.

    Seems like a mixed bag is about the best we can get from airline “enhancements” these days!

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