Also, the new Delta 752 layout that you are roughly guaranteed to never fly on.
Delta does big business operating charter aircraft for sports teams and a recent DoT filing has the company taking 11 of its 757-200 aircraft and reconfiguring them for NBA charter operations, replacing the A319 subfleet which served those flights in the past. The new charter fleet will operate primarily for the 27 participating NBA teams and is expected to be fitted with a comparable layout to the A319s which have 54 seats in a 2-2 layout throughout. A similar setup on the 75s should yield closer to 80 seats (or a lot more space at each seat), allowing the typical entourage of media, coaches, players and guests a more comfortable ride.
And it is not like the A319s are a cramped environment. They include a mix of “business class” recliner seats with 59″ pitch, “first class” seats with 40″ pitch and “club seats” which have lower pitch but that’s because they are surrounding a table.
The DoT filing is necessary to allow Planet Service, the administrative company which handles the charter scheduling, to manage the bookings and such and be exempt from the licensing requirements which would otherwise come with effectively operating a small airline for the League. And, as an added bonus, Planet Service and Delta will be able to lease out the planes during the off-season for other operations. There have been a few “special” 757-200 configurations in the past, such as the Abercrombie & Kent tour charter and that will likely remain more luxurious than what the NBA players will get, but having those planes available will open up some interesting new charter options for Delta.
Then again, the 752s are in high demand. It is likely that Delta won’t be moving the ETOPS version of the planes into the charter business – it needs them for international and transcon service – so it will likely be the older planes which get moved. But even those are still somewhat heavily used by the carrier for domestic flights. And swapping 8 A319s back in to the fleet (assuming they are decommitted from the charter operation) represents a reduction of about 1,000 seats in service. To say nothing of the reduced performance the A319s have versus the 752s.
And, while I’d love to get on board the new NBA charter planes one of these days, I’m betting that doesn’t happen. Though if Planet Service or Delta need someone to vet the product before it starts the real work I’m most definitely available.
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