I don’t know if this announcement was made as a preemptive strike against the ME3 aviation giants (mainly Qatar) or if this was just in response to United’s announcement about Polaris, but Delta really stole the show yesterday with their announcement of a brand new, fully-enclosed business class seat, er I mean, “suite.”
Dubbed the “Delta One suite,” Delta is showing the world that you don’t need a first class cabin to compete with the big boys of international aviation and though they may have system outages and route closures, Delta is committed to “Keep Climbing” and investing in a better passenger experience. Check out the pictures below of the new Delta One suite. If the final product looks anything like these renderings, the Delta One suites will be a hit!
The Delta One suites will debut on their Airbus A350 aircraft starting in the fall of 2017 (primarily serving routes between the U.S. and Asia). Each Delta One suite will provide all business class passengers with:
- Direct aisle access
- A full-height door at every suite
- Sliding privacy dividers between center suites
- In-suite, customizable ambient lighting
- Dedicated stowage compartments for shoes, headphones and laptops
- Contemporary design featuring premium trim and finishes
- Memory foam-enhanced comfort cushion
- An 18-inch, high resolution in-flight entertainment monitor, the largest among U.S. carriers
- A universal power outlet and high-powered USB port at every seat
The Airbus A350 Delta One cabins will feature 32 suites in a staggered, forward-facing, 1 X 2 X 1 layout. Each suite will provide passengers with complete privacy but unlike staggered, forward-facing seats on other airlines such as airberlin and Etihad, there will be no “loveseats” in the middle for passengers traveling together.
To be fair, this Delta One suite announcement was made WAY in advance but ironically, Delta won’t be the first airline to introduce a fully-enclosed, business class product to the market. “Little engine that could,” JetBlue already has that title with their Mint business class product featuring Thompson Vantage seats by Irish seat manufacturer, Thompson Aero Seating. And according to Up Front with John Walton, the platform for these new Delta One suites will be based on a larger version of JetBlue’s Thompson Vantage seats, the Thompson Vantage XL.
And also ironically, the Thompson Vantage XL seat is already in use by other airlines such as SAS and Qantas (albeit without fully-enclosed doors) and those seats have gotten plenty of industry praises for being a top notch product. I recently had the opportunity to fly Qantas’ Airbus A330 with the new Thompson Vantage XL seats and if Delta’s new business class seats are anything like these, then the Delta One suite will be a hit for sure. Just look at how similar the two products are (open enclosure for headphones, reading lamps, tray table, etc.).
The Thompson Vantage XL seats themselves are nothing special (I much prefer Etihad’s staggered, forward-facing seat or any of the reverse herringbone seats) but the addition of the doors on the Thompson Vantage XL seats will make it worth a double take. However, I do have a couple of concerns regarding the addition of the doors to the Thompson Vantage XL seats and that is, it might be a tad claustrophobic. I am concerned that the space will be too “closed off” with the addition of the doors whereas the current Thompson Vantage XL seats benefit from being more open and “spacious” without the full-enclosure. The other problem will be the tight footwell your legs go into in bed mode. These footwells are bigger than the Thompson Vantage seats but will still be less than ideal for taller or bigger passengers.
But only time will tell and Fall of 2017 is an awfully long time from now. It makes me wonder why Delta announced this product so early. Could it be that Qatar has finally created their “Super Business Class” seat and will be unveiling it soon? Or is this just a jab at United’s new Polaris Business Class seat?
Whatever the outcome will be for the new Delta One suite, one thing is for certain for people like us in the miles and points game – reduced availability. We all know Delta’s SkyMiles FFP is notorious for charging more miles for redemption on Delta’s own metal, and oftentimes, it’s cheaper to fly a SkyTeam partner on the same route. But now, with a bigger seat and thus, a reduction in the number of seats available, I think the ability for people like us to be able to redeem miles for a Delta One suite experience will be reduced even more so.
So what do you guys think? Will the Delta One suite be a hit? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section below.