Delta Air Lines issued a news release today on its new business class seats, which will be coming to the Airbus A350 in fall of 2017 and eventually its existing Boeing 777 fleet. However, the most striking detail is that these seats will have a sliding door, turning them into fully-enclosed suites. JetBlue is the only other domestic U.S. carrier offers this feature on its Mint transcontinental flights, and they aren’t especially common on foreign carriers, either.
The main benefit of a suite is more privacy and extra room on either side when sleeping, reducing the claustrophobic feeling that can make it difficult to get good rest on a long trip. Each suite will feature the standard Westin Heavenly Bedding and a Tumi amenity kit, as well as these in-seat features:
- 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
That sounds like a great experience. I’ve always said that Delta is a good airline to fly if you’re willing to pay for the product. Maybe the loyalty program isn’t the best, but that’s a different matter.
Still, it’s worth taking Delta’s news with a grain of salt. These planes are over a year away, and it’s possible that this announcement was moved up to compete with United’s new Polaris cabin that is launching this year, not next. Let’s wait and see how the new product looks next summer when we can make a better comparison with options from other carriers.
I’m also concerned that Delta is stretching itself thin with two many different seats and cabin configurations. United’s new Polaris cabin is exciting partly because they’re trying to use the same seat design across most of their aircraft. Rolling it out quickly will be to United’s benefit. American Airlines, by contrast, looks likely to be all over the map for a while: some seats lie flat, others recline, and some face backward and rattle around. Hopefully Delta will eventually pick one or two configurations it likes and stick with them.