Most carriers offer one type of long-haul business class seat. Some offer two. But US carrier Delta has beaten them all by opting to configure its planes with no fewer than three versions.
The good news is that Delta is going down the route of proper flat-bed seating for most of its fleet, which will replace the current eight-year-old, conventional reclining seats (these boast 60 inches of legroom).
The highest standard of Business Elite (Delta’s business class brand) seating will be the flat-bed accommodation fitted to the carrier’s brand-new B777LRs. This will be arranged in a four-across (1-2-1) “herringbone” layout (similar to that featured by Virgin Atlantic, ANZ and Jet Airways).
These craft will enter service in the next few weeks (the exact date is yet to be finalised) on the carrier’s non-stop New York JFK to Mumbai service operated by flights DL16 and DL17.
Additional B777LRs will be delivered later this year. They will be assigned to the carrier’s longest routes. Delta spokespeople couldn’t confirm whether or not these particular B777s would appear on routes covering the UK and mainland Europe.
From spring 2009 (no specific dates are available), passengers in the UK and mainland Europe will experience a different type of business class seating. Those travelling to main gateway cities like London Heathrow, Paris CDG and Frankfurt onboard one of Delta’s B767-400s will experience a new four-across (1-2-1) layout with 77-inch beds (pictured). Seats are fully-flat, but instead of the east-west herringbone layout, these seats are arranged conventionally and face the front of the plane. Every passenger has access to the aisle.
The final seating type is being fitted to Delta’s fleet of international B757s. These planes will serve secondary airports in the UK and mainland Europe and will be fitted with a new version of the conventional cradle seat. Layout is four across (2-2) with 55 inches of legroom.
The B757s will appear next May on Delta’s flights to New York JFK from airports like Edinburgh, Manchester, Brussels, Paris Orly and London Gatwick.
The downside to all this is that confusion could reign. Until all the seating is installed, Delta will continue to operate planes with its older seating. In other words, at any one time there could be four different types of business class seating in Delta’s fleet, each with a different comfort and ambience.
It will take travellers some time before they figure out which seats are being installed on which plane type, so expect Delta’s customer relations department to have a bulging mailbag.
For more information go to delta.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter