Delta Goes Lie-Flat

Delta, SkyTeam

Delta seems to be on a neverending quest to spend lots of money to improve the customer experience. With that in mind, today’s announcement should be no surprise.

Beginning early 2008, Delta will install truly lie-flat seat in Business Elite, the airlines premium service on international flights. Not including Eos, which only flies between New York and London, Delta is the first US carrier to go with an all lie-flat product in business class.
They’ve chosen the seat pioneered by Virgin Atlantic in Upper Class a few years ago. Since that time, Air Canada and Air New Zealand have also purchased that seat. The unique feature of this seat is that it doesn’t face forward – it’s in a herringbone format so it’s angled inward. That allows them to fit more seats on the plane while giving a great deal of privacy. Here’s what it will look like:

lieflat

As you can see, it’s a very nice looking product. Even though the seat has been bought from Virgin, this appears to be a slight change to their product. On Virgin, the seat back flips forward to turn into a bed. That makes a very comfortable bed even though the seat leaves a little to be desired. Upon reviewing Delta’s seat, it appears to work differently.

If you go to the press release, you can see more photos. From those pictures, it appears that this seat reclines into the bed position without flipping over. This may hurt the quality of the bed but the seat itself may be more comfortable. We’ll have to wait and see.

And yes, we’ll be waiting a long time. Early in 2008, only the two new long range 777s get the seats. The rest of the 777s don’t get it until fall 2008 and the 767s, the bulk of the airline’s international fleet, won’t be done until 2010.

Update (at 124p):

Silly me for reading the press release too fast. Delta used a little wordplay here:

“The airline also expects to offer a lie-flat option on its 767 aircraft. These modifications are expected to be complete by 2010.”

I took that to mean that the 767s would get the same lie-flat option, but it appears that they will get just “a lie-flat option.” This means it could be a different seat entirely, but no plans have yet been finalized. For now, it’s just the small fleet of 777s.

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