The first Airbus A320s to get the modified seats will debut this weekend, the carrier said Friday. The distance that seats recline will drop to 3.5 inches from 5.4 in first class, and to 2 inches from 4 in Comfort Plus and coach. The A320s generally are used on flights of two hours or less.
“It’s hard to believe that any airline taking away something from passengers today could be a good thing,” The Points Guy Executive Editorial Director Scott Mayerowitz said in a statement. “But, if you take Delta at its word, this might make for a more comfortable flight for some. Anybody who ever tried to work on a plane only to have their laptop screen slammed by the seat in front of them will rejoice at the change.”
The change – made in response to customer complaints – should make life easier for business travellers trying to work on laptops perched on tray tables, often while viewing mobile phones and seat-back video screens, Delta said.
“Its all about protecting customers personal space and minimising disruptions to multi-tasking in flight,” the Atlanta-based airline said by email.
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Altering the seats can be done overnight and will take two months for all of Deltas 62 A320s. Delta isnt reducing the space between rows on the single-aisle jet, which seats 157 passengers. Feedback from travellers and employees will help determine whether Delta retrofits other aircraft.
That travel expert is Scott Mayerowitz, who runs The Points Guy travel blog, where he reports that starting this Saturday, Deltas fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft will reduce the seat recline in coach from four inches to two, and in first class from five and a half inches to three and a half.
Delta takes pains to point out that this is not an attempt to make more money by cramming more seats on the aircraft. As Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Deltas director of product and customer experience told Mayerowitz,
Were not adding a single seat into the aircraft… Its really not at all a gateway to reducing your legroom. That is not the intent here. If we were adding seats, or something else, the cynics would be correct. But this is really about more personal space.
Delta modifying how far passengers can recline in seats
Its worth noting that seat reclining-related conflicts are a real issue, so much so that theres actual products available to let people disable reclining on the seat in front of them.
To recline or not? Delta to reduce how far seats will go back
In fact, the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) even went so far as to make an infographic about seat reclining etiquette:
Delta says the change on the A320s is a sort of test, and, pending customer reaction and feedback, theyll decide whether or not to expand the change to their entire domestic fleet. International flights are not planned to be affected.
The Ten Best Airline Coach SeatsThe Ten Rudest Things You Can Do On An AirplaneYour Reclining Airplane Seat Vs. The Lap Behind You: Who Owns the Air Rights? About the authorJason TorchinskyJason TorchinskySenior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV