Delta Is Introducing Suites With Doors In Business Class

American has been in the process of rolling out a new business class product throughout much of their fleet (or rather several different business class products), United recently announced their introduction of Polaris, and now it looks like Delta is joining the party as well.

Delta will be introducing a new fully enclosed business class suite with doors on their newly delivered Airbus A350 aircraft, as well as their existing Boeing 777 aircraft.

Delta-One-Suite
The new Delta One Suite

Here’s how Delta describes their new business class suite:

Designed with an emphasis on exceptional customer comfort and privacy, the Delta One suite offers each customer a private space accessed by a sliding door with thoughtfully designed personal stowage areas, an advanced in-flight entertainment system and premium trim and finishes to create an unparalleled business class experience with a comfortable, residential feel.

In addition to full flat-bed seats with direct aisle access, which the airline introduced eight years ago, the Delta One suite 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

Delta-One-Suite-1
The new Delta One Suite

To me this essentially looks like a modified and more private version of the Vantage XL staggered business class seat, similar to what SAS has in business class.

SAS-Business-Class-A330 - 2
The SAS Vantage XL staggered seat

The new product will be available on Delta’s Airbus A350 aircraft, which are expected to enter service starting in fall 2017. Each A350 will feature 32 of these suites.

After that, Delta’s existing 777s will be retrofitted with the new product between spring 2018 and the end of 2020.

Delta doesn’t plan on adding this product on any of their other planes — instead it will be limited to their 25 A350s and 18 777s.

As it stands, the only airline in the world with doors in business class is JetBlue with their A321 Mint product, which is pretty ironic given that they’ve historically been a low cost carrier. But even there, only a quarter of the seats are fully enclosed suites.

JetBlue-Mint-A321 - 34
Fully enclosed suites in JetBlue Mint

JetBlue-Mint-A321 - 33
Fully enclosed suites in JetBlue Mint

For years Qatar Airways has been bragging about introducing a “super business class” on their 777s with suites that would have doors, which the airline’s CEO claims will make first class obsolete. However, like many things at that airline, they have nothing to show for it yet. They claim they’re in the very final stages of development… I’ll believe it when I see it.

Qatar-Airways-777
Qatar Airways 777 at Doha Airport

Bottom line

On one hand Delta’s new fully enclosed suites sound awesome, and I can’t wait to see how comfortable they are. There’s something that’s so nice about having full privacy on a plane. The seat does look very private, though I suspect it will be a tight squeeze while in bed mode, as is the case with most staggered configurations.

At the same time, in practice it will be over five years until the Delta One suites are fully rolled out, and even then, they’ll only be available on at most 43 of Delta’s longhaul aircraft. This will mean that Delta will have four different longhaul business class products. I can never make sense of this, since an airline can’t fully capitalize on their cutting edge product if it’s not consistently available — that only leads to disappointment among customers.

I wish airlines did more to focus on consistency, though that doesn’t seem to be a priority nowadays (and that’s not just at Delta, but at most airlines, it seems).

What do you make of Delta’s upcoming fully enclosed suites?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments

  1. Umm, Delta has 18 777s in current service. The NYT article pretty clearly references them. DL won’t start receiving 787s until, at the earliest, 2020, so the timeline would make no sense in your version of events. 777s are in desperate need of change AND fly the longest routes (DL has LRs) in the system largely, so it totally makes sense that the would introduce this product on that fleet type, as the article indicates.

  2. Looks decent but as a principle I will continue to avoid US airlines where possible due to the uncivilized ‘service’.

  3. Hats off to UA and DL for using great design firms for their products. FactoryDesign has good reputation for design with this functional nouveu chic attributed to their work. My favorite product of theirs is the interior on the 4 Seasons Jets.

  4. So it’s basically the staggered seat but with a door? I wonder how that will work with the center seats.

  5. I seriously doubt width or foot room will be a big deal considering you’re talking about a staggered product in a 1-2-1 configuration on 777 or 350, both of which are significantly wider than the current DL iteration-holder, the 767. So I’d expect much more space in general, but with the same benefits staggered seating offers.

  6. I suspect the 777s are getting the suites, not the 787s (or at least that the article is referring to the 777s, who knows what the 787s will eventually get). They are incorrect in referring to the 777s as new but otherwise the fleet count matches, and the 777s are definitely due for a product refresh (and I’d bet they’ll be getting 10-abreast economy seats at the same time).

  7. Suites are a great idea; their square footage isn’t much more than a reverse herringbone seat and the walls shouldn’t cost that much money to install. In a staggered business class configuration, why not install walls for extra privacy?

    These suites makes United Polaris look like it’s a generation behind the competition.

  8. Reading through the spin, they mention that current Delta One ranges from 26 seats (763) to 38 seats (?? 777 has 37).
    So its clear where the space is coming from, they will reduce the size of Delta One on the 777 from 37 seats to 32 seats.

    It would not surprise me to see them pull a SQ ‘class beyond’ stunt and price these higher than current D1

  9. Well, don’t expect to ever have the opportunity to try one of these. Delta only uses their worst planes from and to MSP.

  10. It appears that the seats could be based of Thompson Vantage XL which have been installed on multiple wide-bodies, albeit A330s. I can’t wait to check the seat out in person!

  11. Can’t wait!!!! I’ve flown all 3 current products which aren’t horrible but are falling behind with all the new innovations. Deltas a350s will shape out to be the best of any US carrier

  12. So it’s basically the Vantage style staggered seats with a door.
    Ummm…potentially a game changer?
    IMHO, no way.
    The Vantage style staggered seats are one of the worst business class seat designs out there to begin with.
    A door is not going to change its fundamental flaws.

  13. Regarding the aircraft which will receive the suite, I would bet on the current 777s getting a retrofit. Delta’s current 777 was last retrofitted in mid 2000s, so it’s about time that they carry new toys, combined with heavy check.

    If the 777 get the suite retrofit, DAL will have 3 DeltaOne seats: Thompson Vantage staggered seats on B767s, Zodiac Cirrus reverse-herringbone on A330s and B747s, and new Suites on B777s and A350s

  14. 777s will be retrofitted according to Delta news release. This is what happens when monkey see, monkey do without original fact check.

  15. Suites with doors do not impress me. I know I’m on a plane and do not expect this degree of privacy. While I’m by no means claustrophobic, I’m not sure I want to be cocooned on a long-haul flight.

  16. In no time those doors will stop working properly, get stuck in action. And some will get food sauce and juice splashed on them with no one care to keep them clean. My prediction.

  17. Looks great. I’ll eagerly await your review. With loyalty programs being basically equal between the big three, decisions now hinge on the smaller things (like doors) more than ever.

  18. At least it provides more privacy to the seats that are directly on the aisle, which is one of the drawbacks of staggered seating. Right now there’s a clear privacy difference between the two seats in the center and every other window seat – this starts to even that out. While I’ll probably never fly it because I’ll never amass millions of skymiles, I think it’s a step above Polaris and some of the tight AA configurations.

  19. Typical Delta, focusing on marketing over product, now they can advertise “suites” while selling the horribly narrow Vantage seat, well done!

  20. Amazing! US airlines are getting innovative these days. Now all the US big three will offer perhaps the most comfortable Business Class seat in the airline industry – well done!

  21. Get rid of first class, make business as good as first used to be, introduce a new class between economy and business (premium economy), make new (premium economy) class as good as business used to be.

    Any wagers of when we rename business back to first? Or introduce a new class between economy and premium economy (although I guess already going there with Comfort+)?

  22. The JetBlue Mint suites are well designed and feel spacious but I am not sure that the DL seats with the doors will really give a positive impression to the cabin – especially a 350 cabin which is designed to feel spacious, whereas now you are stuck in a little cell.

    I think the UA Polaris product is a step towards the right direction – a simpler refined product with emphasis on the soft touches or so they claim.

  23. Somehow I think that none of these improvements will be made available to award customers, in the tried and true tradition of US legacy carriers, award seats are usually the older planes on the stop over routes.

  24. Hm, the Vantage XL seats are usually installed in this 1-2-1 config on A330/340. On a 777, seat width would be incredibly generous in this configuration. Hard to believe from a business standpoint.

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