Has Delta made a Horrible Mistake with 2-4-2 Premium Select A350 Seating Choice? Maybe, maybe not!

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From Delta.com home page

I have to admit I, well my body, is slightly scared about how it will feel after spending just about 24 hours straight in the new Delta Premium Select (PS) seat as I will be flying the inaugural flight out, and back, on the 30th of October. Delta even on their home page, as you see above, is often featuring the new premium economy seat advertisement vs. the Delta One Suites and I find that very interesting.

But what about the seating choice of 2-4-2 vs. other airlines that choose to use 2-3-2?

Skyteam partner Air France who has had for a while real premium economy seats on the 777 has 2-4-2 configuration but on the 787 they run 2-3-2. Now I know the AF product is very different from the Delta seat:

Having said that the 787 jet is a closer comparison to the A350 and they chose to go 2-3-2. Before the comments fly that that is not really a fair comparison do take note that Singapore also goes 2-4-2 on their A350 jets (as well as 2-4-2 on the 777 btw).

The price for the inaugural Delta A350 flight

My point here is we could go back and forth all day long comparing if 2-3-2 vs. 2-4-2 is better or worse and the fact that there is such a mix tells me there is no one best choice to point to. Or is there? The price for the inaugural Delta A350 to buy a PS seat is not cheap and rightly so as it is going to an “event” for Delta. I think the day and the flight will be so much fun. But there is a tiny problem. Have you looked at the seat map for this much advertised first flight?

Yep. The flight from Detroit to Japan currently only has 2 of the seats in the “4” seat middle section sold. What about the return flight from Japan?

Yikes, same thing (as well as most of the rest of the cabin empty as well sad to say). Now before you tell me that one flight does not demonstrate an adequate sample size to draw any conclusions and the day and date of the flight etc. – yes I get that. We need many more jets in service and booking trends before we can say for sure how this layout will be, or not be, embraced.

With that disclaimer we can speculate! 🙂

The first thing that bothers me about the Delta product is the seat size. Singapore PE seat is 19.5″ wide. Air France PE is 19″. But the Delta PS seat is just 18.5″ (the funny thing is the PR says up to 19″ but the FAQ page on Delta.com say 18.5″) Do note 18.5″ is only 1/2 an inch wider than coach. Does so little extra width justify calling the seat premium anything? I guess it is better than Comfort+ that is the exact same width as every other seat in coach so there is that. As one more interesting comparison Lufthansa PE is 2-3-2 on their A350’s but the seat is ONLY 18″ wide i.e. the same as coach on Delta’s A350!

The other big issue for me with 2-4-2 vs. 2-3-2 is service from the flight attendants. In 2-4-2 you are not going to have an FA from either side service both middle seats. Whereas with 2-3-2 you can at least enjoy dual aisle service if you will.

The above also matters when you need to get up. In 2-3-2, when you are stuck in the middle, if either seat mate gets up you have a chance to jump up as well. In 2-4-2 you are always going to end up bugging your aisle seat mate as you are not going to climb over the other way (if the row is full that is).

Lastly, before anyone says something like “great this will mean lots of empty seats” you should think again (despite all the empty seats in the ads you will see). Those empty seats will be filled with folks with a boarding pass that says NRSA that is nonrevenue space available passengers a.k.a. folks who work for Delta (or are related to folks who work for Delta). Also do remember there are no free / complimentary PS upgrades for medallions and I sure would not burn a global upgrade cert for one of these seats vs. a Delta One seat!

I guess I want your input. Did Delta choose the right configurations, density, seat manufacture etc.. for the A350. Should they have gone with a larger seat and gone with 2-3-2 vs. 2-4-2? Would you fly in the middle seat on this jet? Let me, and other readers, know what you think! – René

 

 

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20 comments

  1. If you are a good blogger I will let you come up to Delta 1 and sit in my seat for 5 mins to enjoy the luxury.

  2. If Delta had chosen 2-3-2 that hopefully would have meant bigger (wider) seats. So for passenger experience that would have been better.
    Other than that I don’t think 2-4-2 would mean any disadvantage to me. Okay, a solo traveler stuck in the middle seat of a 2-3-2 would have two seatmates who could help when he wants to get out. You are right about that.
    But still you don’t need to ask two people at the same time as it would be with 5 center seats (or three seats on either side like in the main cabin). So no big difference.
    And I usually travel with my +1. So also no difference. With 2-3-2 we would take aisle and middle seat if seated in the center section. With 2-4-2 we would also take aisle and [one of the] middle seat[s].
    Being stuck in the two middle seats would stink.
    But in the end … the A350 will be used on transpacific routes … and we travel across the atlantic. So my opinion is of no real interest here 😉

  3. I would NOT sit In The center center of the A350. personally, my fav seats are window seats period. I will sometimes sit on an aisle if necessary-so these seats are not for Medallion upgrade hmmm will C+still exist ?

  4. To call a 2-4-2 seat configuration premium is a disgrace. Also, you can say whatever you want but I don’t see anything premium in a non business class seat. Yes, a bit more space, a bit more of this, a bit more of that, better than coach BUT it is still not premium. Question: will Delta allow Premium Select passengers to use the business class lavatories? AA does not so you are back to sharing bathrooms with coach class. Also, if the A350 on Delta is similar to the 787 on AA, even if all the seats on the area with 4 seats are empty that won’t change anything since the armrests won’t move. Thus, the ideal scenario where you could have 4 seats just for you are meaningless since you cannot make your own bed. I just don’t understand the fascination for “Premium” economy at all.

  5. If Delta wants to charge a decent premium for PE AND get people to pay that premium….they should have gone 2-3-2.

    How many people are going to pay extra to it into a middle and narrow PE seat? As it is now those seats will be NRSA or op-ups as Delta falls back to overselling Y to make $$ on those flights

  6. I’m fine with the 2-4-2, as far as I can tell so far. The seat is probably similar to domestic first in 2-2-2 on a 767 with footrests, which is certainly an upgrade over economy. Yes, there are middle seats, but regardless of whether it’s 2-3-2 or 2-4-2, you’re still climbing over one person from the middle. It’s probably easier climbing over a person in Premium Select than in economy. I personally don’t think of it as a big deal. The A350 width is between the 787 and 777, so I guess it could go either way in Premium Select with 2-3-2 or 2-4-2. You’re probably not going to see a Premium Economy cabin on a 787 in 2-4-2 (Boeing’s original plan for economy) nor a 777 in 2-3-2 (unless it’s a business class type of seat). Also, 2-4-2 will probably make Premium Select seats less expensive, which is something that will be attractive to many paying customers. I personally would not pay a more to fly a 2-3-2 Premium Economy seat. I’d rather pay less for a 2-4-2 Premium Economy seat. Bottom line is, in my opinion, the 2-4-2 in Delta’s Premium Select class is a legitimate setup and an upgrade over economy, which is what this class is intended to be.

  7. Coach is coach no matter what nomenclature Delta chooses. It’s all trash.
    14 hours to Asia is D1 or nothing. “Premium”? Nope.
    Based on the seating chart you displayed those seats don’t seem too popular at the current price points. And quite frankly for that distance you couldn’t give me one.

  8. I think the fact that, as has been shown in the article, even a 2-3-2 PE config doesn’t guarantee a hugely wider seat, half-an-inch more width is still half-an-inch more width. From what I saw, that is roughly the same as BA’s WTP, which isn’t a mega awesome comparison, but not something I’ve ever found to be particularly uncomfortable flying in. As for sitting in the middle seat, I guess having a choice of who to ask is nice, but if you had a window seat, you would only be able to ask the one person sitting next to you in any case, so what’s the difference?

  9. Further more, it had been mentioned that one of the ironic vicissitudes of PE travel is that on an empty flight you are likely to be more uncomfortable that those in Economy as you can’t make a bed. Unfortunately that is always going to be the case unless you fly Norwegian’s PE which is a essentially, and quite literally, the “poor-man’s” Business Class. That’s in no way meant to be interpreted as a denigration of Norwegian, from what I’ve seen it’s an excellent hard product, I just like legacy bells and whistles (while I can still get them).

  10. oh no now there are 2 middle seats !!!Who would pay thousands of $$$or hundreds of thousands of sky pesos for that!!!!! Have fun on the 350 can’t wait to read about it!!

  11. So good point about the Global Upgrade, Rene. That raises the question: in order to make us of a GU, must one first purchase the PE or Economy Comfort (so that there is only one class of service being upgraded–is that the requirement)? Or can one still purchase main cabin and will Delta accept the GU to raise you to Delta One?

    I hope you have fun on the trip to Naraita and that Delta makes it special in some way.

  12. The premium economy options thus far displayed by Delta and American don’t showcase a lot of increased comfort or much of any “premium” over regular economy…especially when you consider the upcharge. This is just another area where Delta and American are falsely advertising a premium product that isn’t so premium and then charging quite the premium. You know there’s something wrong when the only thing premium is the price!

    United now doesn’t look so silly for not having decided to offer the premium economy option (as of yet). After all, it doesn’t look like most people are missing much.

  13. I will not be flying 2-4-2. I don’t understand why people would say, “I prefer 2-4-2 over 2-3-2”? Price?

  14. Delta has made two mistakes: (1) 2-4-2, and (2) no C+ on a long-haul international aircraft. As far as which seating configuration is more comfortable and more preferable, that’s a question for Capt. Obvious!

    Even more disturbing for those who buy their own tickets, the DL A350 has no C+. So no possibility of an “upgrade” for elites. On long international routes like the ones the A350 is designed for, having a few more inches of legroom in an economy seat makes a huge difference.

    American 787-9s are 2-3-2 in PE with 19 inches of width and 38 inches of pitch. Plus these planes have MCE, the C+ equivalent, with 33-34 inches of legroom (versus 31-32 on DL) and 17-18 inches of width arranged 3-3-3. If I’m in PE or economy, I’d choose the AA 787-9 over DL A350s every time.

  15. Basically the a350 PS has the same seat width as the coach seats on a Delta 777. Rather disappointing for a “premium” product. Should have been 19in at least.

  16. 2-3-2 would have set these seats apart. I’m bumbed for losing the C+ auto upgrade as a DM with a GU sending me to Delta 1 – when I get lucky to find a flight that has an open CU seat that is. Not interested in the 350 as it stands.

  17. Tell you what, if someone buys me one of the middle seats, I am willing to submit a detailed report of how it went.

  18. The only aircraft that should have a 2-4-2 PE are the 747 and the A380. Anything else, this is a complete joke.

    This will sadly discourage me from flying the A350 altogether, unless I’m in DeltaOne. The 767 and the A330 will offer more comfortable experience in comfort+ (free) that Premium Select on the A350.

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