Ruh Roh – Delta shrinking Delta One cabin on B777 by ~25% with addition of Premium Economy seats!

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delta one suites mean less biz seats on 777

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Delta has filed their initial specifications for the refurbishment of the 777 fleet with the new Delta One Suites and the news is not good. We are talking a huge reduction in business class seats. According the filing the new mods will include:

  • 28 Delta One business class seats (down from 37)
  • 48 Premium Economy Seats (up from zero)
  • 220 Coach seats (compared to 36 C+ and 218 coach)

First things first. Of all the Delta One seats, I dislike the 777 the most so will not be sad to see the seat itself go away. However, a 25% reduction of seats has HUGE implications to just about everyone who flies Delta.

Now we did learn with the introduction of the new Premium Select a.k.a. Premium Economy (PE) seats that Delta Medallion Global Upgrade certs would be valid from coach all the way to Delta One Suites. However, with a 25% reduction in seats they will be even hard than now to use (if that is possible). They can be used to bump you from coach to Premium Economy but they are burned and you would have to use another to go to Delta One Suites (not a good choice).

Is there a plus side to this? I have speculated in the past that PE, that is basically a domestic 1st class seat (almost), will soon be the “new” sweet spot redemption for SkyMiles awards. After all, this seat will be much like the old “World Business Class” seat of years ago when you could get it for 100,000 RT to Europe, for example. With 48 PE seats this will be a good option for many for a 6-8 hour flight.

Also it looks like Delta will stick with 3-3-3 in coach not moving to 10 across as some had feared. This is also good news. Since C+ seats are the same as the rest of coach their going away is not a huge deal to me. As an elite we can still pick exit row seats for leg room etc.

Overall I am disappointed with the huge reduction of Delta One seats. It will make it much harder to score them with GU certs. Also already limited SkyMiles awards in Delta One will be even harder and we already know partner awards, that tend to be wide open, now cost even more.

What do you think of these proposed changes to the Delta 777 fleet? – René

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  1. Not as bad as it could be, though not ideal. At least it’s only a loss of 9 seats? (I’m doing my best to be positive, here!)

  2. @Greg – No. Again think more like a domestic 1st class seat. The old WBC “almost” went flat.

  3. Isn’t that the point — force those “upgrading” with miles or certificates into premium economy while keeping enough business-class seats for paying passengers? Seems perfectly logical to me.

    I paid $7,000 to fly Delta’s 747 business-class from DTW to NRT recently. My colleague did as well. I’m sure there are plenty of others willing to pay because of corporate expense accounts/billable clients.

    If anything, it makes Delta’s business-class more exclusive, which is what Delta wants

  4. What Delta could do here is allow your global upgrade certificate to clear into premium-economy and then waitlist for business-class, depending on availability. That’s the fair thing to do.

    Additionally, someone flying premium-economy between Detroit-Tokyo should get a seat in business-class/domestic first-class for intra-Asia flights, like Tokyo-Guam, Tokyo-Singapore or Tokyo-Manila, if there are seats.

  5. @FNT – There is always a balance between the mix and max income for the airline. We shall see if this mix is a good choice or not in a few years.

  6. Keeping 9 abreast in coach is very nice. I have flown to Asia a few times in C+, and it not that bad. The 10 abreast configuration is horrid.

    It would I can’t wait to try the new suites.

  7. I don’t think that sounds bad. I’ve heard multiple reports that they plan to keep 3-3-3 in economy, which sounds good to me. It should create a consistent long haul economy experience on Delta with all long haul seats being 18″ wide (excluding the 747s and 757s). I’d assume they would put slimline seats in economy as well. Also, by having a number of extra Premium seats available, that should keep the prices reasonable for extra comfort on long-haul flights compared to economy and Comfort+. I actually think this setup is positive, assuming 3-3-3 is staying in economy.

  8. And what a reduction from the old days of the 777 (2013-2014) when they used to have 49 Business First seats. It seems that Delta is fixated on that magic seat count of as close to 300 as they can get. Going to be 296 in the new layout, up from the current 291 is pretty close and quite a big jump from the 260 something in the 2013-2014 era.

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