SHOCKER: Delta puts Premium Economy seats on new A220 and calls them First Class!

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Delta has a long history of calling things one thing when they are another in reality. Take for example “comfort plus” seats. They are the EXACT same size seat as the rest of the coach seats. Another is domestic business class seating that Delta calls “First Class”. Or, with boarding, Delta calls Zone 1 “one” when it really is group 4 boarding. I could go on and on with these types of examples but you get the point.

Now, after Delta convinced a few frequent flyers to flush an insane amount of SkyMiles for a “first look” at the new jet, we have the dog and pony show with the roll out of the new A220 that Delta has finally taken delivery of about a year and a half after the breaking news they were getting what was once called the CS100.

Gosh – Same seat (just wider)

And now we have the shocking news that a slightly larger version of the Delta Premium Select seat (i.e. Premium Economy) is being labeled the new 1st class seat on the brand new flagship domestic jet, the Airbus A220. Keep in mind that just recently Delta’s CEO called the Premium Economy cabins on the A350 a business class cabin (no really – he did)!

SamChui from BoardingArea says the “first class” seats are 20.5″ wide (Seat Guru needs an update it seems) so they are at least 2″ larger than their premium economy seat clones from the A350.

Do you like this seat more?

Don’t get me wrong – this is still going to be a simply amazing jet and travel experience but I think it is worth comparing the larger “first class” seat on the 737-900ER to this reworked premium seat in size, comfort and space. Oh, and the fact that the A220 will, over the long term, be replacing MD88s and MD90s on many routes and those have 4 rows of first class seats vs. the A220 that only has 3 – thus upgrades on this bird will be harder than the jets they are replacing on some routes (it’s not like medallion upgrades are getting better year by year as it is).

What do you think? Are you impressed with this “new”  business class  premium economy  first class seat Delta has decided to put in the A220? – René



  1. I was always under the impression that premium economy was always just a domestic first class seat in an internationally configured aircraft. AA does this on the A330/787. The premium economy is the same seat as first class on a 737.

  2. @adam – Keep in mind, as posted, this will be replacing a bunch of MD88s/90s that all have 4 rows of first class seats. It will not just replace CRJ9s (and I doubt ever a route that was a CRJ200).

  3. I not only agree with the above posters in that Premium Select is very similar to Domestic F, I noted when they first announced it that the words Economy/Coach/Main were nowhere in the branding and that was purposeful so that they could eventually call Domestic F Premium Select and not have people perceive it as a coach product domestically.

    It makes sense as there are already 5 separate products on Delta metal, and this brings it down to 4 (Main, C+, Prem Select, D1) that provides less confusion.

  4. Domestic first class seats, other than the addition of some electronic gadgets, aren’t that much different than what you would find on a 707 in 1965. In 1965, it would have been an International First Class seat too. But the Domestic and International products have diverged so much that Business Class was slotted in Internationally as first, pretty much equivalent to Domestic First, but now so significantly better that Premium Economy has now been slotted in.

    So the fact that the Premium Economy seat is the same as the Domestic First Class seat isn’t surprising.

    And the Premium Economy product really is what Business Class was when it was first introduced. A lot of this is driven by what corporate customers are going to be willing to pay for. To the marketing folks, the names are important only to drive sales.

  5. I’m not sure why this is so surprising. I don’t care if they call it a cattle class as long as it’s as good as a first class seat.

  6. @rene – there are 12 F seats out of 109 total, or 11.01%. There are 16 F seats out of 149 total on the MD-88 (10.74%) and 16 F out of 158 on the MD-90 (10.13%). The A220 actually has a slightly higher %age of F seats compared to the other two.

  7. It seems like a nicer seat than the MD88s/90s seats that are only 19.6” wide. The pitch is an inch less, but the new seats are slimmer.

    I still remember the 767 domestic first class seats that were only 18.5” wide!

  8. @rene – it’s a percentage issue as you are looking at upgrade chances vs that you are jockeying for with the rest of the plane. Two ways to think of it:

    1) 2 MD90 flights (316 passengers) can be essentially replaced with 3 A220 flights (327 passengers). Not only do you get an additional frequency option, but there were 32 F seats on the MD90 planes vs 36 on the A220.

    2) If instead of A220s, DL acquired A380s with 700 Y and 20 domestic F seats to replace MD-88s, would you be championing it saying they have 4 additional F seats on the flight or would you be mad that there are many more elites scattered across the ~600 additional Y seats competing for only 4 additional F seats?

  9. Hello René,
    Not sure how to post a pic here. I was booking tickets this past Sunday for a flight BOS to JFK this Friday and it showed MAIN COMFORT+ FIRST… Except it said the seats were premium select seats. Maybe just Delta IT again.

  10. A220 first class seats look cheap and flimsy. They are hard to tell apart from coach seats. Color me unimpressed. Pitch of 36 inches means this first-class seat has two less inches of pitch than premium economy. The space for PDBs on the armrest between seats is tiny. I hate tray tables where one side is unsupported and “floats” in the air. If they don’t start out sloping or bouncing some soon will. A first class tray table should be big enough to be supported on both ends. Also I don’t see how a plane with only 109 seats can be considered as a domestic flagship.

    On the positive side, the bathroom appears to be normal sized. And the video screen is a decent size though not much bigger than the ones in coach. I have a ticket for a ride LGA-DFW-LGA on day 1 just to try it out.

    It is hard to say which way the argument about percentage versus absolute number of first-class seats cuts because the competition is only other Medallions, but if I’m DM with good tiebreaker status I’d rather be on a flight with a greater number of first-class seats.

  11. Is any surprised? Once they clear out DM’s next year, 2020 will be a good year for DM upgrades and paid for anyone else.

    I remember flying Delta First class when there was First, Business and Economy in the 1990’s. Other than the seat color (it was red), First Class was the same seat as Business. . Service was fantastic – 2 FA’s for 4 Pax.

    No longer a DL loyalist.

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