Delta to Slash Seat Recline On 62 Of Its Aircraft

Delta Air Lines will alter its entire fleet of A320s to reduce seat recline by two inches. The airline argues it will make passengers more comfortable on the often-shorter routes the Airbus A320s fly.

Delta Airbus A320
Delta Airbus A320. Image Source: Delta Air Lines

The move will limit how far passengers can recline on some domestic US Delta Air Lines flights. Coach seat recline will be reduced from four inches at the top of the seat to two inches. In first-class, seat recline will also be reduced by two inches. Dropping a current seat recline from 5.5 inches to 3.5 inches.

Delta promises not to add more seats

Refitting of Delta Air Lines A320s will begin this weekend. It’s expected to take two months to adjust all 62 of Delta’s A320s. The airline is reassuring passengers that it’s a move to improve comfort for all passengers and won’t result in them adding additional seats. Legroom won’t be affected.

Delta’s director of onboard product and customer experience, Ekrem Dimbiloglu, is quoted as saying:

We’re not adding a single seat into the aircraft.

A320s are used by Delta mostly for short domestic flights within North America where many passengers don’t sleep. Often passengers do use their laptops or view programs on their screens. Reducing recline means that passengers in front are less likely to disturb active passengers behind them. In the A320s Delta’s screens don’t tilt so the refit will mean a better viewing angle for more passengers with reclining neighbors.

Dimbiloglu said Delta’s plans are not a “gateway” to reducing legroom and that:

If we were adding seats, or something else, the cynics would be correct. But this is really about more personal space.

A benefit to business flyers

Air industry consultant, Robert Mann, commented on the move. He said the reduction in recline will benefit business travelers and lead to less inconvenience. Mann also says it will be easier for window and middle seat passengers to leave their seats when using the bathroom.

Delta Air Lines has invested in satellite internet for its fleet and markets itself as an airline for business customers. It plans to offer free in-flight WiFi by 2021, setting a new standard with this addition.

No plans to adjust recline on international flights

BoardingArea writes that reduced recline is a problem when used with slimline seats and on long flights. They added that for tighter and less comfortable seating, less recline is a good thing for productivity and for reducing passenger conflict.

Dimbiloglu also confirmed that Delta does not plan to adjust seat recline on international flights. The current refit is a test, and Delta will use passenger feedback to decide whether to adjust the rest of its domestic fleet.

The refit is not Delta’s only plan for its domestic US flights to emerge this week. The airline also plans to accelerate the retirement of its older fleet of McDonnell Douglas (MD) craft used for short routes within the US. It currently operates 79 of the aircraft.

2 comments
  1. I don’t really understand passenger air rage over seat recline. The seat has a recline functionality, and you’re entitled to use it. It’s unfortunate if that disturbs the person behind you, but that ‘s his problem. That same passenger also has a recline functionality: if he chooses not to use it, that’s his prerogative, but he doesn’t have the right to try and prevent you from reclining your seat.
    We could have a similar discussion about reading lights. If the passenger beside you is trying to sleep, he has no right to bitch about your reading light. You have a reading light, you’re entitled to use it. The passenger beside you has the same right. If he wants to sleep, he can use an eye shade. If he doesn’t have one with him, that’s his problem.
    We could also have a similar discussion about proximity to the lavatory. Not nice for passengers seated there to be subjected to a flow of lavatory-using passengers, with associated odors when the door opens, but other passengers have the right to use the lavatory — no discussion necessary.
    And yes, I’ve had seats in front of me recline almost into my lap…but I just put up with it. I’ve also had babies crying near me…but I just put up with it. I’ve had situations in which my first meal choice wasn’t available…but I just put up with it. Is that so difficult?

  2. The person in front of you reclining was never an issue until airlines started cramming the planes with more seats. Why don’t airlines do something about that! If they really care about what passengers complain about, that should be the first issue they alleviate. People have been complaining about that since the airlines did it.
    It isn’t like they are making tons of money as a result. The only time they make more money is when the plane is totally full. Most flights are only 80 to 90% full. One or two extra rows, depending on the plane, isn’t the end of the world for the airline. If your company is that dependent on those few extra rows, you aren’t going to be in business much longer anyway. The rows they added are the cheapest seats they sell!
    Not enough to money to keep an airline in business.

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