How Delta Is Winning With Its Aircraft Cabins

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Delta Air Lines has arguably one of the best business class products in the sky, at least on some of its aircraft. While there is something of a lack of consistency across its fleet, one thing that does stay the same is its focus on the passenger experience. Here’s why Delta is winning with its cabins.

Delta One A350
Is Delta winning with its aircraft cabins? Photo: Delta Air Lines

APEX CEO says Delta is leading

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of an in-depth chat with the CEO of the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) Dr. Joe Leader for a special episode of our podcast. During our conversation, we talked about what airlines are doing wrong; how some airlines seemed focused on the densification of aircraft cabins and the removal of amenities like seatback screens. Joe explained his opinion on this, saying,

“I think some of the things that are going wrong are that they are forgetting about what the passenger really wants is enough space and enough escape, to make the flight experience enjoyable, to make it pass more quickly.”

I think we can all think back to a long haul flight when we just wished it wouldn’t end. I’ve had the pleasure of a couple of extraordinary trips where the seat was so comfortable, the food and entertainment options so extensive, and the service so pleasant, and I wished the flight had been a bit longer. Sometimes, even sleep seems like a waste of time.

Shanghai
Delta has a firm fan club for its focus on PaxEx. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Of course, with so many airlines focused on cash revenue over customer satisfaction, these sorts of flights become few and far between. But who’s getting it right? Joe Leader has a firm favorite. He told me,

“I think one of the market leaders in this space is Delta Air Lines. What they’re doing is really increasing the number of screens, increasing the number of space options and that’s where I think you will see some market leaders start to make tracks in the future.”

Why Delta’s cabin is leading the market

Delta has always put passengers first and is making no bones about where its priorities lie in the refits it’s been undertaking of its fleet over the past couple of years. Simple Flying’s Jay claims that Delta One suite onboard its A330 is arguably the best way to cross the Atlantic, and that’s not even the latest Delta product.

Delta One
The reverse herringbone seats in Delta One on A330 aircraft are a superior hard product compared to the 767. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

The newer Delta One lie-flat business class seat on board its 767-400s has been popping up all over Europe and South America over the last year, showcasing the millions invested by the airline in revamping its widebody fleet.

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Delta One Suite
The A350 Delta One Suite. Photo: Delta

As well as the new Delta One, Delta’s premium economy product, Delta Premium Select, has been introduced on several long haul aircraft, including its Airbus A330-900neo, Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 777-200 aircraft.

Delta Premium Select cabin
Premium select is now an option on many widebody aircraft. Photo: Delta

Along with its improvements in seats and cabin options, Delta’s in house IFE brings passengers WiFi access and a suite of entertainment options to make the flights pass in a jiffy. Even back in Main Cabin seats, passengers have been enjoying better food, decent legroom, and improvements in things like the in-ear headphones. Conde Nast Traveler called Delta’s long-haul economy product a ‘gamechanger,’ and I think most of its passengers would agree.

Delta A350 economy screen
Even back in the economy cabin, the experience is prioritized. Photo: Delta

The rather unusual aspect of Delta’s strategy is that it doesn’t invest heavily in brand new aircraft. Of the big three US airlines, Delta’s has the oldest average age, which would typically be a signal that outdated cabin products are rife. However, the money Delta saves on buying new planes has been extensively plowed into new cabin products, which from a passenger’s perspective, has to be better than acquiring new aircraft and configuring them uncomfortably.

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As Vice President at Virgin Atlantic Daniel Kerzner told me last year,

“[Delta’s] product, service, food and beverage for the last number of years has increased tenfold. It’s very different product, and their A350 is a great example of that.”

Are you a fan of Delta? Do you agree the company is winning with its cabin and service improvements? Let us know in the comments.

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