US Airlines Are Pushing For Less Recline, More Laptop Space

Have you ever had problems opening your laptop because the person in front of you has reclined their seat? Well this might not be a problem anymore, as Delta Air Lines have recently announced their plan to limit seat recline on select routes to provide passengers with more workspace.

62 of Delta’s aircraft will feature these seats with limited recline. Photo: Delta

What are the details?

The Atlanta-based airline announced last week that it would reduce seat recline by 50 percent on 62 aircraft. This change will focus on planes that often fly business routes shorter than two hours, in order to guarantee more working space in front of everyone. Delta characterizes the move as positive for customers who want to maximize both space in front of them and their productivity.

Delta is making the change only on its 157-seat Airbus A320s, configured in a 3-3 layout. The first aircraft with the limited recline will start flying this weekend, with the rest coming within the next two months. Delta calls the program a test, but has the potential to be expanded to several other aircraft should the feedback be positive.

Economy class seats, including extra-legroom seats, will recline two inches, down from four. First class seats will go from over five inches of recline to roughly three and a half.

Delta used to operate A320s with seven seats across. Now passengers have 30 or 31 inches of pitch on Delta’s A320s. Photo: Delta

Seat recline conundrum

Seat-recline discussions in the aviation industry has struck controversy over the past few years. While some passengers defend their right to recline, others complain about the lack of working space in front of them.

In recent years, airlines have been cramming additional seats into their aircraft and legroom has decreased. Airlines have added seats to reduce unit costs to help compete better with lower fares offered by discount airlines. Out of the 3 main US carrier’s, Delta has been the least aggressive with densification. Both United and American have arranged their Boeing 777 aircraft with 10 seats across, compared to Delta with only nine across.

Delta’s domestic First class. Photo: Delta

It’s unlikely Delta will stay with any approach its customers dislike. Their first quarter saw had executives from Delta bragging about the airline’s domestic net promoter score, which measures how likely its customers are to recommend it. They said it increased seven points, year on year, to 50, ranking it as ‘excellent’.

Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian told analysts, “This is the reason we sustained the best revenue premium in the industry,”

Luckily, the move by Delta has largely been met with open arms by frequent travelers, many of whom spend the bulk of their time flying for business. Should this test prove to be preferred by customers, we expect to see more aircraft with limited recline across most US carriers.

What do you think of this? Let us know in the comments!
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