Delta Removes BusinessElite Seats From Longhaul Fleet

Delta announced yesterday that they’ll begin cutting BusinessElite seats from much of their longhaul fleet. They’ll apparently be removing 14 BusinessElite seats from some of their 767 aircraft (of which they have 97), adding a net of 20 coach seats. Meanwhile they’ll be removing seven BusinessElite seats from their 777 aircraft (of which they have 18), adding a net of 23 coach seats.

While it seems like this change will be happening on all their 777s, they haven’t made clear yet how many 767s they plan on reconfiguring. Delta’s 777s presently have 45 BusinessElite seats, so the reduction of seven seats isn’t huge (at least compared to the 767 changes). Meanwhile Delta has 36-40 BusinessElite seats on most of their 767s, so taking out 14 BusinessElite seats will be huge.

I’d expect that the reconfigured 767 aircraft won’t be operating flights to key business markets like London or Paris, but instead more leisure destinations like Athens, Istanbul, etc.

Bloomberg has some interesting info on how much BusinessElite Delta is currently selling:

The share of premium seats filled by paying passengers on the affected flights averages in the high 60 percent range, Chief Revenue Officer Glen Hauenstein said at a Delta investor meeting Wednesday in New York. That figure drops from the low 90s on Saturdays into the upper 40s on midweek days, he said.

It’s interesting that this news comes around the same time that Delta announced they’ll be introducing their first useful systemwide upgrade benefit for top tier Diamond Medallion benefits.

Anyway, Delta seems to be have their operations together, though it always cracks me up how many subfleets they have, and this will only add even more subfleets. I mean, after all, this is the airline that has six subfleets of the 767-300.


Or even more entertaining is that they have eight subfleets of the 757.


How they perform so well operationally is beyond me!

Delta 767 BusinessElite

Filed Under: Delta
  1. -14 C for +20 Y. That doesn’t add up for me. Are they adding more E+ type seating too. Otherwise you might as well just op up people but cross your fingers you can sell a C seat at a big premium.

  2. As a hub-trapped DL flier, I dislike their mileage program. But if I was a business investor in DL, I might be pretty bullish. In general, they seem to be on the bleeding edge of what the future airline business landscape might look like. i.e. shifting less focus to the alliance and more to partners where they have an equity share, buying the oil refinery, constantly tweaking their capacity/demand like this BE move, striking reciprocal loyalty partnerships with Starwood, the whole elite qualifying dollar scheme, hints at a revenue-based Skymiles program, and who knows what else is up their sleeve. And I’d argue they are able to do this while providing better-than-domestic-average air and ground services. At the end of the day, if you are a corporate road warrior, you want to align yourself with an airline that will reliably get you from point A to point B on-time with a smile and a minimal amount of stress/hassle. When weather or other things go wrong, you know that they will take care of you. Obviously, the road warrior has different priorities/values than the leisure traveler, but that’s where the money is at.

  3. @ Truth — International is often the opposite of domestic. Internationally business travelers fly on Saturdays to arrive at their destinations Sunday (prior to a workweek), while returns on Satrudays are popular as well, after a workweek.

  4. Between more international upgrades and fewer business class seats the real losers here are… nonrevs. Grumpy FAs coming your way…

  5. Ultimately, if loyalty is entirely based on each transaction, by only rewarding full fare paying pax; removing upgrade potential, etc etc, at some point, it is not worth flying DL.
    I always thought DL was for domestic flying, AA/UA was intl.
    Removing transcons and reducing SWU value for PM will drive away PM to UA/AA
    There is no value to loyalty long term; only short term year by year based on travel patterns and cost of ticket.

  6. goes down to 90% and up to 40%
    I would think 90% would be on weekdays and 40% on weekends.
    Interesting that more paying passengers are travelling on weekends.

  7. Another example of why Delta can’t be trusted. So, basically the new upgrade changes can be summarized as follows — take away NYC, add Hawaii, give you less upgrades, and you can forget about getting an international upgrade. I give Delta props for fooling us all for a couple of days….

  8. Lucky, you say that you’d expect these re-configured 767’s to NOT be used on key business routes, like to LHR. However, out of all the Delta flights to LHR (which by my count is 9 daily), all but one currently are operated on 767’s. The only one that isn’t is a daily DTW-LHR flight that’s on a 777.

    It just doesn’t seem like they have the 777 capacity to start flying them to LHR when they need them on longer routes.

  9. Also, just for fun, I looked up the DL flights to CDG. Only two flights there currently operating with 767’s (SLC and EWR). The majority of the remaining frequencies are on A330’s, with a handful of 757’s thrown in.

  10. They actually have 9 757 fleets…you missed the 753! šŸ™‚

    On the 767 I imagine they are just changing some 76L/76T/76Ws to 76H/76Zs, so they won’t actually have any more subfleets. Though I’m not sure if that difference is actually the right gap in number of seats. The 76G/76P/76Q/76U are also almost gone, so the number of subfleets is finally starting to come down.

  11. @ Andrew — Right, but that’s why they’re only reconfiguring some aircraft. Not all of them will be reconfigured.

  12. I believe the excess seats have largely already been removed from the 767s. The initial batch of retrofitted aircraft all offered 36 BusinessElite seats. Midway through the conversion program, Delta announced the new 76Z sub-fleet with just 26 BusinessElite seats. At the time, the airline indicated those planes were destined for leisure and South American routes. I can’t see Delta reducing the BusinessElite cabin below 26 seats. Instead, there should ultimately be four sub-fleets: 764ER with 36 seats, 763ER with 36 seats, 763ER with 26 seats, and domestic 763 with 30 seats.

  13. Where is your valid source to back this up. Delta are in the process of reconfiguring all wide bodies to match entire fleet of lie flats. Removing odd number as you say would leave an uneven configuration in the T7. Nothing has been alliances internally and I think this is a false article. I could be wrong however,

  14. It’s pretty easy to end up with an odd number up front. While the bulk of the cabin is 1-2-1, you can easily lose 1 seat to a lav/closet, or add 1 with the removal of a lav/closet.

  15. Well obviously, Jim, but what I’m stressing is that DL have a set goal right now of fleet upgrade of cabin interiors, it is not changing. It would have been noted in DLNET.
    Spoken to the senior investment analyst at DALHQ and she has no clue what you are all talking about, so I highly doubt this is true.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *