Delta’s Innovative New First Class Seat

Delta’s Innovative New First Class Seat

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We haven’t seen much innovation or creativity when it comes to the quality of “standard” first class seats in the United States over the past couple of decades. If anything, we’ve just seen airlines reduce legroom in first class.

That’s why I think it’s worth specifically talking about Delta Air Lines’ brand new first class seat, which entered passenger service today. This is available on Delta’s Airbus A321neos, and we should expect 155 of these to be delivered to the airline between now and 2027.

Delta’s new A321neo first class seat

The Airbus A321neo represents an exciting new chapter for Delta, as the plane will eventually make up a good chunk of Delta’s narrow body fleet. For those not familiar with the plane, this is a more fuel efficient and longer range version of the previous generation Airbus A321.

Delta has introduced an all new first class seat on this plane, designed by RECARO and FactoryDesign. Delta’s A321neos will each feature 20 of these seats, spread across five rows in a 2-2 configuration, with 37″ of pitch (which is pretty standard, though on the tight side).

What makes Delta’s A321neo first class seats special?

  • They feature “wings” along the sides of the fixed headrest for more privacy
  • Each seat has a 10″ personal television with an extensive entertainment library
  • Tray tables are larger and sturdier, and have 25% more workspace compared to the previous first class seats
  • Seats have an in-arm water bottle storage compartment, and more storage underneath the seats in front
  • Power outlets are to the side of the seat, rather than at the seat in front

Below are some pictures of the new Delta first class seats on the A321neo.

Delta’s new first class seat on the Airbus A321neo
Delta’s new first class seat on the Airbus A321neo
Delta’s new first class seat on the Airbus A321neo

The new first class product is in addition to the generally improved features of the A321neo, including larger overhead bins, Viasat high-speed Wi-Fi, and quieter engines.

Is Delta’s new first class evolutionary or revolutionary?

It’s great to see innovation to the domestic first class experience, because we truly haven’t seen much progress there in a long time. For whatever reason airlines have decided that there was no room to innovate, at least up until now.

There are some things I really like about Delta’s new first class seats, as they seem thoughtfully designed:

  • I appreciate that the power outlets aren’t at the seat in front, as that sometimes creates a tripping hazard, and complicates things if you’re in the aisle seat and the person in the window wants to get up
  • I appreciate the larger and sturdier tray table, since some tray tables are problematic in that way
  • The seats have more storage than before, which is long overdue
  • The seats have improved privacy, and it’s nice to be able to rest your head on the headrest “wings”
  • In general the cabin looks sleek

But then there are also some things I don’t think I love about Delta’s new first class seats:

  • Some people may not love the headrest privacy “wings” if they’re traveling with someone, or if they enjoy looking out the window (because it can partly obstruct window views)
  • The seats look really thin, so I’m curious to see how the padding is, as I feel like that could be a challenge

While I haven’t had the chance to try these seats yet, they definitely look like an improvement over the old seats, at least on balance. That being said, I definitely get the sense that these seats are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

I think it’s also worth mentioning that while Delta is the first US airline to be getting innovative in this way, the concept as such isn’t totally new. Turkish Airlines’ A321neos have business class seats that look somewhat similar. However, Turkish’s cabin is much more spacious than Delta’s.

Turkish Airlines A321neo business class
Turkish Airlines A321neo business class

Bottom line

Delta’s first Airbus A321neo has just entered service, and with that, the carrier’s first plane with the new domestic first class seat is also in service. For the first time in a long time, we’re seeing some real innovation to the domestic first class seat.

This configuration is just as efficient as the old configuration (in terms of the cabin’s footprint), but has some cool new features, like headrest “wings,” improved storage, better placed outlets, and a sturdier tray table.

Ultimately I don’t think this seat will redefine domestic first class, or anything, though I do think Delta listened to customer feedback in some important ways, and I’m excited to try this seat myself.

What do you make of Delta’s new first class seats? And if any OMAAT readers have the chance to try it, please report back!

Conversations (37)
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  1. Ivan Guest

    Looks like an average premium economy seat to me. I wouldn't pay much of a premium to sit in one on a domestic flight.

    I don't care too much about dividers, I often strike up good conversations with my seat mate which makes the flights feel faster.

    In the cases that I'd prefer to be left alone I politely inform the person seated next to me.

    1. Jan Guest

      Aren’t PE seats usually better than Domestic F? Usually more pitch, more recline, leg rest/foot rest…

  2. Miramar Guest

    I actually do think this is revolutionary. I think in general seats without dividers that prevent one party from hogging the armrest are probably sexist. I don’t have a study, but I’d be willing to bet that on average women are less comfortable stretching out their arms to take advantage of an armrest when seated next to a male stranger. I think this really will measurably and disproportionately improve the travel experience of many women....

    I actually do think this is revolutionary. I think in general seats without dividers that prevent one party from hogging the armrest are probably sexist. I don’t have a study, but I’d be willing to bet that on average women are less comfortable stretching out their arms to take advantage of an armrest when seated next to a male stranger. I think this really will measurably and disproportionately improve the travel experience of many women. Anyway, regardless of my speculation about the sex asymmetry, I cannot stand accidentally rubbing elbows with strangers, it’s makes me really uncomfortable and when it happens I feel unable to use the armrest the rest of the flight. This has long been my primary complaint with domestic first class seats, other than Delta’s single seat CRJs.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      You do know that even your elbows doesn't touch, your hands can still touch.

    2. Max Guest

      How is that a problem? Business/First Class is a male domain (90%), if there are women these are the wife/kids of the successful man traveling with him.
      Women in the other hand are there as flight attendants and have enough privacy in their secluded crew compartment.

  3. Felix Guest

    „ Some people may not love the headrest privacy “wings” if they’re traveling with someone, or if they enjoy looking out the window (because it can partly obstruct window views)“

    You missed the fact that such head wings are annoying for tall people. If they cannot be flipped or adjusted in height, it greatly reduces the compatibility with many human beings. That should not be the goal.

    Compare it with Deutsche Bahn. There seat development...

    „ Some people may not love the headrest privacy “wings” if they’re traveling with someone, or if they enjoy looking out the window (because it can partly obstruct window views)“

    You missed the fact that such head wings are annoying for tall people. If they cannot be flipped or adjusted in height, it greatly reduces the compatibility with many human beings. That should not be the goal.

    Compare it with Deutsche Bahn. There seat development goes in the wrong direction. The ICE4 has similiar „ear heaters“ and DB has just announced a new interior design. Again those „ear heaters“ are not adjustable. That is something you usually do not see in aircrafts which I really appreciate.

  4. Ed Dennison Guest

    Turkish also has the new seats on its 737-MAX8 planes. Just flew Istanbul to Marrakech on one and it certainly is an improvement.

    1. Max Guest

      Turkish flying 737MAX

      Third world s**th*le airline.

  5. david Guest

    i don't see a wing on the window side to remove

    1. steve64 Guest

      I think you're looking at the last 2 pictures in Lucky's post. Those are similar Turkish Airlines seats posted for comparison. Scroll back up to the pics of seats with some blue upholstery. Those are the Delta seats and there is clearly a 'wing' on the windows side of the seats.

  6. Steven E Guest

    “First class” on any US carrier is a misnomer

  7. Justin Guest

    If they made it more spacious with 4 rows, people would complain about impossible upgrades. Can’t please everyone, and this seems like a reasonable compromise product. For short and mid haul flights, a good table, fast wifi and live TV are great.

  8. Santos Guest

    If I'm not mistaken, this aircraft and hard product were tested out on a leg I did JFK-RDU a couple months back. I was happy to have a change from the standard CRJs whose FC seats are perfectly fine albeit a bit cramped. This seat was a marked improvement, very comfy and even though I never watch the seatback IFE, it was nice to see brand new equipment with a lot of choices, including live...

    If I'm not mistaken, this aircraft and hard product were tested out on a leg I did JFK-RDU a couple months back. I was happy to have a change from the standard CRJs whose FC seats are perfectly fine albeit a bit cramped. This seat was a marked improvement, very comfy and even though I never watch the seatback IFE, it was nice to see brand new equipment with a lot of choices, including live TV. I continue to be impressed by the investment DL is putting in their fleet.

    1. RMA Guest

      this plane was not flying at that time and would not be on the route.

  9. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

    Definitely not revolutionary… the wings/flaps are enough to be annoying if you’re trying to communicate with the person next to you, yet not effective if you’re trying to *not* communicate with the person next to you. It’s just an economy seat with ineffective racing-horse-style blinkers. Might as well give out a free tin-foil hat which covers the eyes and ears. Either switch to a 1-1 configuration or call it what it is, Economy+ or Premium...

    Definitely not revolutionary… the wings/flaps are enough to be annoying if you’re trying to communicate with the person next to you, yet not effective if you’re trying to *not* communicate with the person next to you. It’s just an economy seat with ineffective racing-horse-style blinkers. Might as well give out a free tin-foil hat which covers the eyes and ears. Either switch to a 1-1 configuration or call it what it is, Economy+ or Premium Economy (or just simply Economy, if anyone fancies describing the actual base-line “economy” seating as what it is - cattle class sans the electric prodder)

    1. hp12c Guest

      Great handle. That is all.

    2. reddargon Diamond

      Lol, okay. I agreed with your initial premise; it's certainly not revolutionary. Revolutionary would be 1-1 seating, like you mention, but these are just new seats.

      However, your attitude towards US domestic first class is funny to me as someone based in Europe. Here, they just block off a middle seat for the first few rows on intra-Europe flight, so I definitely yearn for the days of domestic first class. Not to mention, for flights...

      Lol, okay. I agreed with your initial premise; it's certainly not revolutionary. Revolutionary would be 1-1 seating, like you mention, but these are just new seats.

      However, your attitude towards US domestic first class is funny to me as someone based in Europe. Here, they just block off a middle seat for the first few rows on intra-Europe flight, so I definitely yearn for the days of domestic first class. Not to mention, for flights that are 5 hours or less this size seat should be totally comfortable for anyone. Seems incredible to whine about this.

  10. Bill n DC Gold

    Last flew delta maybe 15 years ago probably cause it was the government fare on work, but yes to others. Get rid of the Headwing by the window

  11. Anita Scotch Guest

    Shame that they have no interest in comfort. It’s cosmetic at best. I’m appalled at the lack of legroom in domestic first class. Back in the 80s, most airlines offered more legroom in coach than they do today in domestic first class.

    1. reddargon Diamond

      Agree these changes are cosmetic, but please let me know what airlines offered more than 37 inch pitch in economy in the 80s. Granted I was just a baby then, but based on research best I see is 34-35 inch pitch in economy.

    2. Chris Guest

      Furniture, at sea level or in the stratosphere, needs to look nice.

      It also needs to be comfortable. Recaro slim line seats have never ever, in any class, met that standard for my seat.

      I reserve judgment. Let your seats decide too…

  12. jcil Guest

    The wings make as much sense as a toddler that thinks they are invisible when they cover their eyes with their hands. Even dumber than doors if that's possible.

  13. Anameofaguy Guest

    The "wings" don't really give you privacy do they? They just let you peep on your neighbor's work without them seeing your head turned while also making it more claustrophobic and blocking the window view. Plus, it's just more places for people's head goo to build up. It's not like those planes get cleaned by anything but the next person's head/butt.

    Same for extra storage (other than under seat). More places to lose things, more...

    The "wings" don't really give you privacy do they? They just let you peep on your neighbor's work without them seeing your head turned while also making it more claustrophobic and blocking the window view. Plus, it's just more places for people's head goo to build up. It's not like those planes get cleaned by anything but the next person's head/butt.

    Same for extra storage (other than under seat). More places to lose things, more places that won't get cleaned.

    Personally I prefer the ultrathin seats on <5hr flights. My favorite is frontier's. Mainly because the padding eventually becomes worn and I find myself sliding into a big groove and getting low back pain and in economy my knees get wedged into the seat ahead. No such issues on the thin seats.

  14. STAKK Member

    While evolutionary, definitely not revolutionary, the privacy fetishists are really starting to annoy me. I mostly travel with my spouse and/or friends and the seat 'wings' really start to get in the way of conversation as well as window views.

    1. EK_engineer Guest

      @STAKK

      You don't have to be in the aviation game as long as me to realize that everyone travels differently. There are solo travellers, duos, and groups. And every single pax has personal preferences.
      A "privacy fetishist", as you call them, or indeed anybody who is not travelling with their "spouse and/or friends", or who just wants a bit of solitude for a few hours (is that too much to ask for??) would have...

      @STAKK

      You don't have to be in the aviation game as long as me to realize that everyone travels differently. There are solo travellers, duos, and groups. And every single pax has personal preferences.
      A "privacy fetishist", as you call them, or indeed anybody who is not travelling with their "spouse and/or friends", or who just wants a bit of solitude for a few hours (is that too much to ask for??) would have just as valid an argument. And unfortunately for you, added privacy is the trend now...

    2. CryMeARiver Guest

      Lol american’s threshold for annoyance is very low…

  15. RF Guest

    They should remove the wing on the window side.

    1. RetiredATLATC Gold

      Just like those giant protuberances on TK's B789 business class even row seats. Blocks almost the entire window.

  16. Bellamy Guest

    Now Delta just needs to fix those nasty air hostesses and train them in how to deliver proper and professional customer service in the first class cabin. They should also encourage them to groom themselves better, work in heels and refrain from using their cell phones while serving.

    1. SamB Member

      @Bellamy "work in heels"? The 1950s called, they want their sexist double standards back.

    2. Anita Scotch Guest

      They haven’t called them air hostesses since the 40’s. And if you’re looking for subservient women in heels, maybe you should go back there.

    3. Bob Guest

      Maybe you should try to spend a day working in heels and then rethink your old man thought process

  17. Ole Guest

    @Lucky - rather than “inventing” new seats, why won’t they use wider version of international premium economy? Would love to get your thoughts. I still don’t understand why can’t they provide footrest in domestic first class.

    1. DLPTATL Gold

      @Ole, I don't like the footrest as it generally reduces the clearance to put your bag under the seat in front of you. But in full disclosure I'm 6'3" and have never had a footrest on a plane that didn't make it feel like my knees were under my chin.

  18. GoAmtrak Gold

    Would it kill them to add little swing-out footrests? AC has had those in J for ages (even on RJs) and it really ups the comfort level. Heck, modern intercity buses have them.

  19. RetiredATLATC Gold

    It's a good looking seat, but if it's anything like TK's it becomes pretty uncomfortable after about 3.5 hours.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

SamB Member

@Bellamy "work in heels"? The 1950s called, they want their sexist double standards back.

5
EK_engineer Guest

@STAKK You don't have to be in the aviation game as long as me to realize that everyone travels differently. There are solo travellers, duos, and groups. And every single pax has personal preferences. A "privacy fetishist", as you call them, or indeed anybody who is not travelling with their "spouse and/or friends", or who just wants a bit of solitude for a few hours (is that too much to ask for??) would have just as valid an argument. And unfortunately for you, added privacy is the trend now...

4
RF Guest

They should remove the wing on the window side.

4
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