I’ve been quite charitable to Delta lately on Live and Let’s Fly, but the new first class seat on the A321neo does not leave me excited.
Yesterday, paxex.aero broke news of a new first class seat coming to Delta’s Airbus A321neo. For readers outside the USA, U.S. airlines call their domestic premium cabin “first class” even though most of the world would call it business class. Delta is awaiting delivery of 100 A321neo and will begin taking deliveries later this year.
The new seats, produced by Recaro and Factory Design, include:
- Increased privacy without reducing seat width
- A larger tray table, providing 25% more workspace
- Increased storage
- Passenger-facing power port
- Memory foam cushioning
Sound familiar? Similar language is also used to describe the Recaro economy class seats that will be featured on JetBlue’s A321neo.
> Read More: JetBlue’s Innovative New A321neo Cabin Interior
And while these will be high-quality German-made seats produced in beautiful Schwäbisch Hall, keep in mind Recaro also produced the slimline seats that have invaded the entire narrow body fleet on Lufthansa group carriers and are the most uncomfortable seats in the sky.
But what makes me most skeptical about these new Delta first class seats is that they appear to have a fixed shell. As visually attractive as the seats are, substituting an articulating seat pan (seat cushion slides forward to give the illusion of recline) for a fixed shell results in a seat that is far more uncomfortable when reclined.
Look, just last week a guy almost damaged my laptop on a United flight in first class because he reclined his seat so quickly. A fixed shell would be nice in the sense of protecting your workspace. But for me personally, it is not worth the tradeoff since I find the hardshell seats (similar to several premium economy products) more uncomfortable. The legroom also looks tighter.
More storage, a place to lean your head, larger IFE screens, and easy-to-reach power ports are all innovations. But if those come at the expense of legroom and recline, I’m not sure we are getting a better deal. In fact, I would argue we are not. But for now, we will just wait for more details from Delta. All we have is one picture.