The world’s best first class products don’t just offer spacious seats and refined service, they offer privacy that comes from more than angling the seats. Privacy comes from doors that shut.
Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Suite
Single Aisle of the Upper Deck of an Etihad A380
For many airlines, business class is the new first class. First class makes sense for customers who trade down from flying private, but most companies at least in the US (and fewer companies elsewhere) will pay for first class or business travelers. Business class has gotten better as well.
American Airlines has this as one of their many different business class seats in service — fully flat, with every seat offering access to the aisle, and reasonable privacy.
Delta has a variety of business class seats today, here’s the herringbone product on their Boeing 777.
The New York Times reports that Delta has limited plans to roll out a business class suite with doors.
Suites in the skies — airline seats with doors that slide shut to give passengers total privacy — have become de rigueur in international first class: Emirates and Singapore Airlines are two of the carriers that offer them on long-haul flights. But an all-suite business class? It has yet to be heard of, according to Delta Air Lines, and the carrier wants to be the first in the industry to change that with the fall 2017 debut of the Delta One suite in its Delta One business-class category.
Unfortunately for Delta, if Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker is to be believed, the Gulf carrier that’s the bane of their existence will actually be the first to roll out a business class seat with doors. In the spring Qatar claimed they’d have their first Boeing 777-300ER with the new seats in December, put them in new A350s, and retrofit existing planes. With all things claimed by al-Baker, however, we’ll see what actually happens and whether Qatar or Delta is first.
Delta won’t be retrofitting any of their existing cabins with the new product. A second business class with doors should debut in spring 2018. Update: The New York Times says this will be on a Boeing 777, but this is almost certainly an error and reference to a 787. The seat should be on 18 new 787s and 25 Airbus A350s will get the seats, with a roll out through 2020. Update 2: Contra my read of the Times article which suggested no retrofits, the Delta press release explains that the 777s will be retrofitted to have these seats and there’s no reference to the 787-8s Delta has on order (whether they ever take delivery of those or not…)
In other words, Delta will be getting these seats on their new aircraft on a timetable similar to United retrofitting its fleet with high-density fully flat ‘Polaris’ seats that offer aisle access.