Delta is Putting Suites With Doors into Boeing 767-400s

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker has talked in the past about the need to get rid of the Boeing 767s from the fleet because they’re a poor customer experience — although while I think the business class experience is subpar, coach is actually roomier than on other aircraft.

American Airlines Boeing 767 Business Class

The airline ordered 787s which will replace 767s in a few years.

American Boeing 787-8 in Chicago

Delta hasn’t been nearly as aggressive buying new aircraft as American. Instead of replacing their Boeing 767-400 fleet they’re actually going to invest heavily in it. In fact the 767-400s are going to get Delta One Suites (business class seats with doors).

Last month Delta CEO Ed Bastian answered an ‘Ask Ed Anything’ employee question about Boeing 767-400s interior refurbishments starting this winter.

The 764s are the first fleet that we put into the new lie flat configuration for international. We did that 10 years ago so it’s also the most dated. It’s what our customers tell us, as well as what our employees tell us, needs the most amount of work going forward.

What we’re doing is we’re re-outfitting the entire 76-400 to be consistent with the product you see on the Airbus A350 with the new Delta One suites which we’re also putting on the 777s and we’ll eventually roll it out through all of our international widebodies.

You’ll have the new Delta premium select product which is a business cabin for international, you’ll have the suites the enclosed suites in the DeltaOne first class cabin and enhancements in the main cabin as well.

We’re going to be investing a considerable amount of money over the next several years with that fleet together with the 330s will be the bulk of what we do for international flying for the next 10 years..

Credit: Delta

Bastian commits the cardinal Delta sin of overclaiming, he calls their new premium economy product business class and their business class product first class.

Nonetheless today I dislike Delta’s business class on their 767s, the Thompson Vantage seats were a solution many airlines took for the aircraft because they allow lie flat seats with direct aisle access despite a narrow fuselage. Lying down in them feels like a coffin. But the planes themselves have plenty more life with a strong maintenance program and investment in the product.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Hopefully it’s a 1-1-1 config with something like the Thomson Vantage XL seats, bc if they keep a similar 1-2-1 layout with a door, it’ll feel more like a coffin than the existing seats and British Airways CW config, combined.

  2. The comparison with AA’s 767-300s isn’t particularly relevant. The 767-400s (sold only to Delta and Continental, if I’m not mistaken) are a lot newer than AA’s 767s and thus probably have fewer mechanical issues.

  3. Can they fit the TV XL on a 764 in a 1-2-1? I’d think they’d have to take UA’s approach to its 76’s and do a modified 1-1-1 or something

  4. DL is getting rid of many of their 767-300ER the same time AA is. I agree that the lay flat is awful on those planes. DL is brining in the A330 -900 neo to replace them (which I think is a mistake since they carry 80 or so more passengers) and AA is going with a mix of 787 – 8 and -9 (which I like better then the neo option even with 9 abreast in coach).

  5. I guess I’m crazy, but I don’t mind the layout, having flown the DL and AA version of it several times. Is it as good as a reverse herringbone on an AA 777-300? No. Is it better than the “concept D” seat on (some) AA 777-200s, the product on Delta’s 777-200s, the product on United’s legacy-UA and legacy-CO 767s, and the product on Virgin Atlantic? Yes.

  6. It’s no wonder DL is doing so well top-line while AA isn’t. Moves like this make a difference, Parker just wants to throw cash at problems rather than determining the actual best course of action.

  7. With far comfier nine abreast Airbus A350s, eight abreast A330s (ceo & neo), nine abreast Boeing 777s & seven abreast 767s, Delta is going to have a much more desirable Economy product than either American or United will with their shameful and horrible nine abreast Boeing 787s, and equally horrible and atrocious ten abreast, “densified” Boeing 777s.

    That’s just a fact – for the 85% percent of us* who spend most of their cash & time seated in the back half of the flying bus! 😉

    *(…and without whom NO AIRLINE would be able to survive no matter how much some wish to think are unworthy of anything more than a teensy, weensy, 17” wide, 30”-31” pitch no legroom seat).

    Just sayin’ 😉

  8. Bastian should know but I recall the 777-200 as being the first Delta plane with full flat seats.

    In any event, as noted by others the 767 has a narrow cross section for a wide body aircraft, about 18 inches less than the 787 and almost two feet less than the A350. 1-2-1 won’t work in business, and 2-4-2 won’t work in Premium Select with the current hard products. Using the same seats as on the A350 and 777-200 must result in fewer seats on the 767-400 compared to current configurations.

    With fewer seats, costs per seat rise. The ideal replacement for the 767-400 is the 787-10 which is wider than the A330-900.

  9. @john except that a 787-10 is what – $100MM? the 764 ownership cost for DL is probably a tenth of that at this point and they can easily absorb the maintenance costs.

    The 767 is a hell of a plane, its all in the configuration. There was even a rumor that they might open the production line back up due to a big order, probably cargo. Haven’t heard what happened to that, but the plane is proving to be cheaper to run than a new bird even with higher fuel costs – or Delta wouldn’t be doing it.

    Certainly a different strategy than AA, probably becuz AA cant execute. You wait and see what happens to the AA 76- fleet as they retire – they’ll be back in the air for someone.

  10. He best not continue saying Premium Economy is “Business” lest the corporate travel policy people agree with him… not good for revenue either?

  11. @steve, I’m anxious to see the seating chart for Delta’s 767-400 if they use the same hard products as on the A350 and remodeled 777-200s. The 767 (and the A330-900 which is the future replacement I believe) is so much smaller than those planes or a 787-10. The 787-10 would add seats and thus revenue per flight while lowering costs compared to the 767-400.

    Remodeling the 767-400 with fewer seats decreases revenue per flight and while requiring a higher expenditure for maintenance for the 767s that are currently about 18 years old on average. Plus now that airlines are making money, depreciation and interest can help offset acquisition costs.

    The bottomline for me is subjective – I like 787s. The windows (size and dimming), humidity, pressurization, etc, and the fact that they are built/assembled a couple of hours’ drive from where I live. In economy I admit 2-3-2 on a 767 is better than 3-3-3 on a 787. Delta is the only major U.S. carrier that has no 787s in the fleet. It would be nice to see a 787 in Delta colors.

  12. Sorry, @john, but I guess you’re among the fortunate few who need not ever concern themselves with the horror being stuck aboard a nine abreast Boeing 787 for 11 hours attempting to access the lavatories at 3am while the cabin is dark, and most passengers are attempting to get some rest before their flight lands at 7 or 8am, without either kicking or bumping into the many outstretched, as if strands of spaghetti, dozens upon dozens of feet, shins, calves, legs, hands, arms, elbows, shoulders or even heads (yes, heads!), as one heads down and back those hideous, ridiculously narrow aisles of that atrocious for economy passengers’ aircraft.

    Don’t get me wrong! I don’t begrudge you, or anyone, blessed with the means to travel in spacious McMansions…er private suites (with privacy doors to boot!)…featuring lie flat beds!

    I really don’t.

    But, I do hope that just as I’m 110% supportive of the fortunate few with unlimited personal resources, or exceptionally generous corporate travel policies that allow them to be cossetted and coddled to a degree the vast majority only wish we could enjoy with wreckless abandon as you, and others like you, can do – that you, too, will understand and support us when we appeal to you to encourage airlines to choose Airbus’s FAR SUPERIOR AND PASSENGER FRIENDLY Economy configurations, or Boeing’s old school 767 configuration from its pre-McDonnell Douglas era, when Boeing still had a soul and sought to create widebodies like the magnificent (and incomparable) “Queen of the Skies” (or the majestic 747), the exceptionally passenger friendly to Economy pax 767, or even Boeing’s pre-McDonnell Douglas era awesome as a 9-abreast, but atrocious and immoral as a ten abreast, “densified” 777s.


    There’s no need for a the poisoned by McDonnell Douglas post merger Boeing (in name only now that the Seattle-based Boeing with a soul is no more) caste system or class warfare as embodied by its despicable, and when we’re all being honest, ridiculous 17” wide economy seats for any flights longer than the 2-3 hours max that was the range and flight time intended for its short-haul, 1700 miles or so range, 737 when it first took to the skies more than 50 years ago.

    We really can all get along!

    Those with a taste for luxury when they fly in lie flat personal suites…

    …and those who simply need little more than an 18-18.5” wide seat, 32”-33” pitch, and an aisle wide enough so they can get to the loo in the dead of night without much of a risk of tripping over others – or kicking, bumping or smacking into many others no matter how hard they try not to as I did on those two 11 hours flights aboard Boeing’s 9-abreast in Economy “Nightmareliners”.

    I don’t hate Boeing. And I’m perfectly fine flying economy the rest of my life as long as the economy sections are aboard planes like Airbus’s A330s and A340s with 32”-33” of row pitch, and their easy to use, wider aisles where getting out and back to the loos at 3am are NEVER an obstacle course to fear treading through!

    Just sayin’ 😉

  13. @Howard Miller, LOL So you always fly economy and never get to try the life of luxury and decadence in the pointy end of the plane. In the words of a certain sportscaster, “I’m soo sorry… so very, very sorry.”

    It may be hard to believe but I have flown coach. (Funds were low between coupons. Remind me to speak to the trust fund manager about that.) My first 787 was a packed Virgin Atlantic 787-9 LHR-JFK. It was tight but not nearly as bad as the torture on the A340-600 flight from JNB to LHR even though in the center row of four seats two were empty. An ANA 787-8 arranged 3-3-3 from HND to KUL was fine. ANA also has 787-8s that are 2-4-2.

    Your point is you don’t like the 787 seats. I get it. My point is I like the 787 as an airplane. See comment above. Also the raked wingtips make the 787 look fast, like a falcon in a dive.

  14. @Robert I agree. It’s a good idea on Delta’s part to make changes to what they already have before investing in more planes.

  15. Lie flats are great but I maintain the door/suites are a complete gimmick. Even Etihad F Apartments that I’ve flown in. They have the privacy and security as saloon doors. Now if they went floor to ceiling and were more like a train compartment (Etihad Residence) then I would get excited but that’s not going to happen as it’s near impossible to sell those tickets and make money. Last time I flew Mint the stewardess was perplexed as to why I didn’t want my door closed for the “full experience” I’m like the “door” is 4’ tall it does nothing.

  16. Meanwhile UNITED is already making its 763s the best in the sky – with the Polaris layout – no neighbor, fully private. No sliding door vapor ware from Delta.

    Not only that, UNITED is making 763s even more premium-dense with the new 763 layout.

  17. @Howard Miller

    Didn’t McDonnell Douglas bring to the table the most passenger friendly economy layout (the DC9 / Super 80 / 717)?

  18. I think the main point of this post should be Bastien’s statement of “premium select” being the new business class. My company only allows VPs and above to book business class. And we use Delta as a preferred carrier. This will not be good for those allowed to book business, as PS is really just a slightly bigger coach seat. Delta will regret this nomenclature.

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