Delta plans 747 seating upgrade
Delta details 747 seating upgrade; removes 17 seats from premium cabin; video in coach
Joshua Freed, AP Airlines Writer, On Thursday September 2, 2010, 3:01 pm EDT
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Delta Air Lines Inc. plans to upgrade the seats on its Boeing 747s next summer, while cutting the number of seats in the plane's most expensive cabin.
Delta detailed the changes on Thursday, which are part of a $1 billion plan announced in January to overhaul seats and make other customer improvements.
Beginning in the summer of 2011, Delta will add seats that recline flat in its Business Elite cabin on all 16 of its 747s, which mostly fly between the U.S. and Asia. New coach seats will include a nine-inch video screen with on-demand entertainment. The new seats will be installed by the summer of 2012.
Although the vast majority of travelers fly in coach, competition is intense for those travelers in the front of the plane because a single ticket on a long-haul flight can cost thousands of dollars.
Delta's 747s currently seat 403 people, including 65 in Business Elite. The new seating plan will eliminate 17 seats from Business Elite. Delta spokesman Paul Skrbec didn't elaborate on the change, or detail how much the 747 upgrade would cost.
UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, which competes head-to-head with Delta on Asia flights, also removed high-end cabin seats on many of the planes used on international flights, aiming to be able to charge more for those that remain.
Delta said the new 747 coach seats will offer more personal space and under-seat storage because of a new design that uses less space than older, heavier seats they replace.
Delta said in January that it would spend $1 billion through mid-2013 to improve customer service, remodel existing aircraft and improve fuel efficiency, rather than buy new planes like some competitors.
Besides the 747, Delta is also adding fully flat seats in premium cabins on its Boeing 777s and 767s. Work on 767s is beginning soon and will run through June, Skrbec said. Work on the 777s begins in October and runs through July. Delta said it will eventually have the lie-flat seats on more than 100 aircraft that make international flights.
AP Transportation Writer Samantha Bomkamp in New York contributed to this story.