Delta to Reduce Business Elite Cabin by 7 Seats on Boeing 777-200 Aircraft

This is the Business Elite logo located on the headrest aboard a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft operated by Delta Air Lines. Photograph ©2013 by Brian Cohen.

An announcement was released during the investor relations presentation of Delta Air Lines yesterday that within the next eight months, seven seats will be removed from the Business Elite cabin of its fleet of Boeing 777-200 aircraft and replaced with 30 seats in the economy class cabin, according to FlyerTalk member jrkmsp.

This, of course, elicited the response by some FlyerTalk members that this news negates the perceived benefits announced two days ago with the introduction of Global Upgrades and Regional Upgrades, of which there will supposedly be fewer opportunities to use these upgrade instruments.

Does it?

Let us assume that the changes will be implemented on both the Boeing 777-200ER and Boeing 777-200LR aircraft, of which Delta Air Lines owns a total of 18 Boeing 777-200 aircraft in the entire fleet combined. That adds up to potentially a total of 126 seats removed from the Business Elite cabin and 540 seats added to the economy class cabin…

…and passengers seated in those seats in the economy class cabin on international flights will receive such amenities as a full-sized bottle of water, a snack box upon arrival at the destination, a small amenity kit, better ear buds and complimentary alcoholic beverages.

I can tell you that the ear buds currently distributed by Delta Air Lines are so cheaply manufactured that they break quite easily — but they are better than those annoyingly uncomfortable and ineffective air tubes from yesteryear, which I described here as having “to listen to audio sounds through a conveyance that was nothing more than a cheap hollow double plastic tube with little sponges that you stuffed into your ears. It was like listening to the adults speak in Charlie Brown cartoons, with their muffled gibberish. I could not understand a word anyone was saying — especially when the tubes had a kink in them. Those ‘headphones’ were probably designed by the same sadist who devised the modern armrest. Thank goodness those hollow tubes are gone.”

Let us hope that those “better ear buds” are indeed a significant improvement.

In addressing the perceived lack of upgrades, let us not forget that you will only have four Global Upgrades at the most to use per year — and that is only if you are a SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program member who has achieved Diamond Medallion elite level status.

This will also affect you if you use your SkyMiles to secure award seats in the Business Elite cabin on those Boeing 777-200 aircraft; but many FlyerTalk members already have been complaining for quite some time that securing those award seats are difficult as it is — if not virtually impossible.

You will also be affected if you want a complimentary unlimited upgrade on domestic routes using Boeing 777-200 aircraft which are not considered transcontinental routes.

Do not get me wrong — as a customer and a frequent flier, I am certainly not a fan of this change. I myself reported on my positive experience in the Business Elite cabin on a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft during a recent flight. However, Delta Air Lines is implementing this change for a reason…

…to increase profitability — and is that not what companies want?

If profitability is increased significantly enough, do not be surprised if additional seats are eventually removed from the Business Elite cabin on other aircraft in the fleet to accommodate additional seats in the economy class cabin.

Face it — the days of pure loyalty are virtually over…

…and if you are not willing to face it — if you still believe that airlines owe you something for your loyalty despite not significantly contributing to their revenue — then perhaps you have become irrelevant.

Comments (Showing 4 of 4)

  • Upgraded! at 10:20am December 12, 2013

    Well, here’s something else to keep in mind before getting your shorts in a wad: in addition to those 18 777s, DL’s widebody intercontinental fleet has 127 aircraft (763ER, 764ER, 744, 330). So this impacts about 15% of the fleet total.

  • sdsearch at 12:09pm December 12, 2013

    A signficant question which appears to be unanswered at this point is: Will some (and if so, how many) of the 30 extra economy seats per plane be Economy Comfort (EC), which is Delta’s more-legroom section of coach?

  • [...] math comes from an announcement that Delta Air Lines is drastically reducing business-class seating from its aircraft. On an unspecified number of B777 planes, 23 economy seats [...]

  • [...] math comes from an announcement that Delta Air Lines is drastically reducing business-class seating from its aircraft. On an unspecified number of B777 planes, 23 economy seats [...]

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