Delta Introducing Suites With Doors in Business Class

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.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. You say the product WON’T be retrofitted, but the 777 will have them. Does DL have any 777 orders I don’t know about?

  2. Clarified above: the New York Times says it’s going to be on new 777s, but this almost certainly means 787s. Indeed, they reference 18 planes on order which is the number of 787-8s on the order book.

  3. The 777s will be retrofitted according to their press release, it has nothing to do with 787s and the NYT was correct.

  4. The first? What about JetBlue Mint? Also- there’s a sentence in there about companies paying for business class that has some spelling/grammar errors that likely change the meaning totally.

  5. Interesting! I guess flight attendants will have to learn to knock first! Really, how much privacy do you need on an airplane? I can’t imagine why you would want a closed door between you and the exit if something terrible happened.

  6. @Giel — Only the single seats in JetBlue’s Mint cabin (four of sixteen total seats) have doors. Delta claims to be the first to offer an all-suite business class.

    @Garry — Delta has clearly stated that they will be retrofitting the current fleet of eighteen 777s with suites. The airline won’t be taking delivery of the eighteen 787s on order before 2020, if ever.

  7. I’ll just say “touché” to all the posters (or, maybe just one) saying that UA’s new Polaris seat & service would now be just fantastic & heads and shoulders above DL/AA once launched…that sure didn’t last long.

  8. From Delta:

    Delta introduces world’s first all-suite business class with Delta One suite

    Published Date 8/16/2016 9:00 AM

        

    ​By Liz Savadelis, Corporate Communications

    Customers can lay back, relax and enjoy the flight in the comfort, privacy, and exclusivity of their own suite. Delta is redefining international business class travel with the introduction of the Delta One suite, the first business class cabin to feature a sliding door at each suite.

    DELTA_A350_D1_CAM15_NYT.jpgDesigned with an emphasis on exceptional customer comfort and privacy, the Delta One suite offers each customer a private space accessed by a sliding door with thoughtfully designed personal stowage areas, an advanced in-flight entertainment system and premium trim and finishes to create an unparalleled business class experience with a comfortable, residential feel.

    The Delta One suite will debut on Delta’s first Airbus A350, due to enter service in fall 2017. Each aircraft will feature 32 suites. The suites will meet galley and aisle standards as required by In-Flight Service.

    In addition to full flat-bed seats with direct aisle access, which the airline introduced eight years ago, the Delta One suite features:

    •A full-height door at every suite
    •Sliding privacy dividers between center suites
    •In-suite, customizable ambient lighting
    •Dedicated stowage compartments for shoes, headphones and laptops
    •Contemporary design featuring premium trim and finishes
    •Memory foam-enhanced comfort cushion
    •An 18-inch, high resolution in-flight entertainment monitor, the largest among U.S. carriers
    •A universal power outlet and high-powered USB port at every seat

    DELTA_A350_D1_CAM22_NYT.jpg”Delta constantly listens to customers and responds with products that deliver what they want. After setting the standard with the introduction of full flat-bed seats with direct aisle access in 2008, Delta is again elevating the international business class experience,” said Tim Mapes, S.V.P. and Chief Marketing Officer. “Added comfort and privacy are important to business travelers, and that drove the design of the all-new Delta One suite.”

    Delta completed installation of full flat-bed seats with direct aisle access on all of its widebody aircraft operating long-haul international flights in 2014. Delta One service includes the features Delta customers have grown to expect, such as chef-curated meals, wine pairings by Delta’s Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, Westin Heavenly In-Flight Bedding, noise-canceling headsets, TUMI amenity kits featuring Kiehl’s Since 1851 premium skincare, and in-flight loungewear on select flights.

    Following the A350 debut, the Delta One suite will progressively roll out on Delta’s Boeing 777 fleet. Delta will be the first U.S. airline to take delivery of the A350, which will primarily serve routes between the U.S. and Asia.

    Delta has made significant investments in its on-board product and the customer experience with orders for hundreds of new aircraft and a cabin modernization program that includes new seats, seatback entertainment systems, high capacity overhead bins, new lavatories, ambient lighting, access to Wi-Fi on nearly all flights, and other enhancements.

  9. The New York Times said new deliveries and no retrofits hence my expectation of 787s (given that the # lined up with what they had on order, whether they intend to accept delivery or not) — press release

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