Delta has unveiled its weapon in the blooming transcontinental airline wars: more room in coach and more personal entertainment. The airline, the nation’s number three, didn’t have to take out any seats from its Boeing 737-800s to get the added room; instead it just made the seats themselves a little thinner. Delta says it is the first carrier with ‘Slim Line’ seats that give as much as an inch-and-a-half more personal space as well as more under-seat storage. The -800s also have ‘Delta on Demand’ In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) along with live TV at every seat, including coach. The Atlanta-based airline says it is the first in North or South America to offer this extra.
JetBlue has had live television at every seat on its Airbus A320s since started up seven years ago. But as the low-fares pioneers such as JetBlue or Frontier extend the borders of IFE back into coach, the legacy carriers are beginning to fight back. Delta, which says it learned about IFE while operating its now-defunct low-fares unit, Song, will roll out one 737-800 every two weeks until it reaches a total of 28 of the 160-seaters in May, all of them dedicated to the longer cross-country routes. The IFE from Panasonic offers the usual array of films and television as well as an interactive trivia game that can be played by several passengers at once. If this sounds anything like the ‘Red’ IFE on Virgin America, it should, because the upstart San Francisco-based carrier is intensifying the cross-country competition that JetBlue has reshaped. Rivals such as Delta have been preparing for its entry for months. At American, plans are afoot (or underfoot) for new seats for the carrier’s 737 fleet as well as its 757s.