Delta Air Lines plans to shrink the business class cabin on its Boeing 777-200 aircraft when it installs new suites in the coming years.
The Atlanta-based carrier plans to configure the business class cabin, or Delta One, with 28 lie-flat seats in "mini-suites", it says in a filing with the US Federal Aviation Administration. This is nearly a quarter fewer than the current 37 lie-flat seats in business class on the aircraft today.
"Delta regularly evaluates optimal cabin configurations that reflect demand for premium seating and customer comfort," a spokeswoman for Delta says. "With the addition of Delta premium select [premium economy] on the 777, we have provided even more premium seating options for our customers onboard."
The airline will continue to offer nine-abreast seating in economy, she adds.
Competitors American Airlines and United Airlines, as well as many foreign carriers, have moved to 10-abreast seating in economy on 777 aircraft.
Delta needs approval from the regulator to install the suites, which will have partitions that can be closed during flight to provide "additional comfort, convenience, personal space" to passengers.
FAA regulations bar airlines from having any barriers between passenger seats and the aisle during takeoff and landing. However, numerous exemptions have been issued to carriers, including Delta for the Airbus A350-900, that have installed suites as their premium product onboard aircraft.
Delta will debut the suites on the A350 in the fourth quarter. The aircraft will have 306 seats, including 32 suites in business, 48 in premium economy and 226 in economy.
The A350s will initially fly from the carrier's Detroit hub on routes to Asia.
Delta will reconfigure its 777s with 296 seats when it installs the suites, the filing shows. In addition to 28 seats in business class, it will have 48 in premium economy and 220 in economy.
The airline configures its 777-200s with 291 seats today, including 37 in business, 36 extra legroom economy seats and 218 in economy.
Delta has not disclosed an installation timeline for the 777s, however, executives have previously said that the fleet is the first scheduled for retrofits after the introduction of the A350s.
Delta operates eight 777-200ERs and 10 777-200LRs, the Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.
Updated with comment from Delta