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Delta is making an interesting change to their Airbus A320 fleet, which is either good or bad, depending on how you look at it.

Delta is reducing seat recline on A320s

As reported bySkift,Delta will be significantly reducing seat recline on 62 Airbus A320 aircraft, most of which typically operate short flights:

  • In economy Delta will be reducing recline from four inches to two inches
  • In first class Delta will be reducing recline from five inches to three and a half inches

The first plane with the reduced recline is flying as of this weekend, and the project should be complete within the next two months. Delta calls this a test, so there’s a chance it will be extended to other planes as well.

Delta’s A320 first class

Why Delta is reducing seat recline

Delta isn’t doing this to add more seats to planes. Actually, their A320s are already dense, with 157 seats.

Rather Delta is doing this because they think it will increase passenger comfort. Delta has long tried to command a revenue premium for being the airline of the business traveler, and the airline has invested in high speed wifi and personal televisions at every seat throughout much of their fleet.

The problem is that when you have an economy product with 30″ of pitch, it’s really hard to even open a laptop if the person in front of you is reclining. By reducing the potential to recline, Delta thinks they’ll be creating a better experience for passengers.

As Delta’s director of onboard product and customer experience describes it:

“This is not a push to add seats to the cabin or find a way to reduce the pitch of the seats. It’s about ensuring an optimal experience.”

My take on seat recline

Seat recline is a controversial topic, and many people disagree about whether reclining is a right or a privilege.

Personally I think reclining a seat is a right (which is why the control is at your seat), but you should still be courteous, meaning you should recline slowly, and ideally even turn around and make eye contact with the person behind you.

Bottom line

Personally I don’t use recline at all on daytime domestic flights, so I’m in favor of this change. My priority is always having my laptop open, and even in Delta first class it can be tough to do that when the person in front of you is fully reclined.

So I’m in favor if this change on Delta’s part, though also recognize that others value recline a lot more than me. I certainly wouldn’t appreciate this change on a redeye, though.

What do you make of Delta’s decision to reduce seat recline on some planes — are you for or against it?

About Ben (Lucky)
Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector.

He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to enhance his first class experiences.

He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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