Delta Joins AA and United In Bringing Lie-Flat Seats To Transcon Markets - Business Travel News

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Delta Joins AA and United In Bringing Lie-Flat Seats To Transcon Markets

November 06, 2012 - 12:15 PM ET

By Jay Boehmer

The domestic skies are about to get more comfortable for those who can afford it. American, Delta and United plan during the next year to introduce new or upgraded transcontinental services that will increase availability of coast-to-coast lie-flat seats.

Delta on Monday announced plans beginning in March 2013 to offer 26 "full flat-bed" business-class seats on Boeing 767 aircraft and 16 such seats on Boeing 757 aircraft operating between New York and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Delta expects installations to be completed within 24 months.

Meanwhile, American in July announced details of its own product improvements, which in addition to new seating on international and short-haul domestic services, includes updated transcontinental premium cabins.

As part of the carrier's heavy book of aircraft orders, AA beginning November 2013 expects to take delivery of new Airbus A321 aircraft that will feature a first-class cabin with 10 "fully lie-flat seats" set in a one-by-one configuration and a business-class cabin with 20 "fully lie-flat seats" in a two-by-two configuration. While AA already offers lie-flat seating in first class on some transcontinental flights, according to SeatGuru, the carrier's business-class seats on those routes were described by the online seat comparison service as "cradle-style," which do not extend to a fully flat position.

Deliveries of those A321s are scheduled to continue through 2014 as AA replaces Boeing 767-200s currently flying between New York JFK and both San Francisco and Los Angeles.

United, which last month began retrofitting some transcontinental aircraft, is in the midst of modifying its premium service between New York and both Los Angeles and San Francisco. That service previously included "United First P.S." and "United Business P.S."

Though a spokesperson indicated that the "P.S." branding would be retained, the airline intends to replace some of the "angled-flat seats currently on P.S." with new 180-degree lie-flat seats. For example 28 of the newer seats in United BusinessFirst will replace 12 United First P.S. seats. Meanwhile, United is doing away with Business P.S. seating and expanding the number of economy seats on the aircraft.

United expects customers to begin experiencing the new lie-flat seats by January, with a complete rollout expected by October 2013.

In addition to the new seats, American, Delta and United each have indicated plans to include other services in premium cabins, including upgraded inflight entertainment systems, new dining options and Wi-Fi.

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