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
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