Delta’s new decision regarding reclining seats is sure to cause controversy among long-haul travelers. Starting on Saturday, the airline is limiting how far passengers will be able to recline in their seats on some domestic flights, reducing coach seat recline from four inches to two inches, and first-class from five and a half inches to three and a half inches. While it might sound counterintuitive, the goal of the reductions is ultimately to improve passenger comfort. We’ve all sat behind someone that decides to abruptly recline their seat as far back as possible until it feels like their head is basically in your lap. Delta is trying to prevent that.
Delta believes that a two-inch recline is less likely to disturb passengers, inhibit the view of in-flight entertainment, or bump against laptop screens on tray tables. Airline industry consultant Robert Mann told The Points Guy, “I’m sure it will reduce some friction between passengers. Every one of those incidents creates at least one irate customer and one who wonders what all the fuss is about.”
Although many believe this move is designed to test the potential of installing extra seats in the cabin, Delta insists that isn’t the case. It’s actually the only domestic airline to only seat nine per row, instead of 10 like American and United. Based on how customers react to the change on the Airbus A320 fleet, Delta will determine if the reduction will be applied to the rest of its planes as well.