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Delta confirms an all-new A350 configuration is coming soon


Delta Air Lines’ flagship aircraft is about to get a little bit more premium.

The Atlanta-based carrier filed plans over the weekend to introduce an all-new configuration for the Airbus A350-900 jet, as first spotted by Ben Bearup on X (formerly Twitter).

The new configuration, which is reportedly being called the “35H,” will feature 40 Delta One Suites, 40 Premium Select recliners, 36 Comfort+ extra-legroom seats and 159 standard economy seats.

There will be two rows of a new Delta One “mini-cabin” with room for eight total passengers. Depending on the exact details of the layout, this might be the most private mix of product and cabin location offered by any U.S. airline.

DELTA

In total, the new configuration represents a net reduction of 31 seats compared to the current “flagship” configuration on Delta’s A350. You can find the full cabin-by-cabin breakdown of the new configuration in the table below.

Cabin Flagship A350 configuration New A350 configuration
Delta One Suites 32 40
Premium Select 48 40
Comfort+ 36 36
Main Cabin 190 159
Total 306 275

A Delta spokesperson confirmed the plans to TPG but declined to share any additional details about the new LOPA, or layout of passenger accommodations. The carrier wouldn’t share more about the configuration nor confirm how many jets will be outfitted in this new premium-heavy layout.

This new A350 configuration is slated to take off on Delta’s flights to South Africa this summer, beginning on June 1, 2024.

Some aviation observers think Delta is adding more business-class suites on the A350 to increase the jet’s payload on flights from Johannesburg.

The airport’s altitude of nearly 6,000 feet above sea level means that Delta’s 8,439-mile ultra-long-haul mission to Atlanta sometimes suffers from weight restrictions due to the reduced takeoff performance at high altitudes.

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By reducing the number of seats on the aircraft, the airline may be able to avoid these weight restrictions that might be harming the route’s profitability.

Of course, it’s also possible that Delta is trying to grow the footprint of its business-class cabin, which commands a much higher revenue premium than any other cabin on the A350. With business class often selling for much more than Premium Select, the airline can sometimes make more money selling a single suite than it does two or three (or more) premium economy recliners.

Interestingly, Delta’s business-class footprint on the A350 pales in comparison to American Airlines and United Airlines on their flagship jets. The latter two carriers operate the Boeing 777-300ER as their flagship jet, and they outfit the jet with 52 and 60 business-class seats, respectively.

Until the introduction of this new configuration, Delta’s A350 cabins were about 50% smaller than its two big competitors. As Delta (and the larger industry) keeps doubling down on premium traffic, the shift to a bigger business-class cabin might make sense.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

While this new configuration will be one of Delta’s most premium ones yet, it’s interesting that the airline hasn’t announced a retrofit program for its “35L” subfleet of A350s.

Delta inherited this configuration when it took delivery of A350s that originally flew for LATAM. Business class is arranged in an outdated 2-2-2 layout, and these planes don’t feature a Premium Select cabin.

The airline has been busy installing Viasat internet radomes on these planes, but it stopped short of introducing its signature cabins onboard.

These ex-LATAM A350s are primarily deployed to leisure-heavy markets, where the outdated business-class configuration might not bother some of the most price-sensitive premium-cabin flyers.

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