Delta reducing seat recline on Airbus A320 jets

Delta Air Lines is reducing the amount of recline on seats on its Airbus A320 planes, a test of what the airline calls an effort to protect personal space.

The question of whether or not to recline seats is a divisive issue for airline passengers, particularly as seat space becomes more cramped.

Atlanta-based Delta is reducing the amount of recline from 4 inches to 2 inches in the main cabin and in Comfort+ seats. In first class, the recline will reduce from 5.4 inches to 3.5 inches.

Delta uses its A320s to fly 1- to 2-hour routes such as Atlanta-LaGuardia with a good share of business travelers working on laptops on tray tables and passengers watching movies or TV on seat-back screens -- activities that can be more difficult when the seat in front is reclined.

On The Points Guy travel site, which reported the change, some commenters welcomed the move. "You do not NEED to recline and when you do you are in the lap of those behind you," one commenter posted.

Delta called the reduction in recline an effort to “make the in-flight experience more enjoyable.”

The airline said it "has no plans to add seats or reduce space between rows with this test – it's all about protecting customers' personal space and minimizing disruptions to multitasking in-flight."

The first A320 with the reduced recline will start flying this weekend and the change to all 62 A320s will take about two months to roll out, according to Delta. The airline plans to gauge customer and employee response.

In Expedia survey results in 2017, a majority of respondents -- 53 percent -- said they recline their seats on flights.  Yet reclining a seat is also seen as an annoying behavior by some travelers.

A quarter of those responding to the survey said they would recline their seat "for retaliatory reasons," if a passenger sitting behind them were aggressive or rude.

About the Author