Delta Air Lines may have personal space on its mind. The carrier is currently in the process of reducing reclining abilities by about half on more than 60 of its planes. The change impacts planes that are used for routes lasting two hours or less. Most people might see this as an anti-passenger move at first glance. However, Delta may actually be trying to make things better for passengers.
The first thing you have to do is give Delta the benefit of the doubt. The carrier does tend to offer a little more to passengers than competing airlines. That includes extra legroom, wider seats and more free food. Delta isn't necessarily toying with the idea of reducing reclining capabilities as a way to take room away from passengers. Delta likely wants to give passengers more space to watch television, get work done and enjoy their food without feeling cramped by the passengers sitting in front of them. Passengers should see the change as an attempt to optimize customer experience instead of a sneaky way to reduce seat pitch.
What will the new configuration look like? Seats in Delta's Economy Cabin will only be able to recline 2 inches. That's a decrease from 4 inches for both regular seats and extra-legroom seats. Seats in First Class will have their reclining capabilities reduced from 5.5 inches to just over 3.5 inches.
There's a good chance that Delta's latest change won't really be felt by many travelers. The airline is only planning to implement the change on its Airbus A320 planes. What's more, Delta is only calling the change an open-ended test as of right now. That means that any future plans to reduce reclining capabilities could be scrapped if test passengers don't respond positively.