Party Foul: Delta’s Business Elite 767 Tray Table Design Flaw

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I really enjoy flying Delta’s new full-flat Business Elite seats on international flights and especially and domestic flights. The seats are more private than the old cradle seats and every seat has access to the aisle. And you can even get a little extra legroom if you know which seats to book.

But I have one major issue with the new seats and it can be disastrous for the Business Traveler. Let’s assume this scenario, you are a business traveler heading out on a Sunday night and have an important meeting on Monday mid-day. So a flight you book Delta’s Business Elite flight that lands early morning in some European capital. That will give you enough time to freshen up and head into your work location.

Boarding the flight is easy. You settle into seat 8 B on the left hand side of the aisle.

Delta 767 with Flat Bed Seat 8C.jpg

You notice how nice the seats are and how there is plenty of room to spread out by using the arm rest in the middle between you and your seat mate.

Delta 767 with Flat Bed Seat Tray Table Controls.jpg

It’s around dinner time so you decide to order a glass of white or red wine to go with dinner. It’s tasty so you don’t chug it, you savor it. And in between sips you place it on the middle arm rest between you and your seat mate.

It’s a comfortable and convenient place for a drink. What could go wrong?

Delta Business Elite Tray Table Flaw

Wham! Your seatmate finishes their meal early and decides to abruptly put away their trade table. They don’t realize that putting away their tray table takes away your ability to store your drink on the center arm rest.

The drink ends up in your lap.

Delta Business Elite Tray Table

This is a hypothetical scenario, but one that could have easily happened on a number of flights I’ve been in the new Business Elite seats.

I’ve fallen pray to a drunkard who accidentally tipped their glass of red wine in my direction on a domestic flight on a mid-week flight during the evening happy hour. It’s not a fun place to be, in First Class with soaking wet shirt and pants thanks to a seat mate. But it happens.

Has this scenario happened to you in the new Business Elite seats or any seat for that matter?

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About The Weekly Flyer

The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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  1. I had my first experience in a full-flat seat a week ago, JFK-LAX (thankful to get at least one of these experiences in before they cut it off in March). I thankfully got a window seat so didn’t have to deal with the potential of your given scenario, but I did notice how cumbersome the tray was. Nearly everything else about the experience is intelligent and elegant, so it’s a real shame that more thought wasn’t put into the tray table. I nearly knocked over my own glass of wine when I took it out to prepare for the main course.

  2. The original design on the 767-400 did not suffer from this “flaw”, but the tray tables were rather cumbersome to fold back in for inexperienced travelers, creating a lot of frustration and extra burden on the flight attendants. Therefore they changed the design, making it much easier to get the table out and back in, at the expense of needing that huge lid. Personally I liked the old design better b/c you could leave your drink or laptop on the surface while extending or retracting the table.

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