Delta First Class Passenger Finds Major Flaws In Experience

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Feb 28, 2024

The decline of the first class seat on airplanes has become a growing concern for many passengers paying for the premium fee. The latest passenger to experience this was Mike Brennan, a 36-year-old sales manager from Dearborn, Michigan.

Throughout the flight from Detroit to Orlando, Florida, on a Delta Air Lines flight, Brennan experienced his first-class seat being covered in red tape and falling apart.

Brennan’s Broken Seat Goes Viral

On January 18, Brennan shared images of the seat on Reddit, under the username u/dankowitz in a post titled “Glad I paid extra for first class…” Brennan told Newsweek that he paid $540 for the seat, he was “not aware of the condition of the seat until I physically got to it.”

An overhead shot of a first-class suite on an airplane

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The images on Reddit showed red tape over the tray table and pieces of floor covering that would slide up to reveal metal pieces of the airplane.

Delta Air Lines Gave Brennan 2,500 Miles for the Broken Seat.

Brennan alerted staff about the seat and alleges that the flight attendant first acknowledged it after the plane had taken off and she was taking drink orders, allegedly giving him 2,500 points in SkyMiles on the day of his flight. As she handed me my meal, she told me to eat it on the side table as the tray should mostly fit, and that she gave me ‘some miles for the issue.'”

A red, white, blue airplane at a terminal

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Unfortuantly, Brennan felt “kind of uncomfortable eating breakfast at such a weird angle since he had to make use of what was left of the seating area,” and the number of miles didn’t sit right with him.

Brennan Says the 2,500 Miles Was a “Slap in the Face”

“I had actually kind of let it [the incident] fester,” Brennan said, explaining why he submitted the complaint on February 2. His email to Delta included images of the seat. In his email, Brennan said that “2,500 miles seems like a slap in the face considering what I paid for a first-class experience.”

A close-up of a leather seat in an airplane next to an open window looking at another airplane

Source: Rank studios/Flickr

The next day, Brennan received a voicemail from a Delta representative who said they would be giving him an additional 10,000 SkyMiles. The points were added to his account an hour later.

Delta Is Keep a Tight Lip on the Issue

Brennan shared with Newsweek that he is “not really a confrontational person. I’m usually on the opposite side of the transaction for work, so I just calmly and professionally pointed out my issue and accepted whatever I got.”

A white, blue, and red airplane flying through a blue sky

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A spokesperson for Delta said they were “unable to find anything with regard to this” case, noting that they “won’t be able to confirm payment amounts to individual customers, as we don’t disclose customer information to those that are not the customer.”

Delta Says Incidents Like Brennan’s Are Rare

A spokesperson for the airline was “unable to find anything with regard to this” case, noting that they “won’t be able to confirm payment amounts to individual customers, as we don’t disclose customer information to those that are not the customer.”

The inside of an airplane cabin with in cabin blue lights

Source: airbuss777/Flickr

The spokesperson added that this type of incident is “quite rare in the scope of our operation that carries more than 500,000 customers across the globe each day.”


Airlines Are Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels, So Why Is Flying Such a Mess? 

While this type of incident may be rare, according to the spokesperson, the viral Reddit post is sparking a larger conversation about the state of airlines after the COVID-19 pandemic.

A close-up image of a leather seat in an airplane

Source: Delta News Hub/Flickr

Recent numbers from the International Air Transport show that global traffic has almost fully recovered after the pandemic almost halted airplanes (via Newsweek). While the airlines are healthy, they have cut back on a lot of perks that were once offered on flights.


Airlines Are Getting Rid of First Class 

If people are lucky enough to afford a first-class seat that isn’t covered in red tape, airlines have significantly dropped offerings to passengers. In October 2022, American Airlines explained that their international flights would be replacing first-class seats with business-class seating, allowing more people to fly.

A crowded plane during the day during the on boarding process

Source: GetArchive

The first class will not exist… at American Airlines for the simple reason that our customers aren’t buying it,” Vasu Raja,  the airline’s chief commercial officer, reportedly said during a conference call with investors (via CNN).


Business Class Is the New First Class

“The quality of the business class seat has improved so much. And frankly, by removing [first class] we can provide more business class seats, which is what our customers most want or are most willing to pay for,” Raja said.

A woman with a ponytail sitting on a white suitcase in the airport before TSA

Source: Anna Shvets/Pexels

Soon after, Delta and United Airlines reportedly halved their first-class seats. While first-class seats still exist on most domestic flights, it is clear that the airlines no longer see the seats as a profitable option.


First Class Is Rebranding Itself

While first class is certainly a dying luxury, business class is taking off. Corporate travel accounts allow employees to purchase the particular cabin of service, which is sometimes rebranded as first-class, as a product of “business,” rather than the former.

A section of an airplane of suites on an airplane with a purple light illuminating the space

Source: Chris Rank/Flickr

“In the eyes of most passengers today, the difference between first and business class is in name only,” Ben Mutzabaugh, senior aviation editor at The Points Guy, tells Thrillist.


Flying Has Become a Headache for Everyone

While the first class is rebranding, we still need to talk about the big elephant in the room… or cabinet. A slash of resources for staff flights, pilot shortages, unexpected plane malfunctions, and ongoing airline strikes are causing conflict at the airports.

Airline Flight Schedules on Flat screen Televisions

Source: Josh Sorenson/Pexels

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, more than one in five flights are delayed. This is the highest rate since 2014.


Fun Flying Is Over

“The days of flying being fun are long over,” said William McGee, a senior fellow for aviation and travel at the American Economic Liberties Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, anti-monopoly group, to NBC News. “People will settle for non-eventful.”

A busy airport during the day

Source: Adrian Agawin/Pexels

The outdated air travel system in America is crumbling beneath everyone’s feet. In time, people might be turning to Amtrak, which offers tickets at competitive prices with airlines. You just have to sit back and enjoy the trip for a couple more hours.