Delta Air Lines

Delta launches international Premium (economy) cabin

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Delta now joins American Airlines in offering a new Premium Economy cabin to compete with the international carriers that have been doing this for years.

It’s welcome news to those who pay for what Delta calls “Comfort+” which is just a standard economy seat with a few extra inches of legroom and free drinks.

This new Premium cabin will sit squarely between the Coach and Business products – with a bigger seat, more recline, and footrests to make that recline more comfortable.  It will also have a real meal service and a bigger TV screen in the seat.

Here’s Delta’s list of marketing bullet points:

Delta Premium will feature:

  • More space with up to 38 inches of pitch, up to 19 inches of width and up to seven inches of recline. Delta Premium seats will also offer adjustable leg rests and head rests;
  • Westin Heavenly® In-Flight Blanket with pillow and a TUMI amenity kit featuring Malin+Goetz Travel Essentials, allowing customers to settle in and arrive well-rested;
  • Pre-departure beverage service followed by fresh, seasonal menu selections presented with Alessi serviceware designed exclusively for Delta;
  • A 13.3-inch, high resolution in-flight entertainment screen that is among the largest in its class, allowing customers to stay entertained with Delta Studio’s industry-leading library of complimentary movies, shows and games, and noise-cancelling headphones;
  • In-seat power ports for large and small devices and convenient storage to keep them within reach;
  • Sky Priority service, which includes faster check-in, accelerated security, priority boarding and expedited baggage service.

A 360 view of the new cabin is on Delta’s press page.

I like that they are offering this at all. It’s competitive in the market and the seats look pretty much the same as American’s (although I think American’s may not have the footrests on all seats).

It means a return of the 3 cabin aircraft to Delta, since really this is close to the old business class seats (pre-lie-flat) and is it’s own cabin with dedicated flight staff.  Comfort +, by contrast, is a joke.

But there are a couple of things I don’t like:

  1. The 2-4-2 configuration. Yuck. Do you really want to pay premium prices for this cabin and be stuck in one of the two middle seats?  And look at the picture – it looks tight! I would have greatly preferred a 2-3-2 configuration but I know more seats is more money.
  2. For Delta Platinum members (who get Regional Upgrade Certificates each year), those certs are NOT valid for Premium class.
  3. For Delta Diamond members (who get Global Upgrade Certificates each year they requalify), you can now use these for EITHER Premium Economy OR Delta One. That doesn’t sound like a loss in benefits except when you read the fine print that once you burn a cert on Premium, you can’t upgrade to Delta One if a seat opens later without using another cert!  That’s not so “premium.”
  4. I suspect that once these seats are for sale, we are going to see them sold around the old Business Class redemption rates while Delta One will soar ever higher. Remember, Delta removed award charts in 2015 so while I (as an obsessive mileshound) know what I should be paying, most do not….

It’s generally good to have more options for seats that aren’t coach…. so by that standard, I welcome the addition. But I also see this move (by both Delta and American) as developments likely to keep me further from my coveted International Business class award seats….