It’s no secret that for a while, Delta has been marketing their Comfort+ product like an official Premium Economy product. Instead of just offering extra legroom, Comfort+ also offered free alcoholic beverages, better “amenity kits,” and an overall enhanced experience. However, it’s by and large still considered the cabin as Economy.
Well, it looks like Delta is finally introducing an official Premium Economy product, which will be called Delta Premium.
Delta says Delta Premium will feature seats with up to 38 inches of pitch and 19 inches of width. The seats will be adjustable leg rests and head rest, and offer 7 inches of recline. Customers will get a TUMI amenity kit with Malin+Goetz skincare products, as well as Westin Heavenly® blankets and pillows, which are actually the same brands provided in Delta One (Business Class).
On the service end, customers will get access to Sky Priority, which means faster check-in and security, and priority boarding. Delta will offer pre-departure beverages in Delta Premium, and will offer a a better dining experience. The in-flight entertainment screens will also be larger than Economy, at 13.3 inches.
I think the seats actually look pretty standard for Premium Economy, and should be a much improved experience over Economy. I also think it’s kind of smart for Delta to drop the “Economy” from the name, like it uses “Delta One” instead of Business Class. This allows them to kind of escape the shadow of a (usually less than pleasant) Economy experience, and distinguishes themselves from the rest of the market, at least mentally.
Delta says the product will launch in Fall 2017, alongside Delta One Suites, which have full-height doors and lie-flat beds. They will first be installed on the new A350 entering service, which will have 32 Delta One Suites, 48 Delta Premium seats, and 226 Economy seats. Delta is also planning to retrofit their Boeing 777 with Delta Premium starting 2018, and will evaluate whether to roll out the product to additional fleets later.
There are a few implications here—Delta may be getting rid of Comfort+ on flights that will get Delta Premium, judging by the numbers. However, they could very well be including Comfort+ in the count of 226 Economy seats, so we will have to wait and see. Installing Delta Premium on the 777 also means that Delta might follow the footsteps of many airlines in tightening Main Cabin seats. Delta’s Main Cabin seats on the 777 currently have a 3-3-3 configuration, with a 18.5-inch seat width. Delta’s premium economy product will offer 19 inches in seat width, so this might be a hint that we will be seeing Economy seats configured as 3-4-3 when Delta Premium launches, to separate the two products further.
Premium Economy is generally good news for business travelers whose companies might not pay for Business Class, but will spring for Premium Economy. But because it’s a separate cabin from Economy, Diamond Medallions will most likely not be able to use Global Upgrades from Economy to Delta One on flights that have Delta Premium. Renes Points has more about how the upgrades will likely work.