Delta upgraded its website over the weekend. While the changes are subtle, the site now includes one entirely new feature: Delta Premium Select (premium economy) fares, availble for both cash and SkyMiles.
Delta’s much awaited Airbus A350 aircraft, built to replace the airline’s workhorse Boeing 747 fleet, emerged from the paint shop last week and will begin service on the Detroit (DTW) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) route beginning Oct. 30. The next generation plane will feature Delta’s newest onboard offering, a service class called ‘Delta Premium Select’. Those tickets are now available on Delta.com and can be purchased with SkyMiles.
Determining Delta award pricing at this early stage is tricky, given that the airline doesn’t actually publish award prices. It appears that award Delta Premium Select tickets on the inaugural Detroit (DTW) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) route will start at 65,000 miles and $5.60 in fees.
Interestingly, Delta offers a discounted rate if the same itinerary is purchase round trip (h/t Rene’s Points). Delta does not extend this practice to Delta One or economy awards.
That price quickly escalates, in typical Delta fashion, to 115,000 miles one-way.
To compare, Delta One tickets on that route have rarely been available for just 87,500 miles. It appears that Premium Select is a relatively better cash value, averaging roughly one-fourth the price of DeltaOne tickets for Detroit to Tokyo flights in November.
For travellers with limited scheduling flexibility, a cheaply priced Premium Select ticket could be a decent compromise, particularly with Delta charging up to 240,000 miles one-way for business class seats. No, it is not okay to charge this many miles (unless perhaps Delta starts offering service to Mars).
Delta becomes the first U.S. carrier to offer award tickets in a true international premium economy cabin. American Airlines started selling premium economy tickets, on it’s latest crop of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, in May. AAdvantage awards in premium economy are still unavailable, though. This comes as no surprise, given that it took American’s web team nearly a year just to figure out how to sell cash tickets for a cabin the airline spent millions developing.
Premium economy service, unlike economy plus (or Comfort+, in Deltaese), is nothing to scoff at. Premium economy seating is akin to business class recliners of yesteryear. The armchairs will be similar in size and space to domestic first class recliners, additionally featuring foot and legrests. Premium economy passengers on many airlines are treated to upgraded meals and top-shelf alcohol.
Delta has positioned Premium Select fares between First Class and DeltaOne, suggesting an experience similar to, or even better than, domestic first class.
The new cabin offers leisure travellers a welcome bridge between increasingly sophisticated and pricey business class seats and increasingly cramped economy seats. Delta’s A350s will be the first aircraft in the world to feature completely enclosed suites in business class. Meanwhile, American and United’s newest 777s are equipped with the most cramped international economy seating U.S. carriers have ever offered.
This weekend was the first time Delta publicly offered Premium Select tickets. Fortunately for passengers booked into Comfort+ on upcoming Detroit to Tokyo flights, Delta is upgrading them to Premium Select at no extra cost (h/t Points, Miles & Martinis). This may be a cost-effective strategy for those looking to get in on Premium Select before Delta officially announces the start date for A350 service on other 747 routes, namely Detroit to Seoul (ICN), also expected to begin in late 2017.