Is The Economy Class Experience Starting To Get Better?

by Chris Dong

In recent years, business class cabins have raised the bar of inflight luxury. There are full-on suites and double beds in business class, and ground experiences for first class passengers that are truly enviable. However, it all feels like it has been at the expense of those sitting in back.

Delta Comfort+ seats

Unlike its legacy competitors, Delta offers seatback entertainment on most of its domestic fleet.

Delta Is Making The Economy Experience Better Again

With airlines squeezing in more seats in economy, the gap between the haves and have nots seem to be only growing. Thankfully, some airlines are still seeing the value in an economy experience that won’t make passengers hate your airline.

Scott McCartney is a journalist for the Wall Street Journal and always has great insights in his weekly The Middle Seat column. This week, his piece is on the economy experience onboard Delta and JetBlue, two airlines that have made economy better than your average torture chamber.

For Delta, starting November 5, the airline is entirely revamping the economy experience onboard international flights that are six and a half hours or longer.

delta customer experience

This includes a hot towel service, welcome drinks, more meal options and larger portions, among other changes. The Delta economy experience hasn’t changed in over 20 years. 

Delta also has refrained from cramming in more seats onto its widebody fleet of Boeing 777s, which remain in a 3-3-3 economy configuration. Most airlines that operate the 777 are in a 3-4-3 configuration. And unlike American which has been densifying its narrowbody Boeing 737 planes, Delta isn’t adding in more seats at the expense of legroom for everyone.

Related: What Airlines Give You Free Inflight WiFi In Economy?

For JetBlue, the airline has always had a more comfortable inflight experience than its competitors with more legroom, seatback entertainment, and free snacks. And you might have noticed its aggressive marketing campaign, “Just alright doesn’t fly here,” harping on their superior customer experience.

“JetBlue has always believed that travelers deserve better, and going above and beyond for our customers has been an integral piece of JetBlue’s DNA since day one.


This campaign is designed to shine a much-needed spotlight on the complacency that’s become an all too common part of the airline experience and show those who haven’t traveled with us before that there’s a better way to fly.”

The Upshot

Delta is making more of a profit compared to its legacy competitors — they attribute this in part due to a better customer experience and a better onboard product overall. Will other airlines follow Delta’s lead (and in part, JetBlue) and make the economy experience better again for their passengers? If they can show that more passengers will gravitate towards them, then maybe.

However, I’m sure that airlines haven’t forgotten American’s failed “More Room In Coach” experiment back in the early 2000s.

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