Yesterday, Delta Air Lines announced they would begin offering “Economy Comfort” seating on long-haul international aircraft this summer. In addition to about 4 inches of extra legroom, the seats will offer 50% more recline than the current economy seats, early boarding, and a complimentary open bar. Pricing will vary on the length of the flight and is currently quoted between $80 and $160 each way. It is unclear if the seating will be sold for a premium on the domestic legs these aircraft fly, and Delta is only allowing their top two tiers, Diamond and Platinum members, free entry to these seats. Gold and Silver members will receive a discount, though, should they choose to book them.
The blogosphere lit up yesterday with the news, and I’ve seen some calling it ‘Premium Economy’, which will do nothing but confuse and raise expectations for foreign travelers used to the likes of a true premium economy experience that Air France, Air New Zealand, British Airways, V Australia, and Virgin Atlantic offer. While early boarding and free booze is nice, it does not equate to a separate and exclusive cabin experience. I recall reading a review of United’s Economy Plus in an Australian newspaper that blasted the service, simply because the expectation was there that it would be a premium experience, and not just seats with a little more room. Hopefully Delta won’t experience the same sort of ‘lost in translation’ situation that United initially did.
United Airlines has yet to make any official announcement as to the status of Economy Plus for the merged carrier, but I’m glad to see another domestic airline offer it at least internationally. For the times I do not upgrade overseas on United, Economy Plus is a savior for my 6’1” frame.