Perhaps motivated by recent announcements from American Airlines and numerous international carriers, Delta today released the design and plans for its own premium economy product, branded Delta Premium, which is set to launch on the Airbus A350, the first of which Delta will receive late next year.
Like the upcoming products of its competitors, Delta plans for its premium economy section to have a 19-inch seat width and 38-inch seat pitch in a 2-4-2 configuration — at least on the A350.
Where the airline plans to draw a bit of distinction, though, is in amenities. With each Delta Premium seat, passengers will get Westin Heavenly® In-Flight Blankets and a TUMI accessory kit, two perks on the higher end of the ancillary amenity spectrum. Enhanced on-board dining and Sky Priority service, which allows for faster checkin and boarding, will also be included.
Delta brings its premium economy product to market at a time when many of the domestic legacy carriers are exploring cabins that live between rapidly improving business class cabins and deteriorating economy products. With a gap opening up for reasonable, decent cabins sold at a modest premium, many observers think that passengers tired of the cramped and sometimes-humiliating economy experience will be willing to buy up.
It will be some time before the majority of Delta passengers can experience its premium economy. The initial patch of Delta Premium is slated to come in the airline’s first order of Airbus A350 aircraft, which should be delivered in late 2017. At that point (potentially after a limited domestic run), the aircraft will likely enter service on long haul routes such as Los Angeles to Sydney or one of Delta’s several routes to Asia, which are currently operated by the aging 747.
Like American Airlines, Delta also has plans to expand its premium economy cabin to other aircraft including the 777, though it will be at least 2018 until those retrofits start.
Meanwhile, Delta passengers will have to deal with the question of how and when the cabin will be sold and upgraded.
Last week, American indicated that it would start operating its premium economy cabin April 2, 2017, though passengers are still in the dark about how much it will cost and whether their upgrades will work in relation to the cabins.
Delta will end up facing similar challenges — the good news, however, is that it has a year to iron them out.