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At the Airline Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany this week, Delta Air Lines picked up a prestigious Crystal Cabin award for its upcoming Delta One cabin, snatching it away from competing designs at United and Bombardier.
The upcoming cabin from Delta effectively combines an international first and business class cabin, taking features from each while keeping ticket prices low. It has so far earned wide acclaim from the business travel community.
According to APEX, the organization that oversees the awards, Delta One earned high marks “for creating a first-class experience in the business-class cabin.”
Indeed, though the full Delta One cabin has yet to hit the skies — it’s slated for delivery on the airline’s first Airbus A350 aircraft later in 2017 — many in the community are excited about the new cabin because of its suite-like design with “doors” that physically close. Similar products from Middle East carriers such as Etihad, Qatar and Emirates have all been widely popular among business travelers — and to compete across the Atlantic, U.S. airlines needed to develop a similar product. Delta One, if successful, could be that solution.
Competition with United
Delta’s award stings particularly for United, which has put a great deal of effort and fanfare into its Polaris launch. That cabin was also nominated for an award (as well as the C Series Cabin from Bombardier), but ultimately, Delta took the prize.
Part of United’s challenges may have come from trouble in rolling the full product out to customers. Late last month, the airline admitted that it was holding back on aircraft deliveries because it didn’t have enough Polaris cabins to install. Oscar Munoz, United’s CEO, has even expressed his dismay.
Irrespective of the delays, the Polaris product has been widely lauded and many expected the cabins to walk away with a victory in this year’s Crystal Cabin awards. That Delta ended up taking the victory is only an indication that international legacy airline cabins are finally in a race to the top.