|by Jason Steele|
As anticipated, Delta will be offering a Premium Economy section on their long haul, international flights. They will be calling the Economy Comfort, according to the press release. Customers will be asked to pay $80 – $160 each way, with Gold and Silver medallions getting some discount off of that while Platinum and Diamonds will get upgraded for free.
What Will They Get
The first few rows of the coach section will be Economy Comfort seats with the following amenities:
- 4 Inches of Extra legroom
- 50% more seat recline
- Free alcohol
- Free personal television service with HBO
Some people are comparing this to what they already get in an exit row. The key difference here is the extra recline feature as some exit rows don’t even recline at all! Early reactions from frequent fliers are mixed. I have family members who are Platinum Medallions who just completed long haul flights in coach. They would have been happy to have had the extra legroom and recline, as well as the seating up front. Others are concerned that Economy Comfort will be treated as a different class of service, with their upgrades going there instead of to their Business Elite service. Right now it is too early to say how this will shake out for the upgrading set, but it seems likely that Delta will do anything and everything to monetize their offerings. If this means requiring paid Economy Comfort for an upgrade to Business Elite, nobody should be surprised.
In the end, Delta is replicating the offerings of their partners KLM and Air France, both of which offer some kind of premium economy. The hazard for passengers is that as newer premium products are offered, there is less and less incentive to upgrade the rest of the cabin. In fact, I have always argued that deliberate downgrading of economy takes place in order to incentive premium purchases. If economy was not hell, why would anyone pay for an upgrade?