Delta To Debut Premium Economy Service Next Year

Over the past few years, Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) has invested billions of dollars in its cabin modernization program and the customer experience. Now, it is bringing those results to market through its new Delta Premium service. Delta SVP and chief marketing officer Tim Mapes’ stated that “Delta Premium is Delta’s latest example of paying careful attention to what customers tell us they want and responding with unique products designed to meet their individual needs.” How and when the cabins will be sold and upgraded has not been announced.

The new “Delta Premium” economy seat has 38” of pitch, “up to 19 inches” of width, and “up to seven inches” recline, according to a statement from the company. It also has adjustable headrests and legrests for all rows. The premium service includes a pre-departure beverage round, upgraded meals with “Alessi serviceware”, noise-cancelling headphones, a TUMI accessory kit, and a “Westin Heavenly In-Flight Blanket.” The service also includes Sky Priority at the airport, which allows for faster check-in and boarding. Upgrading to Delta Premium from economy will require an upgrade certificate.

It will be a while before the majority of Delta passengers can experience its premium economy seating. Delta’s new premium economy seat debuts on the Airbus A350 towards the end of next year. The Delta A350s will feature 48 Delta Premium seats, as well as 32 Delta One suites and 226 Main Cabin seats. 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. Delta has plans to expand its premium economy cabin to other aircraft, including the 777, but those retrofits are not expected to start until 2018.

Delta will also debut the Delta One suite on its A350s in 2017. The Delta One suite is the world’s first business class cabin to feature a sliding door at each suite. The suites will also have personal stowage areas, a widescreen in-flight entertainment system and premium trim and finishes.

In 2014, Delta began introducing differentiated experiences for customers. Passengers can choose from Delta One, First Class, Delta Premium and Delta Comfort+ for enhanced experiences, or Main Cabin and Basic Economy service for value options. Delta says that all cabin experiences offer a high level of service and Delta’s unmatched operational reliability.

Delta is bringing its premium economy product to market at a time when many of the domestic legacy carriers are exploring similar products. Last week, American Airlines indicated that it would start operating its premium economy cabin April 2, 2017. American has not released how much it will cost and whether passenger upgrades will work in relation to the cabins. The Delta news makes United the last U.S. global carrier to hold out on offering a premium economy service.