Delta Air Lines will install a premium economy section on all of its long-haul international aircraft by this summer, offering the seats for free to upper-tier frequent flyers, full-fare economy travelers, and to other customers willing to pay as much as $160 extra one way to upgrade their ticket.
In addition to announcing on Feb. 7 what Delta is calling the new “Economy Comfort” section, the airline revealed that it plans to install its new business-class international lie-flat seats on its 32 Airbus A330 aircraft by 2013. With the installation of the 34 seats on those aircraft, Delta will be offering the lie-flat seating on all international widebody flights, or more than 150 aircraft, by 2013. Delta already has that product on many of its Boeing 777 aircraft.
The premium economy section, however, is entirely new, although Delta notes it will be similar to the premium economy already available on flights operated by AirFrance/KLM, one of its joint-venture partners for transatlantic services.
Delta’s Economy Comfort will feature up to four additional inches of leg room and 50% more recline than its standard international economy seating. That will mean 35 inches of pitch on most aircraft, except the A330s, on which seats will provide 34 inches of pitch until the lie-flat seats are installed in business, at which point the premium economy pitch will increase to 35.
Economy Comfort customers also will be allowed to board earlier and will be entitled to complimentary alcoholic beverages throughout the flight.
The seats will installed in the first few rows of the economy cabin on more than 160 Boeing 747, 757, 767, 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft. The new section will be available only for “long-haul” international because those aircraft are not used on “near-international” routes, such as service to Central America, the northern part of South America, Canada and the Caribbean.
The frequent flyer club members receiving complimentary access to the seats will be the Diamond and Platinum members. Gold and Silver members will receive discounts of 50% and 25%, respectively, off the $80- $160-upgrade fee.
The price range will be based on market and flight distance, a Delta spokeswoman says.