In December, American Airlines announced that it plans to start installing a dedicated premium economy class of service on its long-haul international flights. And now Delta is following suit.
Although the Atlanta-based carrier hasn’t yet issued a formal announcement, top executives said at a media event that an international premium economy cabin is definitely coming to Delta, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution – and they said it has been in the planning stages for two years.
They provided few specifics except to say that the premium economy class will be launched on the new Airbus A350s that Delta will start to receive in 2017, and then will be added to its 777 fleet. They stressed that the new section will be a big step up from the airline’s existing Comfort+ seating, which is basically regular economy seating with a few more inches of legroom.
Delta has ordered 25 A350-900s, and plans to deploy the first ones mainly on transpacific routes starting in the second quarter of next year.
According to the newspaper, the executives said the new premium economy section will offer different seats than Comfort +, with even more legroom, a leg rest, and higher levels of service and amenities. They did not mention whether Comfort+ will continue in the affected aircraft, but American plans to keep offering Main Cabin Extra seating in aircraft that will get its premium economy section.
The plans by Delta will put added pressure on United Airlines, the last of the Big Three U.S. legacy carriers that has not yet announced plans for premium economy on international routes.
No doubt Delta also felt compelled to get on board with premium economy so that it can offer customers a standardized product across its global partnerships; for example, both Virgin Atlantic and Air France already offer the extra cabin.
According to Seatguru.com, some 31 international carriers currently have a premium economy seating option, not counting the plans by American and Delta to add one.
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