What Are Delta’s New Delta One And Comfort+ Cabins?

Delta, which is no doubt the greatest “innovator” of any US legacy carrier, put out a press release yesterday entitled “Delta Redefines Cabin, Upgrades Premium Economy Options.”

Delta is taking the whole “redefining” thing pretty literally, because they’re simply renaming BusinessElite (Delta’s international business class product) as Delta One, and renaming Economy Comfort (which offers a few extra inches of legroom in the first few rows of economy) as Comfort+. Oh, and they’re changing seat covers. Apparently we’re supposed to be excited about that?

Here’s a video outlining the new cabins:

Starting March 1, 2015, Delta customers can choose between:

  • Delta One, formerly BusinessElite, is offered on long-haul international routes; also between New York-JFK and Los Angeles or San Francisco*
  • First Class is offered on short-haul international and domestic routes**
  • Delta Comfort+ offers an upgraded experience on all two cabin aircraft around the world
  • Main Cabin experience is provided everywhere Delta flies offering a high standard of customer service
  • Basic Economy offers Main Cabin service with fewer flexibility options available in select markets.

Newly designed Delta One, First Class and Delta Comfort+ seat covers will be installed on aircraft through mid-2015.

Here’s their chart explaining the “new” cabins:

DLCC-100 Branded Products Chart_v4

The only service change here is that those in Comfort+ receive “complimentary beer, wine and spirits,” and “complimentary premium snacks on domestic flights >900 miles.” Sounds nice, right? Well, until a couple of days ago Delta gave Gold Medallion members seated in economy a drink voucher at check-in, which they could use regardless of whether they were in Main Cabin or Economy Comfort. So for elite members this isn’t really an improvement.

Beyond that, As of March 1, 2015, Gold Medallion members will no longer receive access to Economy Comfort/Comfort+ seating until 72 hours before departure:

SkyMiles Diamond and Platinum Medallion members will continue to enjoy complimentary upgrade eligibility to First Class and will also receive complimentary access to Delta Comfort+ seats at booking. On March 1, 2015, Gold and Silver Medallion members will continue to enjoy complimentary upgrade eligibility to First Class as well as complimentary access to Delta Comfort+ seats starting 72 hours and 24 hours prior to departure, respectively.

So Diamond and Platinum Medallion members can continue to select Comfort+ seats in advance for free, Gold Medallion members can select those seats 72 hours out, and Silver Medallion members can select them 24 hours out.

Bottom line

Delta is brilliant at marketing. We’re seeing a marginal improvement of their extra legroom economy offering here, but that’s the only change. That’s coming at the expense of Gold Medallion members getting access to those seats in advance.

Comments

  1. “Oh, and they’re changing seat covers. Apparently we’re supposed to be excited about that?”

    But when AA changes a sandwich in First, we all do a happy dance?

    As I’ve said before, yes, Skymiles aren’t the easiest to use. But as a Plat, the planes are clean and on-time, the crews are happy, and now I have less competition on last minute tickets for Economy+ seats. Sorry, Golds. Y’all should fly more.

    And you can call BE whatever you want. Give me that Westin blanket and pillow, and I am a happy camper.

  2. I think the DL hate has been a little strong on the BA blogs. This analysis is totally off base: “The only service change here is that those in Comfort+ receive “complimentary beer, wine and spirits,” and “complimentary premium snacks on domestic flights >900 miles.” Sounds nice, right? Well, until a couple of days ago Delta gave Gold Medallion members seated in economy a drink voucher at check-in, which they could use regardless of whether they were in Main Cabin or Economy Comfort. So for elite members this isn’t really an improvement.”. The Have One On Us vouchers entitled you to ONE free drink or ONE free premium snack. Now you get both and probably can have more than 1 beer if you choose for free. How is that not an improvement? The main difference now is that Golds and Silvers can’t select these seats at time of booking, they have to wait for their selection window. In terms of fairness, I think that is the right thing to do. I’m a Plat and if my upgrade doesn’t clear, I sure as hell would rather be sitting in Comfort+ than the Main Cabin. So when I book my flight, this allows me a greater chance to secure a Comfort+ seat. And if the upgrade clears, hopefully some lucky Gold or Silver can have that seat. To me, it seems that DL is trying their best to preserve a better experience for their most frequent/presumably higher revenue fliers, which is probably the right business thing to do.

  3. BusinessElite service, it appears, is also discontinued from JFK-SEA in favor of regular domestic first. I guess the city pair couldn’t support that premium of a product…

  4. The other change implied in the announcement is that Delta is rolling out their “Basic Economy” fares more broadly, which as they’ve already announced are not eligible for advance seat selection or upgrades even for elite members. We’ll see whether that offering truly introduces a new lower price point, or just takes over the current lowest fare.

  5. Just goes to reinforce my strategy of pursuing Silver status amongst multiple airlines, rather than concentrating on just one. With $15k monthly MS, you can get Silver on UA, DL and be 10k on the way to AA Gold. Then just fly on price and schedule but still get a baseline of elite benefits.

  6. So you fly 50k miles BIS and you cannot even select a Economy Comfort+ seat when you book your ticket? Well done Delta.:(

  7. Lucky,
    I am Platinum with Delta. Do you figure that under this new system that when I book a trip for my wife (Gold) and myself in the same record that we’ll both have access to Comfort+ at the time of booking?

  8. This is a big joke to me. They’re not really improving anything. They’re putting lipstick on a rotting pig carcass. Maybe they realize how bad their product sucks compared to international carriers they’re competing with on transatlantic/pacific routes and they’re trying to catch up?

  9. As a Delta fanboy/apologist, I’m not quite seeing the unmitigated pushback here over the loss of a “have one on us” ticket and the 72-hour window for GM Comfort + seat selection. I think the reasons why have been stated on here, but I don’t think anyone has quite honed in on the fact that Delta is the first domestic legacy airline to truly create a “premium economy” section in international, much less in domestic.

    I mean, defend Economy Plus and Main Cabin Extra all you want, but you’re just getting extra legroom and earlier boarding. Delta is taking a cue from VX’s Main Cabin Select and giving you unlimited booze and free food in “Comfort +.” Notice they deleted the word “Economy” from the “Comfort”, because they intend to make it, or at least market it, as a cabin of its own. That’s a huge, huge amenity, and sure, if Delta giveth that amenity it isn’t quite going to be the easy-to-score freebie for GM that it used to be. I’m not offended.

    In any event, there’s a reason Delta has fans and that’s because it’s innovative and stylish where other airlines aren’t. Laugh at the quilted seats, but don’t they look GOOD, Ben? (Yes, yes they do.)

    My “ick factor” with this announcement is limited to the renaming of BusinessElite to “Delta One,” which is just ridiculous. Delta One does not sound like a premium cabin; it sounds like a bank or a motorsports competition. I give it two years before Delta One just becomes Delta Business Class or something more straightforward, since this smacks of United / “Allegis” to me. Of course, United is still sticking with the asinine GlobalFirst and BusinessFirst cabin naming scheme, so who the hell knows anymore!

  10. @Erik

    Silvers couldn’t get free E+ at booking, only at T-24, and not on international routes. They get a small upgrade with the new system to free alcohol and snacks, because they didn’t get HOOUs.

  11. To Neil S’ point. I’m pretty much a weekly domestic flyer on DL (ATL). I planned a trip to ABQ for yesterday and figured I’d give AA a try ( even with a connection in DFW) for maybe a status match (DL Plst) for 2015.

    My Atl dep on AA had a short mechanical delay ( a new AB plane) and the DFW-ABQ leg was a complete cluster. A scheduled 2:05pm arrival turned into a 7:45pm arrival. Even worse than the 5 1/2 hour delay was the cluelessness, ineptitude and indifference displayedby virtually every AA employee at DFW. By the way, the passengers were ALL incredibly patient thru this long ordeal. We had it all, mechanical-1 hour to diagnose. No needed part at DFW? Finding a new plane…oops, crew just timed out. Find a new crew. Finally board everyone for the 3rd time and we sit…waiting an additional 50 minutes waiting for fuel at DFW!

    As soon as I arrived in ABQ, I cancelled my AA return and booked DL. Lesson learned.

  12. Lucky,

    It was great listening to your commentary on Fox news today about the Delta changes, American Airlines upgrades, and change in global hotel cancellation policies. Keep up the good work in keeping airlines and hotels honest.

  13. @ Neil S. — And I’ve long given Delta a TON of credit for what a solid operation they run, except for SkyMiles. Delta is already excellent operationally. They don’t have to change much. So that’s why I’m not going to give them credit over a change which doesn’t actually make much of a different.

    As far as complimenting American goes, I’m giving them credit because the previous situation was horrible and they improved it. But even so, they’re still probably not on the level of Delta.

  14. @Ben, do you really think these changes aren’t actually making much of a difference? Free IFE, drinks, food and exclusive overhead space in Comfort + is absolutely a tangible step-up from existing Economy Comfort, not to mention Economy Plus and Main Cabin Extra — these are amenities for a cabin no other legacy carrier has. Color me very interested in this.

  15. @ Nick — It’s a *slight* upgrade, I think. But that’s not offset by Gold members no longer getting free access in advance and the disappearance of the drink coupons, in my opinion.

  16. @Ben, Gold gets free access in advance, just 72 hours in advance. And they can still score exit rows at booking, so if extra legroom is the issue, Golds can at least secure that. The free drink coupon was just that — a coupon for one free drink — while C+ is unlimited drinks plus food. If the very worst case scenario is that I pay $7 for a bloody mary while seated in an exit row, I can survive, given the very real upside of the benefits in C+.

  17. Also, quite frankly, given the uproar over the loss of the “Have One On Us” coupons, I think it’s highly likely Delta reissues them and caves on the issue. It’s easy enough for them to give away, and gives them lots of goodwill.

  18. @Nick, comfort+/ economy comfort is a joke compared to the REAL premium economy offered by international carriers, and since Delta wants to cram people into their main cabin like sardines for 15 hour ultra-long haul routes from LA to Oz, they need to do better with their so-called “step up” from their weak Economy Comfort product. I don’t believe in giving them credit for not completely sucking. They could be doing so much more for their international products but they choose not to because they lack innovation. Check premium economy products on Cathay, Virgin Australia, Qantas or Air New Zealand. When you draw comparisons with carriers that have smaller profit margins than the giant that is Delta, it makes you wonder why they’re half-assing when it comes to their product. I’ve flown in Delta “economy comfort” on their 777 to Australia and it was pure hell on earth. My sister has flown both Air New Zealand premium economy and mentioned that it was like a “baby business class” because they actually serve a choices from the business class menu and have their actual own cabin. When I’m stuck on a plane for several hours, I could give a flying rats ass about exclusive overhead space. I care about leg room and seat comfort and it doesn’t look like this new product (like their old) will deliver on this.

  19. @ Nick — Not disagreeing, but also don’t feel like these changes warrant an orgy… which you seem to disagree with.

  20. @Ben, since when is an orgy a bad idea? They are *always* warranted!

    @Reine, I guess you’re looking at this from an international perspective and I am looking at it from a domestic perspective. It will revolutionize domestic travel. It will pale in comparison to Air New Zealand and Asian carriers’ premium economy cabins on international routes, but it will certainly blow AA’s and UA’s extra-legroom seats out of the water.

  21. If Delta really wanted to take market share from their competitors by changing their inflight product, they should create a true premium economy international product that people would actually seek out. Extra legroom is okay, but Comfort+ has no extra width. They need the domestic first class seats as economy comfort seats for the long haul flights (similar to what Cathay does). The current Comfort+ will just be for DM/PM upgrades in my opinion.

  22. I’m just saying, when you look at the sheer size of Delta’s profit, it makes me wonder why carriers whose profits are much smaller invest so much more in their products and customer comfort than Delta does even though they have so much more $$. That’s why I don’t like them. They throw out the bare minimum but somehow they’ve convinced people to look at it as “well, at least they don’t complete suck ass!”. We should be holding them to the same standard as any other international carrier because they pull in A LOT from international routes.

  23. @Reine, why don’t you fly some intra-European “business class” and come back and tell me why Delta’s enhanced Comfort + seating is so horrible.

    What you’re essentially saying is that you want Delta to outfit its international AND its domestic fleet with hybrid business/economy seats like Air New Zealand has? That’s an unreasonable, and never-going-to-happen, expectation.

    I don’t understand why everyone is stomping their feet over this — oh wait, I do, and it’s because such a huge component of BA readers will whine and object to ANY change — because Delta isn’t eliminating domestic first or “Delta One” (LOLOL, ugh). Delta is really just ADDING a new cabin here. Why the complaints? Because they didn’t add a gold-plated Emirates first class suite for you?

  24. You’re the only one talking about domestic delta service. When did I say that they needed to outfit it’s international AND domestic planes with seats similar to Air NZ? I didn’t. I could honestly care less about 2-5 hour flights. I have family in Qatar and New Zealand so I’m speaking about their crappy international long haul products only since those are the trips I take more often. And I don’t think you can call it a new cabin when they’re simply replacing some seats in the front of the main cabin. They aren’t even getting exclusive bathrooms for comfort plus, are they? Will there be an actual wall dividing comfort plus from the rest of the main cabin?

  25. And I’d encourage you to fly their economy comfort product for 15 hours and then come back and let me know how you feel about their product as a whole.

  26. Call me silly, but free drinks is a pretty darn good perk. Plus, Gold will still have access if they are open when the window opens, and they often will be. I think it is a very good enhancement and more than offsets losing those vouchers where you only got one drink.

  27. @Nick They’re probably copying TWA. Before they merged with AA their international business class was TransWorld One.

  28. I must be the only non-elite Delta flyer, b/c I’m really upset that this looks to me like a way of saying “you have to pay extra now to pick your seat. If you want the best price, you’re taking the middle seat and getting on last, so be sure to check that carryon bag..” I see a lot less Delta flying in my future. (Not a WHOLE lot less, as I am a hub-captive. But, when I have a choice, I’m not flying DL.)

  29. @ Nick — Dude, nobody is complaining (or at least not me). My point is simply that this is a fresh coat of paint and not a super innovative new product, as Delta seems to be marketing it.

  30. The biggest problem here is for the corporate traveler. Many booking tools have no ability to avoid the E fare except to wait for them to sell out. Why would Delta not offer elites standard benefits for any fare? Complete disincentive to choose Delta if also looking to follow booking window policies. Needs to be a reversal of this ASAP.

  31. I guess my biggest issue is Delta dropping the “have one on us”perk and are not offering the cabin improvement for four months. We were also not given any advance notice of the loss of that benefit as medallion customers, who obviously have some loyalty to achieve that classification. That being said having a “have one on us” coupon for a free drink for a morning flight was kind of pointless for me.

  32. Over the last 5 years, I have fluctuated between Plat – Gold. Delta has been slowly taking away benefits from Medallion members. I have to say that I am upset that I can no longer book complimentary “comfort +” when purchasing the ticket. I don’t care anything about the free drinks, or food. I’d rather have the leg room, and bring my own food. I might as well fly a different airline, and sit in the back. Sounds like that is what I will be doing most of the time with Delta now anyways. Way to go Delta…..

  33. I recently booked a round trip ticket in Comfort+. Price wise, it costs the same as the old Economy Comfort, and it can be booked the same way by adding it in and paying an upgrade fee during booking and before departure. I’m not a medallion member, but I am a SkyMiles member and I was able to book Comfort+ w/out any problems. Also, Comfort+ customers get SkyPriority boarding before group 1, and they get free entertainment streaming through Wi-Fi. They just need to enter their seat number in a section on the Delta Studio webpage.

  34. I can not say it any better than Jessica . Since I fly out of a city that has very limited direct flights I have to connect through Detroit, Atlanta or Minneapolis. So do the math, to get an Economy Comfort Plus seat for a Gold member like me will start at $19.95 PER segment and go up depending on the route ect. So that means I will incur an additional $79,80 per itinerary just to get a little extra leg room. The free drinks are not a major consideration to me so who cares especially on early morning flights. Guess Delta is catering to folks that like to dink wine or liquor in the morning. This use to be complementary to Gold members so once again Delta is catering to the wealthy and welled healed business traveler who works for a company that will allow their employee to add this to a ticket. Since I value my job I will have to forgo what use to be a perk for Gold and sit in the back. Since I will have to do that why would I stay with Delta???? So once again they have come up with a new anti-loyalty program. Way to go Delta .

  35. Seems like ther are a lot of different opinions about what is an improvement. 😉
    My vote happens to be for legroom.
    Does Comfort + offer more legroom than economy comfort? Than an exit row?
    A Delta rep today told me that it offered more legroom than the exit rows.
    Domestic flights; I chose to believe her, with some skepticism..
    We’ll see.

    But, I also have to book transatlantic, and need legroom to sleep ( sore knee.)
    I hitnk I’ll book exit rows…unless someone or something convinces me that I can do as well as or better than exit row…for legroom on a 767-300 or 400 row approx 20 or 21 or thereabouts.
    Have you checked the exit rows on an Airbus 330?
    Slowpoke

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