Greedy: Delta To Add A Surcharge For Their New A350 Business Class

Airlines are upping their game when it comes to the quality of their premium cabin products. For the most part airlines aren’t directly increasing fares to justify this, which is to say that a full fare business class ticket shouldn’t change because a new product is introduced. Instead airlines hope that they’ll be able to fill more seats in their premium cabins, and hopefully more passengers will be booked in the higher fare classes due to increased demand.

For example, when Qatar Airways introduced their revolutionary Qsuites they temporarily stopped making the most discounted business class fare buckets available on flights featuring the product. However, those booking full fare or near full fare business class tickets are able to book it without paying more than they would have before.

Delta is the next airline to introduce a great new business class product, as they’re introducing Delta One Suites on their upcoming A350s.

In terms of international service, the plane will first fly to Tokyo Narita as of October 30, 2017, and after that will fly to Seoul Incheon and Beijing.

While Delta hasn’t been making much premium cabin space available using SkyMiles on the route, business class fares remain as they were before.

However, AusBT reports that Delta plans on adding a surcharge for tickets booked in the Delta One Suite to/from Seoul Incheon. Apparently a memo was sent out to travel agents in Korea, advising that surcharges will apply to Delta One Suite bookings. Specifically:

  • Those booked in discounted business class fare classes (in the “I” and “Z” fare classes) will have to pay a $500 one-way surcharge
  • Those booked in full fare business class fare classes (C, D, and J) will have to pay a $250 one-way surcharge.


Does this fare look like it’s in need of a surcharge?

Delta has confirmed that this is in fact accurate, though we don’t yet know:

  • How long this will apply for, and whether it will just apply on the A350s, or also on the 777s once they’re reconfigured
  • If this will just apply to the Seoul Incheon route, or also other routes

Best I can tell this hasn’t been implemented yet, though if it is, this seems entirely moronic to me. I get airlines wanting to earn a revenue premium for a new product, though that’s exactly why there are five business class fare buckets. If there’s increased demand for the product, that should work itself out naturally in the form of more paid business class tickets, and hopefully more paid business class tickets in the higher fare buckets.

Let’s also keep in mind that while the Delta One Suites look nice, this product doesn’t have a bigger footprint than just about any of the other A350 products out there. These suites are really just modified Vantage XL seats. Sure, there are R&D costs to all this and the seats aren’t cheap to manufacture, but on a per flight basis these seats aren’t taking up any more space than they were before.

Bottom line

If Delta follows through with this idea, I doubt it will stick around for long. Trying to charge a full fare business class passenger paying $7,000+ for a ticket an additional $500 because the airline has a new seat (which is space efficient) is insulting. I hope Delta reconsiders this idea.

What do you think — is it reasonable (or smart) for an airline to add a surcharge for a new product?

Comments

  1. No surprise that a US carrier would do that. So much for the idea of buying premium seats gets you straight-forward pricing without added fees or surcharges. Especially surcharges that high.

  2. Did Delta not get the memo that there’s a lot of competition on US-Asia/v.v. routes?

    Couldn’t they have done what SQ did when they introduced suites, and give the new A350 biz. product a new fare class with a higher fare?

    Sure, we all know they’d be lying about the new “class,” but at least it would look like their heart was in the lie.

    Delta should be embarrassed for itself. $500 surcharge for an extra piece of plastic that slides?

  3. Its fair game. Since delta has to compete with ME3 which was subsidized by their government, while delta have to provide jobs for US citizen (including grandmas) and transport the heroes of american people.

    Don’t be cheap!!! At least we won’t beat you up and dragged you out of the plane.

  4. Looks like Delta Airlines totally lost their mind.
    Charging extra money for terrible Thompson Vantage seats is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen.
    i really hope the new Delta business class cabins will go out empty and will bite into Delta’s revenue.

  5. This is so dumb. Aren’t there still situations on A350 routes where there could be an equipment change? What then? Refund everyone their surcharges that they paid to fly in the suites? Just a bad idea all around.

  6. I think what we’re looking at is the difference between what we know and what the average person knows. We know that this seat is the same product used by SAS, Qantas, South African A330s, and others with a wall around it. A fine product but hardly a world-shaking one. But the average consumer buys into the hype and the “suites”. I think DL feels they can extract extra money because of this, even if people like us will point out that it’s hardly worth it

  7. Testament to the humble airline who thinks it deserve$ every peso because of its superiority to whom who don’t agree

  8. @James, I really don’t think you can accuse anyone who pays over $7000 for a one way plane ticket of being cheap.

  9. What’s the difference between this and if they simply hid the extra charge in a different level of fare bucket or availability for the routes with the new configuration aircraft?

    If someone complains because merely the information about how much extra it costs is made explicitly obvious, then cover that line with your finger and stop letting your brain be fooled.

  10. It worth what people pay for it. That how a free market economy works. If it’s better than the completion people will pay a premium for it. If not then they will reduce the prices. The market decides, not some marketing guru.

  11. BA has been tacking on ridiculous surcharges to get a seat assignment in Club World for a long time, if you’re not elite. This doesn’t surprise me from Delta.

  12. Sad because I can get first class fairs of that length for a similar price… On a better airline…

  13. And, Ben, that’s why we are here, to tell people that it is NOT worth the surcharge, so they can better use their travel budget, that’s all.

  14. I’m guessing you are looking at a one-way fare, which for business class is almost always high, which also makes the surcharge seem unnecessary.

    Roundtrip fares are much more reasonable although not cheap.

  15. @Scott
    You pay $7000 easily but complain for another $500? That’s cheap… but if you use point and complain about $500, that’s cheaper…. lol

  16. What I don’t understand is why are the ICN routes getting charged this while the NRT/PEK routes aren’t?

  17. @Emirates4Ever : well said. The KE new biz “Apex Suites” (also used in Oman Air and others) doesn’t have a door, but offers FAR more open space per seat.

  18. So they’re not allowed to roll the $500 into regular airfare and keep quiet about this? Would anybody think twice about a $7500 business class ticket?

  19. I don’t understand why a company seeking to maximize revenue is “greedy” or “moronic.” As another commented stated, it’s a free market economy and this is obviously a transparent charge because we are discussing it. It’s just price by another name. Also, as another commenter pointed out, the readers of this blog are more informed on various premium cabin products across various airlines than the typical consumer. That increased information changes our pricing profile with the company relative to others. I would venture to guess that folks like us are the minority in the marketplace and that most people who board the plane will be lured in by the marketing hype regarding suites. And I am not sure it’s entirely unwarranted – even if it’s the same seat, the walled in privacy is a big plus. I don’t fly all the time like some of you, but I just booked tickets for an annual European trip and of those 10 transatlantic flights, 4 of them will wind up being on Delta (I live in Atlanta so I am a Delta “fan” but it’s also convenience). A suite product on Delta is a very attractive offer even if they are not as nice as those on other internaitonal carriers that are far less convenient to me. The bottomline, this is a transparent free market and if this charge does not sit well with the market, it will be dropped when Delta doesn’t fill the seats with revenue passengers. However, I would agree with the sentiment that for rev pax who are paying thousands of dollars for the seat, a $250-$500 charge is not going to significantly alter their willingness-to-pay. And in good pricing strategy, it really comes down to willingness-to-pay.

  20. I’m skeptical DL are really desperate to attract the business of people who can’t spell “fares” correctly.

  21. If somehow the flight were delayed or canceled, and the passenger can get a refund, will surcharge be included in refund or not?

  22. The worst part about this is that many customers are actually penalized for buying the super-expensive Delta business-class airfares, as Delta limits mileage earning to 75,000 per ticket.

  23. Keeping it as a surcharge means that people paying with miles will probably have to pay it. Also, I’m curious if the law requires that Kayak and Google flights to include this in their price listings.

  24. Delta biz class fares to Asia are already high compared to most other carriers. If you buy these tickets as I do, you won’t notice the surcharge. Whether it’s 14k or 15k round trip is the same. A different question could be why their pricing is so high in general. Other carriers are under $10k.

  25. $9000?! Well for half that price I can get a roundtrip on a (superior-in-all-aspects) EK business class ticket between LA and Mumbai which does the trick for me. $9,000 for an extra sliding door and the same seats that SAS would charger about $3K-4K roundtrip for seems a little over the top. I understand that this is a one way fare so we see the Z and I fares disappear being left with the C, D and J fares but I still think that you can fly a much better sky team airline or a better airline in general for that routing. But overall, let’s see actually how profitable this is for Delta and maybe then they’ll realize.

  26. @IDerek (DebrianTravels.com) – I agree with you on that. Customers will speak with their wallets and it will hopefully change Delta’s mind about this. I won’t be flying that class until conditions become more agreeable (either Delta lowers their fees or I win the lottery and I have more money than I know what to do with).

    Does anyone know why the surcharge is being applied to the ICN route only?

  27. @ Derek at least you are honest enough to admit to your blatant bias for Delta lol.
    Sure there is nothing wrong with a business maximizing revenues, but there has to be value behind it. If a business wants to add an extra surcharge there bloody well better be some value behind it. If you think taking a year old seat design and slapping a plastic door on it adds $1000 in value, then by all means throw away your money – its your money after all.
    And yep, the market will decide, we are here to add our voices, and since you are visiting here, you get to hear our opinions, that this is a ripoff surcharge that adds ZERO value to the experience. As RD above points out, you can get the same seat minus the door for far less, or fly biz or even first on EK for the same price and much greater value. Just as I used to be a platinum Delta (inherited from NWA – a decent airline actually), and using the principles of free market and finally getting fed up with their crappy service, took my money elsewhere.
    The marketing geniuses at Delta are counting on passengers like you who fail to see what a ripoff the surcharges are, and we here point it out so our fellow travelers (except for you since you made up your mind it’s the best deal on earth lol) don’t get ripped off paying this surcharge.

  28. I think the surcharge is only being applied at the onset of service on the A350. It’s similar to the premiums that were added to fares when the A380 came online at various airlines. Their older products/planes offered their regular fares and the new product/plane had a higher fare. That premium eventually went away as more A380s came online at each airline and as the A380 products got migrated to each airlines other long-haul aircraft (where applicable). I don’t see a problem with this but since its Delta, the haters are gonna hate.

  29. @Jr – From the article: “Delta has confirmed that this is in fact accurate.” So unless you are disputing that that is the case this is not a rumor.

  30. Surcharges have to be justified to the DOT by law and have to be for some additional service. If Delta wanted to raise its fare price, it would simply need to type in a different one. No need to reinvent the wheel. I suspect things in this story aren’t what they seem. Since this “surcharge” hasn’t been implemented yet, let’s not speculate too much.

  31. I think it will stick. Look at how many people STILL pay BA and VS’s “fuel” surcharges rather than going with the competition, especially on award tickets. And in BA’s case, that’s for one of the most dated Biz products in the market. I can see Oscar Munoz at UA thinking “shit, we need to do this for the new Polaris seats on the 777-300ER” and suddenly adopting it.

  32. Oh pls charge it Delta. In fact, pls charge much more. So that everyone can boycott u. Thank you.

  33. @Emirates4Ever – “@ Derek at least you are honest enough to admit to your blatant bias for Delta lol.”

    Not sure what you are lol’ing about, but what he said IS correct: it’s a free enterprise market and businesses are free to price their products however they see fit. If people don’t see value in a $9,000 seat to Europe which will cost most than their entire vacation stay there for two weeks, then that’s their business. Are you one of those who think government should regulate pricing? Delta is not the only game in the across-the-pond game and others are coming from Europe in the coming years to enter the value priced US-Europe routes.
    -Retired Northwest MD-11 captain

  34. Ridiculous. Good luck with this I would take KE any day over Delta ex-ICN anyway.

    I think another commenter already mentioned this but BA charges for seat assignments in their business class cabins and I think it cheapens their brand and product enormously. Why piss off your premium cabin customers for very little upside?

  35. This is disgusting BUT if people pay for it Delta will be happy to charge it. This is where WE customers are the ones to blame in all this terrible relationship with US airlines. People complain about UA but keep flying it. Delta comes with this insulting charge but I bet you their business class will be full. Thus, if customers are stupid enough to keep fomenting their practices why would they change it? Stop flying UA. Do not fly Delta A350. Let Wall St take care of the rest.

  36. How exactly is this happening/ being charged? I just did a dummy booking on delta.com for DTW-ICN roundtrip for May. The A350 is flying by then, and when I go through the booking process for Delta One it just has the fare. Granted, it’s a high fare ($7,500 roundtrip), but nowhere does it show an upgrade fee / upcharge as itemized. IE, it doesnt show $6,500 fare + $1000 for the suite (as this is a Z fare). Is this truly accurate? At what point might I be charged? How did this work?

  37. There is no surcharge, its just the way they price tickets. All airlines do this, for different fleets, different peak days of the year. It’s very popular to have a $50 “surcharge” on a Friday in December. Time to get over this. This is standard business practice of how airlines price tickets. If the price is too high, then they will lower the price. If it’s too low, they will raise it. Happens all the time.

  38. A better product should — will — cost more. But they are totally dumb: they should have simply increased the fare and announced a $500 discount if flying the inferior Boeing product (airplane and seat).

  39. DL should change the class of service to International F – and then just sell it that way. Of course, it isn’t in the league of Air France F – but still better to make it a different class of service rather than charge a sleazy surcharge.

  40. Theses ppl who have so much too comment on, yet practical beg for an upgrade at the gate for these long haul internationals….lol. Pathetic.

  41. @JamesH please do quote me where I said governments should control prices, before accusing me of being a communist LMAO. Speaking out and pointing out something that is a RIPOFF ≠ supporting centrally planned communist economies.
    My condolences to what happened to your airline before it got utterly destroyed by Delta, it was one of the last decent legacy airlines in the United States. At least there is JetBlue and Southwest Airlines.

    @Michelle woman, I don’t get upgrades, I buy premium tickets, as do probably most of the other people here who can see what a steal this surcharge is, hence we know it has no value at all. Please cite a time and location when “theses ppl” had to “practical beg” for an upgrade. I’ll wait when you can list any time ever that I “begged” for an upgrade at any flight, let alone a long haul international flight.

  42. How is pricing a better product higher than a inferior product “greedy” or “insulting? Surely it’s the opposite – expecting to charge the same for an inferior product is insulting

  43. It’s their punt to raise revenue and they’re being transparent about the surcharge. Fail to understand the outrage. I’m sure Samchui or TPG will be on these flights soon.

  44. Agree to what
    flightwonk said :

    ((((((August 15, 2017 at 11:06 am
    This is so dumb. Aren’t there still situations on A350 routes where there could be an equipment change? What then? Refund everyone their surcharges that they paid to fly in the suites? Just a bad idea all around.))))

    XWB’s opinion: What if there is an equipment change? Plus The 350 uses Carbon Fibre in most parts if the body. So the mantance fee is decreased. The engines burn less fuel. Cost decreased. Winglets and wing shape are the most aerodynamic in the world. Fuel consumption decreased. Then Cost decreased. Finally, yes cabin is pressurised the passenger is more comfortable, so you can add a surcharge. Seams ok right? But remember. The carbon fibre can allow more flight cycles even with more pressurisation. If I am the boss. I will buy an all A350 fleet for international and be budget

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