Tag Archives: Delta

Pimp My Flight

19 May

It’s been interesting to read about, and experience some of the transformations going on in the world of commercial aviation lately. It’s really exciting times because it means a better overall flying experience for the consumer–especially those of us stateside who’ve gritted our teeth through subpar service for so long. I’ve had some truly cringe-worthy experiences flying cattle, I mean, coach class; those truly unfortunate times coveted seats upfront was just not an option. And, it’s been sometimes embarrassing when a gentleman or lady, seated next to me, clearly a foreigner not used to how we here have gotten used to roughing it, request an alcoholic beverage when those proverbial carts come rolling down the isle, only to find themselves in a complete state of bewilderment moments later when the Flight Attendant declares: That will be $7, please.

Times appear to be changing though. It seems the folks over at our familiar carriers, those we’ve taken to affectionately (or not) referring to as ‘legacy’ carriers’ are trying to spruce things up–a certain bounce seems to be pep in their steps. American’s going through a systemic fleet renewal (a long overdue overhaul) with the introduction of the stretched 777-300ER, including luxuries like power ports (at every seat) International Wi-Fi, walk-up bar for premium customers, and one of the better In-flight Entertainment systems out there. Delta’s sprucing up its planes and has announced orders for the latest version 737-900 and Airbus variants to be delivered in the next couple years. And, United is going through it’s own retrofitting process as well and is the only US carrier to have the 787 Dreamliner airborne.

Premium cabins are also seeing a transformation, too; not that these customers have had much to gripe about, to be fair. The meals have remained and the open bar, never threatened. However, more perks are being rolled out. 180 degree lie-flats have become commonplace, even domestically on coast to coast NY to LA/SF flights, with even the likes of jetBlue jumping in the game. I suppose defeats the whole notion of being a discount operator. Still, it’s a high revenue generating route so one cannot be overtly critical of their desire to want a piece of the pie. American offers the only 3-class service on these routes (the first class cabin is a replica more or less of what you’ll find in International Business in their new cabins). United’s PS service is an all new retrofitted two-class configuration.

Though by some accounts we’re still lagging behind some international carriers, we seem to be making some great progress. We’ll be watching and sharing our thoughts as these developments continue to unfold. Have some thoughts? Do share–would be great to hear about other experiences.

Between Business and Economy, A New Class Emerges

11 Apr

It’s commonly referred to as Premium Economy or Economy Plus/Comfort or Main Cabin Extra (locally) though it’s not entirely a new phenomenon. In some form it’s been around for years albeit limited to a number of airlines and serving as an additional revenue generating offering especially for airlines with just two-class configurations.

These days though, just about every major player’s onboard (pardon the pun). It’s growing increasingly popular and really beginning to carve its niche as a third or, indeed, fourth class, targeting a specific demographic – the leisure traveler who can afford to do a bit of splurging for just a bit more comfort and finesse. Though, perhaps, one may take the cynic route with the view that the situation in coach has just gotten so horrendous that it’s likely the only more decent way to fly as opposed to having to shell out the cash or premium miles for that business class seat.

It’s a bit of a wild west however in terms of these class of seats. There doesn’t appear to be too much consistency with the offering though I believe we’re starting to see some themes emerge as airlines become more competitive. Sadly however, domestic carriers still lag a bit here. In fact there isn’t really such a thing as Premium Economy this side of the Atlantic yet (with the exception of Air Canada on select jets). Most of the players here have decided to stick with simply bolstering the pitch of seats at the forward section of their Economy classes.

United has Economy Plus, Delta, Economy Comfort and American, Main Cabin Extra. All offering these seats at an extra cost to your average traveler. American is taking the lead however in creating a completely separate Main Cabin Extra cabin and the best pitch of the 3 carriers, 36″, on its new 777-300ER jet (retrofitted B772s arriving in the next few months will feature these seats, too). The best I’ve seen on Delta and United is 35″ in a similar class. The perks ends there though, no addnl. frills, with the exception of Delta that offers free alcoholic beverages on coast to coast flights – a nice touch and point of differentiation.
With rising competition however and the general state of the aviation industry on a healthier projection, I anticipate things will continue to progress in the right direction.

The brighter spot lies with Asian and some European carriers. On average we tend to see seat pitch at 38″ and wider widths. A couple clear standouts though are both Japan Airlines and Air New Zealand at an impressive pitch of 42″ offering exceptional cabin comfort.
The perks go on: Pre take-off champaign, better catering (British Airways touts Business Class meals), larger screens for In-flight Entertainment and Priority Boarding, etc., including, in a few cases, lounge access.

All these come with a premium though (up to $300 one way depending on the route) and at some point, one may wonder is it truly worth it? Curious to learn about experiences others may have. It’s a trend I’ll continue to follow.

Lan Airlines US

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