Bellinis and Chocolates: Delta Adds a Touch of First Class to Economy on Longer Flights

July 8, 2019

Hot-towel service and welcome cocktails are no longer just for the elite on Delta Air Lines’ international flights.

The Atlanta-based carrier in November will offer expanded amenities to its economy class on flights over 6 1/2 hours, bringing a touch of patrician to the plebeians.

It is the latest in a series of moves made by Delta to elevate its onboard experience in an attempt to pull away from its U.S. rivals, American and United Airlines. The airline recently brought back free meals for economy passengers on some domestic routes, for instance.

As well, it brings Delta’s economy class closer to the experience that passengers receive on some Asian airlines, such as Cathay Pacific, that exclusively fly long-haul international routes.

“By doing this, Delta is bringing back the amenities that, frankly, have been gone for decades,” said Bob Mann, an airline and aviation expert. “As carriers rely more and more on international networks, they have to distinguish themselves over the water as well.”

Delta has been testing the experience on flights between Portland, Ore., and Tokyo this spring.

The service will be offered to everyone in the main cabin, including those who purchased the lowest basic economy fare.

“This is about investing in every single customer who chooses Delta, no matter where they sit on the plane,” Allison Ausband, Delta’s senior vice president of in-flight service, said in a news release. She said the new amenities were designed by flight attendants.

Delta also recently added free sparkling wine for main-cabin passengers on international flights, in addition to the already-available beer and wine lineup. “It tends to create some service competition where there really hasn’t been a lot,” Mann said. “It would be nice to get that 2 inches of (seat) pitch back, but at least you get your pre-departure beverage.”


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PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): CNS-DELTA-ECONOMY