Whether you’re booking for business or leisure, the relationship between value and comfort is key. Many businesses allow their employees a ‘Business Class’ seat after 4 hours of flight but up until then, you’re stuck in economy. So when the chance comes to claim your wider seat, better entertainment and superior menu, you want to enjoy it. And not just that, with a proper reclining seat, you might even be able to get some sleep. So it’s come as no surprise to learn that people are fuming about the Delta premium economy con. Basically, while Delta do have a Premium Economy product, at some point during the booking process (after you’ve bought it) you could be downgraded to economy.
Premium Select is the genuine premium economy product from Delta. However, you only can buy a Premium Select ticket if your flight is serviced by the Airbus A350 aircraft – plus a couple of 777 routes in which the new cabin is retrofitted. Premium Select is not a better economy product, it is an affordable Business product. When Business is out of your or your company’s allowable range, you can book Premium Select.
However, there’s a problem. Delta also has an Economy plus product called Comfort+. To those familiar with budget airlines, it’s like choosing from one of the second or third columns in the offer panel. One gets you just a seat, the other two add a bag and a sandwich for a ridiculous mark up.
Delta’s Comfort+ is just this – the economy seat with food and a curtain pulled across, if you’re lucky. The difference between Comfort+ and Premium Select is roughly the same as between Virgin Economy Delight and Virgin Premium Economy. It’s a different seat, meal, drinks, and a different cabin.
What the problem with comfort plus being sold as Delta premium economy?
Mostly, my beef is with the downgrade. Say you go on Google flights or your American Express booking app or whatever comparison website you use and hit Premium, you’ll see all the usual suspects. American and US have their products as do Air France, Cathay Pacific, Virgin etc. However, you’ll see Delta is up at the top (if you’ve asked to see the cheapest first) and it’s $500+ cheaper than the next contender, Virgin.
So whether it’s business or pleasure, it looks like the same product for a much cheaper price. Try explaining an extra $1000 round trip to the booking team – it’s not going to happen.
So you book, but when your ticket arrives it says ‘Comfort+’. That’s okay, that sounds like Premium, right? Wrong.
Below are two images of the different seats in the different classes, taken directly from the Delta webpage.
As you can see, one seat reclines the other gives you ‘up to 3 inches’ more legroom. One is in the 2 seat formation, the other in the 3 seat formation, – it’s a straight dupe.
The annoying thing is, these economy-with-add-ons products are simply a result of airlines designing a budget product. They strip economy down and then resell you the elements to bring it back up to economy level. Virgin Economy Light is a seat and – you sit where we put you and you pay for your bag! Virgin Economy Delight is in the ‘more legroom’ area (read facing the wall) and you get a free bag. It’s a standard economy product and one all the other airlines agree is economy – So being sold a standard economy product as a premium product is a kick in the teeth.
No doubt, Delta think the websites are to blame, but someone at Delta could sort this out. Surely, no one should be paying hundreds of dollars more for 3” of extra legroom, a drink and possibly a magazine.