Delta Premium Select (premium economy for purposes of this post) is fairly new. Delta introduced its first premium economy product and service in October 2017 when it began flying brand new A350-900s. In July 2018 the first remodeled Delta 777-200 began flying with premium economy.
This post is based on the flight from PVG to DTW with my son (outbound in Delta One suites) and a prior flight in premium economy on Delta’s A350.
- There are 48 premium economy seats. That is a huge number for a plane that seats barely over 300 total. To fill this cabin, Delta may need to keep prices low which would be great. Alternatively, the more seats that go unfilled, the better the chance of sitting beside an empty seat. Even in premium economy, that still makes a big difference as far as comfort.
- Video monitor and headphones. Compared to premium economy video screens on other airlines, Delta has one of the largest and offers probably the highest definition.
The LSTN headphones are the same as in Delta business class. They are substandard for business class but very good compared to headphones in premium economy on many other airlines.
- Color scheme. U. S. airlines typically have a boring “50 shades of gray” color scheme. Delta adds a pleasing bit of color in premium economy on the A350-900.
- Pre-Departure Beverages (PDBs). PDBs are emblematic of a premium airline experience. When I’ve flown in premium economy on other airlines, they also provided PDBs. Delta offers a very ordinary sparkling wine with PDBs.
- Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) Bonus. On Delta, premium economy earns just as many MQMs as discounted business class fares – 1.5 times the distance flown. That is very helpful for those wanting to earn elite status.
- Flight Attendant Service. The service of Delta flight attendants is consistently among the best of any U.S. carrier. Of course, some may rightly say that is not much of an endorsement. Nevertheless, while the Delta FAs don’t match the best in the world, they are pretty good. In premium economy, they are very available and quickly respond to requests even the call buton.
- Tumi Amenity Kit. The amenity kit is well stocked. Delta also provides slippers in premium economy.
The worst parts of premium economy on the A350 relate to the number of seats in this cabin.
- Putting 48 seats in premium economy means the seats are relatively narrow. Premium economy on Delta’s A350 is arranged 2-4-2. These seats are 18.5 inches wide. That’s only one centimeter wider than the economy seats on this plane. They are exactly the same width as economy seats on Delta 777-200s. In comparison, the premium economy seats on American Airline’s 787-9 and 777-200, 21 and 24 seats respectively, are 19 inches wide. Delta would have greatly improved passenger comfort by going to a 2-3-2 arrangement on the A350.
- Putting 48 seats in premium economy means that meal choices may be limited. Delta only offers two western choices. That is equivalent to what is offered in economy on many flights. Even with limited choice, they have run out of my preferred meal half the time I’ve flown in premium select. That highlights another fundamental problem with Delta – it doesn’t permit ordering meals in advance. Delta claims to have been studying this service for a long time and has conducted tests. There should be no mystery. Delta, and every other major airline, allows ordering special meals. Plus Delta lets, in fact encourages, passengers to order Asian meals in advance. American Airlines has been letting business – and first-class passengers order meals for years.
- Delta slashed benefits six months after introducing premium economy. Delta cutback the PDB choices from four to three, substituted plastic ware and plastic cups for glasses and silverware. Plus Delta put premium economy passengers in domestic first class on flights connecting to a premium economy flight. That was also taken away. On the flip side, cutting this benefit is helpful to Delta elites who struggle to get upgrades as it is.
- There is no Comfort Plus seating. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Delta premium economy is that it supplants all of the Comfort Plus extra legroom seats in coach. These seats were free “upgrades” for many Delta elites. Now elites who fly coach are stuck in seats with a pitch of 31″ – 32.” Elites in coach can hope for an oversold situation and an operational upgrade to premium economy. Using an upgrade certificate for premium economy would be a waste.
Delta has a very good premium economy product and service. However, I almost always buy economy tickets. The lack of extra-legroom seats in economy means that unless I can get upgraded to business class with a Global Upgrade Certificate or there is a really low price for premium economy, I will try to avoid Delta planes with premium economy.