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Delta’s Launching Premium Economy with the A350

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Late last year, American Airlines announced that it would be rolling out a dedicated premium economy product on its wide-body planes, starting with the 787-900 Dreamliner later this year. The airline’s premium economy is expected to feature wider seats with leg rests, improved meal service and amenity kits on long-haul flights. Frequent flyers were immediately concerned that this could mean the end of upgrades to business from coach, but that’s unlikely to happen until premium economy is available fleet-wide, if at all.

Well, now another US-based airline is following suit: Delta’s new CEO Ed Bastian shared the news that the airline plans to add a premium economy cabin of its own, beginning with the Airbus A350 — the first of which is expected to be delivered in mid-2017:

Unfortunately we don’t have any details beyond that at this point, so there are many more questions than answers, but it is clear that Delta’s Airbus A350 will offer a three-cabin configuration, with Delta One business, premium economy and coach. We don’t know if that’ll mean Delta’s upgrade certificates will only move you up to premium economy on that plane, but that’s unlikely to be the case until the new cabin is available on all (or most) of the airline’s long-haul fleet.

American’s premium economy offering isn’t tremendously innovative.

As for what the new seats will look like? We haven’t the faintest idea, but we can probably expect something fairly similar to what American Airlines plans to introduce, giving passengers a “domestic first class” experience (with wider seats and more legroom) on long international flights.

Delta already has a “premium economy” fare class and earning structure listed on its chart — for now, that only applies to flights operated by Air France, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia, but Delta could choose to use the W fare class (which is just now rolling out for Comfort+) for its new product, too. So, IT-wise, the infrastructure is more or less already in place.

What do you think of Delta’s plan to offer premium economy?

H/T: @AirlineFlyer

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