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We’re just 10 days away from the launch of Delta’s brand-new Airbus A350, the first plane to offer the airline’s premium-economy product, Premium Select. This week, I had an opportunity to join a media flight, where I spent a few minutes in Premium Select after two hours in a fantastic Delta One Suite.
If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, I recommend starting with this post to get a feel for the plane and its layout. Then check out the video tour below for an up-close look at Premium Select.
Premium Select launches on October 30, when Delta’s Airbus A350 begins international service, flying from Detroit (DTW) to Tokyo (NRT). So far, it’ll be available on the below A350 routes, and will be making its way to Delta’s 777s beginning in 2018:
- October 30, 2017 — Detroit (DTW)-Tokyo (NRT)
- November 18, 2017 — Detroit-Seoul (ICN)
- January 17, 2018 — Detroit-Beijing (PEK)
- March 2018 — Detroit-Amsterdam (AMS)
- March 24, 2018 — Atlanta (ATL)-Seoul
- April 19, 2018 — Detroit-Shanghai (PVG)
We’ll be sharing a full review within a couple of weeks, but there are some highlights I’d like to point out now.
1. It’s Delta’s First True Premium Economy
This is not Comfort+ — in fact, Delta’s upgraded coach product isn’t even available on the A350. Instead, you can purchase a seat in this entirely new class of service, called Premium Select.
As you’ll see below, the seat and amenities are comparable to what you’ll find in domestic first class, including increased seat width and pitch, a large seat-back screen and more.
2. There’s More Personal Space Than Coach
The A350 and 777 operate some of Delta’s longest international routes — Atlanta (ATL) to Seoul (ICN) clocks in at just over 15 hours, for example — so having extra space to stretch out is key.
I found Premium Select to be fairly spacious — you’ll have the most room to stretch out in the bulkhead, row 20, but the five rows behind offer a decent amount of space, with larger armrests, an 18.5-inch seat width and 38 inches of pitch. Note that seats will measure 19 inches wide on the 777, matching what you’ll find on American’s 777s.
There are also a couple of small storage areas, including a small space below the display and a small compartment to the left or right of the seat cushion. I’ll identify the most spacious seats in a subsequent post, but with a 2-4-2 arrangement, I prefer the paired window seats best.
3. Everyone Gets a Leg Rest
It’s still a far cry from a flat-bed suite, but all Premium Select seats do offer an adjustable foot and leg rest, and up to 7 inches more recline than you’ll get back in coach. The headrest is adjustable, too.
4. A 13.3-Inch Entertainment System at Non-Bulkhead Seats
I tend to bring my own content these days, either loaded up on an iPad or laptop, but most passengers opt for the seat-back screen — and you get a huge one in Premium Select. The display measures 13.3 inches, and it’s super sharp, with the same content you’ll find in Delta One and coach. (Note that bulkhead seats have an 11-inch flip-out display.) You also get to use a pair of noise-canceling headphones from LSTN, which I found to be pretty decent both during my “Silent Disco Flight” and our demo trip this week.
5. Enhanced Service, With a Dedicated Flight Attendant
The Premium Select cabin has its own flight attendant, although with 48 passengers to look after in a full cabin, they may have their hands full. Passengers also receive Sky Priority check-in, security screening, boarding and expedited baggage delivery.
6. Upgraded Meals and Drinks Are Included
On long-haul flights, Delta offers complimentary wine, beer and spirits in economy during the meal service, and they’re available in Premium Select, too. And while meals aren’t on par with what you’ll get in biz, they’re definitely a step up from coach, and served on fancy Alessi flatware.
7. You’ll Get a Westin Blanket and Tumi Amenity Kit
Co-branded bedding has now become the norm with US-based legacy carriers — American just joined forces with Casper, United offers pillows and blankets by Saks Fifth Avenue and Delta’s been partnering with Westin for the better part of four years. Delta’s partnership now extends to premium economy, too, with a light Westin-branded throw blanket.
The airline’s also offering Tumi amenity kits. They’re modest compared to business-class offerings, but all the essentials are there, including socks, an eye mask, ear plugs, a dental set and hand cream.
8. No Complimentary Upgrades
Perhaps you’re a Diamond Medallion member flying on an economy ticket — a free upgrade to Premium Select sounds pretty nice, right? Well, fat chance there — complimentary upgrades just aren’t a thing, though there’s always a chance you could get a bump if coach is overbooked.
That said, you do have some options to move up from economy to Premium Select, including:
- Redeem a Global Upgrade Certificate (GUC), which can also be used to move from economy to Delta One Suites
- Call your Delta reservations line and upgrade using miles, based on availability
- Pay for an upgrade on Delta.com or via a reservations agent
So, yes, it’s entirely possible to book an economy ticket and sit in Premium Select, but you’ll need to use miles, cash or a certificate to make that happen.
9. It Doesn’t Come Cheap
Most of the Premium Select fares I’ve come across are in the $2,000 range, but depending on your destination and when you’re traveling, you may be able to score a seat for $1,500 round-trip.
In some cases, Premium Select is only a few hundred dollars more than regular economy, so it pays to search for fares in both cabins before you pull the trigger. Note that Premium Select fares earn 150% Medallion-Qualifying Miles, compared to 100% for most fares in coach. Redeemable miles accrue based on the cost of your ticket.
Award tickets start at 65,000 miles, but I’ve seen them climb as high as 195,000 miles each way, in which case Delta One can be had for just 5,000 more miles. And, uhh, yeah, you better be picking the Suite in that case.
Rates can vary tremendously depending on the route and date, but it’s worth pricing out an award on Delta’s site just in case.
I’ve seen a fair amount of criticism regarding the 18.5-inch seat width on the A350 — does Premium Select really offer much of an advantage when regular coach seats are 18 inches wide? Yes, absolutely — the extra half inch does make a difference, as do the larger armrests, fold-out leg and foot rests, larger IFE screen and more.
Personally, I would have preferred to see wider seats and a 2-3-2 configuration, but even in its current iteration I wouldn’t hesitate to spend an extra couple hundred dollars for Premium Select on a long-haul flight.
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