Details: Delta Air Lines Restoring Inflight Service

Details: Delta Air Lines Restoring Inflight Service

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Virtually all major airlines have reduced service during the pandemic in order to minimize contact between flight attendants and passengers, and also to maximize the amount of time passengers spend with their masks on.

We’ve seen airlines continue to adjust service as time goes on. Delta Air Lines has just announced how it will be improving its inflight service in the coming weeks. The timing of this is no coincidence, as Delta will stop blocking seats as of May 1, 2021. On top of that, Delta has also announced that it will be easier to earn SkyMiles Medallion status in 2021.

Delta’s current inflight service details

Delta has historically been known for providing some of the best service of any major US airline. During the pandemic the airline has cut back service more than its peers, all while blocking seats on flights.

For some context on the current state of Delta’s domestic inflight experience, here’s what the economy class experience is like:

  • For all flights, passengers are offered a snack bag with two snacks, a bottle of water, hand sanitizer, and a napkin
  • For flights of 1,500+ miles, passengers are offered an additional snack bag prior to landing

Delta’s current economy snack pack for all passengers

Then here’s what the first class experience is like:

  • For all flights, passengers are offered a snack bag with two snacks, a bottle of water, hand sanitizer, and a napkin
  • For flights of 500+ miles, passengers are offered beer or wine
  • For flights of 900+ miles, passengers are offered a snack box
  • For flights of 1,500+ miles, passengers are offered a second snack bag

Delta’s current first class snack box for first class passengers

There are a few interesting things that set Delta apart:

  • Delta offers economy passengers nothing but water, even on transcon flights (American serves economy passengers drinks on request on longer flights)
  • Delta doesn’t offer any coffee or tea, soft drinks, or liquor, even in first class (American offers all of those in first class on most flights)
  • Delta doesn’t offer a meal service in first class, even on transcon flights (American offers hot meals in first class on transcon flights)

While a lot of people have complained about how Delta is uncompetitive with its peers, I respect Delta in this regard:

  • The airline has made it clear that it’s not looking to its peers to decide what kind of service will be offered, but rather is taking its own approach based on safety
  • There is something to be said for minimizing service to maximize the amount of time people keep their masks on
  • I don’t think anyone can claim Delta is doing this just to be cheap, given that the airline is blocking seats, which is more costly than a 25 cent can of soda
  • That being said, I do recognize that Delta has at least been arbitrary with its service restrictions, like serving wine but not soft drinks in first class, for example

Delta’s modified inflight service

Delta has revealed how it plans to progressively add back service in all cabins, starting on April 14. As Delta’s SVP of Inflight Service, Allison Ausband, describes these changes:

“Our flight attendants are excited to continue doing what they do best – warmly welcoming, serving and connecting with the world’s best customers. These single-serve options are the first step in bringing back food and beverages even better as more customers return to Delta, and we’ve worked with our trusted partners at Mayo Clinic to ensure we safely serve these items as we continue to deliver on our promise of safer travel.”

Let’s get into the details of what’s changing.

Drinks & snacks return to all cabins

As of April 14, Delta domestic and select short haul international flights will feature expanded beverages and snacks in all cabins:

  • Delta will start serving coffee and tea
  • Delta will restore soft drink service, with new 7.5 ounce mini cans of Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Seagram’s Ginger Ale; these cans will be served unopened, and a cup of ice will be available upon request
  • Delta will bring back liquor in the form of canned cocktails from Tip Top Proper Cocktails; for those in economy, payment can be made using a new contactless system
  • Delta will roll out a new snack lineup including almonds, Cliff Bars, Goldfish crackers, and Biscoff cookies

Delta will be improving its food & drink selection in April

Hot food returns to first class

Delta will be bringing back more substantial food for Delta One and first class passengers starting in a few months:

  • As of early June, Delta One and first class passengers on select domestic and coast-to-coast flights will see hot food options return
  • As of early July, first class passengers on other key US routes can expect fresh boxed meals

Those are all the details we have as of now, though I’m sure more information will be revealed soon. In the meantime, first class passengers will continue to receive a snack box.

Some sort of hot food will return to Delta first class in June

Delta SkyClubs get more substantial food

Starting in May and continuing through the summer, Delta SkyClubs will gradually evolve their food and beverage offerings:

  • Clubs that can accommodate assisted service will bring back full hot & cold fresh food stations
  • Other locations will reintroduce chef’s tables, featuring a hot, seasonal feature of the day, in addition to an enhanced grab-and-go selection of fresh foods, hot breakfast sandwiches, and soups

Expect more substantial food to return to Delta SkyClubs in May

Questions about Delta’s service changes remain

While these updates are great news, there are still several questions we don’t know the answers to:

  • How long does a flight have to be to feature this enhanced service?
  • What routes will receive hot food in Delta first class?
  • When will Delta resume its standard liquor service, even just in first class?
  • When will Delta start serving beer & wine in economy?

I’m sure we’ll get the answers to these questions eventually, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any info about this just yet.

Bottom line

Delta has outlined how it will be adjusting service in the coming months, and it’s definitely a significant improvement. Of course it’s worth keeping in mind that Delta made the most cuts to its inflight service among major US carriers, and also that the airline will stop blocking seats as of May 1.

It’s nice to see that as of April 14, soft drinks, coffee, and tea, will be returning to all cabins, along with a new selection of cocktails. On top of that, we can expect new SkyClub food offerings as of May, and hot food on select first class flights as of June.

What do you make of Delta’s inflight service adjustments?

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  1. Maureen

    We booked first class on delta from lax to Albany NY. It has a layover in Detroit. We needed to change return. It took hours. There hold time is over 2 hours. There text is just worst I ever dealt with. Every hour u still want a representative. For 16 hours they the night. Then we have no meal first class 3,000$. Really! We flew American in April there was a meal and cocktails. Never...

    We booked first class on delta from lax to Albany NY. It has a layover in Detroit. We needed to change return. It took hours. There hold time is over 2 hours. There text is just worst I ever dealt with. Every hour u still want a representative. For 16 hours they the night. Then we have no meal first class 3,000$. Really! We flew American in April there was a meal and cocktails. Never ever will we fly Delta again. Worst service to try and contact and and no meal unreal! I mean never!!!!!!I would have cancelled but how do u get ahold of them that doesn’t turn into nightmare. When I finally did over a day later told me I booked third party. I didn’t book third party I booked thru my Delta app on my phone. What is wrong with this airline? They also outsource had a hard time understanding the three people I had to talk to over the third part BS. I am so over them. I booked American for trip in October. I wouldn’t book with them for free.

  2. karen

    So disappointed with recent delta flight and the lack of first class services, despite the same airfare. Definitely not the same travel experience or professionalism.

  3. David

    Flying first class what is available to me? Do I have access to the sky lounge

  4. Clenna Pate

    I agree, Delta lags far behind its competitors with regard to service in flight. It makes no sense that people can dine out, go to restaurant's without masks now acroas.the US. American has never changed their first class service with regards to drink options, they have always provided full service drink options in a glass with ice. Delta is clearly looking at nothing more then the bottom line. I have one first class leg booked...

    I agree, Delta lags far behind its competitors with regard to service in flight. It makes no sense that people can dine out, go to restaurant's without masks now acroas.the US. American has never changed their first class service with regards to drink options, they have always provided full service drink options in a glass with ice. Delta is clearly looking at nothing more then the bottom line. I have one first class leg booked in August from Kansas Cit to LAX, then on to Vegas, and will be curious to see what changes in the last month of the summer with regards to service.
    We try and fly American more now as why pay for first class service when you dont receive it. Delta you need to ramp up your service for me to even consider flying first class with you anymore. My husband can get his vodka and cranberry or his crown and 7 when on AA first class. Nothing classy about a canned drink.

  5. Patsy

    Flying Delta first class in mid-July and again mid-Aug.
    Both times we will be flying early in the morning, breakfast time.
    I can't find anywhere any information on whether or not an actual breakfast meal (or box) will be served or if we'll be offered cheezits and biscotti.
    We NEED to know because both of us need to eat breakfast.

  6. Nancy

    OMG. This terrible. I have been on other competitors flights and through this whole thing they were still decing drinks in first class. Only select flights will get hot meals...umm how about all flights over 900 get a meal. Going to Mexico and will get a snack box..you have to be kidding me. Afterbthis trip won't be going back until their first class options return to normal. American at least serves either a cheese tray...

    OMG. This terrible. I have been on other competitors flights and through this whole thing they were still decing drinks in first class. Only select flights will get hot meals...umm how about all flights over 900 get a meal. Going to Mexico and will get a snack box..you have to be kidding me. Afterbthis trip won't be going back until their first class options return to normal. American at least serves either a cheese tray or sandwich. Vaccines are out everything should go back. Seems Delta is just being lazy and wants to lose customers

  7. Clyde

    I just flew from Atlanta to Zurich via Amsterdam and had my flight up-graded to Delta One with miles. The plane (A350) and seat was great, but the food service below par. I can appreciate safety concerns, but let's use common sense: Everybody that is allowed on board needs to have a negative COVID test and for many destinations a quick antigen test is performed at the gate before boarding. On top of that, most...

    I just flew from Atlanta to Zurich via Amsterdam and had my flight up-graded to Delta One with miles. The plane (A350) and seat was great, but the food service below par. I can appreciate safety concerns, but let's use common sense: Everybody that is allowed on board needs to have a negative COVID test and for many destinations a quick antigen test is performed at the gate before boarding. On top of that, most people I know that fly are fully vaccinated as well by now.
    After take off, I was asked if I'd like a drink. I ordered a single malt and they brought me two bottles.... In less than 10 minutes they brought one tray with all the food plated. Now, I'd like to drink my whiskey before the main meal and a package of nuts/pretzels, etc. would have been a nice gesture to draw out the service a bit. Main course was really bad and nothing in terms of the quality DL provided in DL One prior to the pandemic. Bread was dry and the desert consisted of a small tub of ice cream.
    On the short onward flight from AMS to ZRH, KLM even managed an egg salad sandwich with drinks....

  8. Joan Benedetti

    JUNE??? About damn time! Flew 1st class, as usual, 3 hr. flight, then a 2 1/2 hr connection flight in late May; nothing to eat but that gawdawful snack box. Took one bite of every 'nutritious' package provided. It was all so putrid! Delta couldn't do any better meal planning during the pandemic? Really? Yuck is a compliment, and it didn't help my diabetic condition. Hope I get a decent meal on a return trip in late June.

  9. MaggieD

    I always fly first class and understand the reduction in services as necessary for keeping the crew and passengers safe during the pandemic. However restaurants have reopened and more than a few have ceased seat spacing, limit mask wearing and no longer adhering to a limited menu. The still-suspended cocktails in First Class in
    my opinion should be returned to it’s prepandemic standard. It’s quite. tedious on flights more than half way across the...

    I always fly first class and understand the reduction in services as necessary for keeping the crew and passengers safe during the pandemic. However restaurants have reopened and more than a few have ceased seat spacing, limit mask wearing and no longer adhering to a limited menu. The still-suspended cocktails in First Class in
    my opinion should be returned to it’s prepandemic standard. It’s quite. tedious on flights more than half way across the country and a drink & nice hot meal makes the time go by much lasted. Not that I don’t care about that safely of everyone aboard. But anybody that has any sense has had the vaccine already And if they haven’t .... well the world is not going to press pause for you!.

  10. Em Svedsen

    What type of benefits, perks, or remuneration is this website or author receiving from Delta? The “I respect Delta’s” comment is an erroneous analysis of Delta’s choice to not offer inflight meals for First Class and Delta One passengers. Starting May 1, 2021 Delta is no longer blocking seats - it should have simultaneously reinstated all other previous levels of service and frankly those were not as good as many competing airlines - even before...

    What type of benefits, perks, or remuneration is this website or author receiving from Delta? The “I respect Delta’s” comment is an erroneous analysis of Delta’s choice to not offer inflight meals for First Class and Delta One passengers. Starting May 1, 2021 Delta is no longer blocking seats - it should have simultaneously reinstated all other previous levels of service and frankly those were not as good as many competing airlines - even before COVID. I fly from SLC to ATL once a month, in addition to others flights each month. I usually end up flying Delta to ATL, but I always use better airlines when possible. I’m still a Platinum Medallion even though other airlines are my first choice. Delta doesn’t care about loyal customers, Delta prices are higher, the service is subpar, and the flight attendants are bitches (there isn’t a better word to describe Them)! Delta, choose employees that enjoy their jobs and take pride in their work. I get better service at McDonalds!

  11. Kimberly Edwards

    Is there still a 500 mile restriction 9n beer and wine service in Comfort+? I have a flight that is 7 miles short of 500 miles. Will those 7 miles really save anyone?

  12. txrus

    @Mike-DL won't match to your current 1K; the most you'll get is Platinum & then there will be minimum spend/travel you'll have to meet w/in a specific time frame in order to keep the Platinum status beyond the initial match.

  13. Mike

    Does Delta do a status match? I've been 1K with United for some time, and would like to switch to Delta. Do you see ant downside?

  14. Charlie Smith

    Lets be truthful here also. I flew on American from Atlanta to Miami and wasn't service NOTHING not even a glass of water and then on Delta I got a nice baggie with bottle water and 2 snacks and when I asked for a another bottle of water the flight attendant brought me 2 extra bottles. When on American I ask for a bottle water and was told sorry we are not serving and any...

    Lets be truthful here also. I flew on American from Atlanta to Miami and wasn't service NOTHING not even a glass of water and then on Delta I got a nice baggie with bottle water and 2 snacks and when I asked for a another bottle of water the flight attendant brought me 2 extra bottles. When on American I ask for a bottle water and was told sorry we are not serving and any drinks on this flight and also same on a 2 hr flight from DFW to ORD in American Premium Economy section. I think Delta has done a lot more then American has. Ben why don't you do a article about American stingy service?

  15. roger

    Funny how Delta doesn't 'feel a need to match a competitors level of Service ' but the Delta Fanboys feel the Other Carriers need to Bow at the feet of Delta and match anything Delta does/doesn't do. Let's Call that BS at it's Best. I fly All the Major Airlines and Delta is no better than Anyone else on Any Given Day or Metric and I sure as will will never be a Cheerleader for...

    Funny how Delta doesn't 'feel a need to match a competitors level of Service ' but the Delta Fanboys feel the Other Carriers need to Bow at the feet of Delta and match anything Delta does/doesn't do. Let's Call that BS at it's Best. I fly All the Major Airlines and Delta is no better than Anyone else on Any Given Day or Metric and I sure as will will never be a Cheerleader for this nonsense. All comes down to Who meets Your Travel Needs but Stop Propping Up an Airline that is No Better than the Rest.....payola at Work, Influencer behind a Keyboard.

  16. Gary S.

    obvious to anyone with a working brainstem, this is just more us empire hustling for profits, while blaming the COVID etc...for bare bones joke "premium" service--e.g., a snack box for "First Class"! Typical cheap, us nonsense.

  17. Christopher

    The F updates especially seem quite underwhelming.

    I just booked two cross-country F tickets for leisure trips in the fall - refundable fares with exactly this in mind.

    With the pace of vaccinations being what it now is, if they can’t get their customer-facing staff protected by then and well on the way back to full service I’ll just cancel/rebook and forget about paying for F.

  18. Mary

    I flew Delta One coast to coast twice within the last week. The food offerings were a joke. Snack boxes are no substitute for a decent meal. Chips, almonds, mini clif bar, etc. not substantial at all. Very few food vendors in airports open either. Rec bring your own meal. I also brought my own pillows and blankets.

  19. A Flight Attendant for Delta

    The new service will include our standard liquor and a variety of mixers.

  20. Jan

    @Greg Delta clearly beats JetBlue when the latter doesn't even serve my airport.

  21. Greg

    More DELTA vaporware - why are you regurgitating their 'on our terms' marketing spin. It's cost cuts plain and simple. Least competitive food and beverage program.

    When they match or beat JetBlue Mint catering then they're 'on their terms.'

  22. txrus

    @TL-I do take science seriously and that's why I know I won't catch these specific cooties from someone eating a hot meal on a plane or using serving tongs in a buffet line.

  23. AndyPBINYC

    Ben, have you looked at Delta's pricing during reduced seating period compared with normal full occupancy? I don't think that they are losing any money at all.

  24. TL

    @txrus. We will come out, when your ilk actually takes science seriously.

  25. Mark

    Well, the status accelerator is great news. Would've been nice from the beginning of the year, as I already have $6900 MQDs (not including the flights today and Friday). I'll have Diamond status be August, and that's with not flying May and June (birth of my son). Curious as to how this with affect rollover MQMs going into next year.

  26. khatl

    Wow re the status accelerator and awarding on award redemptions. I'm eating my words from my comment earlier today

  27. Samo

    Snack bag in a first class? They must be joking.

    Come on, just serve proper food. If restaurants can do it, so can Delta. Everyone is welcome to decline the catering if they feel unsafe.

  28. txrus

    Interesting comment about the Biscoff's, which I haven't seen for several months now, but am glad to see the last of the cheezits, though goldfish are pretty close.

    While overall this is certainly good news, I would still argue that those who think they are going to catch the cooties from someone eating a hot meal on a plane are not going to get on the plane to begin with. Same w/the self serve food...

    Interesting comment about the Biscoff's, which I haven't seen for several months now, but am glad to see the last of the cheezits, though goldfish are pretty close.

    While overall this is certainly good news, I would still argue that those who think they are going to catch the cooties from someone eating a hot meal on a plane are not going to get on the plane to begin with. Same w/the self serve food in the clubs-anyone who thinks they will get the cooties from touching serving tongs touched by someone else isn't going to be there in the first place. I don't know what it's going to take for those hunkering down in their caves & binge watching Netflix to come out, but at some point, companies need to stop pandering to them & start getting back to work.

  29. Jeff

    Honestly, Delta's SkyClub offerings at JFK in February were not bad for the breakfast service I saw. Cereals, yogurts, fruit, eggs and even some breakfast sandwiches. Everything was pretty good. I'd definitely rather them place a focus on increasing onboard service.

  30. Jan

    Status accelerator deserves a special article. But DL will probably start leading the pack again, now with skymiles and award flights being more valuable if chasing status.

  31. Ted

    Actually, James, and Ben might want to update this as well, Delta will be bringing back Juice as well as coffee and tea as it says in bottom of press release. Also alcohol in main cabin will resume.

    “Starbucks coffee and tea service, as well as juices and mixers, will return to all cabins. Alcohol sales in Main Cabin will also resume with new contactless payment technology and digital receipts.”

    Delta is not brining...

    Actually, James, and Ben might want to update this as well, Delta will be bringing back Juice as well as coffee and tea as it says in bottom of press release. Also alcohol in main cabin will resume.

    “Starbucks coffee and tea service, as well as juices and mixers, will return to all cabins. Alcohol sales in Main Cabin will also resume with new contactless payment technology and digital receipts.”

    Delta is not brining back full meal and snack service to and who knows if airlines will ever be same at this point

  32. James

    Let's be clear. This is only a PARTIAL restoration of service as they're still refusing to service any juice and the list of available soft drinks continues to be substantially curtailed. And, yes, this IS cost cutting. Please put down the pom poms and stop the cheerleading.

  33. Sammy

    "new snack lineup including almonds, Cliff Bars, Goldfish crackers, and Biscoff cookies"

    Odd, that's exactly what was in my different snack "bags" during SEATPA flights this month, not sure its really "new" despite what DL PRPR says.

  34. Matt

    @Ben
    Might be worth covering Delta’s “Status Accelerator” promotion, just announced this morning and beginning tomorrow through the end of the year...it is confusing, but interesting; especially the part about earning MQMs on Award Tickets

Featured Comments Load all 35 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Maureen

We booked first class on delta from lax to Albany NY. It has a layover in Detroit. We needed to change return. It took hours. There hold time is over 2 hours. There text is just worst I ever dealt with. Every hour u still want a representative. For 16 hours they the night. Then we have no meal first class 3,000$. Really! We flew American in April there was a meal and cocktails. Never ever will we fly Delta again. Worst service to try and contact and and no meal unreal! I mean never!!!!!!I would have cancelled but how do u get ahold of them that doesn’t turn into nightmare. When I finally did over a day later told me I booked third party. I didn’t book third party I booked thru my Delta app on my phone. What is wrong with this airline? They also outsource had a hard time understanding the three people I had to talk to over the third part BS. I am so over them. I booked American for trip in October. I wouldn’t book with them for free.

karen

So disappointed with recent delta flight and the lack of first class services, despite the same airfare. Definitely not the same travel experience or professionalism.

David

Flying first class what is available to me? Do I have access to the sky lounge

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