Delta Is Improving Their International Economy Experience

Filed Under: Delta

As much as I don’t love what Delta does to their frequent flyer program, they do lead the way among the “big three” US carriers when it comes to their economy experience, ranging from introducing free inflight messaging, to free inflight entertainment, to free meals on select domestic flights, to free spirits on international flights (though that dates back to 2013).

Well, Delta has just announced their latest improvement to the international economy experience, which will begin in November, and continue into 2018. Delta will be improving their international economy dining experience, as well as the pillows they offer. Per Delta’s press release:

In November, the airline will be launching customer experience menu cards, which will include information on timing for each service and details on the inflight food and beverage offerings. In December, the airline will launch new upgraded cutlery in the Main Cabin.

Continuing the expansion, the airline will launch upgraded meals and new serviceware on long-haul international flights in mid-2018. The new collection will include newly designed trays and upgraded rotable serviceware that will complement investments in meal quality to provide customers a restaurant-style dining experience.

In addition to the new serviceware and menus, Delta will be upgrading the Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin pillows on all international long-haul flights, complementing other sleep experience investments the airline has made including sleep kits and upgraded blankets.

A “restaurant style” dining experience in economy? That’s going to take a big investment, so I’m curious how much substance there is to these changes, or if it’s mostly just marketing.

It’s also nice to see them investing in new pillows in economy. No matter what cabin we’re talking about, I feel like improved bedding is a fairly low cost improvement to make, given that the main ongoing cost is just keeping them clean and replacing those that are lost/stolen.

Regardless, Delta is already way ahead of their US competitors when it comes to international economy, and it looks like they’re looking to differentiate themselves even more.

I’m a bit surprised to see them investing in international economy. International economy airfare is as cheap as it has ever been, and I’d be shocked if US airlines are doing even remotely well when it comes to their international economy yields. However, I guess with more fuel efficient planes and good yields in the front of the plane, it’s part of the overall equation that makes these flights work.

Now we’ll just have to wait and see how much substance there is to Delta’s international economy improvements.

  1. I’ll be flying Delta International Economy from AMS-SEA in a couple weeks. I’m curious to see what the “menu” cards will look like!

  2. Its a small factor, but one thing to consider is the fly American requirement for us government employees, military personnel and some contractors. I know multiple government employees who travel internationally for work and they are often able to choose their flights with the condition being it must be a US flagged carrier, in coach and be cost competitive. These people usually book last minute and pay outrageous coach fairs. Most of the people I know who have these sort of jobs fly Delta if at all possible. These folks are small in number but often pay 5x more than the average coach traveler and probably are paying not much less than 21 day advanced purchased business class. Having the best coach service wins these high value customers.

  3. I flew Delta and American transatlantic in the past month in coach.

    Delta: 767-300 with a new interior featuring fast wifi, nice IFE and a reasonable amount of room in coach. Note this was NOT a 10 abreast 777. Not Comfort+. Power at every seat.

    American: 767-300. Filthy interior, no wifi, old style TV’s scattered about coach with only Italian on the audio because eh crew could not get the English audio to work. I got Main Cabin Extra which included a seat that didn’t recline because the bulkhead was behind it. 2 -3 -2 seating like Delta. Only scattered DC power outlets (!) You had to be in business class to borrow a converter.

    Both flights had decent crews. The American metal was way past due to be scrapped. I’ll try to book Delta for international henceforth (or until they roll out Basic Economy internationally and price themselves out of the market like they did with domestic US travel)

  4. While not in Dan’s restriction on the government sector, I am a business economy flier who will go out of my way to travel Delta, especially internationally. I use a business booking portal that has built in limits (ie 20% variance of lowest cost option allowed)….Delta is rarely the absolute lowest cost but our dashboard outputs has it as the most booked airline, usually by 20-25% over American and United (work for a large firm, multiple cities, so it’s not like the data set is Atlanta).

  5. I’m glad Delta takes the time and effort to improve all class categories and not just business/first. That’s a nice touch to remember the cattle class are still their customers too. I hope American can look and learn on what Delta does.

  6. Flew Delta Economy from Detroit to Amsterdam, their food was ‘oke’, but their food trays… as if I were in a prison. Good thing that they are changing that. I must say; I am pretty spoiled with being based in Europe and me flying Turkish Airlines several times a month. Many medium-haul flights (2 – 3 hours) to Paris/ Amsterdam or Dusseldorf/ Berlin offer lie-flat seats in business class. Even in economy, they have great IFE and pretty nice food. In the US all airlines seem so shitty and the only way to have a ‘humane’ flight experience is if you fly Jetblue.

  7. So, they’re giving economy-class passengers the same blanket as premium-economy. And will they actually have enough clean pillows at every seat? One thing I like about Delta in business-class is that all the pillows and blankets come in sealed plastic bags. With other airlines you really never know if the pillows and blankets are being recycled.

  8. Have you actually flown the main US airlines in international economy? I’ve flown longhaul economy on both Delta and United about a half dozen times each this past year. Even though Delta might have these small things they can point to in asserting they’re the best, ultimately the experience is remarkably similar to United. Which is to say, they’re both mediocre experiences.

  9. At least they’re making an attempt to improve the coach experience. I don’t see AA or UA doing that. So, give credit where credit is due.

  10. Virgin Atlantic supplies menu cards in Y, and for overnight flights, a small amenity kit, so it sounds like Delta is aligning with their level of service.

    I recently flew LHR – MSP on a Delta 767-300 in Y – there were 3 food services, and it exceeded my expectations all around…now if only they would move back to LGW, as that would be so much better.

  11. If you want service and comfort use SIA (9/10). If you’re prepared to settle for mediocre fly Delta (3.5/10).
    If I have a choice I will fly Singapore every time.

  12. I will be flying SEA-HKG and I wonder if this service will be available by that time.

    I used to fly United until they switch to B777. Theres no way I will be packed in that tight. So Delta seem a better bang for your bucks. Flying an A330.

  13. I suppose this is nice, but it seems unlikely to distract me much from my bruised knees and narrow seats. Without adding, rather than removing space, this is all about as meaningful as shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

  14. They could install a spa on the aircraft & it still would not bring me back to Delta. The change in their FF program rewarding the wealthy and giving the middle finger to economy flyers has left such a foul taste in my mouth, that this “improvement” is simply irrelevant.

  15. Having spent many years doing extensive international travel I can honestly say that Delta is by FAR the worst airline I have ever flown with. They are stuck in the stone ages compared to all other international airlines. It’s a disgrace. The planes are as old and haggard as the air stewards. Long haul plane starts dirty and only goes down hill. Food is bordering on inedible. I avoid flying with them whenever possible.

  16. @Neville, please enlighten us all on how many routes can you easily swap Delta for Singapore. Hear you on the differences, but how many times are you really saying “hmm, should I fly Delta, or should I fly Singapore”.

    Let’s not talk theoretically here.

  17. @NAUgrad05, there have been small menus like this on Delta TPAC for a while. You can find pics of them on various onkine flight reviews.

    @Alan the red pouch is a sleep kit with eye mask and ear plugs in a small ziplock. The one for Comfort+ also has a toothbrush and toothpaste.

  18. I’ll admit of the US3 Delta does tend to offer the better services than the other two. Probably a hangover from NWA culture though. I sure miss that airline, the only US airline ever to give me a complimentary upgrade to business class – that I didn’t even ask for. 🙁

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