Delta Premium Select Tickets No Longer Include Domestic First Class

Filed Under: Delta

Last fall, Delta introduced Premium Select on their new flagship A350 aircraft. Premium Select is Delta’s new international premium economy product. American was the first global US carrier to introduce premium economy, though Delta quickly followed, and United plans on rolling it out soon as well.

With business class getting more spacious and economy getting tighter, a large market has emerged for something in the middle, which is where premium economy comes into the picture.

All of Delta’s Airbus A350s feature premium economy, and the airline is also working on reconfiguring their Boeing 777s with these seats.

When Delta first introduced Premium Select, they made an interesting decision with what they included on these tickets. Specifically, if someone had a domestic connecting flight on a Premium Select ticket, they’d be booked in first class on that flight.

For example, if you booked a Premium Select ticket from Atlanta to Beijing via Detroit, you’d be seated in first class on the flight from Atlanta to Detroit, and in Premium Select on the flight from Detroit to Beijing.

On one hand this policy was logical enough. The Premium Select seat is basically the same as the domestic first class seat, so this meant that passengers were getting nearly the same seat throughout their journey. At the same time, this isn’t something their competitors offered, and we know US airlines love to do everything they can to maximize revenue and not actually differentiate the experience they offer.

So Delta has changed their policy on this. For tickets booked as of July 3, 2018, Delta customers connecting to their Premium Select longhaul flight will receive Comfort+ seat assignments on their connecting domestic segment, rather than first class seats.

Delta says that this is “part of the continued evolution of Delta’s onboard product.” I guess they’re suggesting that as they have more planes with Premium Select, it isn’t practical to seat all of those passengers in first class on domestic connections. Or at a minimum, they’re presumably not seeing a revenue premium for offering this, and therefore are eliminating it.

Delta also suggests this creates a more seamless experience, because premium economy tickets booked on partner airlines (including Air France, Alitalia, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic) don’t come with first class on the domestic connections. I’m not sure I’d call that more seamless, but rather just more consistent (and consistency isn’t always a good thing).

This is a disappointing development, though I’d note that Delta is still more generous than American here. If you book an American premium economy ticket, you don’t even get Main Cabin Extra on the domestic connection, but rather just get a regular economy seat.

So unfortunately this does eliminate the competitive advantage that Delta had with their international premium economy.

Are you surprised to see Delta make this change?

(Tip of the hat to Rene’s Points)

  1. Not at all. It makes far more sense to right size premium cabins versus filling them up with all kinds of arbitrage situations.

    One of the challenges with premium economy has been the lack of consistency which has distorted customer expectations. Main cabin extra is an acceptable proposition for premium economy customers on routes upto 4 hours.

    I would prefer to see them invest more into their core premium economy product instead.

  2. @ Aman – Your third person perspective makes me think you have never in your life parked your rear in Delta PE. Sure, a few more inches of legroom may make sense to bean counters for a short connection, but say you’re stuck in said seat on a for an hour on the tarmac (because the commuter flight—surprise, surprise—is delayed) then that much roomier and private first class seat becomes a make it or break it proposition.

  3. I am booked on Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy to London later this month. If I would have booked it through VS it would have been slightly more expensive and my domestic segments would have been in coach, but instead, I booked it through Delta and am getting first class domestic segments because Delta is coding it as Premium Select. This turned out to be a really good deal and am going to miss this feature.

  4. How is this a bad development? Have you seen Delta upgrade lists? the last thing that loyalty program needs is less first class seats for upgrades. Also.. Delta sucks. Just flew a red eye Seattle to Atlanta and all they give you a a packaged snack in first , minimal legroom and maybe 2 inches of recline. Last week flew UA from SFO-MCO red eye and received a hot meal after takeoff at 9pm, a nice calzone and warm scones in the morning before landing.

    Why does everyone perceive DL to be a quality airline. They are an LCC more so than any other. Remember its these A-holes who set the trend low.

  5. @ Ryan — Of course it all depends on who you ask. This is great news for those seeking a complimentary upgrade, and bad news for those actually paying for premium economy.

  6. If it was actually giving them a meaningful competitive advantage – then they would have kept the offering and/or you would have seen competitors (AA) adopt the same practice.

    So, no, this does not “eliminate the competitive advantage that Delta had with their international premium economy.”

  7. Interesting. I’d noticed that for most transpacs DL has been, in fact, charging more for their PE than AA. If I’d been paying cash, I’d definitely have paid the extra ~$150 for first class on the domestic legs. As you mentioned, it still is much above AA. As for the latter, I’ve wondered if it’s a function of Delta already having separate fare codes for extra-legroom domestic seats. I wouldn’t be surprised if their computers couldn’t figure out how to give certain fare codes free seats (like, er, Y).

  8. @Lucky – Have you noticed a difference in prices since this has happened? I haven’t been following too closely, but it seems that connecting PS tickets are cheaper now than they used to be. Do you think this could be because the system no longer charges as much for the domestic leg (since it’s no longer in F)?

  9. Chancer – “…then that much roomier and private first class seat becomes a make it or break it proposition.”

    Except it clearly doesn’t, otherwise they’d keep it.

  10. I’m pretty sure China Airlines will put you in business class if you are connecting to/from a long-haul premium economy flight. Granted, a lot of their regional flights are operated by A330’s and the like so they have a lot more biz seats available but still, Delta wasn’t the only one to do it.

  11. @ Callum – Probably because many passengers weren’t aware it was a perk of booking PE, just as I had no idea, being a non-Delta flyer, that my connecting flight after LHR-LAX could have been in first, which it wasn’t given that my transatlantic segment was on VS PE. If Delta wasn’t changing their policy, then I’d definitely be looking for an upgraded connection on Delta next when considering flying PE again.

  12. You forget that Delta at the same time also devalued the on-board product by going to 100% paper and plastic cups, instead of china coffee cups and glass drink glasses.

  13. @chancer i agree with ur comment. 2 Months ago we were on the tarmak in an AV flight for about an hour due BOG congestion, and i slept the entire hour we were in the tarmac and pretty much had forgotten I was in the plane at all. Funny what the A320neo business seats do.

  14. “For example, if you booked a Premium Select ticket from Atlanta to Beijing via Detroit, you’d be seated in first class on the flight from Atlanta to Detroit, and in Premium Select on the flight from Detroit to Beijing.”

    Coincidentally, I have this exact trip tomorrow. Honestly, I couldn’t care less whether my ATL-DTW is in F or not; all I care about is if my DTW-PEK upgrade clears!

  15. Confirming CI will put you in business for your connecting Asia regional flight if your PE fare is ‘Premium Economy Saver’ or above. Be warned though, the cheaper ‘Super Saver’ does not book into J on the connecting flight. From NA, ‘Saver’ are not that much more than the ‘Super Saver’, the cheapest booking into A/D classes.

    When booking always check the aircraft types available. CI use mutliple types during the day for the busier routes. Nothing like a B777 or A350 lie flat, even on the short hop from TPE to HKG!

  16. We’re flying VA, from London to Tampa via Detroit, flying economy to Detroit and then our ticket changes to First Class for the Tampa flight. We’re then first with Tampa, and PE with Virgin on our way home.

    My question, we have a 6 hour layover in Detroit, seen as though our ticket from their is first class, can we access a lounge of any kind? Thanks in advance.

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