I’m booked on the inaugural Delta A350 flight in Premium Select – I can’t wait to review the service! Just how many SkyMiles did it cost me?

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I have been tinkering all weekend with this post and have been considering breaking it down into a number of posts but in the end just went for the “kitchen sink” route and am dumping all of it into one.

Let’s start with a bunch of facts and numbers and comparisons and then I will get to what I am expecting about the flight and the inaugural itself. For a while, and I assume soon again, Delta had the specs page up on the A350 on Delta.com. The key number for me is the seat size i.e. width. The Delta Premium Select (PS) seat is 18.5″ wide per Delta.com. This is only half an inch wider than coach (officially) but I look forward to putting a tape measure to the seat to see just what part they are saying is that size as well as other dimensions.

How does this PS seat compare to domestic Delta first class seats as a reference point? The old, and much hated, domestic 767-300 first class seat was just 18.5″ wide. While most of the current seats are 21″ wide (think A321, B739 etc.). However, the B717 & CRJ700 is listed at just 19.6″ as a comparison. My office chair that I spend a great deal of time in is about 19.6″ so that is a number I am good with but 1″ less I think will make a difference on long flights.

As I talked about yesterday, 48 seats is a rather large cabin and other airlines that use a PS / PE seat are going 2-3-2 not 2-4-2 like Delta. This also may be why the seat they chose was just 18.5″ wide. Now let’s look at prices!

The first thing we want to consider is the SkyMiles award charts. Oh wait, that’s right, Delta hides them from us! Fear not – there will be a live Delta SkyMiles award chart you can consider at any time and it will be updated by readers and yours truly as soon as there are any sneaky changes from Delta !

I was able to snag a 99k round trip award. This is interesting as if you simply price out one-way awards they end up as a LEVEL 1 65k award but round trip they drop to 49.5k each way.

I have thus placed this price (PSMS fare class) into the “sale” column. By the way, the same ticket today is pricing at 205k that is a Level 3 award price outbound and a Level 2 award price back.

As a fun and quick comparison the Delta One (Suite) SkyMiles award price for the inaugural day is currently 400k RT and that is a result of a Level 6 award outbound and a Level 4 award on the way back. Nice to have the award charts to compare the prices right? And while I agree that 400k is just beyond “Cray-Cray” in pricing, it looks a tiny bit less insane when you compare the cash purchase price for the Delta one ticket! 😉 Let’s move on to the “experience”!

Since Delta does not have, at first glance, as “good” a Premium Economy seat as other airlines (even Delta partners like Virgin Atlantic) they do what Delta always does and that is, sell the brand and service that comes with it (I hope the FAs are ready to step up to the marketing spin)! You are getting very much a domestic 1st class experience at first glance including bottled water, a domestic Delta Westin blanket, Delta One noise canceling headphones, a better than C+ but less than Delta One amenity kit and more.

The real Delta marketing push is the total “experience”. Take a look at what they say on Delta.com that we should expect to receive:

Premium Food Takes Flight
When you spend a lot of time in the air, your meals matter. That’s why Delta Premium Select offers plated meals that will be served on beautifully designed Alessi flatware and service ware beginning April 2017. You can also enjoy complimentary wine, beer and spirits in fine stemware, plus Starbucks® coffee and tea service.

Assortment of food: Meals
Enjoy seasonal, regional meals, inspired by Delta destinations from around the globe. Served on beautifully designed Alessi service ware.

Assortment of Wines: Drinks
With select wines, craft beers and premium spirits, you’ve got a selection of complimentary alcoholic beverages. After dinner, enjoy a complimentary glass of wine or Starbucks® coffee service.

Not just that but those in PS get a “dedicated” flight attendant – again much like the domestic Delta 1st class experience. I hope you see where all of this is going?

To me this is going to be a close to a 1st class flight and experience as you can get and will share a bunch of the Delta One features but clearly the seat will be the major difference. There is no denying that sleeping sitting up may be OK-ish on a domestic redeye but how will it feel to spend 10-12 hours in this seat? I will find out on October 30/31st as I will be spending a grand total of 24 hours out and back and I am guessing my back my not appreciate this inaugural test!

Some final thoughts. I get why Delta is placing this aircraft where they are to begin with because they have to have something to replace the 747s that are all being parked by the end of the year – that is, to and from Asia. It is a market they are really trying to win and the Delta One Suite product should help that. The sad part is, at this point anyway, the Premium Select would be perfect for shorter flights to Europe in the 6-8 range and especially so during daytime flights from Amsterdam to Detroit or Atlanta. Also, I like the idea of a Level 1 Delta One award to Europe and Level 1 Premium Select award pricing back all in for about 110k SkyMiles one day (or around that number).

You tell me. What do you think about all of this new Delta data? What do you think of the product and service promised? What about the award pricing? Be sure to comment below! – René

 

20 comments

  1. Flying AA PE today DFW-ICN. Kind of shocked to see Delta lag in a few areas from AA. Agree it’s better served on TATL and what’s up with no more C+?!

  2. Sorry, maybe I do t follow along as regularly as I should. I make the DTW-PVG flight regularly. It’s my “commuter” flight. Are they getting rid of the business class lie-flat pods we have on 747/777? Replacing them completely with the full suite? This new class will replace C+ or augment it? This is important.

  3. @Tré – I think there would be too much brand confusion with PS & C+ on same jet. But who knows, if Delta can make a buck on it I bet we see it down the road!

  4. @NealK – Delta One will be Delta One Suite aka Delta One with a door. C+ will be gone. You will have DS1, PS & Y seats only. No free upgrades only paid or with Global Upgrade certs.

  5. Ok. I see. Pretty much the same then. I use my global upgrade certs now and sounds like it’s the same going forward. PS looks better than C+ to me. As business traveler I could care less about cost and prefer the comfort. Can’t wait to test all these changes out on the new planes. I will miss the private jet feel of the Delta 1 upper cabin on the 747’s but not much else.

  6. I have flown the 747 and A330 with their reverse herringbone seat/beds and they are my favorite. Don’t care much for the 777 bed/seat and hate the 767’s version. That being said, my point is, the suite, with a door, if just the same size as the 767 version or slightly bigger, is going to be claustrophobic to me. Rene, do you know the width of the 767 lie flat bed/seat vs. the new A350 bed/seat? Is the space from aisle to window on the window seats exactly the same? You are a better man than me in trying those PE seats on the inaugural. While inaugurals are always fun and festive, I would not be able to sit in that seat for 12+ hours. And round trip, so my hat is off to you. Can’t wait for your review. And also thanks for the analysis on the first class connecting seats that will be reduced for all of us if the new policy is to put passengers in first on the connection to a PE/PS flight. I am going to try to snag one of the last 747’s with my global upgrade cert while I can.

  7. I’m surprised you’re not flying PS in one direction and Delta One Suites in the other to try them both out on the same trip.

  8. @Joe C – A reader (or two) is in D1S on the 1st flight and will share photos with me plus for me it was just too many SkyMiles. Keep in mind I ONLY book Level 1 & Level 2 awards. More than that is just not worth it to me. Beyond that, D1S is not “that” much of a change from D1 without a door. The PS is a real mega change for the airline. I also really want to compare the service and crews out and back as well as the food in PS both ways. There will be time for me to fly D1S many times over the next few years! 😉

  9. I was on the innugral flight for A350 on China airlines from SFO to TPE in PE nothing spectacular I’m going to miss the majestic 747

  10. Ugh. I sure wouldn’t want to be stuck in the two middle seats on Premium Select, aka premium-economy. Delta could have at least put a privacy shield or a little wider armrest between the middle seats. I wonder if passengers in this class of service will receive real champagne? I imagine the wine will basically be the same as business-class, maybe just not champagne and maybe only one red and one white as opposed to the current four — two reds, two whites.

  11. Flew AA PE GRU-DFW on the inaugural flight last year. Would never pay extra for that service. Hope Delta proves me wrong.

  12. You are spot-on that this will be a great product for “short” hops from Europe to the East Coast. I’m a huge fan of VS Premium Economy on their 787 LHR-BOS. For a day flight, especially if the cabin isn’t 100% full, it’s a great product. But, VS is 2-3-2 on a 787. I wonder what Delta will do about Clubhouse access for non-Diamond’s ex-LHR with Premium Select. With Virgin Premium Economy they actually sell Clubhouse access (for non-Elite) for around £50 IIRC. Though, I guess it will be a while before we see that cabin or these planes to/from Europe. I am definitely watching this very closely.

  13. I was under the impression that the PS experience would be sort of like domestic 1st, like it is on Virgin Atlantic. My mistake, I should know better than to compare domestic legacy carriers to any international carrier, let alone Virgin. Excellent marketing though, Delta.

    In no way do I see a 2-4-2 layout with an 18.5″ seat being worth what Delta will charge for it, but perhaps the sides with only 2 seats will be, depending on other “fringe” enhancements.

  14. This could be the perfect opportunity to complain. Maybe Delta delayed ordering more A350s because it wants to see if the new products work. It’s much easier to make changes when only a couple planes in the fleet have the product. Look at the AA debacle with the new business-class seats.

  15. I just saw that the first three flights will be to NRT, ICN, and PEK. NOT PVG as is shown in that graphic. too bad. I’ll have to wait a little while longer. Also, i don’t like the reduced seating capacity going from 747 to A350. Every flight I’ve been on to PVG or PEK (15 in the last 2 years) has been every seat occupied. It will be harder to get a seat from now on, and i doubt they will ever decide on 2 flights per day.

  16. I wasn’t able to get the 99k RT pricing, but I bit the bullet and made an impulse buy last night to get a PS seat on the inaugural at 90k one way DTW-NRT. I’m thinking we should try to organize a BoardingArea/Flyertalk meetup in the SkyClub pre-departure?

  17. I read on another site that they are kicking off DTW-ICN on 11/16 and I just happen to already be booked on that flight! But no change in the reservation yet, still shows 747-400.

  18. @AT – They may not have updated the bid or they may changes things. All things are subject to change when it comes to aircraft types (that is why I booked my trip on SkyMiles if things go sideways)!

    Also Delta.com now shows:

    *The Airbus A350 will be available on flights from DTW-NRT beginning on Oct. 30, 2017, select flights from DTW-ICN for flights scheduled Nov. 16, 2017, as well as on select flights from DTW-PEK for flights scheduled Jan. 17, 2018, and beyond.

  19. Looks like I missed it by two days. Another site says that route actually starts on 11/18 and checking Delta’s website that looks to be correct. Almost worth it to change flights but decided against it since it will be Thanksgiving weekend and don’t want to fight the crowds!

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