This past Monday I flew Delta back from speaking at the FTU in Vegas event (btw Chicago Seminars 2016 tickets are now on sale). With only a few hours to go before boarding I was number one on the upgrade list with two seats open when they suddenly went filled. I had requested a Regional Upgrade for this route but it never cleared even with many seats open for weeks and weeks and my Medallion upgrade never cleared either. So, since it was a 737-900ER with really stingy room in the exit row seats I chose Comfort Plus or C+ seats.
Delta is going to end up with a bunch of these 737’s when all the orders are filled, so you are going to end up flying them if you fly Delta. There are some perks in that you have an impressively nice IFE with USB power right next to the standard audio plug.
And you have standard wall power between the seats but it would be wise to perhaps have a splitter with you in case you and your seat mate both want to benefit. The leg room is, well, meh. I get tall folks saying every inch matters but this really is nothing to get all that impressed over.
The big issue to me is not the seats, the space or the size of this part of coach it is how this is marketed and how that marketing is carried out both in advertising and in practice by the Delta crews. Now most of you who read the blog know I am a HUGE fan of Delta people. They almost always are ridiculously great in taking care of me. I praise them always in the surveys to Delta so Delta can reward them with CASH. I also give out gift cards on just about every flight I take including those few I have flown in coach – but not this latest one.
This is not meant to be a rant over one flight, or a critique over one crew on my flight, but an overall issue with the C+ “experience” Delta is selling, and selling is the right word. Heck, even Delta AMEX BOGOF certs no longer give you free access to C+ as this experience is, in word and price, an upgrade from Delta. Then it better be so and it is just NOT!
On my flight the crew soon after takeoff was serving us drinks (including free adult beverages in C+). A snack basket was offered with a few more goodies than the 1st class basket when a meal is served (this really bugs me but let’s save that for another post). Also food for sale was offered at the same time. I was in the mood for wine and cheese so I ponied up my Delta AMEX card to get 20% off and enjoyed a good assortment of cheese and some “RED WINE” (what it said on the label folks).
Now here is the thing. The FA C+ instruction sheet, from way back, tells the 1st class FL or flight leader to assist with drinks (and refills) and snacks for the C+ section as time permits. I rarely see this ever happen. Also, the only time the main cabin folks came back to check on me during this last flight C+ was to either offer water from a liter bottle or to pick up trash. Not once did they come to see if a drink refill was wanted or needed. I did ask, on the second round of water service, for another glass of wine and after an “eye roll” from the FA he said he would get it when he could. What an enhanced C+ experience this was.
Really the same can be said for just about every part of this “Experience More” C+ section / cabin. On the IFE Delta promotes C+ and the overhead reserved space but then includes a tiny disclaimer because this space is just as likely to be filled with luggage from 1st class that has run out of room or the rest of coach passengers when they have no space in their row. This space is not exclusively for C+ and no promise is made that it is (unless you feel the word “Reserved” means something it does not).
And that in a nutshell sums up C+. It is priced as special, it is sold as special, it is marketed as special, it is suggested that service will be special and then the experience is just like the rest of coach. This is just not OK Delta. This needs to change.
We know Delta is planning on adding some type of overhead divider between C+ and the rest of coach a.k.a. main cabin seating to even further differentiate the “experience”. That, plus the special stitching, does show this as something more than the rest of coach. When the seat is exactly the same, and you are paying more, the experience had better match what you see with you own eyes. Right now, that is hit and miss clearly depending on the crew you have. Not good.
I think Delta should change the training for FAs to offer the same service as the company marketing suggests that a passenger will enjoy and this would not be “that” hard to accomplish. Again, I have been on flights where FAs have simply made a pass thorough the C+ cabin to check on those in this section – just make this part of the training. I have seen the 1st class attendants walk back and check on C+ passengers – again just make this part of the duties and training rather than an if you can find the time kind of thing. I am in no way suggesting C+ should have First Class-Lite service, but at the same time it should be slightly better than standard coach.
I feel this is paramount if Delta is going to have any kind of remote chance of pulling off the 16MAY16 changes now only weeks away. If an elite is going to have to pay to bring their wife / +1 into the C+ the experience, it had better match the price paid. It is one thing to get C+ free and have the same experience as the rest of coach; it is another when you bought into the Delta marketing hype and feel buyer remorse after landing. – René