Delta’s Biggest Problem With Comfort Plus Seating Is Brand Confusion and Standard Coach Service.

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delta comfort plus seats right side 737-900er renespoints blog

I would avoid the front row Delta 737-900ER

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 comfort plus ife close up 737-900er renespoints blog

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.

delta comfort plus 737-900er leg room renespoints blog

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.

delta comfort plus extra leg room is not that impressive 737-900er renespoints blog

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.

fancy stiching in the leather delta comfort plus 737-900er renespoints blog

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.

delta comfort plus stickers saying space for only comfort plus customers renespoints blog

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.

delta overhead cabin dividers renespoints blog

An example of Delta overhead cabin dividers

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.

fly delta app showing comfort plus as another section of jet just like 1st class and coach

Even the APP breaks out C+ seats now

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

 

 

 

17 comments

  1. I paid for C+ on an upcoming LAX-JFK. I wanted more leg room. I don’t mind any of what DL is doing, but the upgrade rules for medallions is messy and they should be careful here.

  2. I think the different-colored stitching on the Comfort+ seats is priceless. To to me, atmosphere is key. But pay for it with miles or cash? For real? You must be kidding. NEVER gonna happen.

  3. And another thing. If you want to be sure you get access to a second drink in Comfort+, you had better make sure the first one is a DOUBLE.

  4. I don’t like the new change regarding choosing c+ at booking. I need to book standard fares for reimbursement and then pay my own upgrade. It offered me the upgrade to c+ from las-pdx for $15 but doesn’t actually let me choose the seat. I called reservations and they said the site is buggy while they move toward may 16 and it would actually be $160 to upgrade to c+ …which is more than the ticket itself cost…..it usually only costs $50-70 extra for c+ from pdx to the east coast. Something is screwy.

  5. On flights between LAX and LAS, Delta doesn’t even offer standard beverage service in coach or C+. Why? I’ve heard everything from “The aircraft isn’t configured for beverage service” (On a 717? Really?) Oddly, it was configured for the FAs to stand around in the galley and BS. Another popular one is, “The flight’s duration is too short, so ring your call button and we’ll try to accommodate you.”

    One of my clients books me on Southwest flights between BUR or LAX and Vegas — and the SW FAs always roll out beverages and snacks (unless it’s too bumpy). Flight duration is the same — but the flying bus disguised as a 737 consistently pulls it off.

  6. @Rene,

    While there are some things where I find you to be nit picky, I think you are spot on with this. I fly to Vegas about 6-7 times a year(PM so take my C+ seat) and on a 4 hour flight where the FA comes by once to offer a drink it is unacceptable.

    The only exception I have found for this is if you are in one of the 757’s with the FA gallery in the middle but even then you have to go up to the FA to request a drink. The lack of service for the upsell is flat out unacceptable and Delta needs to fix it.

  7. Which seat would you recommend? 10 B C are both taken.

    Is 10 A the next best seat or is 10 A better than 10 C?

  8. The abbreviation C+ explains it all. A=excellent, B=above average, C=average.

  9. Why don’t you ask for a double up front during the first service? I’ve found this is always met with a great response from the crew because it means they won’t get hit up with second round refills during their water service.

    I do agree with you (though FAs really aren’t to blame here), training needs to be done during flight attendants’ annual refresher at headquarters to update them on the proper service enhancements that rolled out within the past year since their last training. Just giving a ‘quick guide’ when stuff rolls out leads to this kind of sloppy execution.

  10. @Chase – I often suggest double as well but I think officially that is against the rules so some say no. Plus, I really don’t think I should have to ask for 2x since they will never be back to ask if I would like another on a 3-4 hour flight.

  11. Compared to C+ in domestic flights, where you at least get some free perks that the rest of coach don’t have, C+ in long haul international flights is totally a joke. You get the same coach seat (with slightly more pitch), eat the same coach meal, while the rest of the coach get the free drinks and IFE as you do. The only differentiation is a “refresh pouch” (namely toothbrush and toothpaste), Sky zone, and that’s it for an upsell of >$100. Delta should seriously fix this, hopefully by their new a350’s. AF’s premium economy is a great example that DL should match.

  12. PREACH !

    Exactly my thoughts. Just got back from a 4+ hr domestic flight where the FA’s were considering not even doing a second round of service. Unacceptable. I don’t feel I need the every 45 minute check up you get in F, but seriously do feel someone should come by every 2 hours to see if the C+ section needs anything and a second pass of the snack basket.

    One passenger on the flight heading back to standard coach even said “How is this any different than our seats?”

  13. I always ask for a double and if need be, although I do hate to do it, press the call button. The FA’s show up and take care of me. I agree with you. They should do this all without me asking for a double and ringing the call button.

  14. I’m only paying for those few extra inches of legroom. Anything else I get is gravy. I’ve quit carrying anything that has to go in the overhead, bring my own snacks if I want them, and am happy to pay for the drink if I want it. My point is just that, for me, when I evaluate the increase in price for the up-sell, all I’m doing is deciding how long I’ll be uncomfortable in the regular seat vs. how much they want for those extra inches (which, I have to admit, make a huge difference to me). And, I must be the target market, b/c they are almost always right on the nose with how much I’m willing to pay.

  15. I agree 150% with this review. Delta has been making money off of marketing Comfort+ as a PE product when it clearly IS NOT an upgraded experience from the rest of coach AT ALL, which is, let’s face it, EXACTLY what Premium Economy is supposed to be. Especially when flying international routes. Having suffered on a flight from JFK-Barcelona in Comfort+ back in 2015, I know firsthand the shenanigans that Delta is pulling. FINALLY, they are SSLLOOOOWWWLLLYYYY……rolling out a proper PE product called Premium Select, but it’s only currently on ONE aircraft type (Delta’s A350) and so far only on one route — which proves to me, exactly why I think flying Delta truly isn’t worth it.

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