I want you to take a look at the Kayak.com search above for direct flights from New York’s JFK to Los Angeles LAX airport. You have a number of seat choices. Let’s select Premium Economy seats since, under most circumstances, they are a much larger (a.k.a. wider) seat than a standard coach seat.
Notice something strange? Delta Air Lines price are MUCH cheaper than the competition. Now let’s say we click on the “View Deal” link that sends us over to Delta.
This now has selected the flights and notice Delta.com does NOT tell us this is a Premium Economy seat but a W fare class ticket. But we searched for Premium. Why are Delta computers telling Kayak.com these are Premium? Let’s see what seats you can choose.
The light blue ones are the Comfort+ seats that Delta is offering you in the W fare class. OK just how great are these seats? Notice what SeatGuru tells us:
So these seats are exactly as wide as every other seat in coach. They are not any different other than the fact that “pitch” is a little more. What Delta will tell you is that you are paying for the “experience” that Comfort+ gives you. But, as we all should know, that experience is not guaranteed and can be very different from flight to flight. Again, a wider seat you are not getting.
Notice the default search for JetBlue and Premium Economy seats displays business class seats NOT coach seats. Why is this? What are the choices?
They have coach seats with “even more space” are these seats not a premium economy seat?
It seems, according to SeatGuru again, that the JetBlue A321 coach seats are very similar to the size of the Delta seats (a tiny bit wider) and have similar pitch. But again, they are not a true Premium Economy seat, that is, a much wider seat than the rest of coach. Let’s look at one more example.
Again here, when we search for a Premium Economy seat for AA only (and direct) we see the price is much higher but only business class is displayed.
And just like our JetBlue example, per SeatGuru, the AA coach seats are just about the same as the other two airlines but they are not called Premium.
Now you may say this is not Delta’s problem it is Kayak.com’s problem. Delta is not marketing this as a Premium seat just that it “means more” and not once do they mention a larger seat (because it isn’t larger).
Well maybe this is just a Kayak.com issue with Delta since they are displaying airlines like Jet Blue and AA correctly. But notice a Priceline.com search.
They also CLEARLY display both in search and in second screen that you are getting a Premium Economy class but we know it is no wider than the rest of coach. Well are all of the OTAs or online travel agencies displaying the same results?
Nope! At least one, Orbitz, is smart enough to realize that there are in fact NO true wider Premium Economy seats on any airline, including Delta, as of today’s post direct from JFK to LAX.
So what can we take from all of this? There is so much confusion in the travel space right now. Those of us who fly Delta know they ONLY currently have two types of seats, that is, some kind of business class seat called either Delta One or 1st class but again both are just business class. Then there is coach where all the seats are the exact same width despite being by wording alone segmented into Comfort Plus, Main Cabin and Basic Economy.
My point is who is responsible? Is it Delta’s marketing for leading an “average” passenger to believe they are getting something they are not, that is, a real premium seat when they are getting the same seat as the rest of coach? Clearly something in their IT is telling a number of the major online search sites that Comfort+ is premium when it is not.
As an example I talked to a golf buddy the other day. He said he paid for the Comfort plus upgrade on a Delta international flight. He said he wanted this to get free drinks and better food. I told him you get the same drinks and the same food in the rest of coach. All you get is a little more leg room and recline. He said: “Really? Now I feel ripped off“.
You tell me and vote in my poll below. Whose fault is it for segmenting and seat marketing? It is Delta’s fault or the Online Travel agencies’ fault or even the passenger’s fault for not understating the seat marketing maze we currently face as travelers? – René
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