What will Delta Premium Economy Seats be like & planning for the future of SkyMiles.

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old delta sleeper business class seat

Old Delta Business Elite seats

That is, the old Northwest “Business Elite” seat that I flew for many years to Europe. It was not full flat but since I sleep just fine on my back I did not mind that much. It did not have individual aisle access as the current Delta One business class seats, but since I tend to fly with my wife that did not bother me either.

Virgin Atlantic Premium economy

Virgin Atlantic Premium economy seat

Delta has announced that over the next few years they will, at long last, have a “real” Premium Economy (PE) seat unlike the current Comfort Plus or C+ seat that is the exact same seat as the rest of coach so nothing to be excited about. The above is the seat their partner Virgin Atlantic uses on some of it’s jets. Notice some similarities to the old business class seat at the top of the post?

delta air lines domstic 1st class seat

Domestic 1st Class seat

And compare them both to the current domestic Delta business class product and I think we are going to have a decent idea of what to expect from Delta with the new seat. I think they have a chance to come up with something that is really a great mix of the old and new.

I also expect that we will see 2-3-2 configuration on most of the wide body jets these will go into, so there will be the dreaded middle seat so getting the sides of the jet will matter unless you happen to be a family of 3 traveling together, that is.

Now here is where it starts to get interesting to me when it comes to SkyMiles redemption. Delta has been on a tear the past few years and jumped the price from what was the standard for a long time of 100,000 SkyMiles round trip by 40% to the current 140,000. My guess is by the time we see the new “Delta One Suites” it will be close to 200,000 for one round trip ticket. Not good and to me not worth it. But at that point what will the Premium Economy seats cost to Europe and back? Maybe 100,000?

So everything old is new again. The seats I was happy to spend 100k on are again 100k? Or, since I really don’t care about full flat seats when I am awake do I split my ticket and pay for Delta One full flats on the way over when I want to sleep and PE on the way back costing me maybe 150,000 round trip? That could be a tolerable, if not ideal, way of extracting some value out of my points at that point.

One thing is for sure, as long as Delta does not destroy them, the Global Upgrade certs as a Diamond Medallion have become more and more valuable as the price for a SkyMiles Delta One award price keeps going up and up! – René


VACATION NOTICE: I will be on vacation through the 10th and will have limited access to the blog and email.

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  1. RENE!

    The recline on the Virgin Atlantic seats is nowhere near the great recline of the old Northwest seats. Or even the big plush 1990s barcaloungers on the DC-10-30!!!

    As much as I hope it will feel like the old Northwest seats, this is much worse. More like the original business class seats from the 1980s, which had little recline.

  2. I flew the Virgin Premium Economy to London and back a few years back. I felt that they were actually about the same as older style Delta domestic first class seat. I flew across on a 747 and I think I came back on a 777. The service was good as were the meal offerings.

  3. Rene, just a comment regarding the possible 2-3-2 seating and the topic of middle seat you mentioned. In this case you don’t need to be a party of 3 to enjoy it. I think for a party of 2 it would be quite acceptable to have an aisle and middle seat. That’s just my thinking.
    Of course, when we (my +1 and I) travel we would prefer to sit on either side of the plane, having a window and an aisle seat with nobody else.
    However, if nothing were available there we would be totally fine with sitting in the center section. Because there is no need to ask the third person when we want to get up … or need to be asked if he/she wants to get up.
    Anyway, on everything else I think I agree with you and totally get your thinking.
    We’ll see how it all will play out.
    Right now most of the time we fly on a B767-400ER or an A330-300 when crossing the pond. And the new PE will first be installed on the new A350s, right? So it won’t be too soon that we will “experience” this new cabin class. Well, the first few experiences with it would be walking through it back to regular main cabin 😉

  4. Rene
    I’ve flown the real PE on AF, VA, and VS albeit on the old AF PE.
    But worth noting that even though the pitch is 37 or 38 inches and the width is 18 or 19 inches — the wide widebodies (747 and 777) are set at 2-4-2 and the narrow widebodies at 2-3-2.

  5. The A350 will probably be 2-3-2. When retrofit to the 777, don’t be at all surprised to see 2-4-2. It is in theory possible that DL could do 2-4-2 on the A350 (Cathay has decided on that, which means no real console btwn seats, and the narrowest PE seat in the biz).

    DL is also getting A339s (the so-called neos) that would have to be 2-3-2 for PE, and I’d be a bit shocked if they placed a better product in the new (and retrofit?) A330s than the A350s.

    So here’s hoping for mostly 2-3-2. But the 777s will not be that nice, just no way they’d lose the revenue. And as Ralfinho says (no relation 🙂 ), 2-3-2 isn’t bad for couples, so maybe 2-4-2 is tolerable? I suppose once in awhile a solo pax will get stuck in a middle (a few more on the 777s), but PE is still nominally economy, so no way to avoid at least some middle seats in the cabin.

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