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