As Delta ups the Main Cabin game on its longer haul flights, the big question is will the other US majors follow suit?

12 July, 2019

Will Delta Air Lines' plans to offer premium cabin perks to customers in cheaper fare segments on longer haul flights spur a new customer service trend, or is it yet another example of how the US major is working to widen competitive gaps with its peers?

Beginning in November of this year, Main Cabin customers (that's full economy to non Delta flyers) on international fights of longer than 6.5 hours will receive a welcome aboard Bellini cocktail, hot towel and upgraded food service that includes larger entrees. Dessert will be served separately, and as a parting gift, customers will also be served chocolates on descent. The service upgrades will also be offered on select shorter international flights featuring Delta One or Delta Premium Select services.

The improvements were designed by flight attendants and tested during the last year on more than 700 flights between Tokyo and Portland and will certainly be appreciated by many of the road warriors that may travel in the economy cabin, but perhaps not necessarily enough to make them change travel habits.

Delta highlights that the launch version "isn't the same service" that it actually started testing more than a year ago., but has evolved via rigorous reviews during nearly 14,000 hours of flight time, information from over 1,800 customer surveys, robust crew feedback and input from a design team made up of 24 flight attendants.

It is another way that Delta is working distance itself from its large US global network rivals, and now it is time to watch if American Airlines and United Airlines will follow Delta's lead. It is also an interesting customer strategy for longer haul international flights, further distinguishing the product offerings in the airline's different fare segments.

There is also the question if pricing for Main Cabin tickets on those flight with the upgraded amenities will change, allowing Delta to essentially market a value proposition while also creating an opportunity to increase revenue on those flights.

For now, understandably, the airline is championing its latest customer service upgrades. "This is about investing in every single customer who chooses Delta, no matter where they sit on the plane," says Allison Ausband, Delta's senior vice president of in-flight service.

"The thoughtful touches we're investing in throughout the new Main Cabin experience were designed by flight attendants with one goal in mind - delivering an exceptional experience that our customers will rave about and one that our team, the best in the business, is proud to deliver," she adds.

The new service will be introduced at a time that Delta expands the long-haul network flown by its new A330-900neo widebody jets. Delta began scheduled operations with the type entering service on the Seattle to Shanghai city pair this week. Delta will also use its A330-900neo aircraft for flights connecting Seattle to Seoul beginning 01-Oct-2019 and to Tokyo Narita from 27-Oct-2019.