Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 at JFK

Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 at JFK – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter

Delta Air Lines recently upgraded their Economy Comfort cabin for trancontiental flights from New York to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. I recently had a trip from JFK to SEA and decided to give the upgrade a shot.

The big changes? The addition of pillows, blankets, sleep kits, Luvo snack wraps, free adult beverages, and frozen yogurt bars.

“Delta continues to invest in Economy Comfort with upgraded amenities for customers when they fly one of our transcontinental routes from New York to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle,” said Jeff Robertson, Vice President – Product Development, Sky Clubs and Marketing Communications. “Adding pillows and blankets for comfort as well as Luvo wraps and mid-flight snack offerings improves the travel experience for our premium economy customers so they arrive at their destination rested and refreshed.”

These come with the standard upgrades that all Economy Comfort seats give passengers: up to 4″ additional legroom and ideal location for boarding/de-planing.

The big question – is $100 worth the additional extras you get with Economy Comfort? Although I was quite tired during this flight (this was the fourth and final leg of a four day, 15,000 mile journey), I was willing to find out.

The Economy Comfort product on Delta

The Economy Comfort product on Delta – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter

When I was offered the upgrade the Economy Comfort, I ran into a dilemma. I had a regular economy seat on the aisle – was it worth moving to a middle seat for Economy Comfort? At first, I wasn’t so sure. But I figured it would be a good comparison to see if it might be worth the move. I was hesitant, because at 6’1″ and 250lbs, being in the middle seat generally is not one of my favorite things in the world.

I ended up in seat 20E. Although not really at an exit, it is still considered an exit row (there were only two seats in front of us that were at the exit). I ended up between two women who mostly gave me my space.

The first thing I noticed when getting to my seat was a blanket and pillow. I hadn’t seen those on a seat in the back of the plane in quite sometime. Although I am not a big blanket user, I did find the pillow to be quite comfy during my three hour nap.

The IFE options are not to many, but it does provides some entertainment for a few hours

The IFE options are thin, but it does provides some entertainment for a few hours – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter

But before I could get to my nap, I knew I needed to stay awake to check out the wrap. While waiting for the food service, I decided to browse the in-flight entertainment system. I had left my headphones in my bag and being in the middle seat, I wasn’t looking forward to disturbing my seatmate. But no worries – Delta provided a headset for free.

The IFE offers movies, TV shows, live TV, games and a few other odds and ends. One of the benefits of Economy Plus is that all the IFE choices are free. Passengers in the back need to pay per movie or TV show that they were watching.

I was a little disappointed in the selection in the IFE system. There were only 30 movies and not many TV shows. I tried the live TV a few times, but each time the signal was bad or not there, so it was pretty much worthless.

The snack wrap was quite substantial

The snack wrap was quite substantial – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter

Before the meal service came, I decided to try something that I have never been able to successfully do before; working on my laptop while sitting in a middle seat. But amazingly, even in the middle seat, I had plenty of room to maneuver my laptop and type without having to contort myself. Those few extra inches really helped out. I wasn’t on my laptop long, since I realized that I was taking notes about the flights and noticed that my seat neighbor was reading them which was a bit awkward.

Soon the drink and meal service was started. I have to say that I was quite impressed with the chicken wrap that was offered for free as part of my upgrade. Pre-packaged airline food seems to be hit and miss, but the wrap was moist and a generous portion. And it is always a nice touch when an airline gives you the full can of soda without having to ask for it.

After the meal, it was time for me to get some rest. I think I slept through getting the amenity kit, but I didn’t see anyone else around me with one either. I didn’t think to ask and really I wouldn’t have used anything in it anyhow. Although, I still think it is a cool option.

I also ended up sleeping through my yogurt. I wanted to give it a try, but the call of sleep was just too powerful.

Ample leg room, especially since I am 6'1"

Ample leg room, especially since I am 6’1″ – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter

Okay, let’s break down this flight by the costs and see if it makes sense. On my trip, it was about $100 to upgrade to Economy Comfort. Let’s look at what I would have spent flying in economy:

Movies: $6, let’s say you watch two, so $12
TV Shows: $1, let’s say you just watch one, so $1
Alcohol: $6 per beer and $8 per spirit or wine. Let’s say two drinks at $14 total [my flight was in the morning, so I didn’t actually drink anything, but let’s pretend this is in the afternoon]
Food:  Wrap is $10
TOTAL: $37

So that means you are paying $63 for the extra benefits… is it worth it? Well, I think that totally depends on who you are and what is important to you. For me, I am a cheapskate when it comes to buying my own tickets – I typically will not pay extra for anything (Although I have to say that as I am getting older, I am more willing to look at spending a bit more for some additional benefits).

Now, if I was stuck in a middle seat in the back of the plane and there was a window seat in Economy Comfort that $63 extra (or even $100 extra) is sounding like a much better deal. If I had to get some work done during my flight and could use the extra room, I think it would be worth the upgrade. But if I had an aisle or window seat in economy, would it be worth the extra money to upgrade for a middle seat? No, in my opinion.

Arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter

The Economy Comfort upgrades are not the only thing Delta has planned for these trans-con routes. By summer 2015, they plan to have all their flights from JFK to LAX/SFO/SEA to offer full flat-bed seats in BusinessElite. That is quite the upgrade to the standard First Class seats that were in my Boeing 757.

It is likely that Delta is responding to other airlines who have recently started offering high-end trans-con products, like American Airlines’ A321T and JetBlue’s new Mint.

Disclaimer: Delta upgraded my economy ticket to Economy Comfort at no charge to do this story. All opinions are my own.

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

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11 Comments

I took this same flight albeit the night time version (10 pm departure) at the end of July and while I had an aisle seat all of the other observations were the same. I was very pleasantly surprised with the food provided. Similarly I did not get offered or see a sleep kit (I would have assumed the pillow and blanket were such but you mentioned it separate so I guess not). At 6′ and we’ll say in the vicinity but north of your weight I am generally willing to spring for the economy comfort seats for the leg room – relating to your seat recline story as I seem to always be the one who in standard economy the person in front of me reclines which places my legs up against a seat for x number of hours. I don’t know that its possible (thinner arm rests perhaps) but if the EC seats were wider than standard economy seats I know I would at least never hesitate to upgrade even to the middle seat.

Thanks for this. Essentially it’s what Economy used to be then?

Exactly!

And this is not a bad thing. Economy also used to cost more. Now you just have a lower priced option of flying economy or you can pay a bit more and fly like you used to be able to, which used to cost more.

David

It’s not a bad thing at all – I’m glad airlines have given us the option to “upgrade back up again” – business is out of my price league but i do appreciate the various small amenities and a bit more space.

This handy little guide will tell you that Sleep kits are not provided on the Transcon routes

https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/in-flight-services/amenities-information/economy-comfort/economy-comfort-comparison.html?Log=1&mkcpgn=SEzzz1aEcyCmfb&s_kwcid=TC|22001|economy%20comfort%20delta||S|e|38895536868&clickid=2aae08db-7b16-1229-e3e2-000032860558&tracking_id=313×1294

But it shows, “Includes eye mask and earplugs” for the trans con JFK-SFO/SEA/LAX. I didn’t get those. But like I said, I could have slept through it or maybe need to ask.

David

A mostly great analysis, David. IMO, Delta is trying, but the cattle class Plus offering, usually in the $100 range is obviously not really worth it. Same seats, often the same pitch and they toss in a pillow etc., and ‘free’ booze. (Perhaps we should call it ‘no extra charge’ booze, as nothing is ‘free’ on an airplane.
At the end of the day, those enhanced, Economy Plus fares are a crap-shoot. If the up-charged service includes specific seat selection and one has a special need, perhaps… No Extra Charge booze, or the Full Can soft drink is just fluff. A serious drinker might be impressed, but the enlightened classes avoid or limit booze when flying. The wrap that you enjoyed is a clear bonus, but when coupled with the increased ticket cost, the ‘real’ value evaporates; if one has the time, much fresher (and far better) food is available for carry-on. While still waaay over priced, one can buy well for under $10. (I wonder what Delta actually pays their caterer for that tray; $4.22?)
Experimenting with enhanced cattle class services is a worthy set of experiments, as conducted by several bloggers. Unless the passenger’s single most important reason for buying the upgrade is fully met, obviously varied, I think they are a horrible deal. For the pax that wishes improved accesses, services and comforts in all areas, not just three inches of space, the drink or the full can, the only real option is a business class seat. IMO, most airlines’ surcharges for enhanced economy seats do not deliver enough benefit to warrant their cost. Your mileage may vary.
Thanks for the slightly improved writing. You’ve apparently had some coaching and it shows. There is more work to be done. -C.

Erik Nordheim

Looks like a good upgrade to me if a window or aisle is available.

How much would they have to charge to offer a guaranteed empty middle seat in the row?

Not having to share an armrest with a stranger would be truly luxurious.

Areclits like this make life so much simpler.

If you wrote an article about life we’d all reach enlightenment.

Richard

Cutbacks mean no more business class flying on a company dime but Economy plus is possible for me so I am delighted to see Delta getting in on the action. British Airways World traveller plus is excellent and I pay the upgrade when flying privately, United however is exactly how flying used to be. Still Plastic cutlery, soft drinks only. I can’t wait to see how Delta measures up, looks like half way between the two

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