Delta Launching International Premium Economy With Real Foot Rests

Delta has announced its international premium economy product which will launch in fall 2017 with its the arrival of its Airbus A350s. This is, basically, domestic first class with foot rests.

When American became the first US airline to announce international premium economy a year ago it seemed rushed, with speculation that they were trying to get out ahead of Delta. American has now already rolled out premium economy on their new Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

Now Delta has unveiled not just that they are doing premium economy, but details of the product.

Delta’s A350s will have 32 business class, 48 premium economy, and 226 economy seats. Delta 777s will be retrofit with premium economy starting next year.

Premium economy will offer:

  • Up to 38 inches of pitch and 19 inch width with up to 7 inches of recline. (This will vary based on aircraft, but the Airbus A350 is wider than the Boeing 787-9 which is what American launched their premium economy on. 19 inch width though may just be on the Boeing 777.)

  • Westin Heavenly blanket with a pillow and Tumi amenity kit

  • Pre-departure beverage, and meal presented on Alessi serviceware

  • 13.3″ in-flight entertainment screen and noise-cancelling headphones (American only offers noise reducing headphones)

  • Seat power

  • Priority check-in, security, boarding and baggage

Perhaps most striking in its difference from the American Airlines product, there will be an actual leg rest at each seat not a foot bar (American has leg rests only at the bulkhead).

Credit: Delta

For those who don’t care about miles, this appears as though it could be the marginally better product and certainly competitive transatlantic although not in the league of airlines like Singapore.

Of course, the introduction of premium economy likely spells doom for reasonable coach to business class upgrades but those are nearly impossible on Delta anyway (and could be coming to an end on Delta domestically as well).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Personally I think AA and DL’s hard product are on par with each other. The concept of leg rests is great, of course, but in practice, with only 38″ of pitch, the functionality is limited.

    And for the time being, I’d prefer AA’s PE on their 787-9s with the 2-3-2 layout and only one middle seat per row versus DL’s PE on the A350s with a 2-4-2 layout

  2. The lack of footrests in AA’s product is a selling point in my opinion.

    I am tall, and those things just get in the way. There’s no comfortable way to use them. I despise them.

  3. Finally, some kind of benefit to using Skymiles. With the recent increase from 62.5 to 70 o/w across the pond it seemed ludicrous to continue to accrue any Skymiles. However, a r/t combo of J at night for departure, and a return in PE on a daytime flight–providing PE is valued around 45K–would price out 115K, not too shabby. Anything higher than 45K or 50K, though, is too high.

  4. If you read the press release, what is interesting is that nowhere does DL use the word “economy”

    They are branding it “Delta Premium”, much like Virgin Australia dropped the “economy” and calls it “Premium” class.

  5. Question about something… Is Delta eliminating Comfort+ with the new Delta Premium? When I looked at the 360 view, economy only looked like regular economy.

  6. The seat can recline without the footrest extending making it the same as American’s good try though!

  7. I said it 2 years ago, airlines turned business into first, and more adding a premium economy product that will continually grow into what looks like the old business class seats over time and we will be back to what we had before

  8. What is the deal with this focus on foot rests? I can’t recall the last time I was in any class of service that had the word “economy” in it and thought “Gosh, I really need something extra down here taking up part of my legroom.”

  9. @Scott – As long as prices stay reasonable, that’s perfectly fine with me. New J is still waaayyy cheaper than old F, even if the product is pretty similar. In the past, you either paid economy prices, or 6x-8x more for recliner-J. Most people stuck to economy if they paid their own way, and those J seats either went empty or “free” as upgrades.

    Now you can get recliner-PE for what, less than double what economy costs? The hard product has leveled out, but the pricing is a better match to the market finally. I’ll pay for PE. I would never have paid for J (and, tbh, still dont).

    @KimmieA “Anything higher than 45K or 50K, though, is too high.”
    Delta hears you loud and clear.
    I wager they’ll start at 52.5k or 55k, and then no-notice increase it to 70k after a year. Of course that’ll come with a no-notice J increase to 105k a day later.

  10. We are supposed to applaud this? The seats are now termed premium economy, they charge more for it (the same seats which some time back were good ole seats but are now branded “premium” and every piece of comfort they throw in, they increase the price). I couldn’t care less about Delta and their so called premium branded seats. We use international airlines as much as we can to completely avoid these airlines in the US. Had enough of the sardine class experience.

  11. With a 38″ pitch, using the legrest would make my big ole’ feet go right into the footbar in the front. I don’t need calf support.

  12. I just saw a video on China Airlines’ A350 with their Premium Economy configuration of 2x3x2 which looked like a real treat. It does look to me that with the additional seat, this is as far as Delta will be upgrading folks from now on and if you want J, pay for J.

  13. On certain routes, if I had the option, I would choose to save miles and book premium economy instead of business class. I am thinking of flights that aren’t timed all that well for me to sleep on. Sydney to the USA, for instance. I’ve flown that once in economy and a few times in biz and haven’t slept a minute. The ideal award for me would be Biz Class to Sydney and Premium Economy back to the USA.

    I can also think of flights like a 4 or 5 pm departure from the USA to Europe. I won’t sleep on that flight, so I have no use of a lie-flat.

    Hopefully you get some good redemption options and new redemption levels for Premium Economy.

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