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American and United Aren’t Keen on Matching Delta Cabin Upgrades

American and United Aren’t Keen on Matching Delta Cabin Upgrades
Jeff Edwards

Delta Air Lines earned more than its fair share of good press, along with accolades from industry analysts and the flying public, recently when the legacy carrier announced it would offer some elite cabin amenities to its main cabin passengers, but any hope that the other two “big three” airlines would follow suit appears to have been dashed, at least for now.

In the North American airline industry, when Delta Airlines raises the fees for checked bags, American Airlines and United Airlines are sure to mirror the fee hike. Likewise, when United cuts inflight services, the other two big U.S. carriers are sure to follow the cost-saving moves, but when Delta recently announced plans to bring a little bit of glamour back to the economy class cabin, the other legacy carriers indicated that they have no plans to follow their competitor’s lead.

Earlier this month, Delta announced that it would be making some premium cabin-style upgrades to its main cabin on most international flights. The new economy class perks will include complimentary welcome cocktails, hot towel service, printed menus with an array of choices for both wine and all three courses of inflight dining. Passengers will even be treated to a “fond farewell” chocolate before landing.

“This is about investing in every single customer who chooses Delta, no matter where they sit on the plane,” Delta Senior Vice President of In-Flight Service Allison Ausband said in a July 2nd release announcing the new standards. “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.”

Despite Delta’s rather compelling case for bringing some of the glamour back to air travel, officials at United Airlines and American Airlines have expressed a certain reticence about the idea of lavishing economy class passengers with inflight comforts. The carriers offered a chilly reaction to the competing airline’s announced improvements.

“We’re always looking at ways to elevate our in-flight experience, including by listening to customer and flight attendant feedback when developing our food and beverage service and outfitting all of our wide-body aircraft with premium economy,” an American Airlines spokesperson told the Chicago Business Journal this week. “We don’t have any new developments to announce at this time.”

United Airlines officials aren’t keen to copy Delta’s economy cabin standards, but the airline echoed American’s position nearly word-for-word. A spokesperson told the newspaper that it had no plans to “drastically change the international economy cabin service now offered,” adding, “We remain committed to enhancing the customer experience for all our passengers.”

Although FlyerTalk members by and large welcomed the news that Delta is improving some aspects of its main cabin service, even some of those pleased by the move questioned if the economy class refinements make sound business sense. Are passengers who book an airline based on service already likely to be purchasing premium cabin seats rather than economy anyway or will the prospect of flying coach without being punished sound like a bargain to potential customers? Join the always civil debate, along with a heated debate about Net Promoter Scores (NPS), in the forums.

 

[Featured Image: Delta]

View Comments (6)

6 Comments

  1. Superjeff

    July 10, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    the question isn’t “premium service,” but rather “less bad service”. Economy class has gotten absolutely dreadful, primarily on long hauls where it can be downright painful. I certainly wouldn’t care about a welcome Bellini cocktail on a flight from Dallas to Chicago, but on a flight to Europe, it would be nice. Don’t forget all of the US three have gone to 30 inch pitch as the norm in Economy Class; at the time of deregulation in 1978, the standard coach pitch was 34 inches. That is not an enhancement. I live in an American Airlines hub city, but with improved service in steerage, I’d seriously consider flying with Delta. Service counts, and I will pay a bit more to avoid flying with Greyhound (no offense to the bus company).

  2. edgewood49

    July 10, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    you have to be kidding me American and United cabin service in the same sentence? Has anyone asked Parker for his approval, mostly likely not. He has yet in all these years been consistent in providing an acceptable service level, why start now ?

  3. formeraa

    July 10, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    Isn’t this article a bit slanted? All the AA and UA spokespersons said was that AA and UA had nothing new to announce at this time and are constantly reviewing service options. Rest assured, both airlines have numerous analysts looking at the details of DL’s plan as well as crunching numbers to see how much it would cost to provide the extra service. Maybe customers would rather have an extra inch of legroom, rather than a “welcome” cocktail and a “bistro” meal with a choice of appetizers.

  4. MRM

    July 10, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    While some of this look at this like a little bit of “glamour” added back to flying, it also goes to show how utterly low expectations that so many have for flying in the first place. All this technology available – and yet passengers dislike flying as much as ever – but do it because it’s still the most convenient (if not enjoyable) to get around.

  5. dvs7310

    July 11, 2019 at 2:03 am

    I love the idea of printed menus. UA flight attendants can’t ever be bothered to look inside before starting service to see relatively what the pasta and meat dishes are… it certainly does make a difference to the customer as to which one they’ll choose. The are some kinds of pasta I’d prefer and there are some recipes of beef/chicken I’d avoid.

  6. boeingguy1

    July 11, 2019 at 7:25 am

    want space, buy space.

    as for the enhancements, kudos to Delta. Whether or not these are actually “enhancements” are to be seen, but man do they know how to spin up the PR machine in their favor.

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