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Delta Air Lines

Delta’s New International Upgrade Is A Good Effort. But.

Delta’s New International Upgrade Is A Good Effort. But.

While, obviously, nothing beats sitting up front, Delta has made an effort to make long-haul flights much more manageable by reinventing long-haul amenities. This month, customers flying on Delta’s international Main Cabin can expect a series of elevated touches from boarding to landing. But do they really make flying long-haul economy any better.

What to Expect

Soon after stepping aboard, guests will be greeted with trays of complimentary “Welcome Aboard” Bellini cocktails (sparkling wine and peach puree), followed by a hot towel service.

Dinner receives an upgrade, too, thanks to a new bistro-style meal service featuring improvements across the board. Appetizers are upgraded and entrees are mix-and-match, with new recipes inspired by favorite Delta One dishes, designed to mimic a traditional restaurant service. Meals also include a placemat, upgraded cutlery, and custom-designed dinnerware. Finally, following dinner, guests can enjoy dessert separately with coffee, tea, complimentary wine, or water.

The experience continues with a second hot towel service just before arrival, as well as chocolates during descent. The service is offered on international flights of 6.5 hours or longer, as well as on select international flights with Delta One or Delta Premium Select.

What Do Travelers Say?

On Flyer Talk’s forums, reviews vary wildly. Some are impressed, giving high marks to the service, while others dislike details like the Bellinis.

I Just Want to Sleep

“These dragged out services leave very little time for uninterrupted sleep,” says user Wlau. “I am surprised they actually rolled this out. They did some trials early on this year and I was NOT impressed.”

Not a Fan of Bellinis or Bellini Service

“I just experienced the new service Tuesday, NRT-SEA. I will start out by saying we had a great crew, trying hard to make this work, but I saw it as a complete failure. First, the Bellini service–fine if you like thick sweet drinks. If you don’t, there is no substitute offered. Bellini or nothing…There is no sleeping before the end of meal service due to noise and activity. Want to use the lav? Can’t for most of the 3 hour service because the carts are in the isles blocking them. I fly US-Asia on a regular basis, and have never been so limited on sleep before. Rating is A for effort, F for practicality,” says user FC Flyer.

I’m Still Hungry

“Well, that was kind of crappy…Portions were much smaller than before but did taste good…I liked the old service better,” says user xiphoid76.

Conversely, others are impressed.

It’s a Good Effort

“I experienced it on FRA-JFK // JFK-FRA and was impressed. I am not a fan of eco food. But the presentation and the details of the service do make a difference,” user 8mh says. “…For the most part, I recognize that DL tries to make the main cabin experience a little more civilized. Whether it’s the free WiFi messaging, the bottled water, or the chocolate and thank you at the end. It’s good to see in times where all Lufty and co. seem to think about is the implementation of enhancements.”

Everyone Likes a Greeting

“I flew D1 ATL-ICN at 1 am on 11/6. I didn’t hear any cheers coming from behind the curtain. One thing I did notice was a pre-boarding welcome that the purser made in the gate area. Seemed nice and I complimented her on it,” says user mot29.


How Did Delta Create the Upgraded Experience?

Delta conducted nearly 14,000 hours of flight time, waded through 1,800 customer surveys, and solicited crew feedback and a design team of 24 flight attendants to fine-tune the changes and provide a better international flight experience. The upgrades were initially tested on 700 flights between Portland and Tokyo-NRT over the past year.

“This is about investing in every single customer who chooses Delta, no matter where they sit on the plane,” said Allison Ausband, Delta’s Senior Vice President — 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.”

These aren’t the first upgrades Delta has made to improve its long-haul main cabin service. Recently, Main Cabin and Comfort + amenity kits were improved, with the airline adding a cleansing towelette to the sleep mask, dental kit, and earplugs already provided.

It’s not quite Delta One’s Westin Heavenly In-Flight Bedding and flat-bed seats with direct aisle access…but when you’re flying long-haul, every little amenity helps.


View Comments (12)


  1. bigbuy

    November 21, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    Until USA carriers start keeping the Lavs on long flights from looking like a pigsty
    I will avoid them on long flights no matter what other enhancements they offer.

  2. Bear4Asian

    November 21, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    “This is about investing in every single customer who chooses Delta, no matter where they sit on the plane,”…

    Try 18.5” wide seats with adequate pitch no matter where the customer sits. That would be something truly valuable.

  3. FlyingNone

    November 21, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    a cleansing towelette ?…….. you mean like one of those wet wipes I can bring on my own….or sleep mask…or my own toothbrush? – Yeah, that’s really going to make it or break it for me.

  4. randysea

    November 22, 2019 at 4:18 am

    I fly Delta 34 from Seattle to Paris 2-3 times per year. The last time was 9 days ago. I was in Business/One.

    My seat did not go flat. Luckily, the cabin had a few free seats. An accommodating FA helped me move. Still, it would have been a major downer if I had been stuck with a bad seat. The flat bed (so-called bed) is the major reason I sometimes upgrade.

    My previous long haul flight was Seattle to Maui. There my Comfort+ seat was backed up against a bulkhead. Maybe one inch of recline, and no more legroom than in regular Economy. Other seats in C+ looked normal. I complained and got 4,500 miles. I think I should have gotten a refund of the premium I paid for C+ but didn’t push it any further.
    Then there was the video. For each category, you could only choose from the opening screen. The arrows to advance, say, from A-B to C-D titles didn’t work. This was a cabin-wide problem

    In the service area up front, it was obvious that some of the trolley cart slots were off kilter. The trolleys didn’t fit in quite right.

    That feed was very good and so was the service.

  5. randysea

    November 22, 2019 at 4:20 am

    In my last comment, which I don’t see a way to edit, I got paragraphs mixed up somehow. The defective screens were in Business/one on the SEA to Paris flight.

  6. localady

    November 22, 2019 at 5:33 am

    Actually, I found the “enhanced” main cabin service on international flights to be a new low for Delta. The article doesn’t say how they cut the tray on meal service and give you a paper tray cover with your utensils and a pack of salt and pepper. Meal comes on a very small plate with an “appetizer”, the main course that you choose and a roll which is so hard that it could seriously injure somebody if it was thrown. No cheese, no salad. Dessert (Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream) is passed out later. EVERYBODY in the row in front, my, and the row behind me passed on the ice cream. The Bellini was OK at best, but IU would never purposely order one and think it is Delta’s way of cheaping out on doing a full drink service. I will say that the caprice “salad” appetizer was the onlyy good part of the
    ‘enhanced” experience for me.

    As the writer said the service is noisy and you can’t rest or get up to use the bathroom for at least 2 1/2 hours. The flight attendants that I talked to saids that it was more bending and extra effort for them.

    The addition of the towellette to the amenities kit was a nice touch, but unless you fly internationally in main class you might not even known it was an “enhancement”.

    Overall, did Delta try? Yes, but it still seems like lipstick on a pig to me.

  7. StrongEagle

    November 22, 2019 at 6:01 am

    Here’s an idea to increase long haul economy comfort: INCREASE THE SEAT PITCH!!!!!

  8. RSSrsvp

    November 22, 2019 at 6:04 am

    If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.


    November 22, 2019 at 6:43 am

    The service cut down on sleep time… Sleep in n economy? Stop with the jokes, please.

  10. Mediaink

    November 22, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    I just flew lax to Haneda for the fifth time this year, and my third time in comfort+, with both a premium and Delta One experience to compare the improvements to. Personally, I appreciate the effort Delta is making. Did I love all of it? No. I drank the Bellini, which wasn’t thick and sweet like another comment describes- it was just champagne with a teaspoon of peach juice. Would I have rather had champagne like they bring in Delta One? Yes. But my Delta One ticket was $3200 and this main cabin (with a complimentary upgrade to Comfort +) was $850. So I can live with a teaspoon of peach juice. The full size bottle of water was nice, the hot towel service was great for wiping down my tray and screen which I do habitually, and the food was definitely an upgrade. My shrimp appetizer was way better than some ice burg lettuce and ranch dressing like prior meals, and the salmon was risky, but surprisingly good. Although I do not like the new food try – it’s an odd shape and smaller – it did leave much more room on my tray table for my drink and ipad. Lastly, I appreciated (as did many others I’m sure) the constant supply of mini turkey sandwiches left with other snacks both fore and aft of the cabin. The sandwiches were much more substantial than biscotti or cheezits, and even though some people were grabb8ng them two at a time during the flight, they continued to refresh the basket the entire 12-hour flight. You can can poke holes in anything they try to do, when bottom line, the seat is not your ideal bun cupper, but look at the price of your ticket compared to a premium experience. And as a side note, I’ve had less of an enjoyable experience in Delta One, even when my seat folded flat, because of a less than enthusiastic flight crew. So it isn’t always just about the seat, but the effort being put forward by the people there to help make the journey more palatable.

  11. wringme

    November 22, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Thank God I don’t have to look back there anymore. Delta One is Great. But it wasn’t always great.

    I flew Atlanta to Asia and New York to Europe in coach for years – more than 25. I still do it – ATL – FRA in a week. I have likely flown these routes 150+ times – and that’s just International. I took longer flights to Europe (two-engine which required a more northern flight path) just to try and get that extra 2-hours shut eye – which is entirely possible in coach if you know a few tricks. 14 Hours to Tokyo or Shanghai with no entertainment takes some getting use to. No seat back TV a problem? Learn to read.

    Creature Comfort or some other elegant name changes little. It’s just another worthy attempt to make things better. Sometimes it works well, sometimes less well. Nothing ventured nothing gained. (I’ll tell you the best amenity they ever started – smokeless flights. You can’t even imagine what that was like). Just thank the Lord you can experience something that no other human in history could begin to contemplate – flight to another Continent with a hot towel and back, or further on. . Suck it up. Work hard or save hard and plan to see the world while you can. Or don’t. But do appreciate that it is extremely hard to make people – especially American people – happy while cramped up in a tube for 6, 8, or even 15 hours. I appreciate Delta’s efforts to make changes that they believe might enhance the travel experience on their aircraft.

    It’s not perfect but the experiences can be.

  12. MisterBill

    November 23, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    So did they also make corresponding upgrades to their Premium Economy service? I’m flying PVG-DTW in March. When I booked it seemed like their PE service had pretty decent reviews.

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