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

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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.


Comments are Closed.
lindab55 December 11, 2019

For long haul flights, I am usually in Premium Economy. Can't afford the first class. So anything they can do to make PE or Main cabin better is alright with me. I rarely sleep at all no matter how long the flight. Better food and snacks is a plus because I also rarely eat the meals because they are so bad. I am not a champagne person, but will try the bellini if offered. Do you still get free cocktails in PE on long haul flights? Going to TLV from JFK in the fall of next year on Delta in PE.

MisterBill November 23, 2019

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.

wringme November 23, 2019

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.

Mediaink November 22, 2019

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.

AJNEDC November 22, 2019

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