As IT and revenue management becomes increasingly more sophisticated, they have allowed airlines to segment their customers more effectively and develop new products for sale. Like it or not, airlines are profit-seeking enterprises, and if they determine that they could make money by charging for oxygen on the flight, at least one or two would consider it.
One of the plusses, however, that has arisen from product segmentation is the premium economy cabin. Not quite coach, not quite first, it offers some of the characteristics of each. If you have elite status on an airline, you may be eligible to book these seats without an additional charge. Even if you don’t, however, the upcharge will likely be modest.
A couple of days ago, I had an opportunity to check out Delta’s premium economy product, known as Comfort+ (C+), on a flight from Boston to Minneapolis. Normally, I’ll take a picture myself, but the folks around me didn’t look like they’d particularly appreciate it, so here’s an image from Delta’s website:
There’s one biggie that separates C+ from First Class: C+ is 3-across*, while seating in F is 2X2. Trust me, when you have a six year-old who decides that they need to go to the bathroom**, We were on an A320, which hadn’t been upgraded with entertainment or power ports yet, but truthfully,, it was not a bad product.
- To start, you get a couple of extra inches of leg room. Coach on this flight offers 31-32″. C+ offers 34″. Think those extra 2-3″ don’t make a difference? Look at the picture above: Notice how that woman is crossing her legs? It’s actually possible.
- You’ll board early. It’s worth it, just for the boarding, since you know that the last 20 people to board are going to be forced to check their bags. Technically, there is dedicated overhead space for C+ passengers. While I didn’t see the flight attendants enforcing the reserved space, no one in the section had trouble finding a place to stick their bags.
- “Superior” snacks and free drinks. C+ passengers had a “dedicated” snack basket and the flight attendants brought it around a few times. Wow, fruit on an airplane? Novel concept. My daughter, of course, had no trouble downing a couple of Kit Kats. If you’re flying trans-con, you’ll get a sandwich. On the other hand, it seems a little sad that we’ve reached the point where premium passengers feel grateful for a sandwich.
Overall, Comfort+ is actually a pretty good product. If you don’t want to pay for First Class but want a little extra space, this may be the way to go. The service will be that much better when the entertainment and power ports arrive.
*Speaking of 3-across, one of the reasons that I like Delta is that I can almost always finish the crossword puzzles in the in-flight magazine, a clear indication that they aren’t exactly the Friday New York Times puzzles.
**There is nothing more frustrating than having to climb over a neighbor to go to the bathroom. Non-parents, please be aware of the following: Those of us with children always take them to the bathroom right before boarding. Trust me, it’s worse for us than it is for you. Despite the last-minute attempts, there is something about being on an airplane that makes the child need to use the lav at the most inconvenient time, generally when we’re supposed to be seated for take-off or landing. I could withhold water for a week prior to the trip and take the kid to the bathroom three times in the last hour; it wouldn’t make a difference. Thank you for your understanding.Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!
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