On my first flight back from a visit out to home base of Eye of the Flyer in LA my wife and I flew on an international wide body Delta 767-400 with the upgraded seats. These may not be the most amazing seats in the sky but they are a massive upgrade over the old ones that just about everyone hated and likened to coffins.
While not common, Delta does fly wide body jets domestically either for capacity utilization or moving a jet from place to place for the start of an international journey. When I booked this flight it was not a 767-400 so the change was most welcomed since I was already booked in first.
Delta, especially the CEO and other big wigs at the airline, considers itself a “Premium Airline” and worthy of charging more than others for flights. But hearing this over and over it got me thinking just what qualifies as a premium airline. Is it the seat alone or the ground experience preflight or the offerings and service onboard? I would love your thoughts as I share my view starting with the preflight beverage that was offered on my flight. I requested a mimosa and it was provided in a plastic cup – is that premium?
My friend Gary from View from the Wing started some buzz (and was roasted online for the post) recently when he was refused the request for a glass of water preflight and simply told there was a bottle of water in his seat. On my flight the passenger in front of me made the same request and received the same answer. So does not providing a simple request make the airline less premium?
Once up in the air Delta started real drink service. I am pleased to say that the beyond undrinkable canned wines, at least in Delta mainline 1st class, are gone. I am told they are still onboard for coach and my guess is still on regional jets but I am happy to be corrected if that also has now changed.
I requested both a glass of wine as well as a glass of sparkling water and the simply OUTSTANDING senior Delta flight attendant even asked if I wanted a slice of lime with my water – a premium touch maybe? I think so. Plus no more plastic cups thank you very much. Now on to lunch.
The above is not from the flight I was on. No, it is from my last international Delta flight where I had in the app requested what Delta, before the pandemic, always offered, that is, a premium meal experience with each course delivered one at a time. I even requested, as you can see, that I receive this service vs. just one tray service. You can guess what happened on that flight – everything came at once and the lazy flight attendants seemed to rush everything and then hide up front for much of the flight. That was not a premium experience and from a long FlyerTalk rant thread it seems Delta is hit and miss (at best) in returning to what was.
For this flight, since it was domestic (non transcon), you do not have the choice other than single tray service so I was not expecting anything else despite the fact we were on a 4 hour flight on a wide body Delta One jet. I had pre-ordered the meatballs and the lead flight attendant before departure confirmed everyone’s orders. Again nice work and a premium touch I would expect.
Now it is my turn to show an example of what I expect as a premium service vs. what is presented from Delta.
The meal was very good. Chris loves this meal and has reviewed it here and I have ordered it a number of times. It is both filling and flavorful. But look how it is presented. Could it be presented in another premium way? Why not this:
This is how it could be served with the trays put back into the carts until the meal was done. Yes it would take more time but is there not a clear “premium” difference in the above two presentations? Plus the plastic trays are always so “sticky” to me – it may be by design to prevent them from moving around but it always just creeps me out a bit.
The rest of the service by the flight attendant assigned to our side was all but perfect for the entire flight. She was up and down the aisles often and attentive to everyone’s requests and quick to remove both the trays from lunch as well as trash and such along the flight – again a premium experience worthy of Delta’s boasting.
We deplaned from the second door and on most international flights with a business or first class cabin a flight attendant will “hold” the coach cabin until the forward cabin passengers have had a chance to exit. Again just another small part of what I would expect from a premium airline experience – this did not happen on this flight.
I really hope this post does not come off as an attack on Delta in any way as every part of this trip was absolutely fine and what I have come to expect on “good days” flying with Delta crews that do care about providing “Strive for Five” service.
But was it premium – I would in balance have to say no. So is Delta really a premium airline? Does any of the US domestic airlines provide a true premium experience for flights inside the US? What about internationally can Delta hold themselves up as a premium compared to other airlines inside or outside of Skyteam? I would love to know what you think about this! – René
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