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Would You Pay Delta $160 For Extra Leg Room?

Delta Airlines’ long-awaited “Economy Comfort” offer will be available on long-haul international flights starting June 1. The Economy Comfort seats don’t give the full recline of Business Elite class, but you get an extra 50% recline than Economy, early boarding, complimentary alcoholic beverages, plus 4 inches extra leg room, bringing it to a grand total of 36 inches. It’s the middle class of airline travel.

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Delta doesn’t say what a 50% recline actually amounts to.  Company spokeswoman Chris Kelly Singley says their airline doesn’t give the precise details Economy recline, but she does say, “Business Elite has a full-flat recline, which gives a great night’s sleep.” Does that mean lesser classes don’t have a great night’s sleep? “You won’t have a full-flat seat, but we will get you halfway across the globe overnight,” she says. Touché.

According to research by the airline website SeatGuru.com, most economy class seats offer about 5 inches of recline, while United Air Line’s own “Economy Plus” seats offer airline passengers similar 34 to 36 inches of seat pitch. Delta’s joint venture partners Air France-KLM and Alitalia have similar superior Economy offerings.

Here’s the low-down on the high-life:

Economy Comfort costs $80 to $160 one-way for passengers, with complimentary access for Diamond and Platinum Medallions air mile customers, plus up to eight companions traveling in the same reservation, and those buying full-fare economy tickets. Gold and Silver Medallions receive 50% and 25% discounts on the Economy Comfort seat fees, respectively.

What does this say about Economy? Air travel consumer advocate Christopher Elliott tells Pay Dirt, “They’re calling it Economy Comfort, which I find a little odd. That implies the rest of Economy class isn’t comfortable.” Kelly Singley responds, “Delta offers different product options at different price points so customers can pay for what they choose to experience.”

Elliott contends that all airlines should make Economy more comfortable, rather than introducing a superior version. In the meantime, the exact degree Delta’s ordinary Economy class seats recline remains unconfirmed by the airline itself. Kelly Singley says, “You might not know the number, but you know how it feels.”

Pay Dirt readers, how does it feel?

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    • This article should be called ‘Would You Have to Pay Delta $160 For Extra Leg Room’. This is nothing but a rip off!! I took a same flight on United and only paid $7 per seat for their Econ. Com. For those of us who have to use our Delta Skymiles, and I’, 6’7″, I have no option. Except one, good bye Delta. You are the stellar example of corporate greed.

    • Delta – the low life airline! Stupid and ugly FAs and really horrible service through and through. Avoid it at all cost! Domestic flights are a total disgrace. False adverts for Business class seats on 737 and 757 should be investigated by the US Government. This airline is clearly theworst of the US bunch.

    • This is a Height Tax. Any one over six foot and tired of their blood being cut-off at the knees during long flights will begrudgingly consider paying the tax. The airlines should provide a set number of seats with extra space for the taller travelers. I may need knee replacement after all the cramped flights over the past two years.

    • Last fall we upgraded to this class on British Airlines from Boston to London at about $80 per ticket. However, on the return BA wanted about $450 per person to upgrade to this class from coach. We flew back coach. Our experience with this upgraded class was that at $80 per ticket it is still expensive for a 6-8 hour flight. The free drinks certainly didn’t make it economical either as we might only have one anyway—–at what $7 each? The food in this class was probably what they served in coach and was nearly inedible.

      If we upgrade again it will be to normal Business class which has been our usual. And, by the way, we are retired so these upgrades come directly from our pockets and not some corporate treasury.

    • These American airlines should take a lesson from international flights. My best airline experience? My 14.5 hour flights to Asia. Comfort and the passenger first. Even a two hour flight from Tokyo to Taipei offers incredible service compared to a similar length flight in the US. Capitalism at its worst, right at home.

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

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