Delta Announces Fleet Upgrades, New Meals, and Increased Lounge Access Memberships
It’s been a busy few weeks for Delta Airlines—and we’re not just talking about the 80’s-themed in-flight safety video. Earlier this month, the airline announced that it would be investing more than $770 million through 2016 to revamp its domestic fleet of Boeing 757-200 and 737-800, and Airbus A319 and A320. Overall, passengers can expect updated bathrooms, LED lighting, and overhead bins (increasing capacity by up to 60%)—plus power and in-seat video/satellite TV throughout. New slim-line seats with adjustable headrests will be made from lighter materials, making for a more efficient plane that uses less fuel. The pitch—or legroom—in Economy will average 31 inches, equal to most of the current configurations. The 757s and 737s will see an increase of about 10 to 20 seats in Economy (depending on the aircraft), and A319 and the A320 seats are actually increasing in width, from 17.2 inches up to 18 inches.
On the in-flight food front, passengers flying cross-country between New York and San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles now have some healthier meal options, thanks to a new partnership with Luvo, a company known for its low-calorie frozen meals. The new offerings—complimentary in Economy Comfort and available for purchase in Economy—are three all-natural wraps (think quinoa, vegetables, edamame hummus, and black rice-and-bean salad in an olive-oil wheat tortilla).
In Delta Sky Club news, the airline recently announced that it’s eliminating free guest passes for American Express Platinum, Centurion, and Delta Reserve cardholders—a huge perk to say goodbye to. The membership fee structure is also changing. Under the new pricing, the Executive Membership jumps from $450 to $695 annually—an increase of 54%—while the basic Individual Membership costs $450, plus $29 per guest. (Executive Memberships will get two complimentary guests.)
The official statement from the airline is, “Even with more than $50 million in investments over the last several years to renovate and expand existing Delta Sky Clubs and build new Clubs across the system, our customers tell us Delta Sky Clubs can be overcrowded. Changes to the program for 2014 aim to maintain the more exclusive atmosphere our Club members expect.”
On the list of just-announced Delta Sky Club changes are new food offerings and services, currently being tested at a handful of lounges in Atlanta, Detroit, LaGuardia, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Customer feedback will dictate whether or not dishes like pancakes, hot soup, dinner antipasti, and healthier snacks (energy bars, fresh fruit, smoothies)—plus amenities such as shoe shines, manicures, and chair massages—will roll out this summer. The big question is are these upgrades, and presumably less-crowded lounges, worth the price hike?
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.