It's no secret that U.S. airlines are slipping horribly on both service and amenities compared to foreign carriers like Qatar Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Etihad and Emirates that seem to delight in pampering passengers.
Flying inside the U.S. is becoming such a tiresome ordeal that even seasoned travelers shudder at the mere prospect of packing their bags.
So it was more than pleasing the other day to see Delta Air Lines belatedly realize passengers are a major priority, not an encumbrance, and make some welcome changes on its transcontinental flights vis-a-vis dining and entertainment options.
Delta - What's New
The changes Delta's made, while not all that great, are still welcome.
Delta's Senior VP of In-Flight Service Joanne Smith, touted the changes as "smaller, more personal touches that really make the flight experience an exceptional one."
Here are some of the improvements Delta has made on its coast-to-coast services:
* Serving Sparkling wine in BusinessElite class
* Distributing copies of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today for BusinessElite customers, starting this spring
* BusinessElite express meals beginning this fall
* Complimentary headsets for all customers seated in Economy Comfort and Economy
* Offering complimentary beer, wine, spirits and premium snacks in Economy Comfort in April
* Showing complimentary movies and on-demand TV shows in Economy, plus free HBO selections and new release movies for customers seated in Economy Comfort starting this summer
* 375 ml bottles of Hess Select Chardonnay and Meiomi by Belle Glos Pinot Noir for purchase in Economy Class beginning in March
* Serving Starbucks coffee for all transcon customers, beginning this summer
* Expanded movie and on-demand TV library, with up to 100 movies
* Upgraded food for purchase menu including more kid-friendly and healthy options beginning this fall
* All transcon flights out of New York's JFK will depart from T4, Delta's new international terminal, opening in May
Ideas In Flight
Besides these improvements, Delta is launching Ideas In Flight, a program that lets Delta test new products and services and gather real-time feedback from customers onboard and via the social network Facebook.
Customers may participate by accessing the Ideas In Flight web site for free while onboard transcontinental flights via in-flight WiFi and through the dedicated tab on the Delta Facebook page.
Other Transcontinental Services
Delta also recently disclosed plans to introduce full flat-bed seats in the BusinessElite cabin of all transcontinental flights operating between New York and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle beginning March 2013.
Transcontinental flying are to be operated using a combination of Boeing 757 and 767 aircrafts.
The first 767 will start flying in March 2013, between New York-JFK and Los Angeles.
By June, four of Delta's seven daily flights between JFK and LAX, and one of five daily flights between New York and Seattle, should operate with a 767 widebody aircraft featuring flat-beds in the BusinessElite cabin.