Delta says it will launch new perks for economy passengers on international flights, giving it an edge over United and American (DAL)

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Delta Main Cabin International Flights

  • Delta announced new benefits in its Main Cabin — or economy cabin — on international flights starting in November.
  • The benefits include mix-and-match meal options, welcome cocktails, and hot towel service early in the flight.
  • The new amenities help Delta distinguish its economy cabin experience, a difficult area for airlines to differentiate themselves from rivals.
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The next time you take a long flight with Delta, you might notice a handful of new amenities to help you get comfortable for the trip.

Delta announced this morning that its revamping its main cabin, or economy, service on its long-haul international flights.

Starting in November, passengers in the economy cabin can look forward to a complimentary “welcome” cocktail  immediately after take-off — before the first full drink service — and hot towel service shortly after take-off.

According to Delta, the welcome cocktail will be a Bellini — sparkling wine mixed with peach puree — to start, but more options may become available after the service is implemented.

Additionally, Delta will offer enhancements to the main meal service (on international flights, usually lunch or dinner). New features will include the option to mix-and-match appetizers, and larger entrees.

Currently, meals are pre-plated on service trays with a set appetizer and dessert paired to each entree, so if you want an appetizer from one meal option, but the entree from another, you can’t make that choice.

“This is about investing in every single customer who chooses Delta, no matter where they sit on the plane,” said Delta senior vice president Allison Ausband in a press release. “The thoughtful touches we’re investing in throughout the new Main Cabin experience were designed by flight attendants with one goal in mind — delivering an exceptional experience that our customers will rave about and one that our team, the best in the business, is proud to deliver.”

Read more: American Airlines is suspending its first route because of the 737 Max grounding

Economy class presents a challenge for airlines seeking to distinguish themselves from rivals. Although profit margins per passenger are smaller than in premium cabins like business class, the vast majority of an airline’s customers fly in economy. Plus, due to the economics of commercial air travel, relatively high-density seating in economy cabins is unavoidable, making it difficult to distinguish one airline’s seat product from another.

Despite those low profit margins, airlines want to engender good will and loyalty among passengers, who may continue to fly the airline, or use the airline’s co-branded credit cards, generating more revenue.

The “soft product,” or service, meals, and amenities, therefore offers airlines the best opportunity to impress economy passengers.

As it continues to compete with other airlines for both premium and economy cabin passengers, Delta has made several service tweaks over the past few years in an effort to set itself apart. In economy, the airline offers complimentary spirits and sparkling wine on international flights, amenity kits with items like ear plugs, a sleep mask, toothbrush, and moist towelette, seat-back in-flight entertainment screens across its entire long-haul fleet, free mobile messaging over Wi-Fi, and has announced its intention to eventually offer free Wi-Fi browsing.

The new service will be provided on international flights scheduled for 6 1/2 hours or longer, and on shorter non-regional international flights — that generally excludes international flights within North and Central America.

SEE ALSO: United Airlines put an underage passenger on a plane to the wrong country, prompting a panicked mother to beg the airline to keep the plane from taking off

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