Delta Air Lines giveth. And Delta Air Lines taketh away.
You could call it robbing Peter to pay Paul, but both international and domestic routes are affected by recent decisions made by the Atlanta-based airline.
Delta is adding Delta One service to routes between New York and Las Vegas, Seattle and San Diego. This premium business class option includes perks like flat beds and various enhancements and means there are a total of seven domestic routes that now offer Delta One service.
Nice. But where will these internationally configured 757s that fly these routes come from?
The Smooth Operator
Lately, Delta has been flying more wide body aircraft between LA and New York, leading observers to wonder how the carrier has enough planes to cover all the new Delta One routes. So Delta, being the smooth operator that it is, has announced that they will be flying configured 757-200s on several transatlantic flights instead of the more luxurious wide body airplanes, which will now be deployed domestically on the Delta One routes.
This is a bit of a downgrade for passengers traveling abroad, since the 757-200s narrow bodies have recliner first class seats situated at the front of the plane rather than full flat seats. This equates to a premium economy class (Premium Select) but is by no means equivalent to the typical business class offering. Essentially this means business class is being replaced by Premium Select on these transatlantic routes.
Delta provides product parity with Ultra-low cost carriers
As of May 3, 3018 routes affected include New York JFK to Reykjavik, Iceland and New York JFK to Shannon, Ireland; as well as New York JFK to Ponta Delgada, Portugal beginning May 24, 2018. Competition has been increasing between domestic carriers such as Delta and European budget airlines like Icelandair and WOW, who operate nonstop routes to Reykjavik. The lower-cost European players offer a business class option that resembles domestic first class, which is why one could argue that Delta’s offering makes sense since it is comparable to what is currently on offer by Icelandair and WOW. But to be truly competitive on these routes, Delta will likely have to slash prices. Flying the narrow bodies will allow Delta to sell seats at a lower price point but the lack of a premium option might deter higher fare business traffic.
Additionally, some transatlantic markets cater more to leisure travelers, so it seems as if Delta made the decision at least partially based on the fact that there is more premium demand on domestic routes, so offering the business class option with flat beds just makes more sense here. Just keep in mind that if you fly any of the above-mentioned international flights, starting in May of next year, you will be limited to the Premium Select option.