NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Delta (Stock Quote: DAL) has come up with yet another way to squeeze money out of its customers by offering passengers the privilege of being able to recline a bit more in their seats.
The airline announced Monday that it will introduce a new ‘Economy Comfort’ section on all long-haul international flights by the summer of this year, which is intended to be a middle ground between coach and business class. While this may sound promising, it essentially boils down to one simple change: The airline is simply installing nicer seats in the first few rows of the economy section.
According to Delta’s press release, these new seats will boast four additional inches of legroom and be able to recline 50% more than normal seats in the economy section. And for this incredible luxury, Delta says it will charge customers between $80-$160—each way.
Now, we don’t want to diminish the joy of being able to lean back a few inches farther on your flight, especially a long flight, not to mention the added pleasure of knowing that everyone else stuck in the lousy old economy seats can see how comfortable you are since you’re still technically in the same section of the plane. But even so, is this perk really worth $160? Other airlines offer similar options like United’s Economy Plus program, but upgrading to this option costs $109 on a long distance flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo, or about $50 less than Delta’s option.
The real problem with the Economy Comfort idea, as with most of the extra fees we’ve seen in recent years, is that it only reaffirms how uncomfortable the normal conditions are for passengers flying Delta and other airlines. The fact that an airline would deem a few inches of leg room and the ability to recline as a luxury worth paying exorbitant amounts of money for highlights the subpar seating arrangements we’ve all come to expect when flying.
If Delta wanted to provide a better flying experience, it could have used some of the huge profits it earned from charging other extra fees to overhaul the economy sections on its planes and make every seat comfortable rather than just a select few, and without raising ticket prices significantly. After all, customers already pay more in extra fees when flying Delta than for any other airline, according to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, so how much extra does Delta really need to charge at this point?
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