Half an hour in Delta’s Premium Select. A mini review.

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Premium Select is Delta’s name for their new premium economy cabin which is available only on certain international routes (at the time of this writing, it is available only on Delta’s Airbus A350s).  It’s easy to get this mixed up with their Comfort+ seating, but it is quite different.  Comfort+ is basically the same as regular economy but with slightly more legroom and slightly more recline.  Premium Select has wider seats, more legroom, footrests, and premium food and drink service.

I recently had the opportunity to try out Premium Select… for about half an hour.  Some readers will remember that I had purchased Premium Select seats for less than coach by using a little-known benefit of the Amex Platinum card.  You can read all about that, here: International Premium Economy for less than coach.

After buying the tickets, I had called Delta to try to apply two Global Upgrade certificates (which are a benefit of Delta Diamond status… which I got through Delta credit card spend).  As expected, the upgrades were wait-listed (business class upgrades on Delta flights between the US and Asia are rare).  Anyway, the upgrades never cleared, not even at the gate, and so my wife and I boarded and headed towards our Premium Select seats.  On the way, a flight attendant stopped us to let us know that our upgrades might clear after all due to a missed connection.  She told us to have a seat and she’d get back to us in about 20 minutes.  I think it was actually 30 minutes or more, but she did return, and she did move us up to Delta One Suites (Score!).

In our 30 minutes of Premium Selectitude, I formed the following opinions:

  • Seat width: Good. In photos it looks tight, but it was actually very comfortable
  • Seat padding: Good. This is important to me because on long flights my butt often starts to hurt – sometimes quite a lot. While 30 minutes isn’t enough to know for sure, my butt got the impression that things were good.  In fact, I think that this may be one area where Premium Select is better than Delta One Suites.  I found that the Delta One Suites seats were uncomfortably hard.
  • Leg-rest: Excellent. To me this made a huge difference in overall comfort.
  • Seat recline: Good. I only tried this for a minute, but that was enough to find that the recline was noticeably better than coach or Comfort+.  On the other hand, the recline is less than what you may have experienced in old-style non-lie-flat business class seating.
  • Leg-room: Good. I have short legs, so the leg-room seemed pretty good to me.  A longer-legged person may disagree.
  • Storage for stuff: Fair. There is a little hook to hang things.  And there is a little slot on the seat in-front to put small stuff.  And you can shove a few thin things into the seatback pocket.  But that’s it.  On the other hand, I was able to stow everything within easy reach (see photo below), so it’s not terrible.
  • Video screen: Great! It’s big and bright.  They hadn’t yet enabled it for in-flight entertainment so I can’t say anything about it’s responsiveness, etc., but I expect it’s good all-around.

Overall, I’d say that Premium Select is a big improvement over regular economy, but the experience is still closer to economy than to a good business class seat.

Photos follow…

Tumi amenity kit and slippers. I didn’t open either due to our upgrade to business class (Delta One Suites).
This photo shows my feet resting on the foot-rest. It also shows that legroom is pretty good (but keep in mind that my legs are quite short).
Check out this awesome video screen.
One complaint that others have made about Premium Select seating is the lack of storage. I didn’t find that to be a problem. Pictured here is the amenity kit in the slot on top, the blanket and sippers in the seat-back magazine holder, headphones hanging from the seat-hook, and my backpack under the seat in front of me. Thanks to the foot-rest I didn’t need to rest my feet on my backpack.
Headphones. I didn’t get to try these in Premium Select, but I think these are the same as the headphones in business class (Delta One Suites). Those were fine as long as no electronics were plugged into the A/C power outlet (plugged-in electronics caused a buzzing sound in the headphones).  Unfortunately, after a few hours use I found the headphones became uncomfortable.
Premium Select menu for Detroit to Tokyo-Narita
The back of the Premium Select menu for Detroit to Tokyo-Narita shows roughly when to expect each service. This graphic was not in the Delta One Suites menu.
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