For-Fee Economy Comfort Seats Go Fleet-Wide on Delta

Delta's extra-legroom Economy Comfort will be available on all flights longer than 750 miles, including all mainline planes and larger regional jets, beginning June 7. Delta started the program last year on international flights, and apparently found that lots of travelers are willing to pay $19 to $99 each way for more legroom on domestic flights as well.

In this case, Delta is playing catch-up with United, which went fleet-wide with its comparable Economy Plus last year, and with JetBlue. American is also adding its version of upgraded economy, but the installation schedule is well behind its main competitors. We're still waiting to see whether Alaska, Hawaiian, US Airways, and the newer low-cost lines will follow suit.

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Delta's product appears to be quite similar to that of American and United. You get regular economy seats, but with front-to-rear rows spaced out more than in conventional economy seating. I call it "semi-premium" economy. Delta adds a few extra perks; United does not. The extra-legroom seats are usually at the front of the economy cabin.

Although semi-premium economy on American, Delta, and United is better than standard coach, the industry's best semi-premium seats are on JetBlue. The discount airline's extra-legroom option is as good as many first-class installations on other carriers.

Extra legroom doesn't completely solve the problem of the economy squeeze: Seats are still at least two inches too narrow to accommodate today's American adults in any degree of comfort. But at least Economy Comfort and Economy Plus are better than standard economy and cost a lot less than first class.

Would you pay extra for an Economy Comfort seat?

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