Delta announces five-tiered seating plan. Is it good for business travelers?

Delta Air Lines announced a rebrand of its cabin options on Monday, which includes an overhaul of its economy and enhanced economy 12-9-14-2service. Delta says they made this change to tailor to customers specific needs.  Starting March 1, 2015 Delta customers will have five products to choose from, including Delta One, First Class and Delta Comfort+, Main Cabin, and Basic Economy (Read the full press release here).

Basic Economy (which exists in some places already so Delta can compete with Spirit Airlines) is the lowest of the five-tiered seating plan and will not allow advanced seat selection, changes, or refunds.  George Hobica, founder of, asks a great question: “Will these new economy fares be lower than previously, because you’re getting less? Or will you get less for the same fare?”

It sounds to me like they are just rebranding a lot of their existing plans. And whether you’ll get more for your money? Maybe I’m just cynical, but my guess is that you will get less for the same fare. And honestly, that’s not really a good thing for business travelers. When booking flights through my corporate travel tool I have no visibility to what type of fare I’m purchasing, but my company policy requires we book the lowest fare that fits within our time constraints. At this point in my career I can’t imagine not knowing what seat I will get.

And while it sounds great that the Delta Comfort + group gets a free glass of wine, unless you’re a top tier elite you don’t get the option of choosing those seats without paying for them. Although my friend Jeff from Jeffsetter is pretty excited about this, and he raises a good point about not needing to print out drink coupons. Maybe I should reserve my judgement…

Looks like the future of flight that was talked about this summer is already taking hold.

Readers, what are your thoughts? Are these changes going to be good, bad, or neutral for business travelers?


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  1. Many road warriors are screwed because their corporate booking systems require the lowest fare, which is now becoming “basic economy” in quite a few markets (and I expect that list to only grow in time).

    So you can be a super loyal Diamond status, booking with corporate engine, and forced to sit in regular Y with no hope of C+ or F, and absolutely no flexibility for changes.

    The CORRECT solution to be competitive with Spirit while not upsetting your loyal base is to block basic economy from ever showing up at corporate booking engines. The lowest allowable there should be Main Cabin.

  2. I have a medical condition where I use the bathroom more frequently than most people so I always try to book a seat in the aisle by the bathroom. This is likely a “lower class” seating spot but they aren’t going to offer pre-flight seat selection to those “lower class” travelers. Whether I continue to fly Delta will depend on whether I can continue to get this seat. In the recent past, those seats are not available for selection online but when I called and explained what I was looking for they were. One rep told me it was the “family section.” Never heard of that officially before. I bet the “mom blogs” would be outraged to know they were being put on the back of the plane. Anyway, I shall wait to see. For those curious, Southwest is great about allowing me to board early. Even though I don’t have a visibly physical disability, my need to be able to safely quickly use the restroom counts. Trekking all the way down the aisle in turbulence would not be safe. Jetting across the aisle is a lot easier.

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