Delta upgrades international main cabin service

After years of program changes and upgrades aimed at improving the travel experience for its premium-class passengers, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is finally doing something for the little guy. So long as the little guy is flying internationally.

An email from Delta (NYSE:DAL) said the airline is "raising the bar on hospitality" with the introduction of its reinvented international Main Cabin service. The new service officially launched on Tuesday, Nov. 5 features touches like welcome cocktails, hot towel service, and bistro-style dining.

“How we make every customer feel across their travel journey is extremely important to us,” Allison Ausband, Delta’s Senior Vice President — In-Flight Service, said in a news release announcing the launch. “We want every customer, no matter where they sit on the flight, to know how much they’re appreciated.”

The new service was designed by a team of more than 20 flight attendants who took into account the voice of their customers, then tested and refined the service on more than 1,200 flights before the official launch, making it the longest-tested service in the airline's history. The updated main cabin experience received rave reviews from customers who experienced it during testing over the past year, according to the carrier.

The flagship service includes a multitude of enhancements intended to delight customers throughout their long-haul flights, including:
  • A welcome cocktail to help settle in: Shortly after reaching cruising altitude, Main Cabin customers will be presented with a welcome cocktail to kick off the experience. For its first welcome cocktail, the airline landed on an Italian classic: the Bellini, a combination of sparkling wine and peach nectar. It’s globally known, fit for a celebration, and offers a subtle nod to Delta’s Georgia roots.
Welcome cocktail
  • Bistro-style dining and elevated serviceware: During meal service, customers can select their choice of upgraded appetizers and larger entrees – mixing and matching much like they would while dining out. Standard meal trays will be replaced with more elegant, custom-designed serviceware made with 30 percent bio-based materials, featuring upgraded cutlery that ditches the plastic wrapper in favor of a new, sleek placemat for use on the tray table.

Bistro-style dining
  • On-demand snacks, available for the long haul: In addition to the welcome cocktail and refreshed dining options, Delta is debuting a new anytime snack basket that will be available for guests after meal service. The basket will include a rotating variety of sweet and savory snacks, such as Cheez-It crackers, Tillamook cheese, OREOs, KIND Bars and the airline’s beloved signature Biscoff cookies.
“This is about rethinking the entire Main Cabin experience to wow our customers,” Ron Walk, one of the flight attendants involved in creating the service, said. “The thoughtful touches we’ve incorporated throughout are aimed at making connections with customers to show them how much they’re valued.”

Click here to see what the new experience has to offer.

My take

While still lagging significantly behind truly world-class carriers like Qatar, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and others, Delta has lead the trio of major U.S. carriers in the SKYTRAX World Airline Awards for several years. The airline was named No. 41 of the World's Best Airlines in 2019, well ahead of United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) at No. 68 and American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) at No. 74. The only U.S. airline of any size that bettered Delta was jetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU), which ranked No. 40.

Earlier this year, my wife and I flew Delta from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport (AMS) on our way to our Baltic cruise. While service did not compare to the attentive service I've experienced on ANA, Emirates and Lufthansa, it was head and shoulders above the service most U.S. carriers provide.

"Delta’s new international Main Cabin service is part of the airline’s multi-billion dollar investment in the overall customer experience," the news release concluded.

While things like hot towels, a welcome cocktail and better food choices are nice, I would like to see the airline invest in wider seats and offer more legroom to main cabin customers, who constitute the overwhelming majority of the airline's passengers.  To paraphrase a tag line once used by another airline, "We ARE why YOU fly."

Visit my main page at for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Photos provide by Delta Air Lines
Click on photo to view larger image

If you found this article helpful, informative and/or entertaining, please consider making a donation via PayPal to help support this private project.