Delta Extends Grab for Transcontinental Fliers Into Coach

Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) is offering a smidgen of the high life to coach passengers as competition heats up on the most-lucrative U.S. air route.

Fliers in Delta’s Economy Comfort seats, a section with extra legroom and early boarding privileges, will get perks including blankets, pillows and snack wraps on transcontinental U.S. flights starting today.

The upgrades apply to flights from New York’s Kennedy Airport to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Seats cost $99 more per flight segment beyond a typical coach fare. New York-Los Angeles is the highest-revenue domestic route, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and already features some of the plushest cabins on U.S. flights.

Delta’s move extends the courtship of coast-to-coast travelers into economy even as the third-largest U.S. airline vies with American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) and United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL) for business-class passengers on those routes. JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU) begins premium transcontinental service this month, too.

Economy Comfort fares aren’t changing because of the additional amenities, said Paul Skrbec, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Delta.

“This announcement makes it more valuable for customers to want to purchase,” Skrbec said.

Blankets, Snacks

Passengers in Economy Comfort will get a complimentary blanket and pillow set, a sleep kit including eyeshades and earplugs, and some new dining options. Those include free Luvo-brand snack wraps and a bottle of water, as well as Luvo frozen yogurt bars on most flights, Delta said in a statement.

Economy Comfort customers on the routes will continue to receive complimentary beer, wine and spirits, Delta said.

Travelers at the back of the plane may have felt unloved in recent years as Delta and competitors lavished attention on business class, where passengers may pay four times the price of a coach ticket.

Delta and United, for example, have added seats that recline to a full 180 degrees to all their long-haul international planes. American is adding them to most of those jets, and raised the bar on transcontinental flying by adding a first-class section to some of its new Airbus Group NV (AIR) A321 jets.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Sasso in Atlanta at msasso9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net John Lear

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