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Delta Is Adding First Class-Like Perks to Economy Cabins to Make Flying Suck Less

When you splurge for a premium class airline ticket, you're paying to be wined and dined like royalty...

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When you splurge for a premium class plane ticket, you're paying to be wined and dined like royalty. But for those of us on a more economy cabin-caliber budget, flying coach often feels like riding in steerage, stripped of any special perks. That's about to change for those who fly Delta, which announced on Tuesday it's adding some first class-esque touches to its economy cabin service on some of its flights.

In a move to make flying suck a bit less for those of us in the cheap seats, Delta is preparing to upgrade its main cabin experience on international flights to include some seriously cushy perks, including free welcome cocktails, hot towel service, and improved "bistro style" dining options. The new offerings will roll out on long-haul flights starting in November, according to the company.

As for the specifics of the new perks, every Delta passenger flying coach on long-haul international routes (flights 6.5 hours or longer) can expect a "Welcome Aboard" cocktail (a peach bellini) shortly after departure, followed by a hot towel service. The new meal service will include upgraded mix-and-match appetizers and larger entrees, plus dessert (and complimentary wine) -- all served with upgraded cutlery on custom dinnerware and placemats. Folks will also be treated to a hot towel service and free chocolates before the flight wraps up. Yes, there will be two hot towel services. 

Courtesy Delta

“This is about investing in every single customer who chooses Delta, no matter where they sit on the plane,” Allison Ausband, Delta's senior vice president of in-flight service, said in a statement. “The thoughtful touches we’re investing in throughout the new Main Cabin experience were designed by flight attendants with one goal in mind -- delivering an exceptional experience that our customers will rave about and one that our team, the best in the business, is proud to deliver.”

The changes come as part of a new Delta initiative to make flights more comfortable for everyone. Back in April, the world's second largest airline announced it was cutting how far back people can recline their seats on domestic flights to reduce legroom cramping. It also recently upgraded amenity kits across all cabins for international flights (they now include cleansing towelettes, face masks, a dental kit, and ear plugs), according to Travel & Leisure.

Compared to other major airline offerings in the economy cabin on international routes, Delta's will be industry leading. For example, United coach passengers on long-haul trips get free beer and wine and a three-course meal, while hot towel service, pre-flight cocktails, and departure chocolate are not standard. On American, passengers simply get a meal and beer and wine. 

Of course, if you're only concerned with getting where you want to be safe and reliably, a hot towel and a little chocolate probably aren't going to sway you if you can find a cheaper flight elsewhere. Then again, next time you see a good transatlantic Delta deal, consider a three-course meal and take-off bellini an added reason to pull the trigger. 

h/t Condé Nast Traveler

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.