In 2003, I found myself sitting in the Business Elite cabin on a 767 going from JFK to San Francisco on Delta. It was a very nice ride, but that service was soon discontinued. Delta has tried a few things between New York and LA/SF, but for the most part it has been a standard domestic service. That’s going to change once again.
Flights between JFK and both LA and SF will now be on internationally-configured 757s. That means you’ll get audio/video on demand in the 158 seats in the back of the bus and international Business Elite in the 16 seats up front. LA will be up and running here in early September but it looks like SF won’t be fully outfitted with the new aircraft until late October.
This is not only a product improvement but it’s a capacity increase. Delta has been flying a mix of 757s and 737s on these routes lately, and now they’ll be all 757. So what’s behind this increase in capacity and improvement in product? Remember, they want to “win” New York.
United has ps and American flies its 767-200s between New York and SF/LA, both of which have an international three cabin product. So this enables Delta to try to compete for some of that business, though the product will still be inferior to what the other two are offering. At least it will now be in the same category.
If that’s not good enough, Delta probably has some spare 757s sitting around. As we head into winter, the already bad international travel market is going to start looking even worse. So Delta can pull those 757s off of weak international routes and put them on less weak domestic routes instead. I tend to think this won’t be a winner if you look at the bottom line, but if they want to “win” New York, as they like to say, they need to do something to compete in these markets.
I doubt this will be enough to steal away the corporate business from United and American, but it very well be less of a loss maker than sticking them on Transatlantic routes during the long winter ahead.