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Delta debuts premium economy between New York and Los Angeles

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Delta’s premium transcontinental route between New York City and Los Angeles is getting even more premium.

The Atlanta-based carrier announced Monday that it will officially start selling a Premium Select cabin on flights between these two cities beginning in September.

This change has been a long time coming for Delta … and it’s not necessarily great news for all travelers. Here’s everything you need to know.

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Delta Premium Select between New York and Los Angeles

Beginning Sept. 10, Delta will begin selling Premium Select seats on flights between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

At the outset, Delta will offer the Premium Select product on four of its 11 peak-day departures between these cities. Later in the year, Delta will expand this premium economy experience to additional frequencies.

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Delta’s initial pricing for Premium Select comes in at around $600 for one-way premium transcontinental flights. The same seat is going for 57,000 Delta SkyMiles, which represents a roughly 1.05 cents per mile valuation — below TPG’s valuation of 1.15 cents per mile.

Delta’s Premium Select cabin offers an intermediate experience between pricey Delta One lie-flat business-class pods and the standard economy or extra-legroom Comfort+ economy seats.

For one, this cabin offers spacious recliners in a 2-2-2 configuration on board the Boeing 767 that’s deployed between New York and Los Angeles. Seats have generous recline, large tray tables, bigger TV screens and a few other bells and whistles. I particularly enjoy the legrests and footrests that make it easier to catch some shut-eye in these seats.

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All in all, the recliners largely resemble the product that you’d find in traditional domestic first-class cabins.

That said, the “soft product” — all the items that aren’t physically attached to the aircraft — will receive a nice upgrade on the five- to six-hour jaunts between the coasts.

For one, travelers will enjoy a host of premium amenities, including a memory foam pillow, a plush duvet, a Someone Somewhere-branded amenity kit and noise-canceling headsets.

When it comes time to dine, Premium Select flyers will be served from a menu of favorites curated by New York City-based Union Square Events on westbound flights and LA-based Jon & Vinny’s on eastbound flights.

Travelers will be able to select their preferred entree through the Manage My Flight portal a few days before the flight. Meals will be served on real china plates with linen tableware and napkins, as well as silver flatware and glassware.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Before arrival, travelers will be offered a snack basket and some chocolates.

At the airport, Premium Select travelers are eligible for Sky Priority expedited check-in, security and baggage service, as well as Zone 2 boarding. Note that these tickets do not include access to the Sky Club (or soon-to-debut Delta One lounge).

As part of the news, Delta also promised to debut free Wi-Fi on all flights between these cities by the end of September.

Related: Delta’s Wi-Fi rollout slips into 2025 with delayed timeline

Why Medallion members might be mad

While the expansion of Premium Select might make sense for Delta’s bottom line, it’s sure to rankle some longtime Medallion elite members.

Historically, Delta has flown premium economy-equipped Boeing 767s on select flights between New York and LA. When it does, the Premium Select cabin is marketed as Comfort+, meaning eligible Medallion members can get instant upgrades to these recliners from the moment they book.

To date, Delta has only offered standard Comfort+ service in these seats, but many elite members loved choosing these seats for a more comfortable experience than regular economy seats.

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Now, elite members must fork over extra cash (or miles) to book these seats.

Fortunately, it’s not all bad news: Delta will offer complimentary upgrades to this cabin on a space-available basis to eligible Medallion members.

Related: Best ways to earn airline miles

The upgrade process for domestic Delta Premium Select will follow the same timing and priority as complimentary upgrades to domestic first class, subject to availability:

  • Silver Medallion: Begins 24 hours (one day) prior to departure
  • Gold Medallion: Begins 72 hours (three days) prior to departure
  • Platinum Medallion: Begins 120 hours (five days) prior to departure
  • Diamond Medallion: Begins 120 hours (five days) prior to departure, with enhanced priority

Of course, those who now receive upgrades to Premium Select will enjoy the enhanced meal service and additional amenities; however, many Medallion members will likely prefer the old setup, in which they could select these seats as Comfort+.

Note that complimentary day-of-departure upgrades to Delta One will remain available

There’s also some mixed news in terms of confirmed upgrades. Because these planes will now be sold with a third cabin, Global Upgrade Certificates and Regional Upgrade Certificates will only be able to be confirmed to one higher cabin.

That means that those who book in economy or Comfort+ will be able to clear into Premium Select, but then they’ll need to be waitlisted for day-of-departure upgrades to Delta One. You’ll now need to book a Premium Select seat on these planes to confirm a business-class upgrade before departure.

Bottom line

Expanding Premium Select to key transcontinental routes furthers Delta’s push into the premium segment. The airline has long been the leader in this segment, but it’s now playing catch-up with United Airlines.

That’s because United has long offered premium economy (or Premium Plus) on flights between Newark and both Los Angeles and San Francisco. United’s premium cabin routinely sells out on these transcontinental flights, so it’ll be interesting to see how Delta fares.

(American Airlines plans to debut premium economy on these routes when it begins flying the Airbus A321XLR and wide-bodies instead of the soon-to-be-reconfigured A321T.)

Delta first debuted Premium Select in 2017, and it’s now available on most of its long-haul flights and on select routes to Latin America.

“Delta Premium Select will bring a new level of comfort, luxury and practicality to one of Delta’s most important routes in the domestic U.S. as we continue to work to deliver more premium experiences to our customers. This product has been a success internationally, especially following the recent investments we’ve made onboard, and we know that customers flying between New York and Los Angeles will enjoy the opportunity to treat themselves to a more spacious seat and premium experience,” Mauricio Parise, Delta’s vice president of brand experience design, said in a statement.

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