Launching in November, the revamped main cabin experience (with hot towels!) was designed by Delta flight attendants.

By Bridget Hallinan
July 02, 2019
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Courtesy of Delta.

Flying economy isn’t known for being an overly luxurious experience—you might get a complimentary meal, depending on how long your trip is, and if you’re in the mood for a glass of wine or a cocktail, you usually have to shell out extra. You’re essentially paying for the seat on the way to your final destination, with cushier amenities reserved for business and first class. However, that’s all about to change come November when Delta launches its revamped Main Cabin experience for international flights, touted as the “first of its kind.” After over 1,800 customer surveys, 700-plus test flights between Portland and Tokyo over the past year, and feedback from a “design team” of 24 flight attendants, the new program is ready to roll out—and on your next long-haul flight, expect a serious upgrade.

“This is about investing in every single customer who chooses Delta, no matter where they sit on the plane,” Allison Ausband, Delta’s S.V.P. 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.”

Courtesy of Delta.

One of the major changes includes a free “Welcome Aboard" cocktail for travelers (such as Bellinis), plus hot towel service and mix-and-match options for appetizers and larger entrées. The meals, also free on long-haul international flights (6.5-plus hours), sound pretty enticing, too—for example, passengers will have the choice of caprese salad or apple, celery, and arugula slaw with Harissa shrimp for their appetizer, which certainly beats your typical boxed crudités or cheese boards. New entrée options, on the other hand, include mozzarella and basil ravioli with pomodoro and cheese sauce, parmesan chicken breast with orzo and sundried tomatoes, and ricotta and spinach cannelloni with roasted tomato sauce. Beer, wine, and cocktails are also already complimentary during long-haul flights.

Outside the food and beverage realm, you’ll find new-and-improved amenity kits, which include a cleansing towelette, sleep mask, and earplugs—on the horizon, “refreshed” ear buds will also make their way into the Main Cabin. These changes are all in addition to other upgrades Delta has already made in the Main Cabin, including serving sparkling wine, free in-flight entertainment and mobile messaging, and free meals on “select domestic coast-to-coast routes.” In short? Premium economy tickets have some healthy competition.

If you want a proper cocktail in the main cabin right now, the Carry On Cocktail Kits ($24) have everything you need to mix the perfect drink in-flight. All you need to add is the hard stuff (and don't worry, they're all TSA-approved).

  • Moscow Mule Carry-On Cocktail Kit, at surlatable.com
  • Italian Spritz Cocktail Kit, at saksfifthavenue.com
  • Margarita Cocktail Kit, on sale for $20 at bloomingdales.com
  • Old Fashioned Cocktail Kit, on sale for $20 at bloomingdales.com

In other airplane food news (yes, that’s a thing!), Michelin-starred chef Alexander Herrmann recently collaborated with Lufthansa to create its new kids’ menu. Children under the age of 12 can now enjoy a “rice pudding mouse,” a mouse-shaped dessert with creamed rice pudding and raspberries, as well as “dragon feet”—aka poultry sausages served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. The meals are free; however, you do need to order them in advance. Learn more in our story.

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