The fiercely competitive transcontinental market between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco is about to watch one of its major players step up its game. This morning, Delta Air Lines announced plans to add new products and services on all flights between New York JFK and SFO, LAX as well as Seattle, designed to enhance the customer experience on these longer-range domestic routes.
From coffee to chardonnay, headsets to HBO, Delta is seriously committing itself to appeal to the business traveler. Following this past summer’s announcement from major competitor American Airlines to launch new Airbus A321s with lie-flat seats in its First and Business Class cabins on the JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO routes, Delta similarly revealed plans last November to install full-flat bed seating in its award-winning BusinessElite cabin on these two routes (as it goes head-to-head against AA) as well as between JFK and Seattle.
Starting in May 2013, transcontinental passengers flying into and out of Delta’s New York JFK hub will depart from Terminal 4, which has recently undergone a $1.2 billion expansion project. The redesigned terminal will boast the largest Delta SkyClub in the system, more check-in areas and security checkpoints.
On the plane
All three of these routes will be flown on Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 series aircraft reconfigured specifically with Delta’s new transcontinental product. The 767 version will feature an entirely new interior, including 26 full flat-bed Business Elite seats, measured at 21 inches wide and 79 inches long, with direct aisle access at every seat in a 1-2-1 configuration and a 10.6 inch video monitor. The 767 cabin will also feature 29 Economy Comfort seats, which provides 35″ of seat pitch beyond the industry standard of 32″. Each seat in the main cabin will contain a 9″ personal TV monitor and a USB power port.
The 757 cabin will be configured in a 2 x 2 seat layout, with 16 full-flat beds, 20″ wide and 79″ long. Interestingly, the 757 version will feature a larger personal TV (16″) than on the 767 in BusinessElite, and there will be more Economy Comfort seats for sale (44). The PTV in the main cabin will be the standard 9 inches, and also offer USB power ports at every seat.
In the air
As if those options weren’t enough, the entire fleet will feature in-flight WiFi and the personal entertainment screens will offer a selection of over 1,000 on-demand options. The 757 fleet will feature 18 channels of live satellite TV.
The BusinessElite cabin will now offer sparkling wine and express meals. Furthermore, in an era when people can hardly remember days when airlines offered newspapers on board, Delta will begin distributing copies of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today for BE passengers on these flights!
Economy Comfort passengers will get to enjoy complimentary beer, wine, cocktails and premium snacks, starting in April. All passengers, including those seated in EC and the main cabin, will receive complimentary headsets, complimentary movies, and free HBO selections and new release films.
Delta will also serve Starbucks Coffee for all transcontinental passengers, another special treat that seemed all but vanished these days on domestic US flights. Main cabin passengers seeking a more “celebratory” libation can purchase bottles of Hess Select Chardonnay and Meiomi by Belle Glos Pinot Noir, starting in March. The buy-on-board meal purchase menu will also be expanded to feature healthier and kid-friendly options, following a text experience launched last spring.
Part of the appeal to business travelers in selecting their choice of airlines is scheduling convenience and flexibility. Following its announcement of the new transcontinental product, Delta published its flight schedules between JFK and these three markets starting next summer (source: Delta.com)
July 2013 schedule between New York – JFK and Los Angeles
|JFK||7 a.m.||LAX||10 a.m.||76Z|
|JFK||3:30 p.m.||LAX||6:45 p.m.||76Z|
|JFK||5 p.m.||LAX||8:25 p.m.||75E|
|JFK||6:15 p.m.||LAX||9:35 p.m.||76Z|
|JFK||9 p.m.||LAX||12:20 a.m.||76Z|
|LAX||6:30 a.m.||JFK||3:05 p.m.||76Z|
|LAX||8:30 a.m.||JFK||5:10 p.m.||76Z|
|LAX||11:15 a.m.||JFK||7:55 p.m.||76Z|
|LAX||1:30 p.m.||JFK||10:05 p.m.||75E|
|LAX||4 p.m.||JFK||12:30 a.m.||75E|
|LAX||9:30 p.m.||JFK||6 a.m.||76Z|
|LAX||11:30 p.m.||JFK||8 a.m.||75E|
Delta competes with American Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Virgin America on its JFK-LAX route. The market is fairly fragmented among all five carriers: American holds the largest share at roughly 30%, followed by Delta at 25%, United at 20%, Virgin at 15%, and JetBlue the remaining 10%. American benefits from having hubs at either end of these two markets and also holds onto a lucrative share of corporate contracts. Virgin America offers a “tech-savvy” flight product that has grown in popularity, but lacks the schedule depth, frequency and network of its legacy peers. JetBlue is lower-cost provider and appeals to a different type of traveling sector.
Delta’s New York – Los Angeles route is also a major feeder for SkyTeams South Pacific/Oceania network out of LAX, which is comprised of a daily flight from LA to Sydney and a 3-weekly nonstop flight to Papeete, Tahiti on joint-venture partner carrier Air France (Source: CAPA)
July 2013 schedule between on New York’s JFK and Seattle
|JFK||7:30 a.m.||SEA||10:40 a.m.||75E|
|JFK||9:30 a.m.||SEA||12:40 a.m.||75E|
|JFK||3 p.m.||SEA||6:25 p.m.||76L|
|JFK||5 p.m.||SEA||8:33 p.m.||75E|
|JFK||7 p.m.||SEA||10:36 p.m.||75E|
|SEA||7 a.m.||JFK||3:20 p.m.||76L|
|SEA||9:35 a.m.||JFK||5:55 p.m.||75E|
|SEA||3 p.m.||JFK||11:15 p.m.||75E|
|SEA||11:30 p.m.||JFK||7:45 a.m.||75E|
Of the three transcon routes, Delta holds the largest dominance in the New York – Seattle sector at 62%. American follows second at 20%, and JetBlue comes in at a close third at 18%. Neither United nor Virgin compete with these three on this route, as it is a smaller, albeit important, business route. Delta operates a small focus city out of Sea-Tac airport, and has lately been building it up to serve as its mini-Asia gateway hub. Delta offers service from Seattle to Tokyo Narita, Honolulu, Beijing and Osaka and will soon launch new service to Shanghai and Tokyo Haneda airport. Moreover, Delta has an extensive codeshare partnership with Alaska Airlines, which is based in Seattle. (Source: CAPA)
July 2013 schedule between New York’s JFK and San Francisco
|JFK||7 a.m.||SFO||10:25 a.m.||75E|
|JFK||10 a.m.||SFO||1:25 p.m.||75E|
|JFK||2 p.m.||SFO||5:30 p.m.||75E|
|JFK||4 p.m.||SFO||7:45 p.m.||75E|
|JFK||5:30 p.m.||SFO||9:20 p.m.||75E|
|JFK||7 p.m.||SFO||10:50 p.m.||75E|
|SFO||6:15 a.m.||JFK||2:55 p.m.||75E|
|SFO||8 a.m.||JFK||4:40 p.m.||75E|
|SFO||11:30 a.m.||JFK||8:10 p.m.||75E|
|SFO||4 p.m.||JFK||12:35 a.m.||75E|
|SFO||9:15 p.m.||JFK||5:45 a.m.||75E|
|SFO||11:15 p.m.||JFK||7:50 a.m.||75E|
Similar to LAX, Delta competes against the two largest US network carriers, American and United, as well as Virgin and JetBlue, on the JFK-SFO route. However, United is the market leader holding 32% of the share, followed by Delta at 22%, American at 20%, Virgin at 15%, and JetBlue 11%. San Francisco is a major trans-pacific gateway hub for United Airlines, which obviously boots its leadership position in the NYC-SF sector. (Source: CAPA)
Ideas in flight
Finally, Delta is launching a new program called, “Ideas in Flight” which seeks to gather real-time feedback from customers surrounding its new test products and services. The forum will be enabled on-board for free by connecting to a dedicated tab on Delta’s Facebook page, courtesy of the Wi-Fi availability on these flights.
“Ideas In Flight puts customers at the heart of our process. They know better than anyone what it takes to make flying better and their valuable insights and feedback will help shape new initiatives as we continue to innovate and improve the travel experience.”
-Tim Mapes, Delta’s senior vice president – Marketing.