September 26, 2008, 4:55 pm
Posted by Matt Phillips
Posted by Matt Phillips
Delta announced plans to offer a first-class cabin in its East Coast shuttle service in December, as well as a Spring starting point for internet service on the flights between New York, Washington and Boston.
Starting Dec. 1, customers will have the option of choosing first or economy class on shuttle flights, as the airline tweaks its MD-88 shuttle fleet and reconfigures the planes to add a 14-seat first-class cabin in addition to 128 economy seats. The company’s press release isn’t overly detailed when it comes to describing exactly what the first-class fares on the shuttle will get you, saying only that passengers there “will enjoy an expanded selection of snack options, a more expansive offering of complimentary cocktails and wider, more comfortable seats.”
Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton tells us that it will cost between $100 and $250 more for a first-class shuttle seat, depending on the route. When we asked her for more details on what the first-class cabin would have she told us that passengers there will get free cocktails, in addition to the free beer and wine that will remain available to economy customers. We didn’t get much more info on exactly what kind of snacks would be considered suitable for first class. (Beluga maybe?)
On the internet front, the company had already announced back in August that it would roll out Wi-Fi access on its domestic fleet using Aircell’s Gogo service, which lets customers use Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as laptops, smartphones and PDAs. It’ll cost $9.95 on all shuttle flights.
(Aircell is the outfit that began providing Wi-Fi on some American flights back in August.)
Airline consultant Stuart Klaskin tells the Terminal that he sees the addition of a first-class cabin to Delta’s shuttle service — US Airways also has a first-class cabin in its shuttle — as a smart move, suggesting that it could help generate incremental revenue for Delta and erase some advantages in comfort — bigger seats — and convenience (like constant access to internet and phone service) that might drive some travelers to take Amtrak.
Klaskin also says airlines see shuttle service as an opportunity to court a premium customer base — the lawyers, financial types and politicians who flitter between the three cities. So, offering a premium product tailored toward such passengers makes sense, he said. \
On the other hand, Delta hops between New York and Washington only last for a bit more than 80 minutes at the most. New York and Boston is about the same, while Washington to Boston can be a bit longer, about 1 hour and 40 minutes. So, those of you that frequent the congested East Coast corridor, what do you think?
Will Delta’s first-class shuttle service fly? And what do you think of Amtrak as an option for trips between New York and Washington, D.C.?