Over the next three years, Delta Air Lines says it is planning on investing about $1 billion in improving passengers’ experience in the air and on the ground, in addition to working on increasing the airline’s fleet efficiency. Part of the around $300 million per year will go towards providing a higher level of service to Delta’s BusinessElite, first class and elite members. The airline will install full flat-bed seats in BusinessElite on 90 trans-oceanic aircraft. Elite members will have more opportunities for upgrades when Delta adds first class cabins to 66 CRJ-700 aircraft operated by Delta Connection carriers. While most of the improvements are aimed toward premium travelers, those traveling in coach will have more entertainment options when Delta adds in-seat audio and video on demand throughout coach on 16 Boeing 747-400 and 52 Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. Delta’s president, Ed Bastian, said “Delta’s planned fleet and product investments mark the most significant investment we have made in our customers in more than a decade…Our premium travelers tell us that the comfort of a flat bed seat with direct aisle access, a first class experience on regional jets and in-flight entertainment are important factors in their choice of carrier.”
Bottom line: Expect more carriers to provide on-demand seatback entertainment in coach for a fee such as the service Continental is providing in some of its planes–with the swipe of a credit card. For $6, flyers have access to direct TV and movies. And some airlines, such as Alaska, are including this type of entertainment as a perk for being an elite-level member in their FFP.