Economy Airline Breakdown

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Our U.S. based carriers are always in competition, but currently the airlines are rushing to add new aircrafts, redesign existing seating configurations, and offer new classes of service, all which benefit the consumer, and are finally bringing our domestic carriers up to a standard of travel in which the existing international carriers have been operating at for years.

Take for example American Airlines’ new A321T aircraft, which only operates between JFK and LAX/SFO. This was one of the first domestic airlines to offer single aisle lay flat seats on a transcontinental flight. The specially designed plane has single aisle lay flat first class, side by side lay flat in business and then a very modern and up to date economy class – way in the back, and barely noticeable to the plane accommodating business travelers, with entertainment systems, power plugs two sub classes within economy; main cabin extra and economy. Currently, only specific times of day offer the A321T experience, which prompted Delta Airlines to one up AA by offering lay flat service on every flight between JFK and LAX/SFO.

On Delta’s transcontinental flights between the aforementioned cities, the airline is offering its Delta One service, which rivals AA’s first class service. But instead of having business class on these flights like AA, Delta opted for Delta Comfort +, which is a take on AA’s main cabin extra, but comes with so much more, such as a complimentary pillow, blanket, amenity kit as well as a meal that comes with complimentary beer, wine and spirits. Premium entertainment is also part of the Delta Comfort + service. So for frequent travelers between JFK and LAX/SFO, things just got a lot better, if flying with American Airlines or Delta Airlines. It’s important to note that both United Airlines as well as Jet Blue Airlines also offer lay flat transcontinental service.

So beyond transcontinental flights, how do we know what each major carrier offers in economy? There are so many variations of ticket prices that affect your overall experience as well, so be sure to really read the fine print when purchasing a bargain flight online because it seems every ticket has some sort of restrictions these days and it’s better to know exactly what you are and aren’t paying for. But beyond fare restrictions, lets break down the basics of the economy class services offered by the larger domestic carriers.

American Airlines

Premium Economy – The First U.S. airline to introduce premium economy on international routes.
1. More space, more legroom and wider seats.
2. Adjustable leather seats with extendable foot, leg and head rest.
3. Enhanced dining experience.
4. Personal on-demand entertainment at every seat.
5. Noise-reducing headphones.
6. AC power outlets and USB ports at every seat.
7. Amenity kits.
8. Priority boarding.

Main Cabin Extra
1. Up to six inches of additional legroom.
2. Group 1 boarding.
3. Earlier exit off the plan when you land due to location.
4. Free beverage service.
5. Snacks/meals available for purchase on domestic flights.

Preferred Seats
1. Standard legroom in a more favorable location.
2. Free beverage service.
3. Snacks/meals available for purchase on domestic flights.

Main Cabin
1. You guessed it, regular seats and that free beverage.
2. Snacks/meals available for purchase on domestic flights.

American Airlines Premium Economy Seats

Delta Airlines

Delta Comfort +
1. Sky Priority boarding.
2. Dedicated overhead bin space.
3. Extra legroom.
4. Superior snacks on longer flights.
5. Free drinks.
6. Complimentary premium entertainment.

Preferred Seats
1. Extra legroom.
2. Choice of aisle or window seat toward the front of the plane.
3. Free snack and beverage service.
4. Additional snacks/meals available for purchase on domestic flights.

Main Cabin
1. Once again, you guessed it, regular seats (but with seat assignments) and that free snack and beverage.
2. Additional snacks/meals available for purchase on domestic flights.

Basic Economy – Class currently only available in select markets.
1. Lower fares.
2. No ticket changes.
3. Seat assignments after check-in.
4. Free snack and beverage service.
5. Additional snacks/meals available for purchase on domestic flights.

Delta Comfort Plus Seats

United Airlines

Economy Plus
1. Up to 5 inches of additional legroom.
2. Blankets and pillows on international flights.
3. Free beverage service.
4. Snacks/Meals available for purchase on domestic flights.

1. You know the trend by now, regular seats.
2. Snacks/Meals available for purchase on domestic flights.

United Economy Plus Seating

JetBlue Airlines

Even More Space
1. Extra space with 38” of total legroom.
2. Early boarding.
3. Early access to overhead bins.
4. Complimentary beverage and unlimited snacks.

Main Cabin
1. Basic seats.
2. Complimentary beverage and unlimited snacks.

JetBlue Even More Space Seating

Virgin America

Main Cabin Select
1. Six inches of legroom.
2. Priority security and boarding.
3. Free select food and drinks.

Main Cabin
1. Standard seats but all with power outlets.
2. Free drink service.

Virgin America Economy Seating

Southwest Airlines

Main Cabin
1. That’s it folks, one main cabin.
2. Complimentary snack and beverage service.

Southwest Economy Seating

About the Author: David Duran is a Brooklyn-based luxury, hospitality, culinary, and overall freelance travel writer who contributes to such publications as Fodor’s, Travel + Leisure, Destinations Weddings & Honeymoon, and Caribbean Travel + Life, among others. When not traveling 20-25 days a month for his work, he spends his free time planning more travel! To read some of his work, check out his online portfolio, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @mrdavidduran.