Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines plans to next year introduce a new premium economy class on international flights, with better seats and service.
Delta's incoming president Glen Hauenstein said the international premium economy class will be distinct from its Comfort+ seats.
Comfort+, previously called economy comfort, consists of regular economy seats with up to 4 inches of extra legroom.
The international premium economy cabin is expected to have different seats with a few inches more legroom than Comfort+, along with a leg rest and a different level of service, according to Hauenstein. It will be "very, very different from Comfort+," he said.
Delta's incoming CEO Ed Bastian said the move comes as international competition "has moved to premium economy as a cabin and a service and product itself," also seen on Delta partners Virgin Atlantic and Air France.
The international premium economy class will bridge the gap between economy class and Delta One business class with flat bed seats, he said. With improvements that have made business class seats quite luxurious, that "has left a little bit of a void and a vacuum in the middle for that premium customer."
Hauenstein said international premium economy will be targeted at business travelers whose employers may not pay for business class seats. Another target market is the "mass affluent," he said.
International premium economy will first be launched on Delta's new Airbus A350s to enter service next year, followed by installation on Boeing 777s.
American Airlines recently announced it plans to launch premium economy on international flights. Delta said its plans have been underway for about two years.