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Is Delta’s Premium Economy Worth the Upgrade? Our Honest Review

I am a big fan of Virgin Atlantic and didn’t realize that Virgin Atlantic and Delta have the same owners. I haven’t had much experience flying with Delta, so I was pleased to discover that what I thought was a London to Seattle Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy flight was a code share with Delta on the return leg. It turned out that my excitement was misplaced.

Find out why in my Delta Premium Select Review.

delta premium engine

Delta Premium Select Review

Please note, at the time of writing, Delta Premium Select was only available on international flights. However, Delta had announced that they plan to roll out premium select on some domestic routes. The airline has retrofitted some of its older aircraft with premium economy cabins. Roll-out dates for these upgrades have been moving around.

Upgrading Ahead of the Flight

I am a fan of asking what the price is to upgrade from premium economy to business class when I check my bag for a flight. There can be some great deals. However, I was told by Delta that this was not an option at check-in.

A paid upgrade to business class from premium economy was only available by calling Delta and this call needed to take place at least 24 hours before the flight. This seemed like quite an odd policy as how on earth would I have known to do this, particularly as I had booked through Virgin Atlantic?

delta drink
Welcome drink on Delta Premium Economy

On Delta’s website it says that an upgrade can be done anytime from after purchasing a ticket until three hours prior to departure or when the check-in window has closed. It then advises customers to go to their My Trips page and see if there are banners offering an upgrade.

It doesn’t explain what to do if this information doesn’t appear or if there are any specific timings eg upgrades are more likely to appear closer to the flight time. There is also no information on who to contact if the banners don’t appear.

delta headphones
Delta Premium Economy headphones

Another odd thing is that Delta says post-purchase, any upgrades must apply to everyone in the booking. Those who have booked exit rows are often not able to purchase upgrades.

It also specifies that only itineraries “Wholly operated by Delta or Delta Connection” are eligible for post-purchase upgrades. Check carefully for code shares when booking your flights.

NB: Miles can be used to upgrade and paid upgrades post-purchase all earned points.

Checking In

Delta Premium Select Customers receive Delta’s Sky Priority service. This includes “accelerated” check-in, security and baggage services. It also means priority boarding.

Delta Premium Select Customers are also entitled to two check-in bags, a generous amount. I tested this out with my check-in bag as well as a case of Washington Wine. Delta happily took both and both arrived perfectly intact.

Delta Premium Select customers do not have lounge privileges.

Delta Premium Economy Cabin

The Premium Economy cabin on the A330-200/300 looks remarkably similar to the economy cabin on Delta, apart from the slightly wider leather seats. The premium economy cabin had only three rows, which made for fast service.  

delta premium economy cabin
delta premium economy cabin

The seating configuration is 2 x 3 x 2. (The configuration is 2 x 4 x 2 in premium economy on the A350-900).

I did like the power sockets in Delta Premium Economy. Instead of the usual under-your-legs configuration, which requires an elaborate yoga pose for access, the sockets were between the seats in front, which was much better. There was a power socket as well as a USB socket.

delta power socket
delta power socket

Delta also provides an information card on how to get the most out of Delta Premium Select. I was very pleased to see this as I have often wondered why airlines don’t do this and have not seen it before. Every airline differs in what it offers and sometimes as a passenger, you may completely miss out on a benefit as you weren’t aware that it existed.

delta premium how to use

This useful card provided details on all the ways that the seat could be altered and how to do it, which drinks were complimentary, a bit of extra detail on there being a memory foam cushion and an overview of the entertainment with a focus on different themed playlists available on Spotify.


Delta upgraded its premium economy offer in September of 2022 with more comfortable seats and improved amenity kits.

Delta Premium Economy seat

The memory foam pillow wasn’t bad, but the blanket I was given felt like it had been through the wash many times. It was fleece which I like but it did feel like it was on its last legs.

The leather seat was very comfortable, and I was pleased with the dimensions. The Delta premium economy seats are 18.5 inches wide with 38 inches of pitch and 7 inches of recline. Delta’s main economy cabin and comfort plus seats are 18 inches wide, so the difference is all about the pitch and the recline.

delta foot rest
delta foot rest

Delta’s main cabin offers a pitch between 31 and 33 inches, and comfort plus is at 34 inches. Those extra four inches can really make a difference in comfort on a long flight.

In my opinion, upgrading from economy to premium is much more worthwhile when you are going to use that pitch eg overnight flights.

The armrest between the seats is nice and wide in Delta’s Premium Economy. This does give more of a sense of privacy and room than in economy.

There were also separate buttons for seat extension, one for the top half of the seat going back and one for the footrest. The footrest came out at an angle which made it quite comfortable and the leg rest was also adjustable.

I was very impressed with the toiletries bag. The bag itself was quite attractive and a useful size. There was a nice wooden toothbrush with toothpaste, earplugs, Alchemist brand hand cream and lip balm, an eye covering and lip balm.  

Delta toiletries
Delta toiletries

The headphones were high quality (noise canceling) and extremely comfortable. There was a large range of entertainment on offer in line with most airlines. Delta Studio offers more than 1000 hours of entertainment.

Delta toiletries bag Delta premium select review
Delta toiletries bag

The screen is in the seat back and is a good size. This is a larger screen than those in economy (13.3 inches vs 10.1 inches in economy).

delta entertainment
delta entertainment

NB: the foot and leg rest, 13.3″ in-flight entertainment screen, and noise-canceling headphones are not available on Delta’s 757-200 aircraft.

delta entertainment

You might enjoy reading my Japan Airlines Premium Economy Review.

Food, Drinks and Service

I was on an overnight flight between Seattle and London. The moment the seatbelt sign went off, the staff began serving dinner, which was great. They were also very fast and efficient for breakfast in the morning. They were also friendly throughout the flight.

The meal service itself was very much economy style eg no tablecloths and everything at once. The food itself was very poorly presented compared to other premium economy offers I have experienced, such as American Airlines, although it did taste quite good.

delta premium menu
delta premium menu

Interestingly, other reviews I have read on Delta Premium Select have said they received tablecloths and a more premium experience. Perhaps this was a variation on my particular flight?

We received this menu printed:

Toasted Cornish Hen with fennel flan, king oyster mushroom and port wine sauce


Green asparagus flan with tempura fried asparagus, parsley onion soubise, crispy edamame and grilled orange.

The rest of the menu could be seen through a QR code.

However, when the food came out, we were offered a choice of chicken or pasta. I had the chicken with rice and peas, which was fine but I was surprised that no bread was served with the meal. The quinoa salad that accompanied the main was good, and there was a good-sized tub of tasty salted caramel ice cream.

delta premium economy dinner
Delta Premium Economy dinner

Breakfast was an English muffin with an egg, a small amount of cheese in a box, and some decent fresh fruit. Coffee and orange juice were also available.

delta premium economy breakfast
delta premium economy breakfast

My research indicated that your experience on Delta’s Premium Select will very much be influenced by the aircraft you are flying on. I believe I may have had an older “reconditioned” plane, and thus I didn’t find the experience very premium.

Delta’s newer A330-900 aircraft offers a more premium experience as the actual seats are made from memory foam cushions and special lighting in the premium economy cabin. Use this information when booking to help decide between Delta Comfort Plus vs Premium Select.

Conclusion – Delta Premium Economy vs. Delta Economy

If you are on a long flight eg, more than 4 or 5 hours, or need to sleep on a flight, it is nearly always worth it to pay extra for premium economy if it is at the normal 2 to 1 price ratio. Having said that, the earlier you book your flight, the more likely there will be a smaller differential between the prices across the two cabins.

If you are on a short flight eg two hours or less, I would not bother paying extra for premium economy as its major benefit is seat pitch, and this is not as needed on a short flight.

delta plane at night

Conclusion – Delta Premium Economy vs. competitor airline Premium Economy.

So is Delta Premium Select worth it? Delta delivers well on the basics of the premium economy offer with its good quality seats, good tasting food, good toiletries, and entertainment. However, the overall feeling isn’t premium – from the look of the cabin to the appearance of the food. I found it in line with British Airways, which suffers from similar issues with a “lack of premium” offer.

Having said that, my research showed considerable variation in the premium offering across the different aircraft in Delta’s range. When you are making your booking online, click on details and it will indicate the particular aircraft for your flight (although, of course, that may change). If you can book a flight on the A330-900, your premium economy experience on Delta will be considerably better.

Based on my experience, Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines offer better premium economy experiences, so if the prices are line ball, I would choose to fly with one of them over Delta.

Frequently Asked Questions Delta Premium Economy Review

Is it worth upgrading to Delta Premium Economy?

Delta Premium Economy seat

This depends on two things. The first is the length of the flight. I feel a longer flight improves the value of an upgrade. The second is the price differential. When it comes to Delta Premium Select vs Comfort Plus, Premium Select can be twice the price. On a shorter flight where there is no need to sleep, I don’t think that upgrade is worth it. However, when it is only 15% more to upgrade and for a long flight, then yes it is worth upgrading to Delta Premium Economy.

Does Delta Premium Select include lounge access?

There are no lounge privileges with a Delta Premium Select ticket.

What is Delta Premium Select vs Delta Premium?

Delta Premium Select offers a more spacious inflight experience with slightly wider seats and an adjustable foot and leg rest.

Can you sleep on Delta Premium Select?

I slept on my 10-hour overnight flight between Seattle and London in Delta Premium Select. However, I did take a sleeping pill.

Do Delta Premium Select seats lie flat?

No, Delta Premium Select seats do not lie flat. However, they offer a more spacious experience than Delta economy with wider seats and an adjustable foot and leg rest.

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