Delta Comfort Plus vs. First Class Cabin: Which is Right for You?

Each offers more comfort than economy fares, but first class will get you the true premium in-flight experience.

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When choosing an airline for your next trip, you might've considered Delta Air Lines — one of the "Big Four" U.S. carriers. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, it ranks third for the highest percentage of on-time arrivals and departures. However, a traveler's timely departures and arrivals are only part of a stellar flight.

Your onboard experience, from ticketing to boarding and in-flight amenities, impact how refreshed you feel after disembarking a Delta plane. This experience, however, can vary based on the seat class you choose. This overview compares Delta's Comfort Plus versus first-class cabins to help you decide which is best for your preferences.

The main differences between Delta Comfort Plus vs. first class

Delta Comfort Plus and first-class cabins share some general characteristics. For example, increased legroom, a dedicated overhead compartment above your seat, and earlier boarding and deplaning compared to other main cabin passengers.

However, the most significant differences are:

  • Checked bags. First class offers two free checked bags per person, one free carry-on luggage and a personal item. Delta Comfort Plus fares generally only include a free carry-on and personal item — checked luggage will incur baggage fees.

  • A dedicated flight attendant. Regarding Delta Comfort Plus versus first-class cabin service, first class has a dedicated Delta attendant who can readily assist with requests during the flight. In contrast, Delta Comfort Plus passengers share attendants with other cabins.

  • Fare cost. With a first-class fare, you'll receive a premium level of service on board, which means you can expect to pay a higher price than Delta Comfort Plus. Although Delta Comfort Plus provides additional convenience, it's still considered part of the main cabin.

Delta Comfort Plus

Fare flexibility/ticket changes

Delta doesn't charge change fees to travelers who purchased a main cabin flight or higher — including Delta Comfort Plus flights. In addition, you won't incur a fee for changes on domestic Delta Comfort Plus flights or those that originate from North America to another country, giving you the utmost flexibility if your plans change.

Baggage and boarding

Delta Comfort Plus boarding pass holders get earlier boarding privileges. You'll board after passengers who meet pre-boarding eligibility, Delta One, Delta Premium Select and first class. But you will board before Sky Priority, main cabin and economy groups. You'll also deplane the aircraft earlier than main cabin passengers.

Once on board, Delta Comfort Plus passengers have easier access to their carry-on luggage with an overhead bin solely for this class.

Seat selection

In addition to selecting your seat in advance, Delta Comfort Plus provides up to three inches of additional legroom compared to the main cabin. Long-haul international flights also let you recline more for greater comfort.

Earnings rates (towards status)

Delta SkyMiles members earn 5 miles for each dollar spent toward a Delta Comfort Plus fare. So whether you purchase a Delta Comfort Plus seat during or as an upgrade after booking, you'll earn miles for the premium cabin option. The exception is if your Delta Comfort Plus seat was a complimentary upgrade from the main cabin.

Medallion members will earn a higher mileage rate, based on their elite status tier, at the time of booking.

Upgradability

If you'd like to upgrade to Delta Comfort Plus, you can make the selection at booking or before departure through the Delta app or Delta.com.

Complimentary upgrades to Delta Comfort Plus are unavailable once you've boarded the aircraft. Delta Comfort Plus isn't available as an upgrade from a basic economy seat.

Delta first class

Delta's first-class product is not the same as Delta One. Learn more about the differences between these two premium cabin options here.

Fare flexibility/ticket changes

A first-class fare gives you access to the same level of flexibility as a Delta Comfort Plus seat. As a first-class ticket holder, you have more flexibility to change your trip if needed since Delta dropped its change fees.

Seat selection

First-class seats provide as much as five extra inches of legroom compared to Delta Comfort Plus and up to eight inches of total legroom compared to the main cabin. You'll also have wider reclining capabilities of up to 5.4 inches.

Baggage and boarding

Priority boarding is offered to first-class passengers who board the plane after pre-boarding groups and Delta One but before Delta Comfort Plus passengers. First class is also among the first to deplane the aircraft.

A significant perk to purchasing a first-class seat is the complimentary two checked bags. This benefit saves you $30 for each bag, compared to Delta Comfort Plus, which doesn't include complimentary checked baggage.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Delta SkyMiles Medallion members can have baggage fees waived for themselves and up to eight travel companions.

Earnings rates

Like Delta Comfort Plus, general Delta SkyMiles members who book a first-class seat will earn 5 miles for every dollar spent toward a Delta-marketed flight. You'll also earn 5 miles per dollar if you decide to upgrade after booking.

Medallion members earn a higher mileage rate per dollar that depends on their Medallion tier at booking.

Upgradability

All other lower ticket classes, except basic economy, can upgrade to first class from the time of ticketing to three hours before flight departure, based on availability.

Elite status can improve your overall experience

Delta's SkyMiles members who have earned Medallion elite status receive notable benefits. One of these perks is unlimited complimentary upgrades to Delta Comfort Plus and first class whenever available. The benefit is open to all Medallion tiers and a flight companion.

A Delta Comfort Plus upgrade is offered at no additional cost on domestic and some international flights. In contrast, a first-class upgrade is typically provided on North America flights and shorter international flights to destinations within the Caribbean and Central America.

If you aren't a Medallion member yet, but want greater upgrade access to Delta Comfort Plus or first class on every trip, working toward elite status is a smart option.

The bottom line

If you're debating between a Delta Comfort Plus versus a first-class seat, both options provide enhanced comfort during your flight. However, the cost difference between the fares might be a barrier for some travelers.

Delta Comfort Plus is a good option for passengers who don't want to worry about overhead bin space running out or want to enjoy perks like premium snacks, more legroom and amenity kits on long-haul flights. But, conversely, if the first-class cabin is within your budget, it provides a superior in-flight experience based on amenities, service levels and seat comfort.

Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines.


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