I recently took a solo trip to New England. Since I was flying from Pacific to Atlantic, it seemed reasonable to upgrade myself to a tiny bit more comfort on my flight. So, full disclosure, I've never flown Delta Plus with my children. But, I took careful mental notes of "would this be worth it for a family?" throughout my journey and I have a few thoughts on the matter.
The short answer? Probably not.
The impression that Delta gives you with their Economy Plus seating is one of an "in-between" class that isn't quite First, but isn't Coach either. Sort of a reasonably priced middle ground where the alcohol is free and you have more "leg room" and priority boarding. Think First Class-ish. And you know what? I have to give credit where credit is due, people bite for this taste of the good life. There hasn't been a Delta flight that I've been on where there is an empty seat in Economy Plus. The stampede alone when the attendant called for the "Sky group" was an indication that people dig the spending an extra $40 to feel important. Case and point? I was one of the last people in the herd of Economy Plus-ers to get on and my entire row begrudgingly had to get up and move so I could get to my window seat. I wanted to be like "Sorry? I paid $40, too." Those passengers proceeded to hold court on their laptops for the entire flight leaving me with the distinct impression to not make the mistake of needing to go to the bathroom. So yeah, the vibe of people wanting to hold on to their reasonably priced slice of the semi-fancy-travel-pie is off-putting at best. It made me miss my coach people in which we coordinate trips to the bathroom and passed our rubbish to one another to help the stewardess out. I guess paying $40 means you're too fancy to be bothered with a stray cracker wrapper.
Anyway. As promised I did have more leg room. However at 5'3" that really doesn't mean much to me. The seat was nicer and reclined with the butt part of the chair sliding out, so it made for a more comfortable sleep attempts. The food, snacks, drinks, and service was the exact same as coach. The fabled free beer, wine, and cocktails were never once offered. Nor was there a blanket or pillow to put the "plus" in these seats. The only time I can surmise that my Econo+ experience was different from that of regular coach was when a very coarse sounding stewardess shoved a box of assorted crackers into our row and shouted "SNAAAACKS", jerking the box away before anyone had time to choose something. It was... irritating. It wasn't all bad, tho. There was a nice little outlet for my phone to charge, but you had to pay for WiFi so that was kind of a moot point for me.
Feeling like I had been ripped off and a little tired I took a sleeping pill, inflated my footrest, and tried to not think about how badly I needed to pee. When the plane touched down my husband excitedly asked me how I liked the experience. He has had far better experiences in the United "in-between" class and hoped to have had something similar. Alas, I did not. Perhaps I just had a crew that didn't jive. They did say they were "Boston Based" ... so maybe those East Coast vibes aren't as service oriented as West. Who knows.
The more I thought about "Would I do this with my kids?" I really can't say I would. The nice thing about traveling as a family is that you get an entire row and a half to yourself. You and the family can spread out and typically Delta is really awesome and attentive to children. Therefore that extra service and attention to detail is built into your experience with or without your "Middle Class Fancy" seats. Plus, $40 multiplied by 4 or 5 starts to seem less reasonable. Also it is highly unlikely that anyone would drink $40 worth of free alcohol on a 4 hour flight. So in the end I'm left thinking "What's the point?" Perhaps if you're a super tall business traveler who doesn't want to spring for the $100 First Class upgrade, and you just want a little more legroom and a Jack and Coke, perhaps it is a good buy. For me I'll likely pass or cough up another $60 and fly First if I ever find myself flying solo to Boston again.