Frequent travelers can tell you: sometimes the smallest amenities can make a big difference on long-haul flights from Atlanta to places like Tokyo or Johannesburg

Ever tried to keep your knees from knocking the seat in front of you? Ever pressed that round button and shoved backward, only to find the reclining angle to be much shallower than expected?

Delta Air Lines Inc. is reconfiguring some aircraft this summer to address those problems. Delta’s new Economy Comfort section will be available on all international “long-haul” routes, typically those lasting more than six hours. The seats are the same as regular economy class seats, just spaced farther apart to provide four more inches of leg room and 50 percent more recline.

A row of seats will be removed from each plane but Delta plans to make up lost revenue by charging $80-$160 for upgrades from customers in regular economy class. Free or discounted upgrades are offered for Delta’s most frequent fliers.

“We believe this is a product that our customers will be pleased with and offers a middle ground between our premium BusinessElite product and regular economy,” Chris Kelly, a Delta spokeswomman, told GlobalAtlanta. “It’s a win for customers and for Delta.”

Economy Comfort passengers will also be able to board early and receive complimentary spirits throughout the flight. Delta already offers free beer, wine and meals to travelers on long-haul flights.

The airline is also upgrading its entire fleet of 32 Airbus A330 aircraft with flat-bed seats in business class. By 2013, each plane will have 34 such seats, which are arranged at an angle, giving passengers access to the aisle without stepping over each other.

These moves are part of Delta’s plan to invest $2 billion in services, products and facilities by 2013.

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As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...