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Travel Tip: Airline Innovations

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Have you heard the news? Japanese airline ANA now has the world’s first in-flight rice steamer.

Tasty? Sure. Useful? Not so much.

But there are some other innovations in airlines that are worth noticing.

Delta is embarking on a $1 billion investment to replace the seats inside its 747s.

For starters, between summer 2011 and 2012 Delta’s BusinessElite will have 48 fully flat seats, direct aisle access and 120-volt universal power outlets. They’re also installing 338 new seats in the economy cabin, which adds 1.5 inches of knee space.

Also starting this summer, Delta will have premium economy seats on long-haul international flights.

Virgin Atlantic also has a new Premium Economy seat that’s 21 inches wide, available on all flights from London Heathrow.

By industry standards, 21 inches is decent, but Continental is in the process of upgrading its Business Class seats to 27 inches.

And here’s some good merger news. The United and Continental merger will keep United’s Economy Plus seats and expand it into Continental’s fleet.

Of course, unless you’re an elite-level frequent flier, it will cost you. But at least it’s cheaper than flying business or first-class.

Find the latest air travel news as well as travel advice in our Airlines & Airports section.

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