Delta’s Longest A220 Flight Yet: Should You Care?

Filed Under: Delta

Delta is the US launch customer for the Airbus A220. The airline has a total of 95 of these on order, including 45 A220-100s, and 50 A220-300s. The airline already has 20 of the A220-100s in their fleet, and will start taking delivery of A220-300s starting in 2020.

Delta has taken an interesting strategy up until now — they’ve largely flown the A220 to hubs of other airlines. Clearly they think the plane gives them a competitive advantage, so they’re anxious to fly it to markets where other airlines are strong.

For example, Dallas and Houston were among the first destinations for the planes, and they’re hubs for American and United, respectively.

Delta schedules A220 on longest flight yet

It’s interesting to note that Delta has just scheduled their longest A220 route yet. As of June 8, 2020, Delta will fly the A220-100 4x weekly between Atlanta and Seattle. The flight will operate with the following schedule:

DL704 Atlanta to Seattle departing 7:00AM arriving 9:20AM
DL570 Seattle to Atlanta departing 5:30PM arriving 1:19AM (+1 day)

At ~2,100 miles, this is the longest A220 flight that Delta has scheduled yet. The flight is blocked at 5hr20min westbound and 4hr49min eastbound.

The westbound flight is timed so that passengers can make connections to Asia, while the eastbound flight will allow for virtually no connections, given the arrival time.

The A220 has the range of nearly 4,000 miles, so this route is well within the plane’s range (obviously). While this is the longest flight that Delta has scheduled with the plane, it’s not the longest A220 route in the world.

For example, airBaltic flies the A220 on the 2,700+ mile flight from Riga to Abu Dhabi seasonally.

What does this mean for passengers?

There seem to be two prevailing thoughts when it comes to the A220:

  • This is basically a regional jet, and shouldn’t be flying long routes
  • This is a really comfortable, innovative plane, and it should be flown as far as the range allows

I’ve flown Delta’s A220, and found it to be quite comfortable. To me this feels much more like a mainline jet than a regional jet.

For those in economy, I’d say the A220 is better than the A320 or 737. Seats are in a 2-3 configuration and are wider, and the lavatories are also big. Like most Delta planes, this one also has personal televisions and power outlets at every seat, as well as inflight Wi-Fi.

In first class the plane is perhaps a bit less comfortable. That’s simply because the cabin is also in a 2-2 configuration, so the cabin isn’t quite as spacious. That’s because you have four seats per row in first class regardless of whether the plane has five or six seats per row in economy.

Bottom line

It’s cool to see Delta expand A220 service to more routes, including hub-to-hub transcons.

In many ways this development is a non-story. To me the A220 is in every way in line with a mainline jet rather than a regional jet. For those in economy I’d say it’s a more comfortable product, while for those in first class it’s maybe marginally less comfortable, as the seats aren’t quite as wide.

But as far as I’m concerned Delta can put these planes on any flight within range, and customers shouldn’t be unhappy about it. This is different than when American started placing their 737 MAXs on routes previously operated by 757-200s, where they went from flat bed business class to a really uncomfortable product.

How do you feel about the A220 on longer routes — are you in favor, indifferent, or against it?

  1. I flew Delta only once 3 years ago… and was not particularly pleased with their service. What a stark contrast after having flown a transatlantic flight in First (paid ticket) with Air France 2 days before…

  2. Looks like DL also added an SEA-SFO frequency w the a220, so that’s what it will likely do during the day.

  3. The A220/CS is a mainline jet. It was never marketed as an RJ, nor does it fit the specs, and whoever says that needs to learn about aviation. The A220-100 is basically a better version of the A318/737-500/-600, and the -300 is in the same category as the A319/737-700. They have as much range as the A320/737NG series, and compete with the smaller variants of them. I haven’t flown on it, but considering everyone says its more comfortable than either of them I assume that’s true.

  4. This is interesting as ATL-SEA is currently flown by 757s and 739s. Why would they be reducing capacity with the A220?

  5. @Endre:

    that is a great story! Please tell us more about all the times you travelled in (paid) first class.


  6. 3-2 seating. Like a DC9. I remember when Delta flew L-1011’s on routes such as this. How long before regional-size jets are flying between continents? Depressing.

  7. Great plane. Really quiet and 2-3 is comfy. Fly them with air Baltic, improvement over their 735 is insane.

  8. At 4x weekly, and based on the times of day, this is most likely to rotate the A220 into and out of SEA, rather than any specific reduction in overall ATL-SEA capacity.

  9. why would they let it sit on the ground that long in SEA? Is there really not enough morning/afternoon traffic that it needs to wait that long??

  10. @Nick,

    I agree the smaller plane does seem a bit odd on this hub-hub route, but I don’t think it’s a reduction in capacity, just an additional frequency on those days. It makes sense on the eastbound give the late arrival (who wants to arrive in ATL at 1am?) but you would think a 7am westbound departure to another hub would easily fill a much larger plane.

  11. @Mattt,

    The aircraft does not sit on the ground that long. It will be routed onto other routes from SEA.

  12. People need to stop panicking about ‘oh nooo rEgIonAl JEt oN a lOnG RoUtE’. The A220 isn’t a regional jet, it’s a main line aircraft. It’s also significantly more comfortable than a 737/757 or A320 in Economy, and basically the same in First. Plus it’s quieter, so better for everyone in all classes. Come on people, single aisle =/= uncomfortable.

  13. Honestly, I’ve been waiting for you to write about this since I found out about it yesterday, but I think there’s more nuance here than you’ve mentioned. Alaska has started doing what it calls ‘pink-eye’ (yeah, it’s a bad name) flights. After work west coast flights that head east and arrive around midnight (iah, atl, and bna all have these). So in some ways, it’s a competitive response, but the choice of plane is interesting too, because the economics must be such to deal with limited demand for a schedule-type that alaska finds promising, as it shifts away from red-eye flights and toward these after-work connection.

    I know living in Detroit, I really wanted a flight like this. I would finish my meetings on the west coast around noon and not be able to make it to the airport by 1:30 or 2 for the last east-bound flights before the red-eye. this would have been perfect.

  14. Forget the plane , why would anyone take a flight that arrives in ATL at 1:19am ?

    Leaving SEA at 5:30pm does not allow for an “after work ” flight , so that does not make sense either

    What am I missing?

  15. @MoGreen,

    What you are missing is that these flights are to rotate A220 aircraft into and out of SEA back to ATL. This is not a reduction of capacity, it’s just 4 additional flights per week.

  16. All of these are far better than any European business class.

    When will Europe outside Turkey, (and Turkey isn’t really on the way to anywhere else in Europe, it is more for African and Asian international connections), have genuine business class seats short haul?

    Is it Aer Lingus who will first in Europe on their current orders with genuine business class seats?

  17. It’s a smart move on Delta’s part… capitalize on and take maximum advantage of your resources. No one should care if Delta operates small or large airplanes on its routes as long as they are comfortable, economical, and safe to fly. A smaller plane is arguably better since they are faster to board/deplane. Taken to an extreme, you would fly a private jet.

  18. Wow that east bound flight is brutal, on both ends. For business travelers, you’re most likely finishing up work at the 5:30 departure (in reality, 4 – 4:30ish since you need to be at the airport earlier). Then that 1:19 AM arrival is killer. You either get home really late, or if you have another flight out in the morning, leaves you with little time for sleep.

  19. @Endre, you crack me up. IDK if you’re trying to be funny or serious, but you do know this is a blog all about points & miles, right? Maybe try dialing back the “I pay for my tickets” doucheyness just a bit, buddy.

  20. Can we imagine trans Atlantic flights on these?


  21. @Aaron Not really. I mean, departure time is more or less perfect for leaving Seattle at ~3:30-4. This means that you can simply have a slightly-shorter-than-normal day (and if your office is based out of East Coast, you are wrapping up at 6:30-7PM EST), go to the airport, and still get to see your family before sunrise.

    On the other hand, I would imagine they have other flights to Atlanta if you think 1AM is too horrible to arrive. You probably can choose to rest up and fly in the morning. However, personally, I would prefer to spend 4 hours with my family than none at all.

  22. Frederick,

    There really isn’t much demand for lie-flat seats on short-haul flights. Thre is no time in sleep. Often not enough time even for those 3/4 clourse meals they serve on int’l flights. Not economic either in Europe or the US.

    Who wants to arrive in ATL at 1:19 a.m.?

  23. I don’t mean lie flats, even just 2-2 armchairs as found on Turkish short haul would be a big and perfectly acceptable comfort improvement in European business class.

  24. The A220 is a niche aircraft because it will allow for long and thin routes and more point to point traffic. I hope they do use it for long and thin routes as this was the design and it will likely provide some nice service options not sustainable with other aircraft at non-hub airports.

  25. “What you are missing is that these flights are to rotate A220 aircraft into and out of SEA back to ATL. This is not a reduction of capacity, it’s just 4 additional flights per week.”

    The aircraft were never at ATL to start with. The A220s are currently flying out of NYC (JFK and LGA) and SEA. As far as I know, this will be the first at ATL. It’s presumably the same plane flying from SEA to ATL and then right back to SEA first thing in the morning.

  26. I’ve flown this plane ~4 times with airBaltic in the past year. It is a fantastic plane and I think it’s a disservice to call it a Regional Jet. I’m 6’3″ and never once had to stoop, either in the aisle or in the lavatory. I’ve had to stoop on every CRJ or Embraer I’ve ever flown, not to mention the body contortion needed to use the lavs on those planes.

    This plane is roomy and extremely quiet, the overhead bins are full-size, and the internal lighting features are very cool. At least with the way airBaltic has it configured, the seats are wide and comfortable and there is plenty of legroom. Huge fan of this plane – and of airBaltic in general, for the record. Would happily do a trans-con in it with Delta, especially if they could match the service standards.

  27. @ Ben — I would avoid this flight since I only fly F and it would be too cramped for 5 hours. Love the pee on the bathroom floor in you pic.

  28. Delta has a similar A220 daily from JFK to SLC. This aircraft can make traditional hub-n-spoke operators re-think their model for niche markets. Southwest – watch out!

  29. I would like to arrive in ATL at 1:19 a.m. because that means I’m getting back home several hours earlier. I’m always looking for flights like this that allow for an almost full day on the west coast while getting back to my own bed that night (even if it’s late). This flight time is a better alternative to a red eye.

  30. I just want to say that the Endre saying the Endre above is not the real Endre is not the real Endre.

  31. It would be cool to see an A220 with like 4 lie flat first class seats up front. Maybe then I’d feel better about it as a transcontinental flight.

  32. @Jeff @endre Why do you accuse the first @endre of being a troll? Just because he posts something negative or contrary to your opinion? Aren’t you aware that it is often customary on travel blogs to state if your premium cabin seat was paid or award…especially when critiquing it?

  33. Air Tanzania’s DAR–BOM flight is supposed to be operated by its sole 787, but it has sometimes used the A220 instead. The distance from Dar es Salaam to Mumbai is 2,900km. So it is longer than airBaltic’s RIX-AUH.

  34. @Lucky

    “For example, while the route has since been discontinued, airBaltic has flown the A220 on the 2,700+ mile flight from Riga to Abu Dhabi.”

    The route is seasonal, it will restart from 28OCT,

  35. @Tim – because we all know that Endre is infamous for claiming flying in PAID F under every post and never offering useful insight. Plus, he is also interested in flying F on routes where we normal peasant can‘t see the F cabin. A troll indeed.

  36. This is an aircraft Boeing tried to kill. It’s far better than the Embraers they’ve acquired after they forced Bombardier into Airbus’ arms. This is the only plane that can take off with a decent psgr load from LCY to major destinations like Boston, New York and Philadelphia. No wonder Boeing tried to kill it. Their recent aircraft MAX, 787and 777X all have had major delays or groundings. Boeing is putting too much emphasis on profits and not manufacturing and safety. Their protestations recently about safety coming first ring very hollow.

  37. @ Endre

    So who pays your travel costs? Reimbursed or using company credit card?

    Let me give you a little more attention – may prevent a massacre later on.

  38. Do these aircraft have proper ovens and refrigeration????…..some Regionals do not have a proper galleys…that’s a long haul in a snack basket in first…

  39. “To me this feels much more like a mainline jet than a regional jet.”

    That’s cuz A220 is a mainline jet no matter which angle one attempts to slice and dice it. With a typical 2-class seating capacity of 116, there’s nothing RJ about this thing at all. I haven’t tried the DL version but I’ve flown it on Swiss, and it’s definitely very enjoyable of a ride.

    And infinitely better than the MD88s that are louder than a Woodstock concert.

  40. I’m with you @Phil in ATL. I live in Vegas and I take flight like this to the east coast whenever I can. I can get in a full day at work and sleep in a hotel rather than try to sleep on the plane. Either way I am getting 4-5 hours of sleep so why not get it in a bed.

  41. As a employee for this airline in ATL this flight leaving ATL to SEA might be a weight restricted aircraft due to Hub to Hub cargo. and yes Air Tanzania does have a DAR – BOM flight that is longer than the Air Baltic route. BOS – DUB, BOS – LHR likely? Absoloutly since B6 is adding A321 flights to LHR.

  42. @Frederik
    I am just old enough to have once flown F in Europe: VIE-OTP on an ex Panam ‘plane based at THF.
    European carriers getting rid of proper Business Class seating was something done in the 1980s/90s so they could move the partition according to demand (E.g. LHR-ZCH at 08:00 on Mondays is largely Business)
    I am waiting for one of them to realise that the internet has come in since then, so they could always sell larger seats at the front even at the weekend, even if only for ?USD99/199 extra.
    But perhaps they fear that customer number [33] on that Monday morning flight would be miffed at not getting Business Class food and drink.
    Turkish is indeed much more pleasant.

  43. As an instructor on this jet, this is NOT a regional jet…NOT EVEN CLOSE. Having taught the 737-200, the A-220-100 is about the same size and weight as the “spud” (baby 737 looks like a potato). The A-220 flies higher, faster, longer, quieter and (at 3800 lbs. fuel/hr) cheaper than anything in its class. My guess is the new routes will test the effectiveness of the aircraft on future long haul but lower capacity premium routes. In any narrow body aircraft, my peeve is the fuselage width, height and seat pitch/width. No one really looks at the length of the fuselage. This little airplane does a pretty good job of making the plane feel bigger than it really is. Tall people don’t bang their head on the ceiling. The overhead bins are huge and easy to store your gear. The bathrooms are bigger (the windowed loo is the most popular). Air France/KLM has purchased the A-220 and it will be “replacing??” their older A-318s?? I think that 85% of the A-220 components are made in the US and assembled in Montreal (Mirabel)

  44. Anyone who says this:
    •This is basically a regional jet, and shouldn’t be flying long routes

    doesn’t know anything about aviation.

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