Delta Launching Seattle To London Flights In 2021

Filed Under: Delta

Delta Air Lines has put its new Seattle to London flight on sale, and I imagine something’s gotta give…

Details of Delta’s Seattle to London flight

Delta will be launching daily nonstop flights between Seattle and London Heathrow as of April 1, 2021. The airline will operate the service with the following schedule:

DL20 Seattle to London departing 6:50PM arriving 12:30PM (+1 day)
DL21 London to Seattle departing 2:00PM arriving 4:30PM

The 4,793 mile flight is blocked at 9hr40min eastbound and 10hr30min westbound.

The flight will cover a distance of ~4,800 miles

Delta will be using a reconfigured Boeing 767-400 for the route, featuring 238 seats, including:

  • 34 Delta One business class seats (these aren’t Delta One Suites, but rather are modified staggered seats)
  • 20 Premium Select premium economy seats
  • 28 Comfort+ extra legroom economy seats
  • 156 standard economy seats

Delta’s new 767-400 business class seat

Seattle to London market getting crowded

Back in March Delta had announced plans to launch Seattle to London flights. This actually marks a service resumption, as the airline cut the route a few years back when Virgin Atlantic entered the market.

Delta adding back this route is clearly in retaliation against American Airlines, as the carrier continues to build its presence in Seattle, including launching a Seattle to London flight.

That being said, there’s absolutely no way that the current schedule is sticking for next summer between Seattle and London, especially in light of current circumstances. Looking at the schedule right now between Seattle and London for summer 2021:

  • American will operate 7x weekly flights
  • British Airways will operate 14x weekly flights
  • Delta will operate 7x weekly flights
  • Virgin Atlantic will operate 11x weekly flights

In other words, we’re seeing an average of over five daily flights between Seattle and London. That seems aggressive pre-coronavirus, and seems even more unrealistic now.

What makes this particularly strange to me are the joint venture dynamics at play here:

  • For all practical purposes it’s American and British Airways vs. Delta and Virgin Atlantic, given the transatlantic joint ventures
  • Are American and Delta launching these flights because they think some frequent flyers prefer traveling on their own “metal,” rather than that of their joint venture partner?
  • Is Delta hoping that American will back down from this route by launching the flight as well?

I’ll be curious to see how capacity is adjusted in this market over the coming months. My guess is that all four airlines will stay in the market, but we’ll simply see British Airways and Virgin Atlantic reduce frequencies.

American is also launching Seattle to London flights

Bottom line

There’s quite a battle brewing between American and Delta in Seattle, and ultimately I suspect consumers will be the winners. Delta had announced several months back it would launch flights between Seattle and London, but I figured it might reconsider due to the pandemic.

Airlines are modifying their schedules significantly as a result of the pandemic, and as a result I doubt we’ll see the current five plus daily flights between Seattle and London stick for next summer.

What do you think capacity will end up looking like in this market next summer?

  1. The headline should be relaunching since Delta has previously flown Seattle-London.

    I don’t know why anyone would fly Delta business-class to London when they could fly Virgin Atlantic. Virgin’s experience is — or was pre-covid — so much better, though the actual seat wasn’t as nice.

  2. Apart from war on the marker, I like the timing. Dinner on a plane and going to sleep on SEA-LHR flight is great operational time. Also back from London, no need to hurry in the morning to LHR. Plenty of choices to connect to this flight from Europe on KL/AF too. And the seat looks promising too. DL would be my choice number one and I’ve wanted to visit the Boeing factory for long time.

  3. Since I used to fly this route 5-10 times a year I can state that there probably is demand – particularly servicing Amazon, Microsoft etc. I used to find it hard to get a seat at a good price – most of the time it was way more expensive than London to New York despite only being a bit longer, and particularly in business class was often more expensive than me flying back to New Zealand from London!

  4. I flew the SEA-LHR Delta flights a few times years ago, and personally, I prefer Delta over Virgin. I’m usually flying alone or with 1 person, and I hate VA’s 3-3-3 configuration in Economy for that reason. I’ll take Delta’s 2-3-2 instead! Virgin’s atmosphere is much cooler though.

  5. This is a great flight! I think that the 767 and a330 are better than the 787 because I love the 2-3-2 layout in economy.

    Having only 2 seats on the ends means only 1 middle seat per row, amazing!!

    We love taking Delta and actually prefer it to its partners, so we always choose Delta when possible.

  6. Looking back at my old itineraries, the SEA-LHR flight is timed similar to what it was in 2016 (+/- 20 minutes). In a pre Covid world, one (small) downside of the timing I remember is that arriving at 12:30ish means by the time you go through immigration and get your bag, there is little to no time to use the Virgin Revivals lounge (which used to close at 1:30pm). I guess if you are going into London, your hotel room may be ready by the time you get into the city.

    Virgin’s lounges are currently closed (as is terminal 3), and I haven’t seen a reopening date, so for now this is not an issue.

  7. Maybe American will now retaliate and go after Delta’s SEA-CDG. Assuming I ever travel again, more options are better. Springtime in Paris is looking unlikely for 2021. Maybe AA could start by 2022? I’ll have a lot of miles from Bask Bank by then.

  8. They used to fly the same 767 on that route a few years back, and it probably is still falling apart. When my colleague and I would take that flight, it was guaranteed that one of us would have something broken with one of our seats. Whoever had the working display or power would have to buy the other a beer once we made it to a pub after checking in to our hotel in London.

  9. There are a few people citing Amazon as driving demand for SEA-LHR.

    Although Amazon does send some staff to London from Seattle, all of those staff fly economy, are required to select the cheapest available fare including a checked bag and are required to book weeks in advance to obtain the lowest price. SEA-LHR really isn’t a lucrative route for airlines servicing Amazon.

  10. Brilliant. There is no way that AA backing off because of DL new launch. You will definitely see AA will attack DL badly by launching some other routes . I love it as I travel always LHR on AA . And it’s worth it as most of the time I get my EVIP upgrade . Love AA service and their Premium agents .

  11. @UA – no longer true. There are plenty of senior folks at Amazon who get biz class for int’l travel. Not just c-suite folks, often down to the Director level.

  12. I will say that are right that you generally don’t go after an Amazon contract for the margins, but rather for the volume. They have been filling a crazy number of seats out of seatac, even in the midst of a pandemic.

    Might help explain why we suddenly have way too many seats opening up.

  13. What’s missing in the equation is that both are serving hubs in Seattle. American is joint venturing with Alaska, which makes their trans-Atlantic service from SeaTac viable. The LHR route signals Delta is dead serious about Seattle.

    Wow, a hub war! We haven’t had that in awhile!

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