Last week, Delta took delivery of its first Airbus A321neo, which has some interesting implications for the passenger experience. The airline has now revealed the first routes to get this plane.
Delta gets first of 155 Airbus A321neos
Delta has marked an exciting milestone for its narrow body fleet renewal, as the airline has taken delivery of its very first Airbus A321neo:
- Delta has ordered a total of 155 Airbus A321neos, in addition to the carrier’s 127 Airbus A321ceos, meaning the carrier’s entire A321 fleet will eventually consist of 282 aircraft
- Delta expects to take delivery of 26 A321neos in 2022, with all A321neos to be delivered by 2027
- While Delta has taken delivery of its first A321neo, the jet won’t enter service until May 2022, so it won’t be flying passengers for the next several weeks
For context, the A321neo is exactly the same size as the previous version of the A321. What’s different is that the jet is about 20% more fuel efficient, which also means that the plane has more range. It’s incredible to see the progress that aircraft manufacturers have made with fuel efficiency, which is great for airlines, passengers, and the environment.
This added efficiency is largely thanks to new engines, with the “neo” standing for “new engine option” (while “ceo” stands for “current engine option”).
I also find it noteworthy how small the gap is between Delta’s A321ceo deliveries and A321neo deliveries. Delta has been taking delivery of A321ceos all the way through December 2021, which are at this point outdated aircraft (since the A321neo is the same aircraft, just more efficient, and has been in production for several years). Now, a few months later, the airline is taking delivery of the more efficient version of the jet. Delta’s current A321 fleet is an average of just over three years old, so it’s still quite young.
Delta Airbus A321neo passenger experience
What should passengers expect onboard Delta’s Airbus A321neos? The first A321neos that Delta takes delivery of feature 194 seats, which is three more seats than you’ll find on current A321s. Specifically, you can expect:
- 20 first class seats
- 42 extra legroom economy seats (Comfort+)
- 132 economy seats
The planes will have high-speed Viasat Wi-Fi, seatback entertainment, and power at every seat. On top of that, Delta is debuting its new domestic first class seat on the A321neo. This is the first real innovation we’ve seen to domestic first class seats within the United States in a while, and I’m excited to experience this. This looks somewhat similar to Turkish Airlines’ A321neo business class, but not nearly as spacious.
Delta is historically known for having nicer cabins on narrow body aircraft than American and United. Delta’s trick is that it puts TVs at every seat and makes the cabins look cool, but from an efficiency standpoint, Delta crams in seats, much like American.
For example, American’s A321neos have 196 seats, so that’s only two more seats than Delta has on these planes. So while Delta has slightly fewer seats than American, the A321neo has more seats than the previous version of the A321.
In the long run, Delta is planning even more innovation for its A321neos. While the timeline remains to be seen, Delta plans to take delivery of 12 very premium A321neos, featuring just 148 seats. This includes:
- 16 Delta One seats (business class), which will be fully flat and in a 1-1 configuration
- 12 Delta Premium Select seats (premium economy), which will be in a 2-2 configuration
- 54 Comfort+ seats (extra legroom economy), which will be in a 3-3 configuration
- 66 Main Cabin seats (economy), which will be in a 3-3 configuration
Details regarding this are very limited as of now, as I expect it will be a few years before these particular planes are in service. They’re likely to operate on premium transcontinental routes, which are currently served by 757s and 767s.
First Delta Airbus 321neo routes
Delta’s A321neo will enter service in May 2022, and the airline has now revealed the first routes to get the jet. These planes will be based in Boston, and operate the following routes:
- As of May 20, 2022, the A321neo will fly between Boston (BOS) and San Francisco (SFO) 2x daily; as of September 12, 2022, service will increase to 3x daily
- As of August 11, 2022, the A321neo will fly between Boston (BOS) and Seattle (SEA) 1x daily; as of September 20, 2022, service will increase to 2x daily, and as of October 20, 2022, service will increase to 3x daily
- As of August 20, 2022, the A321neo will fly between Boston (BOS) and San Diego (SAN) 1x daily
- As of August 20, 2022, the A321neo will fly between Boston (BOS) and Denver (DEN) 1x daily
Delta has taken delivery of its first of 155 Airbus A321neo aircraft. The A321neo is a fuel efficient plane, and will allow Delta to operate many routes with lower costs.
In this case there’s also a new passenger experience to look forward to. Delta will be introducing new first class seats on the A321neos. On top of that, eventually a subfleet of A321neos should be in a premium configuration, featuring flat beds, premium economy, and more.
We now know that these jets will enter service as of May, flying initially out of Boston.
What do you make of Delta’s new A321neos?