Before moving on to my big award travel boondoggle, I headed out on a smaller trip in April. While the main objective was sampling American’s transcontinental First Class, I also tried out the newest domestic airplane. Delta introduced the Airbus A220 (formerly Bombardier CS100) in February. Originally, I booked myself on one of the January 31 launch flights from Dallas to New York LaGuardia. Unfortunately, the government shutdown postponed the launch, forcing me to reschedule for later. Delta kindly allowed me to switch to an April flight without a change fee; so, I added it to this longer trip.
Delta certainly likes to hype up the A220 Main Cabin experience. Partially to throw shade at the new “Oasis” interiors from American, I’m sure. But does the A220 provide a meaningfully better experience in deep coach? I set out to find out.
Delta Air Lines (DL) Flight 2252
- Saturday, April 27, 2019
- Depart: DFW International Airport (DFW), Terminal E, Gate E17, 08:31, 26m late
- Arrive: New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA), Terminal D, Gate D6, 12:42, 12m late
- Duration: 3 hours 11 minutes
- Seat: 20A
- Equipment: Airbus A220-100
Check-In and Boarding
Due to weather in New York the day before, even some Saturday flights ended up delayed due to crew issues. Thankfully, Delta sent out a push notification the night before informing passengers of a 20-minute delay on this flight. That let me sleep in a few extra minutes. As we waited, the captain made an announcement to the gate area, apologizing and explaining the reason for the delay. It makes me wonder, why can’t American do simple things like that to improve the passenger experience?
Although even the revised boarding began about 15 minutes late, we made up a few minutes during the process. We ended up pushing back about 25 minutes after scheduled departure time. The new plane certainly looked nice in the early morning light.
Delta A220 Main Cabin – Seating and Interior
First impressions – the new plane smell certainly was nice. And the interior in general, with its oversized windows, appeared bright and airy.
The new cabins also feature oversized overhead bins to fit extra roller bags.
Meanwhile, blue mood lighting creates a cool, calming effect.
Perhaps the trump card to the Delta A220 Main Cabin, though, is the seating. First of all, the cabin features 82 seats in a 2-3 configuration. Much like Delta’s 717s and Mad Dogs, this means a substantially lower chance of getting stuck with a middle seat. I took a window seat towards the back, which certainly looked stylish in its blue leather.
What really sets the seat apart, though, is its exceptional width. Delta’s A220 Main Cabin seats measure 18.6 inches wide. That compares to 18″ on the A320s, 17.2″ on the 737s, and 18.1″ on the MD-90s, for example. Even for me, a smallish person, the seats felt noticeably wider and less restrictive than on other planes. In addition, though Delta advertises 32″ of pitch in Main Cabin, leg room seemed much more generous than that. I don’t know if this was a quirk of this particular seat, or if the entire cabin is this good.
As a couple of points of comparison, I found it significantly better than Main Cabin legroom on Alaska’s 737 (top) or American’s MD-80 (bottom).
I even found legroom better than American’s Main Cabin Extra on the 787-9.
And comparable to Delta’s Comfort+ on the A320.
The seats themselves felt reasonably comfortable. They provide adequate back and thigh support, and I felt no saddle or thigh sore on this 3 1/2 hour flight. I didn’t have a chance to check out the lavatory, but I wished I had. One in the back includes a window, after all. How cool is that?
So at least in the seating and interior category, I actually agree with Delta. The coach experience is a big step up from competitors, or even Delta’s other aircraft.
Delta A220 Main Cabin – In-Flight Entertainment
The A220 features the same in-flight entertainment as other Delta aircraft in the Main Cabin. All seats include 10.1″ seatback TVs with “Delta Studio” content, along with built-in USB ports. The main difference – these new screens provide a clear, sharp picture with great resolution.
For those who prefer to use their own devices, you can stream Delta Studio content via the WiFi system.
At foot level is a standard 110v power outlet. This is where I wish Delta copied AA. While the outlet placement (facing you) certainly beats the older front-facing setup where you have to bend down and find the opening in the dark, I prefer American’s “32B” aircraft. The plug at screen level makes it easier to keep a laptop cord out of the way. And more importantly, avoids getting it tangled in your legs if you need to step out.
I forgot to take a photo of the moving map, but it’s the same one found on Delta’s other Airbus aircraft. Delta’s A220s also use Gogo’s enhanced 2Ku wifi. Pricing starts at either $6 or $10 an hour for standard and higher speed wifi, respectively.
I used my free hour of wifi courtesy of T-Mobile to test it out. It’s noticeably better than Gogo’s notoriously slow older system. Plenty good enough to post the weekly Instagram cat photo.
Delta A220 Main Cabin – Service
Delta provides the same snack and buy-on-board service in Main Cabin as on other domestic routes. I just decided to have my usual favorite, coffee with Biscoff.
Otherwise, service was about as I’ve come to expect in Delta’s Main Cabin. Which is to say, just a little bit better than the competition, with flight attendants providing friendly, efficient service with a smile.
Of course, what’s a window seat without some flightseeing? A mostly clear day from start to finish made it a good day for some. And the A220’s extra large windows made it even better. While taxiing to the runway at DFW, we passed N101DU, the very first A220 delivered to Delta.
Then, shortly after takeoff, a nice shot of Dallas in the distance, and a spectacular one of Love Field under the wing.
About an hour later, we headed across the Mississippi River right over Memphis.
Then about 90 minutes after that, passed over the undulating mountains and valleys of the Appalachians over Virginia.
This trip saved the best for last, though. We began our descent near Philadelphia, with a great view of both the airport and the city.
And I finally hit the jackpot with a low fly-by of Lower Manhattan on final approach…
…and a nice view of Midtown while passing Citi Field, and again as we touched down.
Delta A220 Economy Class – Final Thoughts
So is the A220 a game changer in the back of the bus? I expected the answer to be no, but I actually think it is. In the end analysis, Delta put out a product that actually tries to improve the experience for the coach customer. Wider seats, better leg room, fewer middle seats, larger lavatories, better seatback screens – it just adds up to a more comfortable ride all around. Contrast that to American and United, or even Alaska, who “enhanced” their economy sections by adding seats and removing TV screens.
So will this actually shift customers Delta’s way? We’ll see. Even though the A220 provides a great ride in coach, I’m not convinced Delta can actually command a price premium. We all know what happened to “More Room Throughout Coach”, after all. But as for me, yes, the A220’s good enough that I’ll actively choose it over other options, all else equal.