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On Monday, October 30, 2017, Delta will begin flying paying passengers on its brand-new Airbus A350-900, which will initially be used for flights from Detroit to Asia, followed later by Atlanta to Seoul and Detroit to Amsterdam. I had an opportunity to tour and fly the airline’s new flagship at a special event last week, where I tried out seats in all three cabins.
The A350 replaces Delta’s soon-to-be-retired 747-400s, and it’s the first plane to offer the airline’s new Delta One Suites in the business-class cabin. In addition, the A350 sports the new Premium Select product, which is Delta’s version of premium economy.
There are a total of 306 seats on the A350, compared to 376 on the Boeing 747 it’s replacing, so it’s definitely a step down when it comes to capacity. There are 32 Suites in one large cabin up front, 48 Premium Select seats just behind Door 2 and 226 regular economy seats behind the premium-economy cabin.
With the inaugural flight now just a few days away, I’m going to dig into the aircraft arrangement, helping you figure out which seats offer the best experience. First up is Delta One.
Delta One Cabin
The A350 business-class cabin consists of just 32 Delta One Suites, which is a fairly modest number, considering this is the airline’s new flagship plane. American’s flagship 777-300ER sports 52 business-class seats, in addition to 8 in the first-class cabin, while United’s 777-300ER offers a whopping 60 Polaris seats, spread between two large cabins. Delta’s 747 has 48 biz seats, by comparison.
Delta’s Suites are arranged in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration.Suites measure 44 inches wide in the center section and 45 inches wide at the window. The seats themselves are 21 inches wide and offer a bed length of 77 inches (6 feet, 5 inches).
I spent about two hours in Suite 1C, located just behind the galley, and found it to be fairly spacious, as you can see in the video below.
Which Seats to Pick
On most planes, certain business-class seats are known for having significantly greater privacy, solitude or room to stretch out — but thanks to a consistent design and the awesome sliding door, all Delta One Suites offer top-notch comfort.
That said, there are still some seats I’d pick over others. My first choice would be window seats in odd-numbered rows, starting from the back of the cabin — we’re talking 7A and D, 5A and D, and 3A and D, in that order. Personally, I prefer to be further back in the cabin — the galley and lavatories are just behind the cockpit, so forward seats see more traffic. Additionally, seats are often assigned from front to back, so there’s a better chance of there being fewer passengers in the rear than there are up front.
That’s an “A” seat up above, and here’s a “D” seat below. As you can see, both are positioned right up against the window, making it easier to see outside and giving you more distance from the aisle. Again, the door makes even-row window seats almost as private, even though they’re near the aisle, but I’d still pick an odd-row seat if there’s one available.
If all of the window seats are taken, I’d grab a “B” seat in an odd row or a “C” seat in an even row, since these have armrests and tables separating the seat from the aisle — so 9B, 8C, 7B, 6C, 5B, 4C, 3B, 2C and 1B. I’d actually save 9B and 8C for last, since they’re near the rear galley and lavatories, where there’s likely to be a bit more commotion.
While you may end up sitting next to a stranger, all center seats have a sliding partition — you can choose to keep it open if you’d like to chat with your neighbor, or slide it closed for the entire flight for a bit more privacy.
Which Seats to Avoid
The only seats I’d really consider avoiding are the aisle-facing center seats — “B” seats in even-numbered rows and “C” seats in odd rows. Again, the door makes them almost as private, but there’s no question that the seats above offer a bit more peace and quiet.
That said, I was content in 1C — even though 1B was open and I could have easily made the swap, being closer to the aisle didn’t bother me.
I would avoid a seat right next to the lavatories and galleys, though — row 1 in the front and row 9 in the rear.
Again, the doors really make any seat private — even the aisle facing window seats, like 8D.
Below you can get a feel for how the position might make a modest difference.
How to Fly Delta One Suites
The inaugural A350 flight departs on Monday, October 30, from Detroit (DTW) to Tokyo (NRT). In total, Delta has confirmed six routes to be operated by the A350:
- October 30, 2017 — Detroit (DTW)-Tokyo (NRT)
- November 18, 2017 — Detroit-Seoul (ICN)
- January 17, 2018 — Detroit-Beijing (PEK)
- March 2018 — Detroit-Amsterdam (AMS)
- March 24, 2018 — Atlanta (ATL)-Seoul
- April 19, 2018 — Detroit-Shanghai (PVG)
The airline will also be retrofitting its 777s with the new Suites, but as of now we’re only expecting them on the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777 — Boeing 767s and Airbus A330s will retain their existing layouts for the time being.
Delta’s very proud of its A350 flagship, and rightly so — even though I was only on board for a total of four hours, including time on the ground, I think it’s safe to say that this is my new favorite airliner from a US-based carrier. TPG himself and Assistant Editor Nick Ellis will be joining the inaugural flight on October 30, so expect detailed reviews of the first long-haul passenger flight very soon.
For more on Delta’s A350, see:
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