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When flying Delta internationally, you can dive into other options beyond simply selecting a route and time. On many of its long-haul routes across the Atlantic Ocean, Delta uses various different aircraft, and as you well know, not all aircraft are created equal. Because of this, it’s worth taking a close look at which aircraft will operate a flight before you confirm a booking.
Let’s say you’re looking to fly between Atlanta (ATL) and Paris (CDG) on Delta Air Lines. Currently, you’ll find two flights, one operated by an Airbus 330-300, and the other by a Boeing 767-400ER. Of course, certain elements should be roughly identical from plane to plane — things like Delta’s service, meals, Westin Heavenly bedding, wine/dessert selection, in-flight entertainment and WiFi — but seating, lighting, overhead bins and cabin layout can vary wildly from one aircraft to the next.
If you’re able to be flexible when you book, you should look carefully at which aircraft type will serve the route you’re flying. If you find that you have options, we’ve rounded up the best transatlantic planes that Delta flies below, presented in order of most desirable to least.
While two aircraft type currently feature Delta’s swankiest business class product, Delta One Suites, the Airbus A350 is the newer, more svelte option. The seats are set up in a 1-2-1 configuration, are exceptionally spacious, and are extremely private thanks to a sliding door. The Delta One suites will face stiff competition from Qatar Airways’ QSuite product, but where Delta comes out ahead is its comprehensively global network of flights and a Medallion elite program that’s pretty solid. At 306 seats, the A350 is the largest airplane in the Delta fleet by passenger capacity.
Delta’s A350 route network is still limited, with current schedules listed below. Its only trans-Atlantic route is to Amsterdam, but that will change as the airline takes delivery of more A350s.
A350 routes and flight dates:
- Detroit (DTW)-Tokyo Narita (NRT)
- Detroit (DTW)-Seoul (ICN)
- Detroit (DTW)-Beijing (PEK)
- Detroit (DTW)-Amsterdam (AMS)
- Atlanta (ATL)-Seoul (ICN)
- Detroit (DTW)-Shanghai (PVG)
- Los Angeles (LAX)-Shanghai (PVG)
- Seattle (SEA)-Tokyo Narita (NRT) — starting March 1, 2019
- Los Angeles (LAX)-Tokyo Haneda (HND) — starting March 31, 2019
If you’re able to route to your destination with the long-haul portion taking place in the forward cabin of an A350, do it. It’s a treat you won’t soon forget.
Boeing 777 (refurbished with Delta One Suites)
As of August 2018, Delta has but a single retrofitted Boeing 777 in service, which features the Delta One Suites that are onboard every one of the carrier’s A350 aircraft. If you find yourself on one of the routes below, however, you could be in luck. The actual Delta One Suite is equally glamorous on the 777, though you still have center overhead bins in the forward cabin. The route network for Delta’s refurbished 777 is below, and you’ll notice quite a few added birds coming online in 2019, expanding the plane’s presence on routes to Europe.
777 routes and flight dates:
- Minneapolis (MSP)-Tokyo Haneda (HND) — starting November 16, 2018
- Atlanta (ATL)-Paris (CDG) — from December 13, 2018 to March 29, 2019
- Minneapolis (MSP)-Paris (CDG) — from December 13, 2018 to March 30, 2019
- Atlanta (ATL)-Tokyo Narita (NRT) — starting March 1, 2019
- Minneapolis (MSP)-Seoul (ICN) — starting April 1, 2019
- Los Angeles (LAX)-Sydney (SYD) — starting sometime in 2019
Aside from the Delta One Suite found on the Airbus A350 and select Boeing 777s, the reverse herringbone seat on the Airbus A330 is the best option Delta currently has in the sky. It’s private and offers a ton of personal space and ample storage. These seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. The one downside of this product is that the IFE screen is a little small and old, but that seems to be a common theme for all the current Delta seats. The same seat is installed on the A330-200 and the larger A330-300.
While rumors have flown asserting that Delta’s fleet of Boeing 767s may be next in line to be refreshed with Delta One Suites, that hasn’t happened yet. Instead, they’re fitted with the Delta Thompson Vantage seat. It’s hardly a “bad” way to cross the ocean, but if you’re able to climb aboard an A350, refurbished 777 or an A330, opt for those. The 767’s business class cabin has seating arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Just like its American Airlines counterpart, the Delta seat is not very private and when the bed is fully flat, and you feel very close to the floor of the plane. However it does offer direct aisle access for every passenger, and there is a fair amount of storage space. The main difference between this seat and AA’s version is that Delta opted to put in a built-in entertainment system. To boot, every other window seat juts in, leaving a pretty big gap that somewhat dampens the window seat experience.
Boeing 777 (non-refurbished)
The majority of Delta’s 777 fleet lacks the Delta One Suites refresh. Long-haul routes such as Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD) and Atlanta (ATL) to Johannesburg (JNB) have the old(er)-school seating configuration. While service is top-notch on these ultra-long flights, you may want to consider breaking allegiance and flying another international carrier for a superior seat.
The herringbone layout is widely considered the weakest of the Delta One layouts. Every seat faces toward the aisle and is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration. They all lack any form of personal storage space, have small IFE screens and are so packed together you’ll feel like you’re sitting on the lap of the person next to you.
It’s a bit of a toss-up between the aforementioned non-retrofitted Boeing 777 and the internationally-configured Boeing 757. While the latter has been refreshed more recently, it also features a 2-2 seating configuration that will be a boon for couples and a serious drawback for solo travelers. Said another way, there are no business class seats that do not place you directly beside someone else on the 757.
Each Delta One seat is 20.2 inches wide and reclines to a bed that’s 76 inches long. Passengers can raise or lower the non-middle armrest for another two inches of space. The seats are angled slightly off the center axis so they’re not quite front-facing. Despite the 2-2 layout, there is a frosted plastic privacy divider between the seats, as well as a wide armrest on which the flight attendants can serve beverages. Moreover, there’s just a single lavatory for the entire forward cabin.
On the plus side, the in-flight entertainment systems on this aircraft are actually newer and larger than those on some of Delta’s other long-haul aircraft, like the 767 and 777. The screens are 16 inches and feature the airline’s Delta Studio entertainment system, with more than 300 movies and 700 television shows, music, video games and interactive flight details. Passengers can also stream these to their own personal devices by using the in-flight Wi-Fi.
How to Book
If you’re looking to book an award ticket on any of these routes, you’ve got options. While SkyMiles aren’t highly valued per TPG’s own valuations, you can boost your SkyMiles balance by adding a co-branded Delta Amex to your wallet.
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
What we’d recommend instead, however, is booking through a partner in order to score seats for less. Delta seats can be found and booked via the Flying Blue search calendar, as well as the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club calendar. Both of these portals, while they have their quirks, generally price Delta award tickets out cheaper than Delta’s own booking engine.
Remember, you don’t need to have ever flown Virgin Atlantic to book Delta award tickets through its Flying Club program, and the same is true for Flying Blue. Once you find the flight that works for you, you can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards (instant transfer), Citi ThankYou Points (instant transfer), and American Express Membership Rewards (instant transfer). Here’s a sampling of credit cards you can use to earn points in these programs:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express for Membership Rewards
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for Ultimate Rewards
- Citi Premier Card for ThankYou Rewards
If you’re on the fence about which card will serve you best as a Delta flyer, we’ve assembled a guide to help out.
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