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Delta to retire its Boeing 777s even earlier than expected

June 21, 2020
3 min read
Delta to retire its Boeing 777s even earlier than expected
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Demand for air travel may be picking up faster than anticipated, but this rebound isn't enough for airlines to backtrack on aircraft retirements announced amid the pandemic. So much so that Delta Air Lines is accelerating the retirement of some of its planes.

The Atlanta-based carrier announced in mid-May that it would retire its relatively young fleet of 18 777-200s by year-end, citing concerns over a long and slow recovery in international travel after the crisis. While the airline still hasn't announce a specific date, the retirement will come sooner that expected.

The airline's CEO, Ed Bastian, dropped the news in the annual shareholders meeting on June 18 that its final 777 flight will take place before the end of this fall. This decision makes sense given that the winter is already one of the toughest times for airlines demand-wise.

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Delta currently has 18 777s — a mix of 777-200ER and 777-200LRs — in its fleet with an average age of 15.2 years. The jets were used for some of the airline's longest and most premium routes as they offered the longest range, but are far less efficient than the next generation wide-bodies like the Airbus A350-900s and have higher maintenance costs.

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The airline just finished a $100 million project to retrofit its 777s in February. This included installing the airline's flagship Delta One business class suites and Premium Select premium economy seats. Delta was also the only U.S. airline to offer a spacious 3-3-3 economy layout on this type of plane — American Airlines and United Airlines both configure economy class on their 777s in a 3-4-3 seating layout.

Delta is not the only carrier retiring older jets early amid the pandemic. For instance, American Airlines is bidding farewell to six plane types — A330s, Boeing 757s and 767s, Bombardier CRJ200s and Embraer E190s. Delta is also accelerating the retirement of all of its McDonnell Douglas MD-88s and MD-90s and potentially others. "We will continue to look at other fleet types, as well as planes within subfleets, within our larger fleet family for retirement decisions. There will probably be a few more made before the end of this year," Bastian explained.

Related: When it’s time to retire that airplane, how do airlines decide what to let go?

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Featured image by (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more