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Delta welcomes its 1st Airbus A321neo, launches a new era for domestic travel

March 23, 2022
4 min read
Delta Airbus A321neo
Delta welcomes its 1st Airbus A321neo, launches a new era for domestic travel
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Delta Air Lines is upgrading the domestic travel experience with the delivery of its first Airbus A321neo jet.

The Atlanta-based carrier received its first A321neo, or "new engine option," from Airbus' production facility in Hamburg, Germany, on Wednesday. The aircraft, registered N501DA, will take off from the Hamburg Finkenwerder Airport (XFW) on Wednesday afternoon and fly to Bangor International Airport (BGR) in Maine, where it will stop for refueling before continuing on to the airline's megahub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).

The aircraft will undergo some additional modifications and technical work in Atlanta before it enters service in May.

While the A321neo might look like a standard domestic jet on the outside, it's loaded with enhancements on the inside, including a brand-new first-class product with extra privacy, the airline’s fastest Wi-Fi connection and power outlets throughout.

In fact, TPG recently received an exclusive tour of the new first-class recliners that are debuting on the A321neo fleet. These seats offer unparalleled privacy relative to other domestic first-class products.

Related: First look at the new seats on Delta's A321neo

While privacy headlines the upgrades, other additions include redesigned storage compartments, enhanced connectivity, winged headrests and more.

(Photo courtesy of Delta)

These jets will feature 20 first-class recliners arranged in a 2-2 configuration spread across five rows. They'll also feature 42 extra-legroom Comfort+ seats and 132 standard coach ones, bringing the total capacity of the jet to 194. The Comfort+ and economy cabins will be arranged in a 3-3 configuration.

Delta's A321neos will also feature the oversized Airspace XL overhead bins, which can hold 60% more luggage than previous-generation storage compartments.

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Airspace XL bins on a JetBlue Airbus A321neo. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Delta has a total of 155 A321neos on order after increasing its order with the European planemaker twice last year. In April, the airline added 25 A321neos to its order book, along with adding an additional 25 options. Then, in August, Delta placed firm orders for 30 additional jets, converting the 25 options it added in April into firm orders.

While deliveries are just beginning in March 2022 (following a nearly year-and-a-half delay due to supply chain constraints), they'll continue through 2027. Delta expects to receive 26 A321neos in 2022.

(Photo courtesy of Delta)

In October 2021, Delta announced that the plane will initially be based in its Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) hub and will fly on transcontinental routes from the airport starting in May. The airline expects to update its schedule in the coming days to reflect the A321neo inaugural from Boston, and as Delta takes more of these jets, expect them to be deployed on additional routes, both from Boston and from other hubs.

We'll be sure to follow up with inaugural flight details when Delta makes them available.

The Airbus A321neo has proven to be a popular option for airlines looking for large-gauge single-aisle aircraft. In the U.S., Alaska, American and JetBlue all operate the A321neo.

(Photo courtesy of Delta)

Delta's version will be powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, which offer improved fuel efficiency of nearly 12% on a per-seat basis compared to Delta's A321ceo (current engine option) performance, the airline said.

This investment will also help toward Delta's goal of reducing its footprint with a lower-emissions fleet.

During the pandemic, Delta retired the aging MD-88 and MD-90 fleets, while also announcing plans to bid farewell to the Boeing 717 by mid-decade.

These single-aisle jets were once the backbone of Delta's domestic fleet, but have since been replaced with more modern and fuel-efficient airliners from Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier.

The latest move — adding its first Airbus A321neo — ushers in a new chapter for Delta's fleet, bringing a plane loaded with passenger experience improvements and better economics to the skies for the first time.

Featured image by Stefan Kruijer
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