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Delta’s swanky new domestic jet will fly to Hawaii from a 2nd base

June 14, 2022
4 min read
Delta’s swanky new domestic jet will fly to Hawaii from a 2nd base
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Delta Air Lines inaugurated its newest domestic jet, the Airbus A321neo, last month on a transcon hop from Boston (BOS) to San Francisco (SFO).

While the carrier’s initial A321neo launch strategy is focused on Boston, the airline just filed some noteworthy plans for the new jet: it’ll soon start flying to Hawaii.

Specifically, the airline will deploy the Airbus A321neo once daily between Seattle (SEA) and Kahului/Maui (OGG) from Sept. 6 to Oct. 5, as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by the airline.

Though the month-long window falls during shoulder season for Hawaii travel, sending the jet to the Aloha State is big news for Delta and its fleet deployment strategy. (It's possible that the window gets extended depending on the A321neo delivery schedule.)

To date, the airline has exclusively based the plane in the competitive Boston market. Delta hopes to use the A321neo’s upgraded onboard experience to convince flyers to choose the airline.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Basing the plane in Boston is “an investment in a very competitive market… to make sure we’ve got our best product for the very competitive landscape here,” Charlie Schewe, Delta’s Boston-based sales director, said in a recent interview with TPG.

But, Delta has plans to add 26 of these planes to its fleet this year, with a total of 155 expected by 2027, making the A321neo the airline’s new domestic workhorse.

While Delta’s been tight-lipped about future markets for the plane, Hawaii — and the airline’s Seattle (SEA) hub — are the big winners in the latest round of expansion.

In a statement confirming the move, Delta spokesperson Drake Castaneda shared that:

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As we continue to add more A321neos into our fleet, we are excited for more customers to experience our newest, most sustainable aircraft with a best-in-class onboard experience en route to more destinations in the months and years ahead.

Navigating across the Pacific to the Hawaiian islands requires ETOPS (extended-range twin-engine operational performance standards) certification, which Delta received for the new fleet during the entry-to-service work that the airline performed earlier this year.

ETOPS certification permits Delta to operate the A321neo on transoceanic routes that don’t have many suitable diversion airports along the way.

Interestingly, when asked after a special media-only ferry flight whether the plane would be deployed on Hawaii routes, Mahendra Nair, Delta’s senior vice president of fleet, didn’t spill the beans.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

“We have the ETOPS. We have the capability… [The A321neo] is a very versatile airplane. I can use it for range. I can use it for gauge. I would never say no, but one of the reasons I couldn't answer the question is that the network [teams] are planning” the A321neo’s future deployment strategy, Nair said.

It's also interesting that the airline is choosing its SEA hub as the next base for the A321neo. Like Boston, Seattle has been another hotbed of competition in recent years.

In the early 2010s, Delta and hometown carrier Alaska Airlines had a strong relationship that included a robust codeshare and frequent flyer alliance.

By the middle of the decade, however, the partnership frayed as Delta moved instead to build its own hub in Seattle, ultimately competing head-to-head with Alaska on many of its most lucrative routes.

The partnership ultimately ended in 2017 amid an escalating turf battle for Seattle. Since then, Delta’s been in growth mode in the Pacific Northwest city — boosting its Seattle hub with new routes, while also rethinking many elements of the travel experience, which now includes deploying its newest plane from there.

In terms of improvements, the A321neo offers better fuel efficiency compared to its predecessor.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

For passengers, the jet is the first to sport the airline’s new domestic first-class recliner, and it’s outfitted with a whopping 42 Comfort+ extra-legroom coach seats, making it easier to get an upgrade as a Medallion member.

Other nose-to-tail upgrades include larger overhead bins, faster Wi-Fi and sleek mood lighting.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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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.
4 / 5
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023