Skip to content

Delta’s 'new' Airbus A350s are going to be a big downgrade

March 14, 2022
6 min read
Delta’s 'new' Airbus A350s are going to be a big downgrade
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

After Delta retired its Boeing 777 fleet during the pandemic, it dubbed the Airbus A350 its flagship aircraft.

After all, the airline’s Airbus A350-900s sport Delta’s fanciest cabins, including an all-suite business-class along with Premium Select recliners. The biz pods each have sliding doors and direct aisle access, while the premium economy recliners offer more space than coach with upgraded service and amenities.

Delta deploys its A350s on high-profile long-haul routes, such as Atlanta (ATL) to Seoul (ICN) and to Johannesburg (JNB).

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter.

Right now, the airline has 19 A350s in its fleet, but that number is about to grow — but unfortunately that's not going to come with the onboard experience customers have come to expect on Delta's other A350s.

Last summer, Delta announced that it was purchasing several used Airbus A350-900 aircraft from LATAM, after the South American mega-carrier, which is currently in bankruptcy protection, said it would retire its A350 fleet. Delta, which announced it was buying a stake in LATAM in 2019, will take nine used A350s from the carrier.

While the additional A350s will enable Delta to grow its long-haul network (especially without the 777s), the carrier has opted to keep the legacy LATAM cabins once they begin flying for Delta, a carrier spokesperson confirmed exclusively to TPG.

Delta’s existing four-cabin A350s have 32 signature Delta One Suites, 48 premium economy recliners, 36 Comfort+ extra-legroom seats and 190 standard coach seats.

But these “new” A350s that the carrier is picking up from LATAM will feature an outdated business-class product that’s arranged in a far inferior 2-2-2 configuration.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

These A350s will become the airline’s only wide-body business-class cabin without direct aisle access for each passenger, a big drawback for solo travelers.

LATAM A350 business-class seat (Photo by Emerson Gomes/Shutterstock)

Plus, these forward-facing lie-flats have limited storage and offer minimal privacy for passengers.

Related: Every Delta Air Lines premium seat ranked best to worst

Additionally, the A350s coming from LATAM won’t offer a premium economy cabin, which has proven to be quite popular with travelers looking to upgrade their travel experience without splurging for a biz fare.

LATAM's A350s have the same business-class seats as its Boeing 787s, pictured here (Photo courtesy of LATAM)

The A350s joining the fleet will keep the LATAM configuration, with a total of 339 seats spread across 30 business-class pods, 63 extra-legroom coach seats and 246 standard coach ones. The one possible upside for passengers is that these planes will have nearly twice as many Comfort+ seats as compared to Delta’s other A350s.

LATAM's A350 economy cabin (Photo courtesy of LATAM)

While Delta isn’t changing the product on these new A350s, it will repaint the jets in Delta livery, and add its logo and other branding elements, including Delta seat covers and inflight entertainment systems, throughout the planes, a carrier spokesperson confirmed to TPG.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Delta would add Wi-Fi to these jets. (They didn’t offer internet access when they flew for LATAM.)

Delta told TPG that it’ll ultimately retrofit these jets with Delta’s signature cabins, but there’s no timeline available for when that conversion process might begin.

"This summer, Delta will incorporate the first three of nine pre-owned Airbus A350 aircraft into our global network," the carrier said in a statement to TPG. "The aircraft feature a temporary seating configuration pending further modification to one consistent with the A350 aircraft currently in our fleet. The integration of these aircraft into our fleet will allow for an important increase to our flying capacity to help get our customers where they want to go this summer and beyond."

For now, the airline will keep the new A350s assigned to specific routes, which should help flyers differentiate between the experiences during the booking process.

Beginning on July 1, the Atlanta (ATL) to Santiago, Chile (SCL), route will be operated by an ex-LATAM A350, while the ATL to Dublin, Ireland (DUB), route will meet the same fate starting on Aug. 1.

As the airline takes additional deliveries of these jets, I’d expect to see them popping up on more long-haul routes, and even possibly subbed in at the last minute should operational issues require a replacement aircraft.

LATAM Airbus A350 (Photo by By Ariadne Barroso/Shutterstock)

Hopefully, Delta will keep them dedicated to certain routes to avoid needing to downgrade its premium economy flyers, and to level-set expectations.

If you’d like to avoid these A350s, be sure to check the aircraft type and seat map when making a booking.

For now, the airline isn’t differentiating between the aircraft type in the search results.

Moreover, when searching for business-class fares, tickets on these ex-LATAM jets are marketed as “Delta One Suites” despite being a night-and-day difference from the private pods on the other A35s.

(Screenshot courtesy of Delta)

So, you’ll need to do some manual research to identify routes operated by these jets.

If you see an A350 listed on a route, and the airline isn’t selling premium economy, odds are that it’ll be operated by one of the ex-LATAM A350s. To double-check, take a look at the seat map and see what it shows for business class.

(Screenshot courtesy of Delta)

If it shows a 2-2-2 configuration, then the flight will be operated by one of these “new” planes.

Hopefully, Delta will get around to retrofitting these cabins sooner rather than later.

Until then, not every A350 in the Delta fleet should be considered a “flagship” aircraft — and hopefully, Delta will make that clear going forward.

Featured image by Most airlines have a different fare class for all 26 characters in the alphabet. (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.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
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
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
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

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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.

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
Best card for premium perks while traveling
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
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    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

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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
    Excellent

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