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First look: Inside Delta's newest jet, the Airbus A321neo, with snazzy first-class recliners

May 18, 2022
11 min read
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Delta Air Lines is upgrading the domestic travel experience with its newest jet, the Airbus A321neo.

In March, the Atlanta-based carrier received its first A321neo, or “new engine option,” from the Airbus production facility in Hamburg, Germany, and the jet, registered N501DA, has since been undergoing entry-to-service work at the airline's Atlanta hub.

Now, the airline is finally ready to put the A321neo on commercial flights; the inaugural is scheduled for Friday, May 20, at 8:29 a.m. local time from Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While the first A321neos will be based at the airline's Boston hub (serving select transcontinental routes), you'll soon see these planes at many more airports across the country. That's because Delta has 155 A321neos on order, after increasing its order with the European plane-maker twice last year.

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.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

In anticipation of the first revenue flight, TPG got a first look on board the Delta A321neo. Here's what you can expect to find inside Delta's latest jet.

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20 new first-class recliners

Perhaps the biggest change is in the pointy end of the plane. The A321neo is the first jet to feature Delta's snazzy new domestic first-class recliners.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

For years, the forward cabin on single-aisle planes crisscrossing the country has largely looked the same. Domestic first class is usually outfitted with recliners in a 2-2 configuration, with more space, increased pitch and larger tray tables.

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(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

But Delta is changing the status quo with the introduction of a new product that's focused on privacy, comfort and storage space.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

On the A321neo, you'll find 20 first-class recliners in a standard 2-2 configuration spread across rows 1 through 5.

The first thing you'll notice about the new seats is the emphasis on privacy. Thanks to the winged shields jutting out from each seat (along with a large privacy divider between each seat), you'll (hopefully) feel like you're in your own cocoon, as compared to a traditional first-class recliner, which offers significantly less privacy.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

In addition to the fixed-in-place privacy dividers, Delta staggered the rows on the A321neo. This offset was intentional in order to add even more privacy for each passenger, said Ashley Garris, Delta’s manager of onboard brand experience, during the tour. This way, you'll only see your neighbor's privacy divider, and not their face, during the flight.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The first-class recliners are 21 inches wide and feature 5 inches of recline and 37 inches of pitch. I'll reserve judgment on the seat comfort until I actually get a chance to fly on the jet for a six-hour transcontinental flight.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While the leather seat padding is stitched in Delta's classic zigzag pattern, some flyers might feel that the padding isn't as plush or thick as it is on older jets.

Meanwhile, the headrest can be raised or lowered, and it can be adjusted to create a cradle for your neck, which should help make it easier to sleep during longer domestic flights.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Unlike the airline’s long-haul premium economy product, these seats don’t feature a leg rest or footrest. They do, however, have leather padding at calf level, which provides additional comfort when seated upright.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

If there’s one downside to the new seat, it’s the footwell area. That’s because there’s an entertainment and power box that “pancakes” the seat-support column. This cuts into both your underseat storage and space for your feet.

In terms of storage, there are plenty of nooks for all your belongings. You can leave a purse or laptop in the underseat storage unit, store a water bottle in the area under the armrest and tuck your phone into the seat's side pocket.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Plus, you can leave some loose items on the cocktail tray.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Each recliner sports a 13-inch high-definition touchscreen monitor, which is configured with Delta’s latest wireless inflight entertainment system, which was developed by the airline’s in-house Delta Flight Products startup. There are over 500 movies and over 100 TV shows loaded on the entertainment system.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The screen can even be tilted upward to provide a range of viewing angles.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Finally, the bi-fold tray table, which measures 22 inches wide and 10 inches long, is a bit larger than average and comfortably fit my 13-inch MacBook Pro.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

42 Comfort+ extra-legroom seats

While the first-class cabin is the showstopper on the A321neo, Delta didn't forget about the majority of passengers who fly in coach.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The seats themselves feature more leather-covered memory-foam padding than you'll find in Delta's older products.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Both the extra-legroom Comfort+ cabin and standard economy cabin are arranged in a 3-3 configuration.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Comfort+ seats sport 34 inches of pitch, compared to 31 inches in standard coach, and all seats measure 18 inches wide.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While the hard product isn't revolutionary, it's great that Delta installed a whopping 42 Comfort+ seats on the A321neo, which represents a net increase of 13 Comfort+ seats compared to the A321ceo, or "current engine option."

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

With more Medallion elite members taking to the skies than ever, having a larger Comfort+ section means there are more premium seats available for an upgrade.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Tray tables measure 16 1/2 inches wide and 8 1/2 inches long.

132 economy seats

The remainder of the plane is outfitted with 132 coach seats.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

With supportive leather-covered memory-foam padding, these seats are quite comfortable.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

All coach seats feature a high-definition 10-inch seatback entertainment system, along with other enhancements that you'll find throughout the aircraft, detailed below.

Nose-to-tail enhancements

All travelers on the A321neo will enjoy a slew of upgrades that aren't limited to a particular cabin.

Perhaps the most exciting is the introduction of the Airspace XL overhead bins, which can hold 60% more luggage than previous storage compartments. These larger bins should help limit the number of bags that need to be gate-checked.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Another improvement, especially for longer flights, is the introduction of snazzy mood lighting that can be adjusted for various phases of the flight, including meal service, cruise and takeoff/landing.

The A321neo has four lavatories. The forward one is reserved for first-class passengers. You'll find another one right at the front of the coach cabin and two at the rear of the aircraft.

While not as small as the bathrooms on American's Boeing 737 MAX, these lavatories are noticeably more compact than those on older jets.

In terms of connectivity, the A321neo will feature Delta's latest Wi-Fi system: $5-per-device streaming internet access powered by Viasat. I've enjoyed fantastic speeds and reliable connectivity on my recent Delta Viasat flights, and the A321neo should offer the same. Delta also offers a free messaging option for those who don't want to pay for connectivity.

All seats feature two USB-A outlets for powering small mobile devices. Each first-class recliner has a universal power outlet, and there are two power outlets for every three coach seats.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

For flight attendants, there are two galleys on the plane — one in front of first class and another at the rear of the aircraft. There's also a jump seat that extends out from the rear galley into the center aisle, which can be moved after taxi, takeoff or landing.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Where to sit on Delta's A321neo

If you're looking to maximize your comfort, it pays to select a prime seat.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

When flying in first class, I'd pick either row 2 or 3, since both of these rows have two full windows. I'd also do whatever I can to avoid the bulkhead, as the seatback screens are fixed into the wall, legroom is limited and there's just one window in this row.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

You may also want to avoid Row 5, since there's no bulkhead wall behind this row, and it bleeds directly into the coach cabin and nearby lavatory.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

In Comfort+, I'd avoid the bulkhead row 12 (ABC) and rows 10 through 12, given the proximity to the lavatory. Otherwise, the remaining extra-legroom seats are all quite similar.

In coach, be sure to steer clear of Row 30, since it is missing windows entirely. Delta designates some other coach seats as "preferred," which can be assigned for an additional charge (or complimentary, depending on your SkyMiles Medallion tier).

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There are two exit rows, rows 19 and 20, both of which are considered "preferred" seating. With 39 inches of pitch, I'd definitely consider sitting here, though I'd avoid Row 19 since it has limited recline.

Bottom line

All in all, the A321neo ushers in a new era for domestic travel on Delta.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

With a brand-new first-class product, those sitting in the pointy end of the plane will enjoy Delta's latest product innovations. The jet also sports additional Comfort+ seats, making it easier to score an extra-legroom upgrade as a Medallion member.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Perhaps most exciting are the nose-to-tail enhancements. From faster Wi-Fi to power outlets to oversized storage bins, flying on Delta's A321neo should be a nice upgrade for everyone.

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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    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.

    670-850
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Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
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  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.