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Delta will fly its 'new' Airbus A350 to Hawaii, A321neo to make New York debut

July 12, 2022
6 min read
Delta plane
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Delta Air Lines is gearing up to fly two of its newest aircraft models to some interesting markets.

Perhaps most noteworthy is that the Atlanta-based carrier will send its "new" Airbus A350 to Hawaii later this year, as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by carrier spokesperson Drake Castaneda.

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The 'new' Airbus A350 lands in Hawaii

Specifically, the airline will deploy its latest A350s — ones it picked up in an interesting acquisition — on the 4,502-mile Atlanta (ATL) to Honolulu (HNL) route from Oct. 30 to March 25, 2023. The A350 will replace the Airbus A330-300, which was previously scheduled to operate the route during that timeframe.

Adding Honolulu to the mix of markets for this "new" A350 is seemingly a very strategic move on Delta's part. After all, the jet's 2-2-2 business-class configuration is ideal for couples traveling together. The lack of privacy and direct aisle access likely won't bother couples as much as it would random strangers.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

If Delta went looking for long-haul routes with the highest proportion of families and couples traveling together, Hawaii would likely land somewhere near the top. So, it seemingly makes sense to send this A350 to Hawaii during the winter.

While Delta has been increasingly focused in recent months on capturing premium-cabin revenue, the airline is likely making a safe bet that travelers to Hawaii aren't choosing their flights based on onboard products. (If they are, they'll likely choose American's long-haul routes on the Boeing 777 or 787 Dreamliner, or United's on the Boeing 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner.)

These A350s don't feature a premium economy cabin, and Delta is likely betting that there are more lucrative markets in which to send planes that are outfitted with these spacious recliners.

What's behind these "new" A350s that Delta will fly to Hawaii? There's an interesting backstory; These jets have actually flown before for another airline. Last year, Delta agreed to take nine A350-900s from LATAM, after the bankrupt South American mega-carrier, which is partially owned by Delta, said it would retire these planes.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

For Delta, adding these A350s from LATAM makes sense. The airline likely got a great deal, given the influx of used aircraft on the market when global travel collapsed in 2020. Additionally, the airline already operates 17 A350s, so there are synergies to keeping a unified fleet.

But perhaps most importantly, the airline could get the A350s quickly to meet the rebounding demand for travel.

While the used A350s may look like Delta jets on the outside, there’s a big difference on the inside: the carrier kept the legacy LATAM cabins, all part of a bid to get these planes flying as soon as possible.

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 latest A350s that the carrier is picking up from LATAM feature an older-style business-class product that’s arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration — one that most would likely find inferior to Delta's typical A350 layout. Plus, the latest models don’t feature a Premium Select cabin, which has grown in popularity in recent years as travelers look for a reasonably-priced upgrade from coach.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Delta will ultimately retrofit these planes, but — for now — these ex-LATAM A350s aren’t up to Delta’s latest cabin standards. The carrier doesn’t yet have a timeline available for when the upgrades might be completed. Until then, you’ll find Delta’s most unique business-class product on these planes, which are internally referred to as the “35L."

When Delta first unveiled the cabin configuration for these ex-LATAM A350s, industry observers were quick to point out how outdated the cabins would be compared to Delta's flagship products. When I flew the jet last month, I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable the business-class seats were, and I especially appreciated the open and airy cabin feel.

Of course, the downside to the pods is the lack of privacy and direct aisle access, something that solo travelers usually seek out in a business-class product.

To date, Delta has exclusively flown the LATAM A350 on flights between Atlanta and Santiago (SCL), with service to Dublin (DUB) and Seattle (SEA) commencing in the coming weeks.

To tell if your flight is operated by a 35L, check the seat map. A 2-2-2 configuration in Delta One and a missing Premium Select cabin means your flight will be operated by the ex-LATAM A350.

Related: Flying Delta’s 1st ‘new’ Airbus A350, with unique business-class cabins

Airbus A321neo makes its New York debut

While Delta is busy growing its fleet of A350s, the airline is turning to the Airbus A321neo as the new backbone of its domestic network. The airline has 155 of these jets on order, with 26 expected to be delivered this year.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

These factory-fresh planes have so far been flying transcon routes from the competitive Boston market.

Now, the airline is bringing the plane to New York, where it'll land at the John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) later this year. Specifically, the airline will fly the A321neo from JFK to Seattle (SEA) beginning on Sept. 12 through Nov. 5.

In addition to making its New York debut, Delta will fly the plane to Hawaii beginning in September. The airline had originally planned to fly the plane from Seattle (SEA) to Kahului/Maui (OGG) for a month-long window, but that was just extended through Nov. 28 in the most recent schedule load.

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.

Related: First look: Inside Delta's newest jet, the Airbus A321neo

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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