When coach is actually comfy: Review of Comfort+ on Delta’s Airbus A220, New York to Dallas
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Delta Air Lines has, like all U.S. airlines, parked a lot if its fleet in response to passenger traffic dropping during the coronavirus crisis — but it has not put in long-term storage any of its Airbus A220s. You can still find the 109-seater, Delta’s newest plane, all over the airline’s network. Popular with passengers and offering many amenities other planes its size don’t have, it’s going to become more and more a mainstay of Delta’s North American routes. That’s why we are republishing today our review of extra-legroom coach class on the A220, originally published in February 2019 and lightly edited from the original. With a score of 79, the A220 in economy proved significantly better than the 71-point average for domestic economy.
Note that during the COVID-19 crisis, our team has temporarily ceased taking review trips. As long as the crisis persists, you will also see a vastly different passenger experience on the ground and in the air, with reduced service and an emphasis on cleanliness and social distancing.
Massive overhead bins; 3-2 seating configuration; fast Wi-Fi; best-in-class inflight entertainment.
No live TV; hard armrests; not all economy rows are created equal.
Delta was the first North American airline to begin passenger service on the Airbus A220, and the only one currently operating it besides Air Canada. Delta says it’s the most fuel-efficient and quietest aircraft in the fleet. It also features the airline’s widest main-cabin seating. At 18.6 inches wide, Comfort+ and economy seats on this aircraft are over 8% wider than the 17.2 inch seats found on Delta’s domestic mainline jets such as the 737-900ER, and nearly 10% wider than the seats found on the CRJ900 regional jet.
You can read about overall feelings on the A220 aircraft and flight experience in my first-class review, while this review focus on Comfort+.
Delta claims that the A220 offers wide-body amenities in a narrow-body jet, and after flying it for an entire day, I have to agree.
Delta’s A220 fleet will consist of 45 A220-100 series aircraft, and 50 of the larger A220-300 variant. Delta anticipates taking its first delivery of the A220-300 this year. The new jet is often found on routes of around 900 miles frequented by business travelers. These happen to be routes commonly served now by CRJ700, CRJ900 and Embraer 175 regional jets. Passengers used to sitting in one of those RJs are in for a major treat with the A220.
My flight, the 7:45am departure to Dallas–Fort Worth, was on A220 with the registration N104DU, delivered a little more than a month earlier.
Before departure, I visited the Terminal C SkyClub to grab a coffee. Note that this lounge is not among the few airline lounges that are still open, with reduced service, during the pandemic.
Cabin and Seat
This particular A220 was basically just out of the wrapper. As of June 2020, Delta has 31 A220-100s in operation.
Considering how brand new this plane was, everything aboard was fresh as a daisy.
Delta’s A220-100 configuration has 12 first-class seats (three rows in a 2-2 layout), 15 Comfort+ seats (three rows in a 3-2 layout) and 82 standard economy seats in rows of 3-2. Each seat in Comfort+ and the main cabin offers the most width in Delta’s entire fleet, at 18.6 inches.
My Comfort+ seat (11A) was incredibly spacious for the class of service. Both my neighbor and I used our 13-inch laptops for most of the flight, and we each had room for a drink on our tray table beside the laptop. We never even rubbed elbows.
Legroom was huge for a non-first-class cabin. The passenger in front of me, seated in 10A along the soft (i.e., not walled) bulkhead, reclined about 30 minutes into our flight. I wasn’t bothered at all.
With 34 inches of pitch, I had room to sit my backpack upright and still stretch my legs as far out as I wanted. Delta states that its main-cabin seats offer 30 to 32 inches of pitch. I noticed the row immediately behind Comfort+ was a bit closer to 30 inches than the rest of economy, though, so avoid row 14 if possible.
Each seat had access to a 110v power port and USB ports (fixed to the IFE display). Unlike in the first-class cabin, there was no padding on the armrests in main cabin and Comfort+.
Amenities and IFE
As I talked about in my first-class review, the A220 is home to Delta’s first “wireless IFE” system. It’s powered by Gogo Vision Touch, and the wireless part refers to this system’s ability to host all content — movies, TV shows, music, podcasts, games, etc. — on a central system and stream to each seatback tablet.
Delta installed 13.3-inch touchscreens in the first-class cabin and 10.1-inch touchscreens in Comfort+ and the main cabin.
The new architecture enables Delta to upgrade these entertainment systems much more quickly. Now that we’re working with tablets based on code that doesn’t have to stay the same for eons, Delta can adapt to customer feedback and viewing trends without bearing the cost of ripping out and replacing hardware.
On my flight, the screen was very responsive to touch, and offered hundreds of free movies and TV shows, along with a new crop of podcasts. I loved the flight tracker (Airshow by Collins Aerospace), though there was no live camera view.
The search function was particularly impressive. I did, however, miss the live TV from Dish that I’ve grown used to on other Delta planes. Unlike in first class, IFE screens in Comfort+ and the main cabin were fixed and did not pivot up and down.
Food and Beverage
Meals for Purchase
Delta began its beverage and snack service around 40 minutes after takeoff from New York. Comfort+ passengers were entitled to free alcoholic beverages and were invited to grab snacks from a basket that included cookies, bananas, granola bars and peanuts. I opted for a Kind bar and banana, which did the trick after breakfast at LGA.
After the full beverage and snack service, flight attendants came down the aisle to offer coffee and tea. About 30 minutes later, there was another trip down the aisle with water.
During the nearly four-hour flight, flight attendants did not do another full service, but I had no issues requesting two more drinks. I also saw a number of my fellow passengers in the Comfort+ cabin request additional beverages, which were brought promptly and with a smile.
While I didn’t order one on this flight, I have enjoyed the Luvo wraps that are offered for $10.99 apiece on Delta’s Flight Fuel menu. For breakfast, there was a choice of a protein box ($8.99) or a turkey breakfast sandwich ($8.99).
Delta’s main-cabin service was attentive and cheerful, with free-flowing water and coffee.
The service on my flight was excellent. Flight attendants asked me what I wanted to drink and eat with a smile, and made themselves available throughout the flight for additional requests. I appreciated that flight attendants didn’t hunker down in the galley. Rather, they routinely made passes down the aisle to hand out coffee and water, collect garbage and take additional requests. In fact, I didn’t have to ring my call button once, as flight attendants seemed to appear exactly when I needed a refill. (Note that during the pandemic service is reduced.)
In a world where airlines have been making coach less tolerable, economy flyers will be thrilled to see Delta pushing in the opposite direction with the A220. 18.6 inches of seat width makes a noticeable difference in roominess. This is certainly the most spacious and comfortable Delta Comfort+ seat I’ve ever sat in.
When matched against the A220, the CRJ700, CRJ900 and Embraer 175 all come up short. That’s especially true in Comfort+ and main cabin, where the wider seats play an outsized role in improving the passenger experience. Even in coach, this plane is the new de facto king among Delta’s smaller jets, providing a roomy, modern environment with a best-in-class seatback entertainment system to serve medium-haul routes in the 900-to-1,400-mile range.
Featured image courtesy of Delta Air Lines. All other images by the author.
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