Delta Is Set To Operate The Airbus A220 On Transcontinental Route

Yesterday it was reported that Delta Air Lines had filed a schedule to serve a transcontinental route with their new Airbus A220-100 from June next year. The route will operate from Atlanta to Seattle and will launch on June 8th, 2020.

Delta A220 Inaugural Flight Press Conference
Delta has announced its first A220 transcon route. Photo: Delta

Delta’s new route filing was noted by AirlineRoute on Twitter:


The route would see the A220 in the air for well over four hours, making it the longest A220 route to be scheduled by Delta Air Lines. Although they are already planning some relatively long services, this is the first truly transcon route, going from an east coast state to a west coast one with the type.

Delta new A220 route
It’s the first truly transcontinental route for Delta’s A220. Image: GCMap

A good choice?

While we can all sing the praises of the comfort and efficiency of the A220 aircraft, this particular route schedule raises some interesting questions too. Delta is effectively putting a rather small plane on what should be a very popular route.

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Delta A220 interior
The 2-3 layout is spacious and comfortable, but leaves fewer seats than the 737. Photo: Delta

The route is currently served by Alaska Airlines, as well as by Delta. Both currently use Boeing 737s for the route, which offers significantly more seats than the A220. As a popular transcon route, the choice of the A220 might seem a little odd… so why have Delta done it?

The first option is that this is a repositioning flight. It might be that it just fits their schedule to operate the route in order to deliver the crew and aircraft to Seattle from Atlanta at that particular time. They will still operate multiple other services each day with their 737s, so overall the drop in capacity will not have a massive impact.

Delta A220
Are Delta just checking out the performance of the A220 on a longer route? Photo: Delta

The second possibility is that this is something of a test, of both the aircraft’s capabilities and the passenger experience, on a longer route. The hop from Atlanta to Seattle will be Delta’s longest A220 route, clocking in at five hours 20 outbound, and around four hours 40 on the way back. At 2,182 miles, its well within the range capabilities of the A220, but will be Delta’s longest route with the type to date. Perhaps Delta are checking things out before jumping into five hour plus regional routes with the model?

The final suggestion for the launch of this route is that it’s an opportunity to bring the A220 to Delta’s biggest hub. Passengers in Atlanta have been bemused by the lack of A220 in previous route announcements, so perhaps Delta simply wants to show off their latest investment on their home turf.

Too long for an A220??

Earlier this month, Delta revealed a number of new routes for the A220-100, due to begin service in mid-August. These included New York to Houston, as well as four routes from Seattle to Denver, Fairbanks and Kansas City.

Previously, the airline had reported A220 routes serving New York to Tampa, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach and New Orleans, as well as from Salt Lake City to Seattle, Las Vegas, Orange County and San Francisco. There are also routes from Seattle to Portland and San Francisco, as well as Detroit to Austin to look forward to.

But, nestled into this list of short-haul hops were a number of longer routes that compete with Atlanta to Seattle service in terms of duration. One such route, published in early July, was Seattle to Milwaukee, which clocks in at four hours to four hours and 45 minutes, depending on the direction. Announced even earlier than that was Salt Lake City to JFK, a good four hour or more flight, as well as Salt Lake City to Atlanta, which is around three and a half hours.

Deltas other long A220 routes
Delta has a number of other A220 routes which are clocking in at four hours plus. Image: GCMap

So, all this excitement about Delta’s first transcon route really isn’t necessary. Although it’s their first major hub to major hub to be operated by the A220, it’s not an unusually long duration for the aircraft, and should be comfortable for passengers too. airBaltic recently told us their plans to operate the A220 on a seven-hour flight to Dubai, so Delta is not alone in testing the water on longer routes with the little plane.

Whether Delta is scheduling this as a bit of a test, for repositioning services or simply to bring the good people of Atlanta some fabulous A220 action remains to be seen. The service is already popping up on their booking portal, so we hope it sticks around for next summer so we can all enjoy some A220 goodness on our hop across the states.

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Matt

I have to think that it’s for repositioning. Although 737s are used, most of the Seattle – Atlanta flights are on 757s. It’s a very dense route for them, between two large hubs. Either way, I’m anxiously awaiting my first flight in one.

Frank

Joanna, one of the other points might be financial; the A220 is the most fuel efficient commercial aircraft in the world and with 95 aircraft on order (and 20 in service for Delta), perhaps it just makes more sense to earn some extra money by using the type here. If they can always send the flight out full and have every seat earning revenue – makes sense, no?

This may be Delta’s test for things to come, in the future – see how the customers like flying the type in medium haul routes.

Larry

Delta’s A220’s seem nicely configured. Two class with 109 seats (vs up to 135 in a single class). 10 inch screen, and decent seat pitch in Comform+. Interesting no bulkhead between first and coach.

Doug

If you look closer at the schedules, you will see that it is an additional flight up from the current 10 SEA-ATL flights to 11. So it adds additional capacity. It isn’t replacing a larger aircraft. And note the arrival time into ATL. It doesn’t connect to any flights in ATL. The same goes for the departure time out of ATL. It will be all originating traffic out of ATL.

Matthew M

Delta has clearly stated they are using their A220 as a competitive product by flying into competitors hubs.

Seattle is an Alaskan hub.

Adding one new undoubtedly profitable flight, not hurting your other 10 flights, and catching some news with your sexy plane will turn a few more Pacific NWers to Delta.

Repositioning? Long flight testing? No. Straight up competitive move.