Brazil is proving to be a very important market for airlines right now. As countries across the globe remain shut for tourism, the largest country by land area in South America is bucking that trend and welcoming tourists. Delta Air Lines is currently flying an Airbus A330-300 between São Paulo and Atlanta. Here’s what Simple Flying thought.
Delta Air Lines outfits its Airbus A330-300s with 34 lie-flat seats in Delta One. I’ve already flown Delta’s Airbus A330-300 in Delta One between Amsterdam and Minneapolis, where you can find more details on the seat itself. There were no material changes to the seats between then and now.
All 34 seats are between doors one and two at the front of the cabin in a 1-2-1 configuration. This meant direct-aisle access.
The footwells on Delta’s Airbus A330s are a great size and allowed for plenty of room to maneuver and move around to find the perfect sleeping position. However, there is no storage underneath the footrest, unlike other products.
For more than one reason, privacy is becoming a huge deal in premium cabin seating. While the reverse herringbone configuration offers direct-aisle access, it does not, however, offer a lot of privacy. For example, you could make direct eye contact with the person next to you if you turned your head a bit. But these seats are better than Delta’s 767 business class product.
Privacy was not too much of an issue since the cabin went out about half-full. Given the travel ban for foreign nationals coming from Brazil to the United States, this was not surprising.
The flight to Atlanta leaves after 23:00 in São Paulo and arrives early in the morning in Georgia, so getting a good night’s rest is a big deal on these flights. The seat definitely allows for this.
Waiting at my seat was a pillow, blanket, amenity kit, water bottle, and a pair of headphones. The blanket and pillow were plenty great for the long-haul flight.
The inflight entertainment was standard for Delta. The airline has an excellent selection of films, TV shows, audio, and games to keep people entertained on a long-haul flight.
In addition, Delta also offers WiFi and free inflight messaging. Given how this was a redeye, I did not use either feature since I wanted to maximize sleep.
Food and beverage
This is the one spot where the impact of the pandemic was clearly visible. Delta used to have a long, drawn-out meal service in Delta One. Service would begin on the ground with a pre-departure beverage. That was not the case here, as the only offering was a bottle of water waiting at my seat at boarding.
There were no menus, but Delta did offer entree pre-select for the main dinner after takeoff. The options available were:
- Roasted chicken breast stuffed with brie, served over black rice with tomatoes, mixed vegetables, and topped with dried-plum sauce
- Sauteed jerked beef with onions and pumpkin quibebe served over cilantro rice
- Blue cheese tortelli pasta in a creamy roasted garlic sauce, with spinach and dried tomatoes (vegetarian option)
I had pre-selected the chicken option, which came served like this:
Delta has consolidated its meal service. Onboard long-haul international flights in Delta One, passengers can access a full selection of beverage offerings, including an entrée with a salad, soup, dessert, and bread of your choice. Everything came packaged. However, flight attendants were great at picking up the packaging, so it did not crowd around the seat.
The quality was pretty good. Chicken can sometimes get really dry inflight. That, however, was not a problem with this dish. Its presentation also was good, considering it came wrapped up.
The efficiency of the meal service meant that service had concluded just over an hour after takeoff. Breakfast was similar to dinner with a choice of offerings. I selected an omelet.
There was a side offering of bread in the morning. I had passed on bread during dinner.
The breakfast was a standard Delta omelet with a side of some greens and potatoes. It was pretty bland, but, thankfully, the salt and pepper came in handy for adding some flavor.
All in all, the efficiency of the meal service meant that breakfast and dinner, combined, took only two hours. This meant about seven hours of time for sleep, which was a fantastic amount for a redeye.
The service changes
Masks are mandated, hand sanitizing wipes and sanitizer are plenty, and meal service is incredibly efficient. This is the current reality of flying amid an ongoing crisis. On this flight, the flight attendants were very good with policing masks. At one point, a flight attendant threatened a diversion if passengers did not comply with mask mandates.
On Delta, passengers have to wear a mask, even while they sleep. There are ways to get used to this– mostly by practicing wearing a mask. If possible, I recommend traveling with a surgical mask that is not as thick as some cloth masks. Surgical masks also fit Delta’s requirements for a mask.
One thing that has changed since the start of the crisis is that flight attendants seem much more grateful to have passengers back onboard an aircraft. Travel demand has been rebounding, but long-haul international demand remains sluggish. The flight attendants operating this flight recognized this and thanked passengers, repeatedly, for choosing to fly with Delta.
What about the competition?
I had flown down to São Paulo with Aeromexico onboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. That seat, which was much newer than Delta’s, offered greater privacy and a newer inflight entertainment system.
Delta is able to hold its own still and will definitely benefit from its joint venture with LATAM. However, the product onboard the A330s are getting old and require a refresh. With LATAM flying Boeing 777s with retrofitted cabins between North America and Brazil and LATAM being a Delta partner, some better products are flying down to Brazil.
Have you flown Delta to or from Brazil? What was your experience like? Are you a fan of Delta One on the A330? Let us know in the comments!