Delta is the first U.S. based carrier to order and fly the A220. Delta began flying the 109-seat A220-100 version in February 2019. The Atlanta-based carrier has 90 A220s on order including 50 of the larger A220-300 version that should begin entering the fleet in 2020.
Delta’s A220 is nice and shiny and new, but the first-class seat is just a premium economy seat. Open storage under the armrest and “cupholders” for bottled water are the most noteworthy features of the seats in first class. The economy cabin is where this airplane beats the heck out of its competition.
Delta Flight 2622 Dallas (DFW) to New York (LGA) May 5, 2019
My last post discussed the experience in first class on a Delta A220-100. This post covers the return flight in the Comfort Plus (C+) extra legroom section of the economy cabin.
Delta’s Faux C+ Upgrade
I booked the flight as an economy award ticket. On the flight to Dallas I was upgraded to first class due to Delta Diamond status. Going back, Delta “upgraded” me from an economy seat in the exit row to a C+ seat in the first row of coach directly behind first class. Given that exit row seats have more legroom and are just as wide as a C+ seat and considering the experience with the bulkhead row in first class on the flight to Dallas, I wouldn’t necessarily consider Seat 10A or any other C+ seat to be a better seat much less an upgrade.
A true upgrade requires moving to a higher class of service. Moving from one economy seat to another is merely bieing reassigned to what Delta considers to be a better seat in the same class of service. That is not an upgrade.
A220-100 Comfort Plus
C+ is the second boarding group after those in first class and Diamond Medallions.
Economy seating on the A220 is arranged 2-3. All economy seats are 18.6 inches wide. C+ seats have a 34-inch pitch and regular economy seats have 30 – 32 inches of pitch. Economy seats on the A220 are the widest in Delta’s fleet and probably the widest on any narrow body commercial aircraft.
The width of economy seats is the most passenger friendly feature of the A220. Bombardier originally proposed making the middle seat 19 inches wide and the other economy seats 18 inches wide. That would take some of the sting out of being assigned to a middle seat.
My C+ seat was 10A, a window seat on the port sside in the first row of the economy cabin.
Due to the absence of a bulkhead behind first class, Row 10 has tons of legroom. Pitch is obviously much greater than the 34 inches enjoyed by other C+ seats. The seats in front are so far away that the tray table must be stored in the armrest which minimally reduces seat width. Giving up a tiny amount of width for a large increase in legroom is a trade many taller people would gladly make.
Other than extra legroom, C+ seats are the same as other economy seats and comparable to first-class seats as far as cushioning and support. Headrests articulate in the same manner as in first class.
A small video screen is positioned at the ceiling in front of Row 10. During taxi, takeoff and landing this screen shows announcements that would be on the video monitor which is stowed for Row 10.
Here is the A220-100 seat map from Delta’s website:
Tip: The best seats in economy for passenger comfort on a full flight are C+ seats in Row 10, exit-row seats in Row 15, and Seat 16F.
A220s claim to have bigger windows. The windows are noticeably bigger than on regional planes. They don’t seem to be appreciably bigger than windows on mainline jets.
Shortly after takeoff, we flew over Dallas Love Field.
Flight attendants passed out earbuds at no charge to C+ passengers.
In addition to offering streaming video over WiFi, Delta is installing seatback video on all new planes and adding it to any planes in the mainline fleet where individual screens are not in place. In contrast, American Airlines is going in the opposite direction and removing video screens from older planes and not installing them on new ones. Although the video monitor in economy is slightly smaller than in first class, the in-flight entertainment system has the same options.
An hour into the flight we were served beverages and snacks.
The A220 has another important advantage over newer airplanes. Bathrooms are normal size. American, the domestic carrier I’m most familiar with is densifying interiors on existing 737-800s and A321s to match the 30-inch economy seat pitch, no video screens, and tiny “don’t try to turn around” lavatories on the737 Max 8.
Bathrooms on the A220 are huge in comparison and they have a window! I’ve seen that only on a few wide-body aircraft like the ANA 787-9.
The four-hour flight to New York was very enjoyable. In fact, I was much more comfortable sitting in Row 10 in economy than in the bulkhead row in first class.
Seats that are 18.6 inches wide, a 2-3 seat configuration, regular size bathrooms, seatback video, firm but comfortable seat cushions, and a shiny new cabin make Delta’s A220-100 the best narrow-body airplane for commercial coach travel on the market.
What do you think of the A220? Are there any planes you think are better for economy class? Do you think Airbus should have kept the plan to have a 19-inch middle seat?