This flight on a Delta Air Lines A220-100 from Dallas, TX (DFW) to Detroit, MI (DTW) was the first of seven flights booked in business class to and from Kenya. The super cheap business class fare and long distance flown would yield a huge amount of qualification dollars that would be required to requalify as a Diamond in Delta’s SkyMiles frequent flyer program. Amazing safari adventure in Kenya was icing on the cake.
Delta’s Delayed Flights Rained On The Parade
The original outbound routing was about as straight forward as you can get between the U.S. and East Africa — Dallas to Detroit to Paris to Nairobi. Taking the direct flight from Dallas to Paris on Air France would have cost a lot more.
Air France operated the flight from Detroit to Paris with an Airbus 350-900 equipped with its newest business class seat. I was very much looking forward to experiencing Air France business class for the first time and the new seat was a bonus. As most know from first-hand experience, one of the most frustrating and stressful part of air travel is being at the mercy of the airlines.
I arrived in Dallas in the morning on an American Airlines flight (separate ticket) from Charlotte. While waiting in the Delta Sky Club lounge in Dallas, I watched as the departure time for the Delta flight to Detroit kept being delayed. The plane hadn’t arrived in Dallas and was having problems elsewhere in the system. Several hours after the scheduled departure time of the original flight, I had the reps in the lounge change my flight to the next Detroit flight. It was scheduled to arrive in DTW in plenty of time to connect to the Air France flight to Paris.
Three guesses about that second flight. Its arrival was also slightly delayed. Then after the plane landed, parked at the gate and boarding was announced, it also experienced delays related to mechanical and crew issues. The coup de grace for the original travel plan was probably the air traffic control delay for weather in Detroit as we taxied to the runway.
I silently stewed as my plans were evaporating before my eyes. To add insult to injury, there were no available first class seats on the flight and I was assigned to a Comfort Plus in the economy cabin. C+ is my not so affectionate term for Delta’s extra-leg-room seats in economy .
The A220 is probably the most comfortable narrow-body airliner for economy passengers. On Delta’s A220-100 there are 12 seats in first class, 15 C+ economy seats, and 82 standard economy seats.
Seating in economy is 2-3 similar to the now largely retired MD-9 series aircraft some may remember from back in the day. The twin seat side is ideal for couples and singles hopping to sit next to an empty seat and have the row to themselves.
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.
All A220 economy seats are 18.6 inches wide. That is even a tad wider than economy seats on A380s. A220-100 C+ seats have a 34-inch distance between rows 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 A220 has an interesting lineage. Bombardier Aviation Canada originally designed and built this aircraft as the C Series, which entered service in 2016. In July 2018, Airbus acquired a 50.01% interest in the program and changed the name from the C Series to the Airbus A220. The A220-100 is still built in Canada.
Delta has pledged to buy 90 A220s including 50 of the larger A220-300 which will be built at the Airbus plant in Mobile, AL. The 300 model is essentially the same as the 100 except it is 11 feet longer and seats about 50 more passengers.
Delta Flight DL1720 Dallas (DFW) to Detroit (DTW)
The flight of 986 miles (1,587km) was scheduled for about 2.5 hours. With first class sold out, I was assigned seat 10B, a C+ economy aisle seat in the row immediately behind first class.
Due to the absence of a bulkhead behind first class, Row 10 has tons of legroom. Pitch is much greater than the 34 inches enjoyed by other C+ seats. The seats in front are so far away that the video screen must be stored in the armrest minimally reducing seat width. Giving up a tiny amount of width for a large increase in legroom is a trade I’ll gladly make.
A220 windows are noticeably bigger and placed higher in the fuselage. That makes them easier to see out of compared to windows on regional and commuter jets.
All economy seats have usb and a/c power, articulating headrests and video screens. Although the video screens in Row 10 must be folded away for taxi, takeoff and landing, unlike seatback screens that are fixed in position, the position of the fold-up screens can adjusted to achieve the best viewing angles for each passenger.
Although the video monitor in economy is slightly smaller than in first class, the in-flight entertainment system has the same options for audio and visual entertainment. Delta also offers the same content as free streaming video to your device over wifi.
By the time the flight departed DFW, There was little hope of connecting to Air France in DTW unless that flight was also delayed.
I settled in and made the best of the time by viewing a flick and monitoring our progress with flight following. About 45 minutes after departure, attendants offered a snack and beverage service in the economy cabin. In Row 10, I could easily see the pre-departure beverages and hot item served in first class. Delta is one of the few U.S. airlines that has so far restored alcohol to the service in coach.
I visited the lav just before the descent to DTW. Delta A220s have some of the best economy lavs on any narrow-body airliner. In the quest to cram more seats onto the same airplane, airlines have squeezed the size of bathrooms as well as the space between rows. The economy bathroom on this aircraft is actually big enough to turn around in and it even has a window. I’ve seen that only on a few wide-body aircraft like an ANA 787-9. The lav in first has no window.
I’ve seen that only in business class on a few wide-body aircraft like the ANA 787-9.
Unfortunately, the flight landed after the connecting flight departed.
The good news was there were plenty of options for other flights and Delta waived any difference in air fare because it was responsible for missing the connection. The bad news was all of the alternative options departed the next day.
I was stuck in Detroit for the night. Delta put me up in a Fairfield Inn near the airport and provided a $15 food voucher that I never used.
Having a Comfort+ economy seat in Row 10 on A Delta A220-100 aircraft took some of the sting out of being downgraded to coach to get on a flight with a chance of making the connection in Detroit. Delta A220s have the most comfortable and spacious economy seats of any narrow-body commercial airliner. The C+ seats in Row 10 have the most leg room and are nearly as nice the seats in first. The only drawback to Row10 might be having a good view of the superior food, drinks and service being offered in first class.
Have you experienced a flight on an A220? What’s your favorite aircraft for coach seats?