Even grounded for the better part of a year and a half, as an AVGEEK (or aviation geek), I have still longed to get back in the air and experience new things. One of those new things, at least to me, was a ride on the new-ish A220.
I say “new-ish” because Delta introduced this jet into the fleet about a year before COVID. There were, at the time, a flurry of folks booking tickets on BOTH of the two inaugural flights (in clear violation of Delta rules) but I was in the middle of some amazing Delta partner mileage runs to re-qualify for my Delta Diamond Medallion status. After that, I just could not seem to find a flight that worked within my normal routes of travel.
I finally had the opportunity to fly the A220 a few days ago.
My wife and I had time to visit the refurbished Detroit North A satellite Sky Club before the flight. The improvements are impressive and it has gone from a compartmentalized small feel to an open, large space. They even had a bartender serving drinks. Normally, I would have stayed in the club till the Fly Delta App alerted me that boarding had begun as our gate was just steps away from the club. But I wanted to be one of the first onboard to get a few shots of the A220 without fellow passengers in the way.
We boarded after a slight mechanical delay. The entry still shows a throwback to the original name for this jet, that is, the CS100 (BTW, our blog broke the news Delta was getting this stunning jet).
This jet has so much going for it from a passenger standpoint. It is 2-3 seating that is such a plus for couples travel. The windows are huge and at the right level.
This is hands-down the most gorgeous cockpit I have ever seen. The crew told me the A220 is a joy to fly and I would love such an opportunity (I am nowhere near qualified and have only about 10 hours in a Cessna but…)!
The view, from these HUGE windows, was also a mega treat for a smaller jet. I have to say the engineering in making this bird is all stunning and impressive. But…
Here is where my joy turns to sadness. When Delta first broke the news about the interior seat design I was simply shocked to learn they had picked a version of the Delta Premium Select as the “first class” seat. The legroom in the first row makes the horrid first row on the 737-900ER seem spacious by comparison.
And it gets worse.
Delta has restricted so many things due to COVID and has bragged up how clean they are making each aircraft before we board. Clearly, with the A220, cleaning the tray tables inside the armrests is not a priority. Did I mention it gets worse?
The seat design is so bad, with the try table in the retractable armrest, that I had to wedge a puke bag in the open space to keep the tray table from flopping around like a fish out of water.
Could things get even worse? Yep!
Even with a delayed flight, the gate agent did not clear upgrades at 40 minutes, as is the current protocol that was adjusted from the previous 30 minutes (see my conversation with the Delta CEO)…
With four loyal Delta Medallions on the upgrade list during COVID – first class went out with at least three empty seats in first on this 3+ hour long flight! Talk about #KeepDescending – why care about Delta’s Elite Accelerator program (that is still, as of today, massively busted when it comes to awarding points) when even now you can not trust that published benefits will be honored?
As I keep diving into this review, let me say as always, the Delta folks were amazing (other than the DTW gate agent, clearly). The problem is what the staff had to work with. There was no preflight water or beverage and the water is no longer Dasani but “Delta” branded water that had a strange flavor.
On this 3+ hour flight, over 900 miles that normally would be a hot meal flight, we started with a snack and wine in a plastic bottle and plastic glass (sigh). There is no reason for this other than cost savings as COVID is transmitted via air not via touch (as we all know now).
We got to choose from 2 snack boxes and it is noteworthy that EVERYONE gets to touch this menu again and again and it is NOT sanitized between passengers or crew. Beyond that, would you be happy with these choices if you paid full price first class?
Keep in mind that during COVID you should keep your mask on and only dip-N-sip etc. Lots of snacks and lots of plastic. Really not a first class meal even during COVID.
One of the things I was really looking forward to, even more so after the very disappointing wine, was trying the Delta margarita that Chris reviewed here. But… they were out. In fact, they were out on every single Delta flight I took on this trip that offered drinks!
I was so looking forward to this A220 first flight. I really love the jet but Delta has made the total experience lacking.
Let me end this review by again praising this stunning jet and crew. We landed in Austin in the middle of strong storms. Jets around us aborted landings and yet we touched down, with effort, smoothly. The weather was so bad that ground crews were not allowed to get our checked bags until the cell above the airport had moved on. Impressive!
After this trip, I am done flying until this fall and I am happy to stay on the ground. Not for fear of COVID, since I am fully vaccinated and taking precautions, but the lack of what Delta used to offer. I have little interest in flying Delta again until they bring back what was once the “Delta Difference” vs. what Delta is now sadly providing. – René
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