I rode Delta Air Lines’ first Airbus A321neo revenue/customer flight — DL1202 — from Boston to San Francisco on Friday morning.
A321neos aren’t exactly new to the airline world. (I see one or two JetBlue A321neos fly over my house every day.) But this is Delta’s first A321neo rodeo. Given this is the airline’s first new aircraft launch in a while — and a chance to do something fun since the world is reopening from COVID — I decided to take the trip and check out the plane.
Especially because the aircraft features new first class seats and inaugural flights are special.
So here are my initial impressions.
Inside the Plane
Curious about what Delta’s A321neo looks like? Here are some general pictures:
First Class Seats
Delta announced a couple of years ago the design of new first class seats. The seats made their grand, public debut on the flight.
How were they?
Good, but not amazing. Let’s check out more detailed positives and negatives.
Delta A321neo First Class Seats: The Good
There’s a decent amount of space between you and your seatmate (or would it be row mate?). You won’t bump into the other person nor likely spill their drink while in your seat during the flight.
The seats feature a great setup for getting work done. My elbows were very comfortable on the armrests while I typed on my laptop. The large tray table allowed plenty of room for 16” MacBook Pro and a decent-sized mouse pad.
I appreciate the individual power ports built into the privacy divider. There’s no need to worry about tripping over cords and cables plugged into outlets situated between seats near the floor of many other domestic Delta first class products. A Delta spokesperson told me the A321neo power port’s positioning was very much intentional for that reason. Also worth mentioning: the power port is situated far enough back that my adapter stayed out of my way.
Bravo, Delta, on the “flying office” you’ve made out of the A321neo seats.
Another feature I really like is the wide beverage tray with elevated borders. There’s enough room for a couple of beverages per passenger. And the raised “lips” help limit spills. (As my wife would say, “Oh, look, they’re almost Chris-proof.”)
There are plenty of storage nooks, crannies, and cubbies. That’s both good and bad.
The good part? Your laptop, tablet, phone, and maybe a purse are all easily accessible during the flight. The bad news: this gives you ample opportunity to forget something! So, remember to check in your seating area before deplaning.
A Note About the Privacy Set Up
You’re separated enough from the person next to you that conversations can be difficult. That’s great if you don’t like visiting with others. (I generally keep to myself when traveling alone.)
But the person next to me on the Delta A321neo inaugural was a travel journalist and we were familiar with each other’s work. So, we chatted about a few things — but there was plenty of leaning over the armrests and repeating ourselves. We simply had a rather hard time carrying on a conversation.
To that end: you may find it difficult to converse with a companion while sitting in the A321neo first class seats. But that could be a good excuse to take a nap, read a book, or watch a show.
Also, one problem with the privacy “wings” when you have a window seat:
A number of passengers around me were not happy with the legroom, which leaves a little to be desired, as well. Especially when the person in front of you reclines.
For some reason, we were under the impression that the seat’s shell or pod wouldn’t retract when someone reclines. Instead, several of us thought the seat would sort of slide forward. That’s not the case.
My knees and lower thighs felt slightly squeezed by the arm walls, which I found a little too thick — especially during a 6+ hour flight.
Squeezing into the window seat is a bit of a chore. (I heard other passengers say the same thing.) There’s maybe a foot or so of space. For reference, this is my 16” MacBook Pro that I set down across the beverage tray and ledge above the electronic device storage cubby.
I normally opt for aisle seats but wanted a window for this flight so I could take pictures and record anything special. In the future, I’ll choose an aisle whenever available (though I certainly won’t turn down a complimentary Medallion upgrade to a window! 😉 ).
Again, the seats are good. Better than everything except Delta One. (Although the 767-300s that haven’t yet been retrofitted…) But the A321neo first class seats aren’t as spectacular as some of us hoped.
Bluetooth Connectivity to the IFE!
Sick of bringing a Bluetooth connector for your earphones?
Those days are over (at least, on the A321neo).
The inflight entertainment (IFE) system features Bluetooth connectivity so you can listen to movies, TV shows, and live satellite television.
I also enjoy the great flight tracker options.
Unacceptable: Inflight WiFi and Internet Connectivity
Delta and Viasat are in big trouble if this is their future of inflight WiFi and Internet. (Help us, Obi-Wan Elon, if you’re our only hope.)
We heard several times during boarding and soon after takeoff that the A321neo features Delta’s latest and greatest onboard Internet system. Fast enough, they said, to watch our favorite shows.
So, how great was it?
Let me put it this way: I missed Gogo.
I’m not even kidding or being dramatic.
Like, my old AOL dial-up connection in 1994 seemed faster and more reliable.
Here are the results of a few speed tests — and that’s when the WiFi actually connected.
People trying to work were not happy. I literally saw shoulders slump in frustration several times when the service dropped.
Even after a Viasat rep onboard reset the system, the Internet speeds and connectivity still were disappointing.
Here’s what happened when I pressed “publish” on this blog post.
I can’t imagine Delta and Viasat didn’t take the WiFi for a test drive or several before the first revenue flight. But maybe the system was overloaded with a bunch of passengers using the service. It cost only $5 a pop. But I’ve been on countless other flights when Internet access cost only five bucks – and service was fine.
I hope the issue gets corrected soon.
More to Come
I’ll write a little more about the festivities inside the airport, the (delicious) onboard breakfast, and stuff like that in future posts. But I wanted to get some pictures and a quick review of the plane itself up ASAP.
Please let me know your thoughts of Delta’s A321neo when you’ve had a chance to fly it!
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