Delta Significantly Improves Its Business Class Between The US & UK

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Delta has announced a shake up in its routes between the US and UK which will take place from next summer. The shake up sees Delta change the aircraft it operates on three of its routes to the UK as well as relinquishing one of its New York – London flights to its partner Virgin Atlantic.

Delta’s Business Class To The UK Just Got Better

As things stand Delta operates its routes to London from Atlanta, Detroit and New York using its Boeing 767 aircraft all of which are equipped with a rather old Delta One Business Class cabin

a seat of an airplane with a few pillows and a bottle of waterDelta One on a Boeing 767

I reviewed this cabin on an overnight flight between New York and Madrid and while the service was pretty good and the seat not too bad (in upright mode) I didn’t like the seat when it came to using it as a bid – things were just too cramped.

On top of that, while the IFE content was very good, the IFE screen and the controller belong back in the 1990’s where they came from.

In Delta’s latest move these aircraft will no longer serve the UK from New York, Atlanta or Detroit as they’re being replaced by the airline’s Airbus A330 aircraft.

Here’s what Delta has said:

Effective March 24, 2018, Delta will introduce the Airbus A330 aircraft on its New York-JFK, Atlanta and Detroit routes to London-Heathrow. The A330 aircraft, which are equipped with Wi-Fi and feature 34 fully flat-bed seats in the Delta One cabin will bring Delta’s onboard customer experience to a new level as well as increase the number of seats on these U.S. routes to London-Heathrow.

At the time of writing Delta doesn’t appear to have updated its reservation system to reflect these changes on the New York route but they are already showing for Atlanta and Detroit.

a plane taking off from a runwayDelta A330-300 – Image Nicky Boogard via Flickr

The Atlanta – London Heathrow route looks like it will be operated by an Airbus A330-300 which offers the following cabin configuration:

  • 34 Delta One Business Class seats (a decrease of 2)
  • 40 Delta Comfort+ seats (an increase of 11)
  • 219 Economy Class seats (an increase of 76)

Overall that’s an increase of 85 seats…which is an increase in capacity of over 40% on the 767.

The Detroit – London Heathrow route will be operated by an Airbus A330-200 which offers the following cabin configuration:

  • 34 Delta One Business Class seats (a decrease of 2)
  • 32 Delta Comfort+ seats (an increase of 3)
  • 168 Economy Class seats (an increase of 25)

Overall that’s an increase of 26 seats…which is an increase in capacity of over 12% on the 767.

Capacity increases aside, the best news here is the improvement in the Delta One product that will now be offered on these routes.

Gone will be the older, cramped seats to be replaced by Delta’s reverse herringbone layout…

a close-up of a remote control

….and a considerably improved seat:

a row of seats in an airplane

Per Delta, the Delta One cabin on these routes will offer….

  • Fully flat-bed seats in the Delta One cabin, arranged in a ‘herringbone’ configuration with individual aisle access.
  • Chef-curated meal options in Delta One, featuring locally sourced ingredients and regionally-inspired meals in the Main Cabin, served with complimentary beverages.
  • Customizable TUMI amenity kits in Delta One, plus a sleep kit with travel essentials for passengers in the Main Cabin and Delta Comfort+.
  • Complimentary in-flight entertainment with Delta Studio at every seat, including Hollywood titles, over 1,000 hours of TV, music and games.
  • Wi-Fi available for purchase.
  • RFID checked baggage tracking updates available direct to mobile devices through the Fly Delta App.​

a man sleeping in a bedImage courtesy of Delta

In fairness you get most of those on the existing 767s but it’s the seat that is the key here.

The reverse herringbone layout is probably my favorite Business Class layout out there (although I am partial to the privacy you get in the Etihad A380 Business Studio) and this cabin is a significant step up from what was on offer before.

The downside to this swap is that we’re losing two Business Class seats per flight so that’s not going to improve award availability….but the trade off should be worth it.

Delta Hands Over A JFK Route To Virgin Atlantic

From 25 March 2018 Delta and Virgin Atlantic are “optimizing their schedule” between New York and London Heathrow and this will see Virgin take over one of Delta’s daily flights.

The combined airlines will still offer 8 daily flights between JFK and London Heathrow but Delta will only operate 2 of the 8.

These will be the Delta operated flights between JFK and London Heathrow

DL401 JFK 19:30 – 07:50+1 day LHR
DL403 JFK 22:45 – 10:55+ 1 day LHR

DL001 LHR 10:30 – 13:30 JFK
DL003 LHR 17:30 – 20:38 JFK

These flights are now significant because, if you’re booking Business Class and you’re choice is Delta or Virgin Atlantic, these are the flights to book.

I tried out the old Virgin Atlantic A330 Business Class cabin (which isn’t all that different from the newer cabin that’s on the 787 and is currently being fitted to Virgin’s A330s) and I thought it was terrible.

The Delta A330-200 cabin is superior to what Virgin offers in almost ever way.

Bottom Line

Yes. we’re losing two Business Class seats per flight on all three routes on which the aircraft are being swapped…but everything else appears to be good news.

If you’re a Delta/Virgin loyalist your choice in Business Class on these routes has been between an antiquated offering from Delta or an ill-thought out abomination from Virgin….now you actually have a choice that you can choose positively rather than just accepting the least bad option.