Ever since the Bombardier C Series first took flight, I’ve wanted to take a flight on this modern smaller-market jet. It’s a bit unique in terms of size, with the A220-100 holding a handful more passengers than the largest regional jet, and the A220-300 being nearly competitive with an A319. It’s little wonder that Delta is purchasing a large number of these to replace their aging MD88 and Boeing 717 fleet. The new Delta Airbus A220-100 is the perfect replacement.
And it is so much more. I traveled to Las Vegas this June with one of my boys. He’s the most interested in aviation of all of my kids, but he certainly didn’t understand my level of excitement flying this new plane. It wasn’t a massive Airbus A380 or Boeing 777, which are so much cooler to him. The A220-100 is comparatively small, but as we would find out, it is a great ride. Here’s my review of our experience flying aboard one during COVID-19.
My son and I were returning to California after spending a few days in a newly-reopened Las Vegas. I covered our experience there on Miles to Memories, and even though Las Vegas is at the bottom of my destination list, we had a great time hiking, eating out, and enjoying some hiking at Red Rock Canyon and Mt. Charleston.
I made a huge mistake booking our flights back. We were supposed to fly an Alaska Airlines itinerary for just 5,000 miles. However, I booked it for the second Wednesday in July. Not June. Whoops. Luckily, I am a MVP Gold 75K elite, so there was no loss. The tickets were easily canceled, and I quickly secured this Main Cabin Delta itinerary for 12,500 SkyMiles per person. The biggest bonus was getting to fly a Delta Airbus A220-100 home!
We arrived into SLC on a quick flight from Las Vegas. My son was a bit scared, as there was some turbulence taking off from McCarran. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as the day we arrived, when there were high winds in the Las Vegas area. I don’t know if your kids get nervous flying, but this was maybe the second time I’ve seen him totally freaked out. Not much you can do except hold your kid and give him reassurances that all will be fine. I hoped our final flight to San Jose would be a smooth ride.
Salt Lake City airport wasn’t nearly as crowded as the other two times I’ve passed through, but there were still more people than I anticipated. The end of the concourse was pretty busy. We found a place to eat and enjoyed dinner during the hour or so layover between flights.
I did notice a marked decrease in mask-wearing at SLC. It was the norm to not wear a mask (maybe 10-20% of people wearing one). There were people here and there with them on, but nearly everyone either didn’t have one, or it was sitting around their necks.
We were called to the gate podium just after arriving back at the gate. I hoped it was an upgrade to first class, which would have been sweet for our first experience on a Delta Airbus A220-100. Alas, we only got Comfort+. I have to assume our first class upgrade didn’t clear (six seats flew out empty), as it would have mixed parties in first class. Everyone who received an upgrade was a solo flyer, and they all sat in the window seats.
Boarding and Initial Impressions
The plane was maybe half full, and boarding went quickly. Everyone received a sanitizing wipe from a flight attendant when they stepped aboard. The plane already looked clean, and Delta has stepped up their game when it comes to precautions during coronavirus. I kept the wipe, but didn’t wipe anything down. Candidly, I don’t ever alcohol-based sanitizer or wipes. This has been a health habit for years, and has nothing to do with the pandemic.
I do have to say that the Delta Airbus A220-100 cabin looks lovely. The new Delta seats and clean cabin instantly stood out. This particular A220-100 isn’t even a year old; it joined Delta’s fleet in September 2019, so there hasn’t been a whole lot of wear and tear.
While I’d hoped for that first class upgrade, we had to settle for Comfort+. There are only three rows each of first class and Comfort+ on the Delta A220-100. The plane can hold up to 109 passengers, making your upgrade chances poorer than average.
The 3-2 layout of the Airbus A220 is a bit unique when it comes to aircraft, but it’s actually totally consistent with Delta’s MD-80 series and Boeing 717 aircraft. These have been flying short routes from their hubs for years, and I’ve ended up on a few out of Atlanta. There couldn’t be a more perfect aircraft to replace these than the A220.
Delta Airbus A220-100 Seats
My first thought settling into the Delta Airbus A220-100 seat is that it is quite comfortable. The padding is soft, but supportive, and I felt like I could easily handle a 3+ hour flight on one of these. It surely beats the slimline seats on some regional jets and low-cost carrier aircraft.
Comfort+ seating on the A220 offers 34 inches of pitch, which is plenty for me. First class offers 3″ more, coming to 37″ total. I did note that the first class seats are notably narrower, which makes sense when you have the same 2-2 layout on the A220 as you have on a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 series.
Most notably, Delta decided to install seat-back IFE on the Airbus A220, bucking the industry trend of removing screens. This is a huge plus, in my opinion. It’s rare for an aircraft of this size to offer seat-back entertainment. I didn’t even think of this detail before we flew, and my son was ecstatic that he could watch a movie on the flight back to the Bay Area. The screens are a fine size in economy. I was impressed with how massive they are in first class. The A220 also offers at-seat power.
Here we are before takeoff! My son was nervous after our previous two flights, but shows none of it here.
Flying during COVID-19 means changing many expectations when it comes to the flight experience. For starters, you must wear a mask while on board the aircraft, which has become a mandatory requirement made by pretty much all airlines.
In some instances, airlines have completely suspended service. This was our experience on the two regional United/SkyWest flights to Las Vegas a few days prior. Soon after takeoff, Delta offered us small bags with water, crackers, Biscoff cookies, and another wipe. This is such as easy way to still provide a minimal economy service, and I appreciated that Delta is still making the effort to offer this.
The flight attendants were cheerful and personable the whole flight. One in particular thanked everyone for flying with Delta that day. It seemed warmer than the usual arrival message. I’m sure the flight attendants are happy to see more travelers back in seats since the low point of passenger traffic in April. The pandemic has completely upended the airline industry, and many employees are understandably nervous about their job future.
Our flight to San Jose was completely uneventful. The Airbus A220 is a smooth ride, and my son was very much at ease since there wasn’t any turbulence. I know this is more a function of weather than the aircraft itself, but it did feel so much nicer than flying on a regional jet.
Final Thoughts on the Delta Airbus A220-100
We had a great first experience with the Delta Airbus A220-100. The seats are very comfortable, and the aircraft offers all the amenities of a larger jet with a fantastic new and clean feel. I’d fly the A220 again in a heartbeat, and I hope its on a Bay Area route this summer when I travel back to Utah for work. I hope to be back on board, headed to Cedar City via Salt Lake for a couple days of meetings.
Have you flown a Delta Airbus A220-100 (or any other A220 flight)? What was your experience?