Saturday, 9 July 2022

Flying Delta's new A321NEO From BOS to ATL

 Welcome to my trip report on Delta's brand new A321NEO!


This is N502DA, the airline's 2nd Airbus A321NEO which was scheduled to fly to San Francisco that morning.



Introduction

This was originally supposed to be a Boeing 757-200 flight but somehow later on my original flight, DL574 flight got cancelled and I was transferred to a new flight DL1631 which originally was scheduled to be operated by Boeing 757 until a few weeks before the flight, I received a notification of an aircraft change and it was the Airbus A321NEO. I wasn't sure whether to be happy or sad because I wanted to fly the Boeing 757-200, quite badly! However, I found a solution to my problem as I found a 757 flight out of LAX to MSP and from there I changed to another flight to LGA.The LAX-MSP-LGA airfare was cheaper than my original LAX-JFK route by $50 and so I received the ecredit for the $50 which I intend to use on my next flight with this airline next year. With this new itinerary in place, I get to experience the Boeing 757-200/-300 and A321CEO and NEO, that ended up quite well, right? Luckily for me,  my connecting flight ATL-SFO's scheduled aircraft remained as it is (757-300), thanks goodness as the possiblity of that flight's aircraft changing to 767-300ER was high. I hope you enjoy some photos of Boston and of course the trip report of this beautiful plane, please enjoy! 

Photos of Boston

The residential area, near the Airbnb home 


The central district area of Boston 


Quincy Market 



The view of the city 


This is near Boston Common Garden 


Boston Public Garden





This is the public transport network of buses and trains 



I love riding the tram, it consists of 2 drivers in 2 cabins, not very economical but I guess it still works, right? 



This is the South Station 



Among all the cities I visited so far in the U.S, there is more British feeling in this city than the others. 



Hey! There is a street name after me! 


Between New York and Boston? I feel more at home in Boston. I can see myself living in this city to be honest. 

Booking with Delta's mobile app

I paid this amount for my one way ticket from BOS to SFO. I chose Atlanta as my stop-over as I was able to fly both Boeing 757-200 and -300, perfect combo for my liking. At that time, the Boeing 757-200 was scheduled to operate the direct flight but I prefer to do the stop-over. 


This was my original booking. 


The updated flight 


The original flight 


Airbus A321NEO vs Airbus A321CEO

Some of you must be wondering what is CEO and NEO right? CEO stands for Current Engine Option, while NEO stands for New Engine Option. What's the difference between these 2 aircraft? Well, the New Engine Option (NEO) offers airlines a newer technology engine type (Pratt and Whitney PW1100G and LEAP 1A by CFM International). These new engines consume about 30% lesser fuel per seat and allows the aircraft to fly longer range flights than the CEO engines. The A320CEO has been around since 1989 but throughout the years, Airbus and the engine manufacturers have found ways to improving the aircraft making it easier for maintainenace and the folks at the management happier as this aircraft type, along with the 737 are the workhorses in the aviation and with such strong competition between each other, they have to try to be ahead in terms of innovation and reliability. Basically the A321NEO can sit slightly more passengers and fly longer range than the CEO family. Not only that, the airline can also configure the aircraft seating configuration according to its needs, configured in lower capacity which means more premium seats installed and lesser Economy Class seats than the usual configuration and that allows the the airline to choose 2 exit doors + 2 window overwing emergency windows instead of the standard 4 emergency doors for this aircraft type. Let me show you what I mean. 

This is the Airbus A321CEO (Notice the 4 emergency doors on the side of the aircraft)

Configuration 1 (Photographed at MSP Airport)


This is the Airbus A321CEO (below) (Configured with 2 emergency doors (front and back) plus 2 overwing emergency windows), this configuration is allowed when there are lesser passengers (first class) in the front, therefore the door which is usally in front of the engine can be removed. 

For airlines that operates a 3/4 or full Economy Class, the emergency door behind the wing is required. It’s up to the airline to decide whether they want to have the overwing emergency windows or the 2nd emergency door in front of the wing, just as long it meets the FAA requirement for the full load of passengers to be able to evacuate from the aircraft within 90 seconds. 

So you can easily tell roughly whether is the A321NEO is a premium heavy aircraft or an Economy Class heavily configured aircraft. 

Configuration 2 (Photographed at BOS Airport)


The other differences between the A321NEO and A321CEO are the slightly bigger wings, bigger size engines and for the NEO version, a racoon mask cockpit.

I prefer the entering the aircraft from the front (Configuration 2) as I am able to view the first class cabin but I can't say the say for the first class passengers who probably prefer privacy. 

Range: A321CEO (5,930 km)  and  A321NEO (7,410 km)

One last thing, do you know that like other aircraft types, there are different varients of this Airbus A321NEO? 

Airbus A321-251NX (CFM Leap 1A-32)
Airbus A321-252NX (CFM Leap 1A-30)
Airbus A321-253NX (CFM Leap 1A-33, 33B2 or 33B5)
Airbus A321-271NX (PW 1133G)
Airbus A321-272NX (PW1130G)
Airbus A321-273NX  (PW1135G)

For example: Asiana Airlines Airbus A321-251NX (That means this aircraft is powered by CFM's Leap 1A-32 engine

N = New Engine Option
X = The aircraft equipped with the Airbus Cabin Flex configuration (Configuration 2) as shown above. 

There are some airlines that do not have the Cabin Flex configuration on the A321NEO, one example would be ANA's A321-272N. (Photo: Tokyo Spotter)


Can you tell the difference now? 

In the nutshell, A321CEO's configuration is limited and can only use the standard 4 door emergency doors, while the A321NEO can be configured to either the standard 4 door emergency doors or the Airbus' space-flex configuration. 

Brief History of Boston General Edward Logon International Airport

Boston Logan Airport (BOS) is an international airport located in the East of the city, was opened in 1923. This airport has 6 runways and 4 passengers building and among the airports in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the New England region, this is the biggest. Back in the 1923, this airport was known as Jeffery Field. The first commercial flight began in 1927 and the airport expanded, with an increase in flight demand especially in the 1940s and 1950s. Terminal B and C were added in 1949 and the airport was renamed after Major General Edward Lawrence Logon. This airport was one of the first to receive the Jumbo jet, the Boeing 747 which was a popular aircraft in the 1970s and a good number of airlines including British Airways operate the 747 to this airport. Later on in the 1974, Terminal E was opened, as more travellers visited this city and right now it plays a big role in both domestic and internationa flight services. 


Notice something missing? There are only 4 terminals: A,B, C and E. What happen to D? Well, there used to have terminal D but the gates were moved over to Terminal C and E. 

Day of departure 

I checked in on the mobile app the day before and I was hoping for the middle seat to remain vacant, of course that didn't happen. 



I took the Uber to the airport since the flight was at 8.30 in the morning. I reached around 6.45, and did the check-in and all that. Security queue was long and took about half an hour before getting into the air side. I went around looking at the shops and aircraft at the gates. 




Look at the number of flights to Atlanta for the day operated by this airline. The flights before mine were operated by Boeing 757-200, while the flights after DL1631 (My flight) were operated by A321CEO.


Boston is also a hub of Delta Airlines 


Delta Boeing 737-800 (Parking lot) and ERJ-175 just push back, waiting for taxi. 


Boston Terminal A Land Side 


This is the land side of terminal A 


I was feeling reluctant to leave but I would be back in the near future. 



My boarding pass for this flight 


Do I want to volunteer and miss my A321NEO and 757-300 flights? Definitely NOT! 


I also got my boarding pass for the next flight. 


Boston Terminal B Airside


If you have trouble with your ticket, you can come here to seek help with the airline's operator. 


This is to certify that Boston Airport has gotten the LEED certification that cares for the enviromental quality such as transportation, carbon, water, waste and health. 


This is concourse A 


There are a good number of eating places and shops for the travellers to check out before departure. 


It was a busy morning, lots of flights were departing at that time. 



My ride: N501DA (Photo: Josh Fizzell)


About this aircraft 

Airbus A321-271NX (Owned)
Delivered in March 2022
Configuration: C20 Y174
Engines: 2 X PW1133G
MSN: 10437
Built in Hamburg 

My flight route: BOS - ATL 


Miles: 946



Date of departure: 7th June 2022
Airline: Delta Airlines
Flight number: DL1631
Route: BOS-ATL
Aircraft: Airbus A321NEO
Registration: N501DA
Seat: 33A 
Departure gate: A15
Departure terminal: A 
Scheduled departure: 0830
Boarding: 0748
Push back: 0824
Take off: 0842
Flight duration: 2 hours 8 mins 
Actual flight time: 2 hours 12 mins 
Scheduled arrival: 1120
Actual arrival: 1054
Arrival terminal: S 
Arrival gate: B34
Departure runway: 22R 
Arrival runway: 26R

At around 0750, we started boarding. I managed to get into the aircraft early so that I could snap some photos of the cabin. As the A321NEO aircraft was about 2 weeks old, there was excitement in the cabin with a few passengers noticing how new this plane is. Later on, the cabin crew especially the Captain emphasised about this new aircraft, mentioning how fuel efficient the engines are and all that, I was amazed with the information he shared with the passengers and of course I understood all what he said, not so sure about the regular folks. 

Entering the aircraft 



The airspace interior (Airlines can opt for this if they like it) 

Among the 3 A321NEO flights I flew so far, only Delta has this interior. (Jetblue and Alaska)


The lavatory between the First Class cabin and the Comfort + seats


20 Delta First Class Seats

The airline introduced these new first class seats to the Airbus A321NEO and will also introduce the lie-flat seats on the later batch of A321NEO aircraft. These seats are developed by Recaro and Factorydesign, and they are based on customer's feedback and industry trend, enhancing the first class experience on domestic flights. They look great to me and would love to try it one day. For the trip report of this class, you can check out TPG (The Point Guys) version, click here.


There are 5 rows of First Class seats 


The seat has this privacy divider which gives the passenger more privacy as they are unlikely to see the faces of their neighbour. Not so good for couples if you ask me! 



42 Delta Comfort+ Seats 

These seats have more leather-covered padding than the standard Economy Class seats, not forgetting the extra legroom space. These seats offer 34 inch of legroom space and a seat width of 18 inches. 

Is this considered a premium economy? Nope, there isn't much premium feeling to it as it is still a 3-3 configuration with slightly better back support and legroom space.  



There are 22 rows of Comfort + seats 




Bulkhead row offers the best legroom along with the emergency rows. 



132 Delta Main Cabin seats

This is the standard Economy Class seat, which I find out it to be quite comfortable. These seats are the standard for all Economy Class in Delta Airlines' fleet. 



This is my window seat. All windows are closed to allow a cooler cabin for passengers to enjoy. 





It was great to board early as I managed to snap some clean shots of the cabin. 



Just like the Jetblue A321NEO cabin, the overhead compartment is larger than the standard. 



 


The seat pitch is 31' inch. Not a big deal, it was bearable for this short flight. 




I certainly enjoy Airbus's new cabin interior, certainly a notch higher than the previous version.



More photos of the cabin 

The 10'inch standard IFE system 


Each row of the 3-seater has 2 charging sockets. (below) 


The overhead panel 

`

Legroom space is 31' inch. 


What's provided by the airline?

I was given this wipe and the earpiece. 



The safety card (N - stands for NEO)


In-flight snack 

I chose the coffee and Biscoff biscuit for my morning snack 


In-Flight Experience 

We pushed back on time and after start up, we were on our way to the runway for departure. It's nice for once to be on a brand new plane especially a new aircraft type for an airline flying out of one of the airline's hubs rather than watching it from another plane or from the terminal. The pilots didn't mentioned much about the weather on route but he said we should expect some bumps along the way. It was a nice and smooth take off at BOS but soon we were hitting quite a bit of bumps especially when flying through the clouds. Nothing serious of course as the cabin crew were allowed to continue their service. A snack and drink meal was offered and for most parts of the flights, I was glued to the IFE system. It was a short 2 hours plus flight so time went passed quickly. However the ride got quite bumpy midway through the flight, the seatbelt sign was turn on and off quite a number of times, fortunately the descend towards ATL was not so bad and we landed at ATL early. In terms of turbulence, I will give it a 3 out of 10, I certainly won't want to feel the extreme side of it! 

 The enthusiastic crew would rest at ATL for a short while before flying off to on another aircraft which I didn't ask. Overall, it was another enjoyable flight! Comparing with Jetblue's A321NEO? Which is better? Jetblue with the slight edge. 

In-flight IFE system

This system is the same as my other Delta flights, so I won't go into details on this. 



This aircraft features a next-generation, wireless in-flight entertainment system



Unfortunately, Wi-Fi is not free. 


Window shot photos 

Beautiful day of weather for flying, it seems! 




Goodbye Boston! 



We started rolling down the runway


Lifted off with the sun facing us. 




There were bumps even though it was clear sky. 



Flying on a brand new Airbus A321NEO was enjoyable though. 


Crappy weather at ATL but nothing serious in terms of turbulent weather. 



We had a nice touch down on the runway thanks to the skillful pilot.





I always wanted to visit ATL but for this trip, it was just a brief one. Hope to visit some friends here on my next trip.



We parked besides an A321CEO. 


Summary of my flight 




Once I was out of the plane, I had about 5 hours before my next flight at ATL airport. 


Thanks for the ride, N501DN!


Home of Delta Airlines, Hartsfield - Jackson Atlanta International Airport 



My rating

Airlines's website/Mobile app: 4/5
Airport Staff at BOS: 4/5
In-Flight Service: 4/5
Cleanliness of aircraft: 5/5
In-Flight Entertainment: 4/5 
In-Flight Meal: 2/5 
In-Flight Experience: 5/5
Punctuality: 5/5
Seat comfort: 4/5
Cabin interior (Space Flex): 5/5
Overall rating: 42/50
Percentage: 84%
Verdict: Great!

My Thoughts and Conclusion of this flight 

155 Delta's Airbus A321NEO aircraft were ordered to replace some of the older Boeing 757-200 which some of them are reaching 30 years old. For an aircraft to be around 30 years old, is considered to be at its end of its lifespan. It is possible for the aircraft to continue beyond 30 years old but it would not make economical sense as the aircraft maintainence and spare parts would cost more not to mention it would be more difficult sourcing for them as there are lesser 757s in operation these days. So for Delta Airlines, it makes sense to purchase the A321NEO to replace some of the Boeing 757-200 first. This new Airbus may be similar with the capacity of the 757, but it lacks the range which enables it to fly some transatlantic flights (A321XLR is the closest to the 757) and may have issues flying full payload out of hot and high altitude airports. So airlines like Delta, United and American (the 3 major airlines) have ordered the A321NEO and are probably hoping for Boeing to launch the true 757 replacement soon so that they won't have to rely solely on the A321NEO. Will that happen? Let's wait and see. 

Delta's cabin products on the A321NEO looks great especially the first class products. While there is no difference in the Economy Class product with other aircraft, it was comfortable. The main difference between this aircraft and the older ones is the cabin ambience with the Space Flex configuration. The snazzy mood lighting adjusted for various phases of the flight was also very pleasant. With the Delta's In-Flight entertainment system and WiFi, one should be able to keep him/herself busy especially for day flight. I encourage you to give this aircraft a try if you have the chance! 

I hope you enjoy this trip report. 

For my previous trip report (Jetblue ERJ-190 to BOS), click here
For my next trip report (Delta B757-300 ATL-SFO), click here

Thanks for reading! 
Charles 

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