Many of the posts on Your Mileage May Vary are based on our own travel experiences. There are some posts inspired by the travels of our friends. While some experiences are positive, some of them are negative and serve as a warning to other passengers.
I was following a trip of someone we knew who traveling to Hawaii from Detroit. I was surprised to see him write there was no Wi-Fi available on the trip. While I was disappointed with the GoGo Wi-Fi offered on our flight to Kauai from Los Angeles for $25, I wasn’t aware that Delta had planes with no Wi-Fi at all.
I did some digging and found out the plane our friend flew from DTW-HNL was an A350-900. While Sharon and I just flew on this plane from Los Angeles to Singapore in Business Class with Singapore Airlines, our friends weren’t getting the same experience. In fact, they weren’t even getting the normal Delta A350-900 experience.
During the pandemic, Delta Air Lines agreed to purchase several A350-900 aircraft from LATAM. While Delta considers the A350-900 to be the flagship of its fleet, the LATAM planes pale in comparison to their cousins.
Delta was in such a rush to get these planes into service that they didn’t update the cabin when they received the planes from LATAM. They only changed the seat coverings but left the higher-density configuration and inferior cabin design.
In fact, Delta gives the LATAM A350-900 planes a different designation of A35L to distinguish them from their other A350-900s.
Thanks to Great Circle Mapper, we have this picture to show which routes the LATAM A350-900s are serving instead of the updated Delta cabins.
The routes include flights from DTW, LAX and ATL to/from HNL, as does the flight between ATL-SCL.
While Delta has willingly flown these planes with inferior cabins and sold tickets on planes without Wi-Fi and Delta One, things might be changing.
Delta recently signed a contract with Airbus to convert the A350-900s they received from LATAM. According to Airbus:
The retrofit program will reflect a total nose-to-tail cabin modification including seats, monuments (i.e., lavatories, galleys), overhead bins and more to meet Delta’s high standards for passenger cabin experience, connectivity, avionics and systems configuration.
While it appears Delta is finally going to update the planes from LATAM to equal the rest of the fleet, until the retrofit is done, I’d avoid a Delta A35L if given the chance.
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Was your friend flying alone or with a companion? These hawaii flights are actually doing well supposedly because leisure travelers travel as couples in business, and the 2-2-2 in business is preferable to the split up suites
Believe it or not, I have friends who pay for economy tickets so they didn’t get to try the business class seats.
From TPG: When these planes flew for LATAM, they didn’t offer Wi-Fi. But, that’s since changed once Delta took over.
The airline installed Gogo’s 2Ku satellite Wi-Fi during the refurbishment process, which cost a whopping $40 for a full flight stream session for a single device
It may have just been an issue with this plane as the Wi-Fi wasn’t working. In addition, they were delayed for an hour due to a mechanical issue and then had to return to the airport after 1 hour of flying due to a malfunctioning de-icer.
We flew the A350 from DTW-HNL and back in Jan and returned last day of Feb. We were in the Delta One seats (first class) and found it very relaxing. While the seats were not “pods” they were actually spacier and were totally reclining. Our flight back was a red eye and we both got a good nights sleep. While the updated A350’s may be a step up we had no problem with our accommodations.
The information in this post is both helpful and accurate. Delta is now selling $5000 business class tickets from ATL to CDG this summer with old LATAM seats – not Delta One suites. Check the seat map for Delta 82 in July.