Recently, two interesting new international flights for Atlanta have been announced. As you might expect, one involves Delta Air Lines. The other involves a SkyTeam partner that would generally be similarly unsurprising. What was unexpected was the destination and aircraft for that flight.
Delta to launch Atlanta-Shanghai flight
Beginning in July 2018, Delta Air Lines will begin service between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. From Delta's press announcement:
The proposed schedule is:
Atlanta - Shanghai
Flight: DL 185
Departs: 3 PM
Arrives: 6:50 PM (+1 day)
Shanghai - Atlanta
Flight: DL 186
Departs: 11:40 AM
Arrives: 2:55 PM
The flight is slated to be operated by a Boeing 777-200LR which features "37 lie-flat seats with direct aisle access in Delta One, 36 seats in Delta Comfort+ and 218 seats in the Main Cabin." Unlike many airlines today, Delta offers more passenger comfort in 777 economy by maintaining nine-abreast seating as opposed to the increasingly common ten-abreast. Starting in 2018, Delta will bring the Delta One suite, recently launched on its new Airbus A350, to its 777 fleet.
As usual with Delta international announcements, I have mixed emotions. New international destinations from Atlanta, where I live, are always welcome. However, given that I do not travel internationally more than once a year and being a commercial aviation buff, I want to use those limited opportunities to fly on "exotic" international carriers rather than Delta which I fly almost exclusively domestically. That being said, I am very intrigued by the Delta One suite and my dream trip is to China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore (in some combination), so perhaps I can combine these aspirations in the coming years!
Air France to launch flights to Atlanta from...the Caribbean?
A couple of days ago, I was reading one of my must read travel/points/miles blogs, One Mile at a Time, and I saw the following headline: "Air France is Launching a New Route to Atlanta...With an A320!" As you might expect, I was shocked that Air France would - or even could - fly an A320 from, presumably, Paris to Atlanta. I was also disappointed because I thought that, if I were flying Air France out of Atlanta, I would want to fly a more exciting plane than an A320. But, alas, I had jumped too quickly to a conclusion.
Turns out, Air France bases two A320s in the Caribbean for regional Caribbean service centered on Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe. Beginning November 21, 2017, Air France will inaugurate twice weekly service between Pointe-à-Pitre and Atlanta. Who knew Air France would ever serve Atlanta from anywhere except France and with a narrow-body aircraft to boot! The flights make sense. As a SkyTeam partner to Delta, Air France could feed passengers into Atlanta as the natural connection point for either US domestic flights or international service aboard Delta flights.