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As you can see from the photo above, this plane that has been mothballed in a desert near Minneapolis (MSP) since the merger, has been brought back to compete with the large, but clearly ugly, A380. When asked for a company update regarding the ship, I was told:
Following our commitment to use as many old planes as possible, this old prototype will be the first and only plane we will need to compete with the A380. We will be able to offer 1st-1st class as well as BC (business complete) and EU (economy uncomfort). And in a first for delta we will offer, in addition to economy seating, a baby ghetto section behind the second set of wings. We feel the 4 engine design will drown out any crying from children in this 5th class section.
I don’t know about you, but I think this is a winner for our beloved airline. Having a 1st-1st section on the aircraft should allow Skymiles booking in AF 1st class now, that is once the dispute between AF-Delta-KLM is worked out and seats in anything over coach opens back up again for Skymiles booking.
It also seems a 100% business class configuration, over the 5 class final choice, was abandoned due to intense market competition. Speaking “strictly confidentially” – oopsee! – , The Weekly Flyer says:
“Inside sources told me that this plane was considered for an all business class flight to Singapore from MSP but that Singapore Air ultimately won that with direct routes from EWR and LAX”
I was however a bit concerned about how families would respond to this 5th class seating section, so I consulted with a “world leader” in flying with children “Mommy Points” who says:
“I am excited to see that this innovative aircraft has taken an idea we have all wanted formalized for a long time and included a “baby ghetto” section. In order to obtain advance seating assignments for this “first of its kind” seating arrangement, you must attest that your child is both young and cranky. I have also heard rumors that they will accept tantrum throwing toddlers who like to spill red juice on a case by case basis, space permitting. Little C and I can’t wait to try it out!”
The most unique feature of this plane is not the technology, but that it will allow a 4th or even 5th level of Skymiles redemption. I was surprised to learn that it only apply’s to the Asian markets (for now). So, I inquired why with world traveler and Asian expert blogger Stefan Krasowski who writes Rapid Travel Chai and it became clear to me. He told me:
“This will allow Delta to pilot a 4-tier award structure to ‘empty your account in just one round trip’ with their new highest level of redemption availability. All in just one transit to Asia”
It seems the high cost of developing this plane is not an issue. I reached out to a leading writer with intimate knowledge of the cost of aircraft design, Gary Leff who told me:
“If the economics of the plane don’t work out, and the enterprise goes sideways, they’re betting that they can always sell out to Doug Parker, he’ll buy anything..”
The real challenge will be finding pilots to fly this unique plane. With dual wings and quad jets, computers will be required to fly this jet. Much of the avionics are quite old and finding floppy disks to load each flight plan has become a challenge according to an aviation expert MJ. He tells me:
“Floppy disks are a luxury! You have to fill out FAA form 57549-B and walk that puppy over to an FAA flight service station if you want to fly this baby anywhere.”
To get the definitive answer about this plane, I turned to the one man I could trust to give me the answer as to if this plane could work for Delta. Instead he, Randy Petersen, said to me:
“Well, ya know, you really should tell your readers about the chance to come fly with me, on either side I might add, for the Star MegaDO. With 30 chances to win”… (and he went on and on so you might as well click here to see what he was going on about).
So there obviously remains some challenges moving forward. Bottom line, if you are still reading this, please know I have attempted to make you smile this day. If you have spit your coffee at your computer screen, I apologize but hope you found this totally made up bit of Delta comedy post a refreshing change of pace. – René
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