Delta announces new service from Seattle to Hong Kong and Seoul Incheon!

Late last year Delta announced some big expansion plans for Seattle, which included BusinessElite seating on their flights to New York JFK, more flat beds on international flights, and more international service.

A few weeks ago Delta announced new service between Seattle and London Heathrow starting March 29, 2014. The new service will be operated by a Boeing 767-300 featuring fully flat beds in business class.

London_Service

Meanwhile today Delta has announced new service between both Seattle and Seoul Incheon as well as Seattle and Hong Kong. The services launch June 2 and June 16, 2014, respectively, and will operate daily. The Seoul Incheon service will be operated by a 767-300, while the Hong Kong service will be operated by an Airbus A330, both of which will feature fully flat beds.

Seoul_Incheon_Service

Hong_Kong_Service

Of course as a local I’m a bit biased, but I think Delta is making a brilliant decision by having Seattle as a gateway to Asia. Seattle is the closest US gateway to Asia, and airlines can save a ton of money by operating shorter transpacific flights, because the economics of ultralonghauls just don’t work out in most cases (think of how much extra fuel you have to burn just to carry the last few hours worth of fuel on a longhaul flight).

I find the Seoul Incheon service interesting since they’ll be going head to head against Asiana and Korean Air, but given the amount of connecting traffic in Seoul Incheon due to Korean Air, I’m sure there will be plenty to go around.

Now, while I’m on one hand excited that I’ll be seeing more big planes in Seattle, I don’t think I’ll ever take these flights. Delta has the least generous international upgrade policy of any US airline. Good for them that they can get away with it, I guess, but it certainly makes me lose interest.

Comments

  1. Wow, that’s quite the international service build-up by DL.

    If I’m not mistaken it means they’ll have non-stop service to LHR, AMS & CDG in Europe, plus NRT, HND, KIX, ICN, PEK & HKG in Asia. 9 destinations, wow. Can they keep relying on AS for connections?

    Too bad they not only have the worst upgrade program, but also the worst mileage currency…

  2. makes sense why they wanted korean to form a transatlantic JV with korean, probably based out of LAX and SEA given DL is trying to grow at LAX and has a code share with Alaksa.

    Korean probably told them to shove it since they need ppl to fill their A380s and 77Ws…

  3. It may be just me but unless I live in Seattle and can fly non stop to Hong Kong I would rather connect to another city and fly Cathay instead of flying Delta. I would never fly Delta if I have an option to fly an Asian airline.

  4. @ santastico:

    I’ve flown non-USA airlines in coach. It’s not some angelic experience… and the fact is that most people on any plane are in coach. And when it comes to business, it’s all about time and money and seat, and SEA-HKG is going to have the same basic seat on DL and CX in C.

    Yes, if you want to fly F Cathay would be the way to go, no doubt. But Delta’s done quite well ignoring the customer base that flies in paid F, as well as the customer base represented by Lucky: “how can I turn this pile of miles I got for cheap into caviar and suites?” So the market’s out there.

    Oh, and Lucky… I bet that if you look at the right times of year, you’ll find 1 DL J seat on AS.

  5. @amol,

    LAX is a very important gateway for both domestic and international flying, but with the amount of international flying and the over-saturation of the market into and out of LAX, I think DL is viewing SEA as the least saturated of the west coast. I think DL needed to stay competitive with the SYD, NRT and HND flights, but on DL metal, that’s the extent of their international presence from LAX.

    SEA, on the other hand, is a great gateway for DL and they are hopping onto that opportunity. As already stated above, SEA has service to AMS/CDG and adding LHR to their European presence. And currently has SEA-NRT/HND/PEK/PVG/KIX and, while dropping KIX, will be adding HKG and ICN.

    Now, my question is where in the world is DL going to park all those planes? I know SEA is going to be doing a massive construction project, but with all of the other airlines that share the S concourse, how will DL cope with the lack of space. I landed on the 11am flight from LAX two weeks ago and we had to park at the B concourse. I took a gander over to the S concourse and saw only two DL birds sitting over there and the rest of their flights were scattered around the rest of the airport.

  6. @ WanderingEntrepreneur — I doubt this is specifically the reason. My guess is just that they view Korean as a partner that SkyTeam flyers will take regardless of whether they earn MQMs or not, given their unique routes within Asia.

  7. @ Santastico — Well and I agree, but I think most coach passengers are booking based on price, while most business class passengers are booking either based on schedule or corporate contracts. And something tells me Delta is getting a LOT of corporate contracts in Seattle right about now.

  8. @ eponymous coward — Even with the SkyMiles devaluation, I’d still rather redeem SkyMiles than Mileage Plan miles for Delta business class, I think.

  9. I actually flew HKG-SEA non-stop on DL in 2011. However, it was a reroute of their old HKG-DTW flight. If I recall, we left about 11 am and got to Seattle about 8:30 am. That was the most pissed off people I’ve ever seen in one room while they tried to rebook everyone upon arrival.

  10. I fly delta to Central Asia once a month usually on the SEA to AMS route. Still has the horrible A330 inined seats and now delta is putting the new seats to HK. That is bull, what about the route you already have that would really benefit from a refresh.

  11. Never fails, I just sold 80k Delta points last week…

    60k to Incheon/HK is actually quite a good value in Econmy on Delta. It also, importantly, adds Delta metal going to Korea in the summer and Winter when their only partner Korean Air, tells the whole award world to f-off for entire months to jack up prices.

  12. “because the economics of ultralonghauls just don’t work out in most cases (think of how much extra fuel you have to burn just to carry the last few hours worth of fuel on a longhaul flight).”

    Can you elaborate on this?

  13. Testing markets, Delta loves to do this and withdraws 18 months later.
    Not an airline I would fly though, since CX and OZ offer superior service from SFO or NYC.

  14. @eponymous coward @ lucky
    Ok, let me clarify. When I fly to Asia for business I always fly on paid business class. I did MSP to Asia route for 3 years in a row flying every 2 months to Hong Kong, Jakarta, Singapore, Manila, KL, etc… I had the option to fly Delta from MSP to Tokyo or Portland and from there connect to my final destination in Asia. Or I could do what I did almost all the time: MSP to SFO or LAX on Delta and then Cathay to HKG and from there to my final destination. I know I was probably adding a stop but that didn’t bother me since I was getting at least 13 hours in an amazing business class on CX rather than a so so experience on Delta. For me flying to Asia in business class is all about the experience and service you get. There is no way to compare Cathay and Delta. By doing that I had access to the amazing Cathay lounge in HKG, got upgraded to first class couple times and exceeded 1 million miles on AA and got gold for life. Thus, that is why I said that unless I am based in SEA I would prefer to fly Cathay rather than Delta to Hong Kong.

  15. @ travis — I’ll try to find an article on this because I forgot the exact statistic, but let me try to explain nonetheless. Say you have a 10 hour flight vs. a 15 hour flight. For the 15 hour flight you’re carrying tens of thousands of pounds of extra fuel over what you’d need for the first 10 hours. The cost of carrying that fuel is immense (think of it like cargo for the first 10 hours of the flight), because not only is it potentially displacing cargo due to weight restrictions, but the higher the weight of the plane, the more fuel it has to burn.

    This is the reason we’re seeing some airlines cut ultra longhaul flights, because they have to be extremely high yield to make any sense.

  16. ” I know I was probably adding a stop but that didn’t bother me since I was getting at least 13 hours in an amazing business class on CX rather than a so so experience on Delta. For me flying to Asia in business class is all about the experience and service you get.”

    And for a lot of people, it’s about time, money and the seat. Some people would rather be home with their kids instead of getting caviar in a suite by taking a more convoluted routing. I can’t say that I blame them.

  17. Somewhere I read a DL press release that says its Asian gateway are Detroit, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Seattle – does that mean they are withdrawing service from MSP?

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