The COVID-19 pandemic has affected plenty of industries, but few have seen quite as many changes as airlines. Some adjustments are directly related to staying safe from the virus, such as eliminating alcohol sales to limit the amount of time passengers will be maskless or prevent them from becoming disorderly. Others involve how the carriers operate and where they fly as travel restrictions are lifted. Now, Delta has announced its latest set of changes that will affect the carrier’s flights in the coming months. Read on to see if your next business trip or vacation could be affected.
The next vacation you book may require one less connection on the ground. On Feb. 18, Delta announced that it would be adding three long-haul flights to Hawaii to its schedule. The new departures will be from Detroit and John F. Kennedy Airport in New York to Honolulu. In addition, Delta’s global hub at Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta will see a new direct flight added to Kahului Airport in Maui.
According to the airline’s announcement, the new daily departures will begin later this year, with flights from Atlanta and Detroit to Maui and Honolulu beginning on Nov. 19. Daily direct service from New York to Honolulu begins later on Dec. 17.
Once the new schedule takes effect, Delta will offer a total of 18 daily nonstop flights from seven cities in the mainland U.S. to four destinations in Hawaii. This includes ten peak-day departures to Honolulu from Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York’s JFK Airport, Salt Lake City, and Seattle; four peak-day departures to Maui from Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Seattle; and two peak-day departures each to Kona and Lihue from Los Angeles and Seattle.
“We’re guaranteeing more choice for our customers this winter, alongside Delta’s award-winning hospitality and industry-leading reliability,” Joe Esposito, senior vice president of network planning for Delta, said in the airline’s announcement.
The latest schedule changes come as COVID cases continue to drop nationwide and travelers begin to return to the skies in numbers approaching pre-pandemic levels. It also comes as officials in Hawaii have started to consider dropping certain travel restrictions, which currently require that all visitors from the U.S. mainland be fully vaccinated or provide a negative COVID test if they want to avoid a five-day quarantine upon arrival, The Washington Post reports.
“I would expect those restrictions to begin to fall away in the spring,” Hawaii Lieutenant Governor Josh Green said during a telephone interview with the newspaper. “But one thing we’ve learned about COVID is it does sometimes throw one a curveball. People didn’t really predict a highly, highly contagious Omicron variant; otherwise, we would have already been there.”
Delta’s recent changes don’t only affect where they’ll fly but also how the experience will be en route. The Atlanta-based carrier confirmed to travel news outlet The Points Guy that it would once again begin serving hot meals on flights, starting March 1. Like most airlines, Delta stopped most of its onboard service in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, grounding the possibility of a warm dish for hungry passengers for the past two years. The latest change means those on eligible premium-cabin routes can expect to be greeted with the service again beginning next month.
The airline is also planning to add new choices to its menu when it brings the upgraded meal service. According to The Points Guy, flyers will have access to new entree options that include ginger beer-braised osso bucco, wild mushroom ravioli, chicken cacciatore, and French bread pizza, as well as an enhanced dessert selection that will range from ricotta cheesecake to frozen Greek yogurt with cherry syrup to a strawberry rhubarb and pretzel tart.