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My Experience on Delta’s Eclipse Flight From Dallas to Detroit: Worth It?

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James Larounis
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James Larounis

Senior Content Contributor

554 Published Articles 1 Edited Article

Countries Visited: 30U.S. States Visited: 35

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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A total solar eclipse is something that doesn’t reach the continental U.S. very often. When this year’s eclipse was announced for April 8, 2024, Delta Air Lines worked to launch 2 exclusive eclipse viewing flights. These special flights were publicly available, allowing patrons to see the eclipse from an angle that most would never see it at — more than 30,000 feet in the air.

Path-of-Totality Flights

In mid-February, Delta announced its first eclipse-viewing flight from Austin (AUS) to Detroit (DTW) (DL1218), following the path of totality for most of the way. The flight was timed to take off at 12:15 p.m. CT and then reach a point along the path for the best possible viewing experience. The flight sold out within minutes, with seats starting at around $600 one-way in the Main Cabin — an astonishing amount for such a routine routing.

This flight was scheduled to be operated by an Airbus A220-300 aircraft, and because it’s such a small plane and the demand was so high, Delta was gracious enough to add a second scheduled eclipse flight in late February. This new flight was scheduled to be operated on an Airbus A321neo, a much larger plane. It would follow a routing from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Detroit (DTW) (DL1010), scheduled to depart at 12:30 p.m. CT and land at a similar time as the Austin flight (4:20 p.m. ET).

Now, to be clear, neither flight would be able to see the eclipse for the entire flight. In fact, most of the flight would be rather routine. The real special part would come mid-flight when the eclipse would be within an optimal viewing position, and it was broadcast in advance that the pilots on each aircraft would make certain banking maneuvers so that passengers on both sides of the plane would be able to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.

Booking

Fares on the Dallas-Fort Worth to Detroit routing of the eclipse flight were extreme, no matter which cabin you purchased. With this being a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I splurged for first class and spent 107,500 Delta SkyMiles on the fare, plus $5.60 in taxes. If I had purchased the same ticket, it would have cost over $1,200 in cash, but since I had the miles, I figured that was the better offer.

Having talked to other people who booked the flight, it seems like there was a mix of folks who booked both cash and mileage tickets, so it certainly doesn’t seem like most people redeemed miles, as I thought would have been the case. This flight was primarily targeted at science geeks vs. aviation enthusiasts, so many likely didn’t know how to redeem SkyMiles for such a special flight.

Funny enough, this flight was bookable like any other flight. It was on Delta’s website alongside other Dallas-Fort Worth to Detroit flights of the day, though you could tell which one was the eclipse flight thanks to the high prices.

Checking In

For this flight, I simply checked in via Delta’s mobile app. I wasn’t checking any bags, so had no need to see an agent or interface with a person prior to heading through security.

I actually arrived in Dallas the night before the flight, as I wanted plenty of buffer room in case of a flight delay or other travel disruption. I spent the night at the Grand Hyatt DFW, located in Terminal D. This is an extremely convenient airport hotel since it’s located right at the terminal, though the rates here can be very extreme.

At the Gate

Delta put on a show at the gate, as this was no ordinary flight. Not only were staff milling about passing out custom eclipse glasses, but there was also a large balloon entrance to the jet bridge, music playing, and announcements about what the flight would look like.

Gate Area DFW Before Boarding
Lots of balloons greeted us before the flight!

It was a very festive atmosphere, with media interviewing passengers and everyone getting a sense of the journey ahead.

Cosmos Sign Gate DFW
I couldn’t help but get in on the fun!

Just before we boarded, a group picture commemorated the once-in-a-lifetime event.

Boarding was extremely chaotic, with many passengers seemingly boarding out of turn. I don’t think everyone realized that we would all be seeing the eclipse no matter when you boarded!

On Board

This particular eclipse flight was served by an Airbus A321, built only a year ago. It had brand-new interiors and even featured Delta’s new first-class seat with wings at the headrests. At each seat was a commemorative swag bag featuring socks, a hat, snacks, and a voucher to pick up a commemorative t-shirt upon landing in Detroit.

Cosmos Goodie Bag
No commemorative flight is complete without swag!

Everyone settled in and made friends with their seatmates, as those in window seats would soon be sharing those spaces with everyone else in their row.

I was seated in first class in seat 2A. The friendly lead flight attendant served predeparture beverages, and before long, boarding had finished, and we were ready for pushback. I wasn’t here for the service; I was here to see an eclipse!

Flight Attendants Signs
Delta flight attendants getting in on the fun!

There were a ton of Delta employees onboard, including several photographers, meteorologists, corporate communications staff, and more. Many Delta employees had paid their own way for this flight, opting not to use non-rev benefits that most certainly wouldn’t come in handy on a sold-out flight like this.

Before pushback, the captain welcomed us aboard and advised of the plan for the flight, which included taking off to get ahead of the eclipse and, then, at the right time, executing a series of “S” turns so passengers on both sides of the aircraft could witness the eclipse. I really appreciated that Delta had the forethought to ensure the eclipse was viewable for all passengers, and not just those on one side or the other.

Pilot Announcement
Our captain was very thorough in explaining our journey and what he was going to show us along the way.

Our route would follow the entire path of totality, but because the eclipse would move much faster than the plane would be, we’d still only be able to see the eclipse for about 4 to 6 minutes at a point midway through the flight. Outside of that, it would be a completely normal flight.

Flight Plan
This map shows our route for the day, following the path of totality.

Chasing the Eclipse

We soon departed the gate and taxiied toward the runway. At one point, the aircraft was purposely told to slow down in an attempt to better align with the timing of the eclipse, but this delay was brief, and we soon took off for the sky.

Once we were in the air, service was fairly normal. Flight attendants offered a full drink service and an array of lunch options to those up front, including a choice of Thai chicken, lasagna, or a spinach salad. I told the flight attendant I wanted the salad, but oddly enough, a lasagna was served to me a short time later … a mistake I’ll chalk up to the flight attendant not hearing my choice clearly.

You could tell the service was being rushed, with hopes of clearing all the dishes and trays in time for the main event — the viewing of the eclipse!

Just before exiting Arkansas, the captain gave us a 10-minute warning to prepare for the aircraft to execute its turns for viewing. The cabin lights were turned off so we could see more clearly outside, and everyone put on their eclipse glasses and glued their eyes to the window. You could see outside become darker and darker as the eclipse caught up with the plane.

Eclipse Flight Onboard Sunset
Wanting to fully experience the eclipse without staring out a camera, this was the last picture I took as the sky got very dark outside.

Not really knowing what I was looking for, I looked out the window cluelessly, hoping I could find something notable. It was then that I noticed passengers leaning down on the ground to stare out the windows at an upward angle, trying to get into a spot to see the sun right on top of us. I mimicked this position and saw the moon pass in front of the sun, a truly stunning sight.

Now, for full disclosure, I spoke with a number of people on the plane who said they really never saw the eclipse in full totality. I was one of those people. There was a rumor of some people in the back of the plane getting pictures of a total eclipse, but it was really hard to tell what everyone actually saw.

Surprisingly, there was no pushing or shoving, and everyone seemed to share the windows equally among their peers. It’s one reason I booked first class, so I would only have to share the window with 1 other person, and my seatmate was a good sport about peering out the window with me.

The viewing of the eclipse only lasted for a few minutes as it quickly moved along its path.

Landing in Detroit

After we landed in Detroit and taxied to the gate, we were greeted by a celebration at the far end of the concourse. There was a DJ playing music, several stations to pick up commemorative t-shirts, a backdrop banner for photos, as well as other goodies. You really felt “welcomed back from space” with Delta’s stellar (see what I did there?) efforts.

DTW Arrival Gate People
Once we arrived in Detroit, Delta welcomed us with a big party!

After the plane emptied out, Delta brought up retired astronaut Scott Kelly for a few words of wisdom as he talked about his adventures in space and about future eclipses. It was truly a memorable experience, and Delta didn’t short us on the entertainment.

Final Thoughts

The Delta eclipse flight is something I’ll remember for a long time! While it was extraordinarily expensive, both in cash and miles, it was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. I got to experience something many will never see – an eclipse from over 30,000 feet in the air, and for that, I’m very grateful to the fine folks at Delta for all their hard work in setting up such a special opportunity.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is the Delta eclipse flight?

Seats for the Austin to Detroit flight started at around $600 one-way in the Main Cabin. Seats in first class on the Dallas-Fort Worth to Detroit flight were around $1,200, though I redeemed 107,500 Delta SkyMiles.

Will planes fly during the eclipse?

Yes, planes were allowed to fly during the April 8, 2024, eclipse. Delta offered 2 path-of-totality flights during the eclipse — 1 from Austin to Detroit and 1 from Dallas-Fort Worth to Detroit.

Did Delta passengers get to see the total eclipse?

I spoke with a number of people on the Dallas-Fort Worth to Detroit plane who said they really never saw the eclipse in full totality. I was one of those people. There was a rumor of some people in the back of the plane getting pictures of a total eclipse, but it was really hard to tell what everyone actually saw.

What is the Delta eclipse flight path?

DL1010 from Dallas-Fort Worth to Detroit on April 8, 2024, followed the path of totality, flying over Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan.

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About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.

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