Monday, November 21, 2016

Upcoming Reviews

I just booked my next trips so look out for the following airline and hotel reviews in the next couple of months:
  1. Caribbean - done (see Melia Caribe Tropical and United, Carribean)
  2. Europe - Lisbon, Barcelona, Brussels, and Amsterdam
    1. TAP Portugal - long-haul and short-haul
    2. Brussels Airlines - short-haul
    3. Thayls Train
    4. Hotels in Lisbon, Barcelona, Brussels, and Amsterdam
  3. Middle East
    1. Airlines include Emirates, Saudia, and more.
    2. Hotels in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and more
  4. and more!
Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Trip Report: Delta Airlines, domestic (October 2016)

Trip Report: Delta Airlines, domestic (MSY to JFK)
comment below and let me know your thoughts :)

I needed to go to New York and originally I had booked a United direct flight to Newark (United has been having a lot of sales lately).  I had almost completed my purchase when Delta launched their sale and I was able to book a 'Basic Economy' fare from New Orleans to New York for $215 roundtrip.  This flight was non-stop on the way outbound and a transit in Atlanta on the return.  Delta launched their 'basic economy' fares a little while ago - the fares are low but they are heavily restricted; no upgrades, paid or otherwise, no changes, no cancellations, and no seat assignments until check-in.  Other than these restrictions, there is no difference in on-board service between basic economy and regular economy.  Given this, I decided to try it out and booked the fare.

The outbound was a direct flight which departed New Orleans at 11am and arrived into New York, JFK at 3:15pm.  Given the fare I had booked, I was not able to pre-select my seat until I checked in 24-hrs prior to the flight.  When I checked in, there were plenty of seats available – some aisle and some window but all in the back of the plane.  There was a middle seat in the front of the plane so I chose that one – there was a comfort plus seat available, but with the restricted fare you cannot purchase upgrades on any flight.  I did not have any luggage so I proceeded through security and directly to the gate.  The boarding time was 30 minutes prior to departure, and we boarded on time and relatively quickly.  The flight was operated by an Airbus A319 in a 3-3 layout and the legroom was really good.  I am a tall person, and there was definitely enough legroom for me and my stuff underneath my seat.  Even though I was in the middle seat, it did not feel tight or cramped at all.  We boarded, taxied and took off before our scheduled departure.

On-board, there are a couple of different options to pass the time.  This airplane did not have any PTVs, but Delta does provide free TV shows and movies available through their app and Delta In-flight Studio.  These movies can be accessed free through Delta Wifi and my downloading the gogo inflight app.  If you do not have this app, you can download it while in air but it takes a while so its better if you download it ahead of time.  It would be nice if Delta sends an email reminding passengers to download this app the day before, similar to what Southwest does for its customers.   There are a lot of TV shows and movies available to watch so you can easily pass the time with this.  In addition to the inflight studio, there is also an inflight magazine available.  Inflight service consisted of a beverage service which started once we reached cruising altitude.  Along with beverages, pretzels, peanuts and biscoff cookies were provided.  While these complimentary snacks and beverages were nice, they were only offered once through the almost 3hr flight time; having another round of drink service, at least water would have been nice.  The flight was relatively smooth and we were scheduled to land early, but then we encountered air control traffic so we ended up landing 5 minutes behind schedule.

My return sector was not non-stop, rather I had to fly JFK to ATL, 1hr layover, and then fly ATL to MSY.   Again, due to my fare restrictions I was unable to select  a seat until 24hrs prior to departure; and the odd thing is that I was not able to select my seat from ATL to MSY – I was told that a seat would be given to me at the gate.  This is the first time I have ever experienced this, as even with low-cost airlines you are able to choose your seat; not having this choice was not very customer friendly.  No matter what Delta representative I spoke to, all they kept saying was ‘we cannot do anything, check at the gate in Atlanta.’ This was not a good start to the return journey.

My return flight departed JFK at 7pm and was scheduled to arrive Atlanta at 9:10pm.  It was operated by a Boeing 767-300ER and was in a 2-3-2 layout.  It was a very large plane, and one that Delta normally uses on its cross-country routes.  While the plane had been updated with new seats and PTVs on each seat, the plane was definitely an older plane (the overhead bins and panel showed the planes age).  The legroom on this plane was decent but was not as comfortable as the A319.  The availability of PTVs, with USB and headphone ports, was a nice perk on the domestic flight.  The PTVs were available once the doors closed, and they was a wide variety of TV shows and movies available (more options were available on the PTV as compared to the ‘in flight studio’ available on the personal device).  Once airborne, inflight service commenced which consisted of a beverage service and your choice of the snack – either pretzels, peanuts, or the cookies (you were only given one of the three).  The service was decent for the 2hr flight time, and the wide selection on the PTV for the domestic flight was nice, but the seat would not be comfortable for a longer flight time.  We landed in Atlanta and taxied to the gate. 

I went to the gate for the New Orleans flight and received my boarding pass at the time, and I was assigned the last seat in the plane.  I had requested a closer seat and was told that no seats were available; however when we were boarding my seat had been changed and moved up to the middle of the plane.  The operating plane was an MD-80 in a 2-3 layout.  The seats had been updated, but the seat pitch was tight and they were not very comfortable.  They were fine for the 1hr20min flight, but the seats would not be comfortable for anything longer.  The inflight service consisted of a beverage service plus your choice or peanuts or pretzels, no cookies were available.  Since it was a late evening flight, which departed at 11:30pm and arrived into New Orleans at 12:06am, the service was very good for the short late night flight.

Overall, it was an interesting experience with Delta.  The upgrades and added service the airline has implemented, including the various snacks and the inflight studio, are a welcomed perk for the customers.  The seats have been updated so that is also nice as well, and the inflight attendants were mostly very pleasant and nice.  The lack of seat assignments for the flight, lack of customer service from the other Delta representatives, and decreased seat comfort were some of the negatives.  In total, it was a good experience given the low cost.