The Bombardier CSeries 100 (now known as the Airbus A220) is a truly impressive piece of engineering from both an AvGeek perspective as well as from that of passenger comfort. With roughly a 3,400 statute mile range (depending on load, model, and speed), the A220 has the ability to cover the CONUS easily, and even flights to Canada, Latin America, and northern South America.
With a pair of geared turbofan engines, a lighter body, and integrated wingtips, there are considerable projected savings from both fuel and maintenance perspectives.
Lucky, at One Mile at a Time, managed to score some interior shots of Delta’s first A220, and the cabin looks roomy. How often do you get to say that about a narrow-body aircraft?
Per Delta’s news release, the main cabin will feature the widest seats of Delta’s fleet, measuring at 18.6 inches. Furthermore, each seat will have seat-back entertainment (while American is removing theirs) and USB charging, and GoGo’s 2Ku WiFi. Add to all this full-sized overhead bins and a lavatory you can fit in, and it should make for an amazing passenger experience.
Though Delta hasn’t updated their fleet page to include a seat-map for the A220, SeatGuru has released a preview.
Taking a look at the routes, it’s clear that Delta is taking the fight directly to competitors by offering flights between their hubs (SLC, DTW, MSP) and IAH and DFW.
Compared to the trulydepressingimpression that American’s 737-MAX has left on the masses, having a markedly more comfortable ride available should turn some heads. I can’t wait to see this plane replace regional jets in the future. Delta made a brilliant decision in being the first US carrier to fly this beauty!
Earlier this year I used one of my 2017 Upgrade Certificates to experience Delta One when flying from LAX to ATL, more recently, I was able to secure a similar upgrade from ATL to LAX. Unlike the Boeing 767 I experienced before, I had a chance to fly one of Delta’s longer-range Boeing 777s. In fact, with a little poking around, I was able to find out that the Boeing 777-200LR that took me from Atlanta to Los Angeles (DL546) was continuing on from Los Angeles to Sydney (DL41).
The Boeing 777-200LR (noted as “77B” on Delta’s website) has two Delta One cabins. The main Delta One cabin consists of 7 rows arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, with the second cabin consisting of 3 rows in the same configuration.
As with the B764 I flew earlier this year from LAX to ATL, the B772 also had individual air-vents over the seats. Though they are not easily accessible due to the height of the cabin (such a first world problem!), they have impressive air flow and do a good job of maintaining comfort for the passengers.
The seats on this flight were among the more comfortable that I have experienced of Delta’s lie-flat offerings. Not only was the massage function present and functional, there was much more privacy than what I had on the B764.
I can’t speak highly enough of the Delta One experience on the triple-7. It offers a considerably more comfortable ride than the 767. As I was flying alone, the privacy of the herringbone configuration of the cabin was greatly appreciated. If you are flying with someone, I would suggest you fly the Airbus A330, instead, as the reverse-herringbone allows you to maintain a conversation if you sit in the middle section of the cabin.
I was recently contacted by Amber from CreditDonkey regarding my post a few years ago regarding the mobile app OnTheFly and the ITA Matrix which it interfaces with. Amber reminded me that with both Thanksgiving and Christmas quickly approaching, it might be helpful to remind folks about these handy tools to navigate the complex task of finding cheap flights.
CreditDonkey recently posted a very friendly refresher article on using the ITA Matrix website to find the flight you want. The article goes on to explain how to use flags to designate a carrier, allow or disallow long layovers, even the airport changes (for cities like New York where there are multiple airports in relatively close proximity).
To give you an idea of just how powerful this application is, Google went out of their way to purchase it and use it as the underlying engine for their Google Flights website. Though Google Flights is much faster, and in many cases allows for direct booking of flights, there are certain features that are only available in the original application. The good news is that you can still access the ITA Matrix to get exactly what you want out of your travel.
Amber also pointed out that while you can’t book the flight you find from the ITA Matrix website, you can leverage tools like OTAs (Priceline, Kayak, Flight Network, and so on), or use BookWithMatrix. BookWithMatrix offers not only a website, but a handy browser add-on (I have used it with both Firefox and Chrome).
What’s your preferred search option to find the flights you want at the prices you want?
It should come as no surprise that the line at the Louvre was quite long. Thankfully, skip-the-line tickets are readily available and allow holders to pick a time to visit the museum. This allows the museum to control the flow of visitors and it is the same price as buying a ticket at the museum itself. There is no reason to not buy a ticket in advance, and every reason to do so! Nobody likes standing in lines when they could be seeing things, instead.
To those not aware, the Louvre is actually three separate buildings that have been connected. This leads to a lot of “walking down stairs to walk up stairs”. Snag a map and plan your route ahead of time to avoid getting lost or not being able to see something you really want to see. Also be sure to check what areas are closed prior to your visit – this was a mistake we made, as we were unable to see a lot of French artists because the exhibits were closed for maintenance on the day of our visit.
Though the Louvre had a large number of informative exhibits, Musée d’Orsay was much more my speed. A large number of impressionist and post-impressionist works, as well as other styles, are on display there – including Van Gogh! Similarly, if you are interested in seeing Monet’s Water Lilies, you should make it a point to visit Musée de l’Orangerie – near the Louvre. It is definitely on my list for my next visit to Paris.
Adding to the fun: it is much less crowded than the Louvre, making it easier to take time with pieces that you might be particularly interested in seeing. There is also a lot less shoving about and ample seating. All of these combine for a much more enjoyable visitor experience. This is by no means diminishing the contents of the Louvre; it is an amazing experience for those interested in its exhibits.
As I wrote about earlier, I managed to score a couple of inexpensive (relatively speaking, of course) tickets to Paris that I managed to confirm upgrades on from Economy to Delta One by using my Global Upgrade Certificates. Out of curiosity, I looked at what Economy vs. Delta One tickets would go for across another holiday — the 4th of July. Two tickets in Economy cost almost as much as one ticket in Delta One; not a bad savings, eh?
A few days before it was time to depart, my girlfriend and I received an email to pick our meals prior to departure. I opted for the bass while my girlfriend opted for the beef.
JFK SkyClub and SkyDeck
Since we were flying on an international flight, my girlfriend and I were able to visit the JFK SkyClub in Terminal 4 on status alone (my Diamond and her Gold). This offered us a chance to get a quick bite to eat and see the planes come and go from the SkyDeck.
Whenever I route through JFK or ATL and weather permits, I make sure to take a detour to the SkyDeck. As an AvGeek, it is a wonderful experience!
Finally, it was time to make our way out of the club and to our gate. Thankfully it wasn’t a long walk (B38, with the club being at B32), and we grabbed another snack before boarding.
The Delta One cabin on the Airbus 330-300 is configured in a reverse herringbone configuration. I prefer this to the Boeing 767-300 configuration – not only are the seats more comfortable, you have much easier access to personal temperature control and a more user-friendly tray table.
Though the LSTN headphones are not active noise-cancelling, keep in mind that you need to use an adapter if you want to use your own headphones with these seats.
Once we were situated, the purser greeted us and distributed menus. Not all passengers pre-selected their meals so she collected orders and double-checked that nobody wanted to change their minds. Thanks to a helpful tailwind, we made the flight in just over 7 hours.
Icing on the cake: the flight was equipped with GoGo’s Ku (not 2Ku) WiFi.
The food was excellent, as I’ve come to expect from Delta, and the flight itself was smooth and we arrived without any issues at CDG. Though there are a variety of mass-transit options available from CDG to the hotel we were staying at, we opted to grab an Uber because of the number of bags we were traveling with. The route took us right by the Concorde, though!
Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile
Hyatt reached out to me a few months ago to inform me that the hotel that I was planning to stay at would be undergoing renovations and wouldn’t be ready for my stay. They were kind enough to rebook us at the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile, however, and I was able to modify the booking to a club-level room.
The hotel is attached to the Le Palais des Congrès de Paris, a major exhibition center, and also had easy access to the mall there. It also offered ready access to both the Metro (line 1) and RER (line C). One of the first things we did was pick up a pair of Navigo cards for easy access to all public transport in Paris – since we were staying through Sunday morning, it worked out perfectly.
We knew we would be taking a chance since our flight was arriving at 7 AM and check-in time was 3 PM, but we were very pleasantly surprised that not only was a room available, but it had a view of the Eiffel Tower!
The Regency has two restaurants: Mayo and Windo, as well as a Regency Club. Thanks to the Club access upgrade I purchased, we were able to visit it for snacks in the evening as well as breakfast.
The room we got was on the 33rd floor of the building, with the Regency Club and Windo located on the 34th floor. Given the height of the building, the Hyatt Regency has an innovative elevator solution. The elevator alcove on each floor has a series of touchscreens where you enter your floor number before you get on an elevator. The screen will then tell you which elevator will take you there. This way, the work is more evenly distributed between the elevators and riders get to their destinations in a more timely manner. I hope more buildings take a page from their book and implement similar systems!
A word to the wise: these rooms are fairly tight fits for two for an extended period (particularly for storing clothes), and the bed might be a little firmer than what travelers are used to at American hotels. Overall quite a nice room, though!
The Regency Club
The Regency Club offers breakfast, snacks, and Aperitifs throughout the day, so once we were functional, we knew a visit was in order. Needless to say, we were thoroughly spoiled by the convenient access to excellent meat and cheese.
The Fitness Center
The fitness center at the hotel was more comprehensive than any I have seen. Not only were there treadmills and bicycles, there were also rowing machines, weight machines, free weights (dumbells as well as kettlebells), and a cable cross machine!
Arc de Triomphe
Though not visible from our room, the Arc de Triomphe is a short one mile walk from the hotel. We passed it on our way to the Eiffel Tower, though we never ascended to the summit.
Before arriving, I noticed that virtually every visitor to Paris recommended buying skip-the-line tickets to attractions. I cannot emphasize the importance of this. Though not as long at the Eiffel Tower, lines at other attractions (like the Louvre and Versailles) can easily eat up hours of your day. Don’t make that mistake – buy tickets in advance and walk right in!
From the summit, we were treated to expansive views of the Paris skyline. They also offered champagne! Warning: they only take cash.
Back at the room, we managed to see the Tower lit up – truly a marvelous sight.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the San Jose area for work. Spotting a conveniently located Hyatt property, I jumped at the opportunity to diversify my points (having spent most of the last few years between Marriott and Starwood properties).
Located in a convenient cluster of restaurants and stores, the Hyatt House provides a great deal of convenience to travelers. Though the parking is complimentary – there is a sizeable parking structure behind the hotel – there is shuttle service offered to and from the airport as well as other locations nearby. There are quite a few restaurants within a mile or so, as well, which makes for a nice walk when it comes to dinner!
The rooms are just what you would expect from an extended-stay property – a comfortable bed, sitting area, and kitchenette. Nothing that really stands out, but not a disappointment by any means. The fitness center, located behind the in-house restaurant, offers cardio equipment, free-weights, and a cable cross machine.
The in-house restaurant also offers a breakfast buffet as well as an omelette bar. Though you can build your own omelette each morning, they do have a daily special as well.
Next door to the hotel was what grew to be one of our favorite dining spots: Rok Steakhouse and Grill. Local to San Jose, Rok is known for offering a grill-your-own experience at your dining table… on a rock. Though a little pricey, I can’t recommend it enough. My coworkers and I wound up going back twice. It certainly didn’t hurt that they had WhistlePig Old World.
A nice touch with their drinks menu is that they list the notes you can expect with their liquors, making it easier to get a feel for what you might like to sip on with your meal! They also offer whiskey flights (which I regret I wasn’t able to sample during this visit).
A short (2/3rds of a mile) walk from the hotel is Sendo Sushi, which we discovered purely by chance. Very reasonably priced having excellent food, I’m very confused why the ratings are averaging to 4.2/5 on Google. Don’t let that number dissuade you! The portions are adequate and the presentation will blow you away.
The Club at SJC
After a very long week, I was finally flying home. Unfortunately the TSA Pre-Check line was closed when I got to the airport, so we had to use regular security at the time.
The San Jose airport has only one lounge, but it is easily accessible between Priority Pass and a variety of other partnerships. As with other “The Club” locations, everything is complimentary. This is a nice change from some lounges that insist on up-selling you for everything.
Though the number of outlets was severely lacking and the WiFi wasn’t the greatest, the lounge itself had a nice atmosphere and the attendants were very friendly. I can definitely see myself returning here on future trips to the area.
I was recently contacted by Elizabeth Reynolds from Reviews.com regarding their analysis of active noise-canceling headphones. For the upper ends of the price range, the headphones listed are definitely solid purchases. As someone partial to Bose, I certainly can’t argue with their placement!
There are a few more affordable headphone options for consideration, though, for those not able to spend $200+ for headphones. I’ve listed a couple of my personal favorites below. All the links below are for Amazon’s Smile, where a portion of your purchases will go to a charity of your choice at no cost to you.
Over The Ear
Audio-Technica ANC7B is my go-to pair when it comes to affordable over-the-ear active noise-canceling headphones. While they go for ~$200 new, you can get factory refurbished headphones for less than half that price. I picked my pair up for $67, and they’re going strong more than a year in! Reducing background noise by 90%, these are amazing for long flights. An added bonus is that you can use the headphones with a dead battery by leaving ANC off. The headphones come with a carrying case, and extra adapters to use them on old-fashioned airline outputs.
Audio-Technica also released an ANC9 version which has 95% reduction. These headphones also have three distinct settings for sound isolation, allowing for greater control over your experience.
TaoTronics also has an over-the-ear offering that is even more affordable coming in at $54. This can further be reduced, for a limited time (with use of coupon code KINJA22J), bringing the final price to $37. In addition to these headphones being wireless (Bluetooth), they have an integrated microphone so you can take phone calls while you use them.
Bose’s QuietComfort25 headphones are currently marked down from $300 to $170, which is an excellent price for a pair that my coworkers have been using since their introduction to the market in 2014. I can safely say you will not regret this purchase.
In The Ear
TaoTronics also has a pair of in-ear headphones. The nice thing about these headphones is that you can charge the embedded battery while using them. This is not common for most ANC headphones, so this is a very nice feature. As with their over-the-ear headphones, this pair has an integrated microphone. For those that want to go wireless, a Bluetooth version is available. Both pairs come in at under $60.
It should come as no surprise that I also mention Audio-Technica’s ANC23 in-ear headphones. Offering an in-ear 90% isolation solution with a comfortable fit, it’s hard to say no for $40!