On one of my recent jaunts from Toronto to New York, I was able to experience one of WestJet’s freshly refitted 737 cabins. These cabins have a much cleaner look compared to the traditional premium cabin (3 seats with the middle blocked off).
Not only are the seats more comfortable, but they are wider since there are only two seats. No more worrying about tipping over the spacer that turns the middle-seat into a shared table! Add to that a universal plug as well as a USB charger and ample leg-room (without entertainment boxes taking up space), you don’t have to worry about your carry-on fitting.
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.
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.
With only a few days remaining on my Global Upgrade Certificates (from my 2017 Choice Benefits), I’ve been using them rather liberally for my recent flights to and from LAX. Since I was automatically confirmed in Comfort+, I wasn’t too disappointed when they weren’t clearing. However, on the last day of their availability, I was delighted to see that my upgrade from LAX to ATL was confirmed!
For this route, Delta reuses their B767-400 that arrives from NYC-JFK, so it is fully equipped with a Delta One configuration, as opposed to the super-cramped B767-300 or a Domestic First configuration. This meant lie-flat seats! Sure it was a short flight (just at 4 hours), but hey… anything that helps my back feel better is welcome!
With a range of over 6,000 miles, this plane was a little bit of overkill for a simple trans-continental route, but again – not complaining! It was one of the smoothest flights I’ve been on in a while, which is saying something. The GoGo was a little spotty, but I’ve noticed this to be a consistent issue of late when flying cross-country. I’m surprised if I have fewer than four outages on such a trip.
Four words: Lie. Flat. Lumbar. Massage.
While most of the features of the seat weren’t a surprise, seeing actual air vents was a relief. Many planes lack air vents in their business class cabin which leads to very frustrated (and overheated) passengers. Thankfully that was not the case here! Not pictured: additional controls (such as flight attendant call) under the silver portion of the right arm-rest.
The only complaint I had was that the LSTN headphones were terrible. They did nothing to reduce the sound of the engines. I wound up going to my Audio-Technica headphones and watching movies using them, instead. Bring your own headphones with an airline plug adapter if you find yourself on one of these planes!
It should come as no surprise to you that I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch, given the consistency at which Delta has been hitting their meals out of the park. Instead of going with the lasagna, I opted for the salmon salad. Though grilled, it was served chilled on a bed of baby spinach with feta cheese. There were also multi-colored cherry tomatoes, peppers with actual heat, and both yellow and purple potatoes. Overall a very well composed entree.
Dessert was a lemon creme cake with shredded coconut layered upon the frosting. As someone with a serious weakness for coconut, this didn’t last long. 😉
It’s not news that I love flying Delta. Between the actually happy flight attendants, excellent food, and ridiculously good operational record, it makes perfect sense for me to fly them. My only complaints are regarding the LSTN headphones (which are actually worse than the Billboard earbuds in Comfort+), and the spotty GoGo for trans-continental flights. Even still, these are small inconveniences in the scheme of things. (Though, let’s be serious… nobody likes their internet being cut while in the middle of a conversation…) I can’t wait to fly Delta One, again!
While in LA for work recently, I caught a glimpse of a KLM Queen flying overhead as I returned my rental car. It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen one of those!
I was pleasantly surprised with an upgrade on the way back to Raleigh. Initially rather worried with the weather hitting the South-East, I was notified of a potential delay and a quick call confirmed that a late flight in the morning had cascaded throughout the day. Thankfully, a very helpful representative got me rebooked on a flight routing through MSP (instead of ATL).
While waiting for boarding, I noticed that not only did I get my preference for a window-seat, I got upgraded! Score! Though not a particularly long flight, the crew was stellar (as always — you spoil me, Delta!). When it came to meal choices, I opted for the antipasto salad as I wasn’t too hungry. Not only was the salad excellent (with lightly oiled crostini), it came with tiramisu!