Delta’s A220 (CS100) – Interior and Routes

The Plane

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.

The Interior

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.

The Routes

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.

Via Great Circle Mapper

Compared to the truly depressing impression 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!

Domestic #DeltaOne on a Boeing 777-200

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).

Via the Great Circle Mapper

The Plane

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.

Delta’s B777-200LR Seatmap

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 Seat

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.

Overall Impression

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.

A Tale of Two Sheratons

Thanks to work, I have had the opportunity to bounce between cities fairly regularly, and I was able to stay at two quite nice Sheraton properties: one in the Toronto area, and another in the Los Angeles area.

Sheraton Parkway Toronto North

Location

Located directly off of Highway 7, the Sheraton Parkway offers excellent dining options in a short ( < 1km ) walk. This includes local treats, like Cacao 70, as well as more well known chains such as The Keg and Jack Astor’s. To accommodate the convention center attached to the hotel, there is ample complimentary parking.

Room

As I had the opportunity to visit this hotel a few times, I was able to experience a few different rooms. Overall these rooms are exactly what you would expect from a Sheraton. The suites on the 10th floor are extremely spacious, much as what you would expect from a hotel of this calibre.

Amenities

As a full Sheraton property, this location offers a Club Lounge. In addition to a fitness center, there is also a spa in the lower level of the hotel. On the ground floor is a Starbucks and the restaurant and bar.

The fitness center is fairly compact, compared to other locations, but offers free weights and cardio options. I haven’t visited the spa, however, as most hotel spas are horribly overpriced for what they offer. No thanks!

Club Lounge

The Club Lounge is on the 9th floor and offers breakfast to qualifying guests, as well as hors d’oeuvres in the evening. It remains open around the clock for guests that might want to grab a soda or coffee on their own schedule.

Sheraton San Gabriel

The “waterfall” at the entrance

Location

Though it shows up in a search for Los Angeles area hotels, the Sheraton San Gabriel is about a 35 minute drive from the rental car lots. As with the Sheraton Parkway in Toronto, there is a spa at this location as well. The parking available is underground and not complimentary, so be prepared to pay a little bit extra.

Room

A very nice touch with this hotel is that the lights are motion sensitive. As you enter the bathroom, for example, the lights will turn on for you. Though it might be disorienting the first time, you quickly get accustomed to this and begin to expect it wherever you go.

All the outlets near both the bed and desk offer both standard plugs as well as USB outlets! I haven’t tried charging a tablet on these USB plugs, but they handled my S8 without issue.

The TVs here are also smart TVs, offering options to directly access your Hulu, Netflix, and other streaming service accounts without having to travel with your own streaming device. It is also tied into room service and allows you to check your bill, order food, and even check out of your room.

Amenities

On the ground floor, you can find the hotel’s two restaurants: Opal and EST. Opal offers traditional Cantonese cuisine, while EST is a very high quality steakhouse.

There is also a very good chance that you will see one of the luggage robots – something I haven’t seen at any other hotel. Upon check-in, you have the option of requesting use of one of these. The front desk will put your bags in the robot and program it to your room. It, in turn, will follow a per-programmed path (utilizing the elevators, no less) to your room. Once it arrives, you receive a phone call with a code which you can use to unlock the secure compartment with your luggage, and then the robot returns to the front desk. Handy!

Lobby

Opal

Club Lounge

Located on the top floor of the hotel is open for breakfast and hoeur d’oeuvres, as with the Parkway location. Unlike the Canadian counterpart, the breakfast offerings remained constant across the days: congee, various pastries, breakfast potatoes, pork sausage, bacon, and scrambled eggs. Though adequate (and a filling breakfast), some variety would be nice.

Fitness Center

The fitness center on the second floor was truly impressive. In addition to a variety of cardio equipment (plenty of treadmills, bikes, and elliptical machines), there are two benches, multiple yoga mats and balance balls, and a cable cross machine.

These cardio machines are newer and offer dynamic programs allowing you to do things like run through the Irish countryside. Much more entertaining than staring at numbers change!

Cheap Flights and Creative Routing

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).

BookWithMatrix Options

What’s your preferred search option to find the flights you want at the prices you want?

Paris Trip Report – Louvre & Musée d’Orsay

Paris Trip Report – Arrival and Eiffel Tower Paris Trip Report – Notre-Dame de Paris, Catacombs Paris Trip Report – Louvre & Musée d’Orsay Paris Trip Report – Versailles Paris Trip Report – Departure

The Louvre

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.

Musée d’Orsay

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.

Paris Trip Report – Versailles

Paris Trip Report – Arrival and Eiffel Tower Paris Trip Report – Notre-Dame de Paris, Catacombs Paris Trip Report – Louvre & Musée d’Orsay Paris Trip Report – Versailles Paris Trip Report – Departure Ah Versailles… when I was purchasing tickets to visit, I saw the two-day option and was honestly confused as to why someone would want to do that instead of focusing on what they wanted to see in one day. And then I visited the gardens, and I knew. I sincerely regret not moving this excursion sooner in the trip so that I could take advantage of the two-day ticket. (On a related note: walking upwards of 22,000 steps the day before you fly is not the smartest idea.) As with other attractions, buying a “skip-the-line” ticket is almost mandatory given the volumes of crowds that Versailles draws. It also helps to know exactly what you want to see prior to the visit. Both my girlfriend and I knew we were more interested in the gardens than the palace itself, so we spent most of the day wandering them. In addition to letting us focus on what we wanted to do, it allowed us to bypass many of the large groups that were wandering the palace. If you are interested in seeing the Queen’s Hamlet, be sure to enter through the Petit Trianon. We made the mistake of trying to enter from the secondary entrance but found it to be closed. Given how tired we were at that point, we wound up dropping it from our visit this time. 🙁 Next time, though, it’s going to happen. While we were in the Enceladus Grove, a group of fighter jets flew over us. I wish I had brought my camera and telephoto lens to get a better shot!

Palace Exterior

Ladies’ Chambers

The Gardens

The Queen’s Hamlet

Paris Trip Report – Departure

Paris Trip Report – Arrival and Eiffel Tower Paris Trip Report – Notre-Dame de Paris, Catacombs Paris Trip Report – Louvre & Musée d’Orsay Paris Trip Report – Versailles Paris Trip Report – Departure The end of a vacation is always bittersweet. On the one hand, they are never long enough and there is so much left to do… but conversely, you tend to miss things at home, like your pets. Our flight from CDG to JFK was scheduled to depart at 10:20 AM Central European Time (UTC+2), and as it was an international flight we were supposed to be at the airport three hours prior to departure. We were unable to check-in to the flight at T-24 hours through the FlyDelta app as usual because the check-in process was operated by Air France not Delta. Adding to the frustration, upon arriving at CDG, the agent was unable to check us in because we were wait-listed for upgrades (using two more Global Upgrade Certificates). An artifact of the wait-list process is that a duplicate reservation is created on the same PNR. This in turn led to us being asked to go from the SkyPriority line to the general check-in line to hunt down a Red-Coat who told us that he didn’t know why we were asked to come down at all, because we were shown as checked in. Because Air France was in charge of all ground operations at CDG, we were unable to verify any of this through the app, but we were given boarding passes and were able to check our bags to JFK. Another hiccup due to this process is that the FlyDelta app didn’t accurately represent the upgrade space available on the flight. At this time the app showed four seats available, but the Air France agents let us know there was only one seat unclaimed. After reaching out to Delta on Twitter, they confirmed that this can happen when the inventory is updated locally (in Paris) and not communicated back to update the app. I’m not entirely sure how this level of disconnect can exist between two partners, especially when the flight itself was Delta marketed and operated. As we stood in line to board we mentally prepared ourselves for the eight hour flight in Comfort+ (let’s face it – you can’t have the same seat as Economy and call it Premium Economy), a gate agent ran down to us and asked us if we were still interested in upgrades to Business Class, though they would not be next to one another. We jumped at that opportunity and found ourselves in seats 1G and 7G.

CDJ-JFK

DL405 (CDG→JFK) and DL404 (JFK→CDG) are both operated by Airbus 330-300s, so we knew what to expect from our seats and in-flight experience from our trip over. Since this was a last-minute upgrade, we couldn’t reserve our meals in advance, but we were not worried at all: Delta has never disappointed us with their meals. It was on this flight that I treated myself to some desert wine: De Bortoli Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon. Though too sweet (for my tastes) for regular drinking, it was the perfect way to end my meal after the ordeals of the day. Upon reaching JFK, we found ourselves back at gate B38 – the same gate we left from! After navigating customs, grabbing our bags, and dropping things off for our next flight — I didn’t want to try asking more from the Air France folks at CDG after the difficulties we experienced simply checking in and have our bags checked directly through to RDU the way the Delta agents were able to do for me. It wasn’t a big difference since the agents in JFK were right next to the bag drop. While waiting for our next flight, I happened to look out the window and noticed not only the infamous Pink Plane, but also a group of F-15s, and KLM’s Orange Plane! On take-off, we were able to see a “State of Kuwait” Boeing 747 (confirmed to be 9K-GAA, which was flying between Andrew’s and JFK), so I’m not sure if it was related to that at all.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the trip was an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to go back to France. I would like to spend more than a week there on my next week, and see more than just Paris: Nice, Marseilles, Lyon, and Normandy all come to mind. If you have an opportunity to travel, take it – there is so much to see, and so little time!