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.

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 – Arrival and Eiffel Tower

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

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?

Business Class over 4th of July (1 pax)

Economy over Fourth of July (2 pax)

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.

Meal Selection

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!

JFK-CDG

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!

Not a bad view, right?

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

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.

Eiffel Tower

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.

Experiencing @WestJet as a @Delta Frequent Flyer

Over the recent weeks I have had the opportunity to fly WestJet from Toronto-Pearson (YYZ) to LaGuardia (LGA). On these flights, I was able to experience both their Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737-600 cabins, as well as the check-in process.

Check-In and Perks

Since I purchased these tickets through Delta, the Passenger Name Record (PNR) from Delta was not the same as the one that WestJet sees. Because of this, I had to reach out to Delta ahead of time to get my WestJet PNR to check-in. If you purchase the ticket directly from WestJet, this step won’t be necessary.

As WestJet is a “low cost carrier” (LCC), seats are not assigned prior to check-in unless you call in and purchase the seat in advance. This was a pretty big change from what I was used to from flying with Delta – granted, I was fairly spoiled by Delta. On both my flights, the WestJet Plus (the premium economy cabin, similar to an inter-Europe business class cabin) cabin was completely booked, so I wasn’t able to purchase an upgrade at the time of check-in.

Though no Delta representative was able to offer details on what benefits are available to Delta Medallion flyers on WestJet flights, even with the widely publicized “transborder joint venture”, WestJet support on Twitter was helpful enough to explain that I would receive free checked bags if I provided the agents at the counter with my Delta Medallion information to show my status. I was slightly disappointed that free seat selection for preferred seats was not available for WestJet operated flights as with SkyTeam partners (AirFrance, for example).

In-Flight Experience

YYZ-LGA

A curious fact – with how short my flights were, liquor purchases were not allowed. The beer and wine were offered complimentary, however, which was a nice touch. I sampled both of the white wines offered  between my flights and was pleasantly surprised by their quality.

On all WestJet flights, you will be asked to remove all headphones and pay close attention to the safety demonstration prior to take-off, so don’t be surprised if you are asked to take yours off when they start to demonstrate things.

B737-600

WestJet currently has 13 Boeing 737-600s in service. This and the 737-700s (of which there are 54) make up the bulk of WestJet’s fleet. Both the -600 and -700 share similar layouts within the cabin with no seats having any power. Thankfully, my flight was a relatively short 350 miles, so it wasn’t a huge issue. This would be rather frustrating on a longer flight, though. With how common USB outlets are on planes, I have definitely been spoiled.

The satellite television was a little spotty because we were crossing the border, but I was able to catch the tail-end of an episode of Murdoch Mysteries before we lost signal.

B737-800

In stark contrast of the smaller -600, the -800 (non-MAX) variant offers individual power in every seat. This is very different from what is available on most planes in the US because each seat has their own 110V outlet, instead of having to share two between three seats. This was a very nice surprise. The downside is that there were no in-seat screens for entertainment, but with available power it is much less of a concern. There was also more under-seat storage on this plane than the -600. As I have been traveling with two laptops and associated accessories, this has become a major concern for me, and was also a very pleasant surprise.

Closing Thoughts

Overall I quite enjoyed my WestJet flights and I can see myself using them again in the future. I will be paying close attention to the further developments for the joint venture between Delta and WestJet for any new perks for elites of both programs (particularly around seat selection). I look forward to giving WestJet’s Plus cabin a go, as well!

Surprising Offers from @United

This week I received two curious promotional emails from United. One was for a mileage promotion where I could spend $400 for 7,800 (bonus) miles, or $900 for 19,900 (bonus) miles. Certainly not bad for topping off an account! Granted, I have a hard time rationalizing flying on United where my status is complimentary thanks to their relationship with Marriott versus Delta where it’s earned with butt-in-seat miles.

If I were Premier Gold, where the Economy Plus seating was available at booking, and Economy Plus offered the same perks as Delta’s Comfort+ Seating I would definitely be open to taking United up on this offer. It certainly doesn’t hurt that SFO, IAH, and LGA have Centurion Lounges in their United terminals.

Not a bad boost!

The second email I received was from a new partnership between United and BP that allows you to earn miles whenever you fill up your tank. The frustrating thing here was that even though I attempted to register, it insisted that I couldn’t. Guess I’ll stick to discounted gas at BJs!

Has anyone else received these offers? Going to take United up on their offers?