Ramon is the creator of Traveling Companion. He focuses on flight review, hotel reviews, and helping stretch your travel dollars, miles, and points further.
California Dreaming with Dad Trip Report
California Dreaming with Dad Overview
Delta 757 DCA-LAX Economy Class Review
Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel Review
Exploring California's Central Coast
Exploring Los Angeles
Delta 757 LAX-DCA Economy Class Review
Our first experience with Delta's 757 felt like the longest flight ever as I got squeezed into a Comfort+ middle seat on this more than 5 hour flight.
Pros- Industry Leading Airline Lounge, Strong In-flight Service
Cons- Uncomfortable Comfort+ Middle Seat, Unresponsive and Error Prone IFE, Gross Economy Meal, No Economy Amenities
Check-in was smooth with a quick drop of our bags at the Delta baggage drop. Where things really slowed down though was at security. There were a ton of people traveling on Valentine's Day 2020. It is crazy to look back and realize that we had no idea just how much we would be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic just one month later. Even though we had TSA PreCheck it took us about 10 minutes to get through Washington Reagan National (DCA) security line. This was really slow considering that this was prior to the consolidation of all of the security checkpoints at DCA.
Delta SkyClub DCA
Once we got through security, we headed to our then favorite airline lounge the Delta SkyClub at DCA. Since I previously reviewed the SkyClub I will focus here on what was a different this trip.
First off, I will say the SkyClub impressed us as always and I believe it truly was an industry leading domestic airline lounge. The staff had the lounge decked out in Valentine's Day decorations and had special Valentines treats waiting for SkyClub guests. I am always impressed by just how well the SkyClub staff at DCA execute on themes. We ended up having one of each of the treats and I can attest that they were yummy.
Once again on this visit the views and food were top notch. It was a clear day and we could not only see the Potomac and the tarmac but had a clear view of the U.S. Capitol building.
For food we had a variety of choices including macaroni, butternut squash soup, noodles flatbread, and sandwiches. We ended up having the macaroni which was really good, the flatbread which was not good because it was cold, and a turkey sandwich which was also very good.
When we got to the gate shortly before boarding it was crowded. The flight wasn't looking for volunteers but went out completely full. I checked my seat and realized that we had both been "upgraded" to a Comfort+, Delta's extra legroom seat, middle seat despite the fact that I had requested an upgrade only if it was to an aisle or window seat. On Delta, Comfort+ is considered a separate class despite being just extra legroom economy. Delta Silver Medallions have the ability to receive a Comfort+ upgrade 24 hours out. You also can select to only be upgraded if a non-middle seat is available to ensure you aren't stuck in a middle seat on a long flight. However, this was the second time I selected this option and it didn't work. I was really frustrated and really don't like the way in which Delta's handles Comfort+ upgrades for Silver Medallion elites. For American Airlines and United Airlines their extra legroom seats are not considered a separate class so you have the option to simply select any open extra legroom seat 24 hours prior to departure. Because the flight was completely full, I had no choice and I was stuck in a middle seat on this over 5 hour Valentine's Day flight in a different row than my traveling companion Christina.
Plane and Seats
This flight is considered a premium route for Delta and this was the first time Christina and I had flown the route on Delta. Because it is a premium route Delta has Delta One lie-flat seats on a Boeing 757. Delta is the only airline currently serving this route with lie-flat seating. For this flight I ended up 23 out of 31 on the Delta One upgrade list so was suck with 23E my middle Comfort+ seat. Overall, I love the mood lighting on Delta flights and the color scene of their seats which gives the plane a premium feel. However, this couldn't hide that fact that this Boeing 757 was starting to show its age. My seat itself was comfortable and had good padding and legroom. It also had a Comfort+ pocket to hold my phone and two 110-V outlets shared between the three seats. My biggest complaint was that I was suck in the middle of what ended up feeling like the flight wouldn't end. This was because I was squeezed between two people including one gentleman who was very large and despite his best efforts flowed about halfway into my seat. I spent the entire flight feeling very uncomfortable and mad at Delta for putting me into the Comfort+ middle seat "upgrade" I didn't request.
Amenities and In-Flight Entertainment
Despite this being a premium route there were no amenities such as a blanket or pillow in economy class. However, like the vast majority of Delta flights the seats did have seat-back in-flight entertainment (IFE) system which also included a USB charger. About 15 minutes into the flight a flight attendant came around offering complimentary earbuds but I declined since I had my own noise cancelling headphones. The IFE was one place where the plane showed its age. It was not very responsive and I had multiple issues using it. At one point I couldn't fast forward, pause, or change the movie, and was limited to only increasing or decreasing the volume.
The one place where the IFE system did shine was the wide selection of over 100 movies and a wide selection of television shows. The IFE system also offered audio and a selection of live television stations offered by Dish including ESPN, CNBC, and CNN.
On the flight I watched Spider Man Far from Home. When I tried to play a second movie, Harriett, the IFE system froze. Then after a few minutes the IFE had sound but no video. Delta really needs to work on maintaining these IFE systems.
Food and Drinks
One benefit of this being a premium flight for Delta was the complimentary meal for economy passengers. However, the options were not impressive. About 50 minutes into the flight the flight attendants starting serving the meal and the options were chicken noodle salad or fruit and cheese plate both of which were served cold. We both had the chicken noodle salad and it was in one word gross. The noodles were so bad that is made Christina sick. Honestly, it would be better to charge for food on this route if it were at least going to be edible.
After the food was dropped off the flight attendants came by with drinks and I had a California Cabernet Sauvignon. The flight attendants also came by two more times during the flight offering drinks. I missed the second round but for the third round I ordered Prosecco which was okay. The flight attendants also offered a snack basket with options for Comfort+ passengers including Kind bars, Biscoff cookies, peanuts, bananas, and Oreo thins. I chose the Oreo Thins which I always find to be a solid choice.
The service on this flight was impeccable as I have come to expect from Delta. The flight attendants were continually working throughout the flight. They had multiple drink and snacks services to make sure we were taken care of over this five hour flight. This crew was clearly dedicated to showing the strong service Delta is known for.
We ended up arriving 21 minutes early and I was so happy! This flight was about 5 hours but felt like 10 because I was so uncomfortable. As we exited, I got a quick peek at the Delta One cabin and I would really like to have a flight with lie-flat seats on one of these cross-country flights.
After we exited the plane, we ran into one interesting passenger who flew Delta One on our flight former Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder. Christina stopped him and he kindly agreed to take a picture with her!
This flight experience was a mixed bag for me with great ground experience and what felt like the longest flight ever despite impeccable service. On the ground Delta once again had an impressive ground experience with the best domestic airline lounge I had been to in the SkyClub DCA. In the air Delta continued to deliver the strong service I have come to know from the airline. On the other hand, the airline's technology failures and bad food led to what ended up being a miserable more than 5 hour flight. I think if I took this flight again in the future with Christina I would opt out of the Comfort+ upgrades and either stay in a regular economy seat or find a way for us to upgrade to the Delta One lie-flat seats.