Ramon is the creator of Travelling Companion. He focuses on flight review, hotel reviews, and helping stretch, your travel dollars, miles, and points further.
This short Delta flight showed Delta's potential and why the airline receives strong customer ratings. Pros-Delta Studio, new in-flight entertainment system, large overhead bins, USB power at every seat, mood lighting, new and comfortable economy seats, friendly customer service. Cons- None.
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Normally I would not review a flight as short as our connecting flight from Washington Regan National (DCA) to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL). However, this flight was on one of Delta's newest aircraft the A321 and provides me with an opportunity to compare the four different Delta aircraft I flew on this trip
Delta DCA Presence
Over the past two years Delta has significantly enhanced the experience for Delta flyers out of DCA. I believe this is an attempt to fight for business travelers in key business markets from Washington D.C. and if Delta is successful it could represent a major challenge to American Airlines in these markets. First, in April 2017 Delta introduced lie-flat seats in business class on transcontinental flights operated by Boeing 757-200 aircraft along with complimentary meals for economy passengers and free drinks and a sleep kit for Delta's extra legroom Comfort+ passengers. Second, in May 2017 Delta announced that it would test its new biometric airport experience at DCA allowing passengers to board using their fingerprint and eventually expanded this to the include Delta SkyClub access using a fingerprint. Third, in June 2018 Delta opened its renovated Delta SkyClub at DCA with an additional 1,800 square feet of space.
Unfortunately, as American Airlines elite fliers without access to the renovated Delta SkyClub we enjoyed some Cava at the airport and headed to our gate for boarding. While the boarding process was underway a passenger fainted at the gate and the gate agents called for assistance. This was the first time I had ever seen this flying. Police officers showed up to check on the passenger and after he said he was fine and in no need of medical attention allowed him to board the plane. Thankfully, it seems the passenger was ok as we did not experience a medical emergency on this flight. Because we have no status or Delta credit cards we boarded in Zone 3 which is reserved for passenger who purchased deeply discounted Delta economy tickets.
Plane and Seats
The A321 is one of the newest planes in Delta's fleet and the airline took delivery of its first A321 in March 2016. Delta has a reputation for utilizing older planes with an average fleet age of about 17 years at the beginning of 2018. Recently, the airline begun ordering planes such as the A321 to replace its ancient MD-80/90 planes in order to use more fuel efficient airplanes.
I was immediately impressed as a the cabin featured mood lighting and brand new seats. The seats were well padded an very comfortable a stark contrast to the slimline and poorly padded seats on American Airlines new narrow body aircraft. The seats also had 110V outlets below the seat which were shared with the neighboring seat. Despite the fact that we boarded in Zone 3 there were still space in the overhead bins for our luggage. This is likely because of the larger overhead bins on Delta's A321 aircraft.
The in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen had a crisp and clear picture. The screen was also touchscreen and functioned very well. At the bottom of each screen at every seat was a USB power plug and a headphone jack. The IFE offered Delta Studio which featured a large selection of TV shows and movies. As American Airlines continues to remove IFE screen from all of its domestic narrow body aircraft I think Delta is making a distinction in the passenger experience by continuing to add IFE screens to additional aircraft. I definitely noticed the difference even on this short flight. Having an IFE screen allows you to plug in without needing to remember to bring your own device, download content, move items around on the small tray table in order to find space for your food and drinks along with the device, and pack it away again before the end of the flight.
We departed five minutes late but ended up arriving only about one minute late for this approximately one and a half hour flight. Typically on such a short flight there is not a lot of time to judge service in economy. However, I was impressed by the Delta staff on our flight. As the captain welcomed us on board he was very friendly and over the speakers talked about college basketball. During the snack service we were offered the choice between a snack mix or Biscoff cookie. Christina was indecisive making her choice and instead of getting upset at her the flight attendant smiled and gave her both. While this is a very small gesture it is these small gestures that set Delta apart from out legacy carriers on the customer service front.
This short flight showed Delta's great potential and why the airline often receives higher customer ratings than other legacy airlines. The airline impressed me with this new aircraft that featured a new IFE system, Delta Studio, large overhead bins, USB power at every seat, mood lighting, new and comfortable economy seats. Most importantly as an American Airlines elite what set Delta apart of this flight for me was their customer service. The crew was friendly an actually seemed to enjoy their work. I would definitely recommending flying between DCA and ATL. After finishing this flight I was interested to see how Delta would perform on my first ever flight to Mexico.
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