Saturday, September 21, 2013
Airline Review : Delta Long Haul
Oh, Delta. Where do I start? We flew them from Zurich (ZRH) to Detroit (DTW) return last time and it was just a mess. Check-in at ZRH was a nightmare of logistics and a game of 100 Questions (which I know is normal if you're flying to the USA, but I always grind my teeth a bit). Don't even get me started on the dog and family that checked in before us - that'll be a whole separate post when I'm calm enough to write it.
We got good seats on the plane due to FF status, exit row in Economy which isn't vastly different to Delta Business Class leg-room wise, but the plane was old. Really old. And rattly and not particularly clean. Bits of the seat were wobbling and there was no window blind, it'd been ripped off leaving jagged plastic edges - yay for safety!
But what about the inflight entertainment? What entertainment? Delta take all the worry about that and throw it right out the window. There are no seat-back screens and you get the thrill of watching year old movies on big screens on the bulkheads. Or no movies at all, and just random bits of telly. It's like flying was 20 years ago.
The meals were okay, nothing terrible or fantastic. You get a blanket and a pillow, but the blanket is the thinnest thing I've ever seen (slightly thicker than a tshirt), so if you feel the cold, you'll need to rug up a bit more. I asked for a second blanket and was told there is only one per passenger (sigh), but they did manage to rustle up one for me from somewhere.
We transited through JFK - and we will NEVER do it again. JFK was utter madness. It was like the end of the world had been announced and no-one told us. There was no organisation, staff weren't bothered by the chaos surrounding them, no-one took responsibility for anything, it was grotty, and there were people EVERYWHERE.
We were in the Customs line for an hour, and then in another line to re-enter the airport through security for half an hour (once you exit Customs you have to pick up your bag, exit security, then re-enter after re-checking your bag). Then in a line to transfer to another terminal for half an hour. Oh yes, we missed our connecting flight whilst we were in that line - SURPRISE! Then we had to go to the counter and get on the next flight, which they only did because of FF status. Then stand in an un-airconditioned bus on a 40c degree day for 15 minutes whilst waiting for stragglers. Then be driven less than 300m to our plane. Then sit on the plane for half an hour because we'd missed our departure slot, though the staff on that plane were rather lovely and very apologetic about all the delays and heat.
We finally got to DTW a few hours late and were VERY surprised to see one of our cases trundling around the carousel and the other in luggage collection office. At least the bags had arrived, so no complaints about that.
When you add in the whole "dog experience" on the plane (I'm still shaking), it was one of the worst flights I've done. My advice? Avoid Delta long haul unless you know you're going to be on a newer plane. 8 hours on a cold, rattly old plane with no entertainment system is a pain in the butt, even when you've got your own book and magazines. It's how I imagine it would be like flying Aeroflot.
UPDATE:- Since writing this, I've done another Delta flight to the USA out of Zurich and the plane was lovely and new and fabulous, so it's obviously just the luck of the draw. The new plane had great seat back entertainment systems, with up to date movies and whole series of TV to catch up on - I started watching "Veep" and am now hooked!
Only one downside to the sparkly new entertainment system, and it's that it's a touch screen system, so you have to tap the screen to get it to function. Anyone who thought flying long haul with a 4 year old repeatedly tapping the screen that's at your back whilst you try to sleep must have been utterly insane. We had adults sitting behind us, but I had to turn around and give the guy the evils at one stage when his tapping turned into whacking, and got a bit seat jarring.
All in all, it was a MUCH better experience than the last time.