Review: DL PHL-JFK Delta One

Date: Thursday May 25
Flight: 1400
Aircraft: B757-200
Origin: PHL
Destination: JFK
Seat: 2A Delta One
Scheduled Push Back: 4:55 PM
Actual Push Back: 12:18 AM (+1)

This was my first flight with Delta in six years. I remember the last time I flew Delta was the day after my summer internship in 2011. I flew LGA-SLC-SJC. On the return the flight was oversold and I was offered a voucher and a bus ride to SFO for a similar timed departure.

I booked this flight as I didn’t want to take Amtrak or drive to NYC. Additionally, United pulled out of JFK which according to new president Scott Kirby was a mistake.

I was excited to fly Delta as they are the “on time machine”. However, as my luck would have it, the weather was awful and the flight was severely delayed. To be fair Delta did issue a waiver for in the NYC region the previous day. One thing I did appreciate was the delay notification came two hours before the scheduled boarding.

If this were United you wouldn’t find out until 30 minutes beforehand and then be on rolling 15 minutes delays. For example, my normal PHL-SFO flight departs at 6:20 PM. The inbound aircraft is running late and arrives at 7:39 PM (that flight wound up being about 5+ hours delayed). Yet, the flight is still on time. Funny how that works, right?

Boarding

The boarding area was a zoo with multiple delayed flights. A delayed SLC flight was occupying our gate, D15. I was impressed by gate agents working that flight. The agent was regularly letting passengers know the status and issues. The agents were also proactively monitoring connections.

I got a push notification saying the gate has changed to D16.

The monitor at D16 was displaying a delayed departure to CDG. I kept refreshing the app to monitor any changes and all of a sudden I was upgraded to first! I’m a no status Delta flyer (I do have SPG crossover rewards). I can’t even get an upgrade on United as a 1K using upgrade vouchers, never mind complimentary upgrades. I was impressed.

Unfortunately, as I kept refreshing the app my 6:20 PM boarding got delayed to 6:35 PM. As 6:35 PM rolled around there were no gate agents at D16. The gate agents working the delayed SLC flight at D15 then noted the aircraft taking us to JFK was actually at D4. This was followed by a terminal wide announcement noting the same. However, airport monitors and the Delta app still had the old gate information. A gate agent said she would be working the flight from D16 but we would board from D4. One positive thing United has is their app and internal systems are in sync. What agents see, you see.

The app finally updated and showed a new departure time of 8:45 PM. The pilot came by the gate area to give us updates, which I thought was pretty nice given the situation. However, come the 8:05 PM boarding time, there was no Delta representative insight. The app then showed a departure time of 9:55 PM which was followed by 10:20 PM, which was followed by 10:55 PM. We finally boarded.

Aircraft

Most passengers re-booked (or as United would say “passengers got re-accommodated”) by now so the plane was pretty empty.

To my surprise we had Delta One seats rather than the standard domestic first class. The whole plane it self had a more premium look than anything United offers.

These seats are typical on many carriers including United’s 757-200s. The seats are B/E Aerospace Diamond seats. While not cutting edge, they are pretty middle of the road. One thing the seats didn’t have was an adjustable headrest like United offers. These give some lateral support in the upright position. However, Delta will be introducing new business class suites soon which provide extra privacy and direct aisle access for all seats.

Flight

The flight attendant came around for pre-departure beverages and I ordered a Fresca.

We finally took off at 1:09 AM for our 39 minute journey to JFK. The flight attendant gave the normal spiel about the flight including WiFi availability. After the announcement a blue WiFi light was illuminated in the overhead panel.

I always wondered why airlines had the illuminated no smoking signs even in newer aircraft where everybody knows smoking is prohibited for the whole flight. Delta replaced this with a modern sign. There still is a no smoking symbol on the panel as a standard non-illuminated icon.

The pilot then came on to tell us we would be arriving in 20 minutes and apologizing for the delays.

Due to the short flight and the late hour no formal beverage service was offered. However, you could have requested a beverage if you’d like.

Upon landing we had a long taxi to terminal 4 (~40 minutes) as we didn’t have a gate due to the previous ground stop. I guess United Ops aren’t as bad as I thought.

Survey Says

My first delta flight in 6 years was delayed about 8 hours. Also, this was my first time back at JFK since United terminal PS service and shifted it over to EWR. However, I get this was out of Delta’s control. With that said, I wish the Delta app was better with updating​ information (or keeping it in sync). However, I liked the original very early delay notification that was provided. All Delta employees were very friendly and seemed to enjoy their job (same can’t be said about United). The on board hard product was on par with other airlines and was comfortable. Delta ground ops are just as bad as other airlines. I don’t understand how an airline can have 8 hours to plan for an aircraft arrival then not have a gate available for 40 minutes.