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Directly after the jump in a unique opportunity to flyUnited's last 747 domestic flight turned into a partyfrom Chicago O'Hare (ORD) to San Francisco (SFO), I had to book a return flightNY. Although I've flown transcontinental flights a few times, I've never traveled on anything other than standard old economy, shame I know. And while I've jumped across the pond on overnight flights east on many occasions, I've never taken one over the continental US. Acutely aware of the fierce competition among major US airlines on the route, I was excited to try out Delta Comfort+, the airline's Economy Plus version, aboard their upgraded 757-200 jetliner from SFO to JFK .
Booking this flight was an anomaly for me and last minute changes to my itinerary meant that I had to pay for my return flight in cash. On a Thursday I booked the flight for the next day and although I didn't want to back out immediately once I got thereSan FranciscoI had to go back inNYthat Sunday After a quick Google Flight check, I found the cheapest option for my non-standard economy return flight with Delta in Comfort+. Because he wanted to test the red-eye feature and was limited by cash fares, he was limited to the single-aisle 757 instead of the larger widebody 767-300 that serves most of the premium transcon routes of Delta to JFK. Still, I was curious to see how this product stacks up against an aircraft that is also used on premium international routes, especially since I've heard mixed reports of overseas travel on narrow-body jets like the 757.
My total was $580.20, and considering it was a one-way Delta Comfort+ ticket booked just two days in advance, I didn't find that too unreasonable. I booked it through the Delta website and used my American Express Platinum card, which earned me money.5x membership rewardssince it was purchased directly from the airline. As a result, I earned 2,901 Membership Rewards points, which is almost 3,000 MR points for a one-way flight.
Billing and Boarding
Flight DL 1155 was scheduled to depart at 9:30 p.m. m. on Saturday and arrive at JFK at 6 a.m. m. the next morning. The weather in San Francisco was perfect: clear and warm. My Delta app informed me that the flight left on time and that I had taken advantage of$100 global entry creditIncluded with my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, I didn't expect any security delays.
I arrived at Terminal 1 about an hour before my flight's scheduled departure time and was pleasantly surprised to find the Delta/American Concourse C shared check-in area pleasantly empty. I had already checked in online but wanted a paper copy of my boarding pass so I stopped at a Delta kiosk - plenty to choose from and easy to use. I went through security, which took no more than three minutes and would have been just as fast without him.TSA-PreCheckthis day.
Beyond security, the airport was silent. If I had given myself a little more time, I might have crossedCenturion-Loungein Terminal 3 -although technically I would have had to repeat security at that point- but I chose to spend more time in the city than at the airport. My flight departed from Gate 43 and I was a little disappointed in the limited number of dining options in the terminal, especially since most restaurants were closed. I didn't care though, as Delta serves one.Free foodfor all main cabin and Comfort+ passengers on transcontinental flights. I grabbed a bottle of water and a banana and like anyAvGeekshould, I took a short walk to explore the view before heading back to the gate.
Boarding started on time. Unsurprisingly, crowds (no lines) formed around the gates of the passenger boarding bridge. People were dying to board, and for good reason: expecting a completely full flight with not enough space for all the luggage, gate agents offered to transfer passengers from the lower priority groups (Comfort+ and cabin principal) to Group 1, if they volunteered to do so. check that the door is biggerhand luggage– of course free. I've never seen gate agents offer gate check incentives, they usually make you do it, but I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes common practice on longer tight domestic flights due to people's sentiments about checked baggage fees. Presumably they also do this to speed up boarding. With only a backpack, I didn't feel the need to volunteer. After a few minutes my boarding party was called and I left.
cabin and seat
While this was far from my first flight in a Delta 757, it wasGuerrathe first in an internationally configured version of the type (75S). We boarded at gate L2, which means I turned right while Delta One passengers boarded with a left turn.
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The 757-200(S) had a capacity for 168 passengers and had three different classes: Delta One, Comfort+ and Main Cabin.delta oneit consisted of four rows of reclining seats in a 2-2 configuration. The seats were comparable (and almost identical) to the business class product offered on transcontinental routes by other older airlines, such as United's 757-200 and American's A321T. Comfort+ and Main Cabin seats were in a 3-3 layout with 44 and 108 seats, respectively. There were few Comfort+ rows and seats were technically in the same cabin as regular Economy, but being further forward meant quicker food and beverage service and a quicker check-out process.
Delta primarily flies these 757s to Europe from JFK, Boston (BOS) and Philadelphia (PHL) on "leaner" routes where wide-body aircraft are considered too large for demand. Given the fierce competition on these cross-country routes, Delta also uses them on premium transcontinental services between SFO/LAX and JFK, as well as the DCA-LAX and SFO-BOS routes.
I was in 22A, a window seat that, despite the number, was actually only a few rows in the cabin behind Delta One, just above the front of the wing. Unfortunately for the window seat passengers, the 22nd and 23rd rows had awkwardly placed windows that required quite a bit of head craning to look out when the seat was fully upright. However, to my relief, the considerable recline of my Comfort+ seat meant that the seat reclined just enough for me to get a good view without turning my head too much. I should have known better: remember to always check SeatGuru andGTPto get the best seats on specific planes!
The seats were very well designed and in relatively good condition, although lumbar support was lacking a bit. The day before I took a Delta Connection E-175 from LGA to ORD and was upgraded to Comfort+ on that flight. Somehow this seat felt more comfortable in the Embraer despite the limited seat height and legroom. However, I would wager that the 757's seats were more worn out from being used longer and on much longer flights.
Between each seat was an electrical outlet, located just below the front row armrest.
The headrest was well padded and could be folded out or moved up and down, which I appreciate on flights where I'm trying to get some sleep.
The Comfort+ seats were 17.2 inches wide, the same as in the main cabin, and spaced 35 inches apart, a few inches wider than the standard 31- to 33-inch seats you'd find in regular economy. As I reclined the seat, the bottom cushion elongated and offered more leg support. The seat back pocket contained the usual paraphernalia such as security cards and directional menus (more on that later), plus a small bag of bananas!
The bathroom was more or less a standard economy class toilet. Note that this photo was taken at the end of the flight, so it was cleaner than this when we boarded SFO. I will say that motion-activated sinks are a luxury compared to the old ones that gave you about two seconds of water. Yes, it's a #WorldFirstProblem, but little things like that make a big difference in the irritability of red-eye-Passengers (like me). Unfortunately this one had an old sink. The water on the floor was pretty gross, but I'm pretty sure I added it when I splashed water on my face anyway. Good thing our flight landed 40 minutes later.
As the gates closed, I looked around and realized that this was a fully booked flight. We went back in time, and just after the engines started, the cabin crew turned on the ambient lighting in the cabin, turning the bright white of the overhead lights into a soft, deep blue (left image). They were on for the first part of the flight and then came back on, orange, for sunrise, pictured to the right, before we landed. It's always nice to see dynamic lighting in non-premium cabins.
The seat back featured a high-definition in-flight entertainment touchscreen, as well as a standard USB slot that I used to charge my phone.
The full IFE came a few minutes after the double chime, indicating that we had exceeded 10,000 feet. The screen was very responsive and featured extensive on-demand content as well as live TV channels including CBS, NBC, Fox News, CNN, ESPN, ESPN 2, NFL Network, Comedy Central, FX, TNT, TBS, Bravo, Cartoon Network, Univision and Discovery.
The entire user interface was well thought out and intuitive. There was also a small motion sensor under the screen that allowed you to adjust the brightness and turn the screen on or off. This was one of the best IFE screens I've had in the business recently, at least on a domestic flight. We also had access to music, an interactive map, and information about Delta and the flight we were on.
Comfort+ passengers received a small amenity kit after takeoff, including an eye mask, headphones, earplugs, a toothbrush and toothpaste. The headphones were pretty terrible, but a viable last resort - they were also single-pin, meaning you could use them on your own device.
food and drinks
Delta has begun offeringa meal on their transcontinental flightsin the main cabin and Comfort+, and the food was really decent. The menu, which was also served in the main cabin, contained three different options: a fruit and cheese plate, a Greek snack plate, and a vegetarian wrap. I had already had a boat-sized burrito for dinner in the Mission District, so I opted for cheese and fruit, which was served as a two-course meal.
The fruit was tasty and not overripe, the almonds were good and the cheese, while not amazing, was more than ok; It also came with crackers which were perfect, although he wishes there were more. After serving the main course,flight attendantHe handed out Häagen-Dazs ice cream and then came with Godiva chocolates.
After eating and about an hour and 40 minutes into the flight, the crew turned off the lights. After watching part of a movie, I put on my mask and fell asleep. Finally, I woke up in central Pennsylvania with only 30 minutes to go and just enough time to catch the sunrise.
I had never done a red eye flight over the US, but I would get on one again. Delta offers its hard and soft products. Flight attendants were nice and helpful; the seat, while not spectacular, was comfortable enough; the entertainment was excellent; Catering made a welcome return; and onboard mood lighting alleviated the inherently awkward time zone hopping. Smaller perks like extra leg room, extra parking space, priority boarding, complimentary alcohol, a pillow, blanket, and amenity kit made the experience a bit more upscale than usual.
What is your preferred non-premium cabin for transcontinental flights, especially red-eye flights? Let us know in the comments below.
All photos by the author.