After our stay at the TWA Hotel at JFK, it was time to go home. Fortunately — unlike on the way out when we flew into Newark — this time we were flying home from JFK so we didn’t have far to go. We opted to take a mid-day flight on Delta, because I wanted some quality time in the morning at the hotel. This worked out perfectly since the 11:40am flight was offered for a mere 9,500 SkyMiles plus $5.60 for each of us. This was the opposite of the United experience on the way out. The service was great, but the onboard product left much to be desired.
Leaving the TWA Hotel, we had to walk back to the Airtrain and take it over to Terminal 4. Security was empty, and we were fortunate to be at a close-in gate. (You can’t take that for granted at Terminal 4.) It was a mere 25 minutes from our room to the gate.
Waiting for us with a wagging tail was an adorable husky, but he was clearly not a service dog. He was an emotional support animal, but I didn’t see him onboard so I don’t know how he behaved. At the gate, he kept whining at his owner to give him food.
Our 30-year old 767 had spent the night in New York, so it was ready to go at our gate. Behind, there were plenty of Delta aircraft on hardstands awaiting their turns to fly.
We were in the Main Cabin 2 group, and Delta sent me a push notification saying the following:
Lies! I never received a follow up saying it was time to board with my group. I just listened to announcements and boarded when called.
January 29, 2020
Delta 423 Lv New York/JFK 1140a Arr Los Angeles 312p
New York/JFK (JFK): Gate B22, Runway 31L, Depart On Time
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 21, Runway 25L, Arrive 45m Early
N174DN, Boeing 767-332ER, Standard Delta colors, ~80% Full
Seat 28G, Economy
Flight Time 5h24m
This airplane’s interior was definitely showing its age. We walked by the Delta One seats which appeared to be scratched up and worn. When we made it back to our seats just behind the wing, I found it really dirty despite the airplane having been there all night. Those seat tracks really get nasty.
The seatback looked like it had been spiffed up a bit (not enough) instead of being replaced, especially around the screen where it looked like cracks had been sealed over
The captain came on the PA to welcome us and tell us we expected a smooth ride most of the way across the country. The entire crew was friendly and got us going right on time. We were in the air after a short taxi, doing the usual corkscrew required to avoid nearby airport traffic. The clouds that had lingered most of that week finally parted a couple hours earlier, so we took off into a brilliant blue sky.
The flight attendants had handed out menus to everyone. I had forgotten that Delta now offers free food on transcon flights. That was a nice surprise.
I was planning on working on the flight, so I had bought a wifi pass for $16 via the Delta app at the gate. That was a good move since Gogo wanted me to pay about $50 if I bought it onboard. I fired up the laptop and connected, but it was miserably slow. I tweeted it out, and Gogo responded. They looked into it and said, “there is an issue that might affected the connection.” I don’t know what that means, but they refunded me right there. That’s good customer service, but I’d rather have a working product.
The wifi actually cut out entirely less than halfway into the flight. I was never able to reconnect to do anything. I just kept getting this screen on both my phone and computer.
That’s probably a good thing, because there are annoyingly no power outlets in the back half of this airplane anyway. I would have run out of juice at some point.
Instead, I decided to watch movies and went for a Brad Pitt-a-thon. I started with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood which was a good long movie to help pass the time. (And man, was Brad Pitt good in that one.) The flight attendants came through with drinks and meals. I had a turkey sandwich that was actually really tasty.
I also love the Toblerone bar. There’s something about Toblerone that makes me feel like I’m traveling to far away lands. Weird, I know. Must have something to do with the trip to Switzerland I took as a kid.
After the movie ended, I tried again to connect to wifi in vain. When I gave up, I decided to flip on the flight map. Nope. It didn’t work.
I was feeling uncomfortable at this point. There was a very mild swaying motion that made me feel a little airsick. That never happens to me, so it was an odd sensation. I felt better when focusing on the screen, so I moved on to my next Pitt movie, Ad Astra. The flight attendants regularly came through with water and a second drink service. They were around frequently and were always friendly and smiling.
Unlike on the 787, they couldn’t auto-dim my windows here, so I stared out often. You can probably guess which row I’m sitting in:
With about 45 minutes to go, the pilots came on to tell us that we’d start our descent soon, and there were reports ahead of “very significant bumps.” The flight attendants were told to clean up the cabin early and put on their seatbelts. Those Santa Ana winds were howling.
It was mildly bumpy at first, but once we got over the Inland Empire, it got really rough. There was one particular stretch where the movement was so strong that there were screams echoing throughout the cabin. The girl immediately behind me was sobbing loudly for the rest of the flight.
As we got a little closer to the ground, the turbulence settled down but it was still far from smooth. We had a great view of the new Sofi Stadium on final approach.
It was still gusty when we touched down, and the second we did, many of the people onboard burst into applause. I too was happy to be on the ground, but I can only just shake my head when people do that.
We had arrived very early, and I was amazed to find we had a gate waiting for us. As we got off the airplane, I overheard one of the flight attendants asking another if anyone had thrown up. Then I saw the captain poke his head out, so I asked if that was what he’d call “moderate” turbulence. He said it was at least the high-end of moderate or possibly low-end of severe. An aircraft in front of us had reported it as severe, but he thought it might not quite be that bad. Either way, it was some hefty stuff.
Overall, this Delta experience wasn’t great. The lack of power, broken flight map, and non-functioning wifi combined with the general grime on the airplane wasn’t what I’ve come to expect from Delta. The service, however, was great and more fitting with the brand.