Delta gives me a totally new perspective on the domestic flying experience…

I’ve long been an advocate of the “keep Wi-Fi off planes” movement. Airplanes are the place I go to get away, to unwind, to disconnect. Yes, even at the expense of watching the same episode of 30 Rock or The Big Bang Theory over a dozen times in a given month on the overhead monitor.

But darnit, I kind of think I’ve been wrong all along. I’m writing this from a pimped out Delta 737 flying from Detroit to Seattle. My first class seat has audio video on demand (including dozens of movies, TV shows, music albums, etc.), live TV, power ports, and wifi, which is free during the holidays thanks to Google.

I’m literally sweating because I don’t know what to do first. For one, my iPhone and laptop will be fully charged when I land, not to mention my email inbox will be fairly empty!

Honestly, this is a completely different flying experience than any other airline I’ve flown domestically (I realize Virgin America is somewhat similar, though I don’t fly them). Now, there’s a huge amount of inconsistency in the Delta fleet, but flying on a plane with power ports, AVOD, and Wi-Fi is absolutely the coolest thing ever. I don’t understand how Continental and United *still* don’t have Wi-Fi on almost their entire fleet… though it took a flight on Delta to realize this!

My one complaint about Delta is the first class seat, which is somewhat uncomfortable. There are no headrests, even in first class.

Now, if only Delta had a decent frequent flyer program other than providing plenty of domestic upgrades…

Filed Under: Delta, Travel
  1. Delta is awesome, love the wifi in every plane. I hate flying any other airline now, especially Southwest.

  2. Glad your DL experience, at least this segment, was a good one. I too like their AVOD though experience it from Y. I like the WIFI idea but despise the idea of cell phone calls being allowed. I remember a DYKWIA type standing near the bench just past the x-ray jabbering away “yeah, thanks for your call Stanley..” He was standing and facing people coming through the metal detector, not even waiting for his stuff… Who cares, get out of my way. Can’t imagine sitting next to them on a flight and listening to their inane conversation for that long.

  3. Since I am based at SFO I have flown pretty much only Virgin America for these reasons – VOD, Internet, and power at every seat makes all the difference, in addition to new aircraft and friendly staff as well as decent food you can order. The downside is that the mileage program is pretty much pointless, upgrades can get expensive and are unpredictable as they are an OLCI free for all 6 hours before flight time. and they don’t fly SFO-PDX/ORD/DEN yet and there is no midmorning flight to LAX. But I have walked away from United and have never looked back, no regrets, and accumulate miles with credit cards for int’l travel.

  4. My last 2 UA P.S flights were a godsend with free wifi. To tell you the truth, I’ll pay the $12.95 when the free wifi goes away. Can you ask your pal Capt Denny to tell WHQ to install wifi on the entire fleet!

  5. I am also hooked on wifi during flight. I was on PS flight last week and thoroughly enjoyed surfing via iPhone. ^

  6. Glad to see you seeing the light on how DL’s onboard technology is a big differentiator to say UA. I noticed you surprised at full bar for pre-departure drinks on a UA flight; something that is pretty standard on DL.

  7. I used to do a lot of travel on DL (I’m a UA 1P) and I have to say, they’ve got a damn good inflight product. Not only WiFi, but true AVOD on domestic 37’s, 57’s and 67’s. If DL can do it, there is ZERO reason why UA/CO/AA can’t do it (not including US…they’re sliding backwards with the complete elimination of IFE).

    I live in LA and DL just doesn’t have the domestic non-stops I need, but depending on how much flying I do this year and how “smoothly” this merger goes w/ CO, I wouldn’t put it past me to jump back to DL…they’ve already gone through their merger growing pains and their product is just better than UA’s, unfortunately. It’s a lot easier to put up with a slightly more uncomfortable F seat when you’ve got 95 million distracts with AVOD than UA and the movie I’ve already seen 5 times that month…

  8. I chose DL for my (100% domestic business) travel in part due to the in-flight experience. The entertainment options on the AVOD-equipped aircraft are pretty sweet.

    When they are charging for wi-fi, you get free access to, which is great for looking up flight status, connection information, etc., in case of irregular operations.

    It’s nice that now shows you which aircraft have the various entertainment options at the time of booking (subject to schedule changes of course). Now when will they get around to converting the ex-NW aircraft? At least wi-fi is fleet-wide now.

  9. “Now when will they get around to converting the ex-NW aircraft? ”

    Virtually all domestic PMNW crafts ARE converted. A319, 320, 75’s and DC9-50s. The only PMNW planes not equipped are the old 9-40’s and a handful of 75’s that will soon be retired.

  10. Delta has the *best* frequent flier program when it comes to being an upper elite and flying primarily or exclusively within the 48 contiguous states. Not only because of their WiFi and AVOD, but because you can get upgrades on 25K awards that clear at your window, and even cancel and change an unlimited amount of times without a fee – even last-minute. Those who complain about inventory being low are either confusing domestic with international (which *is* comparatively poor) or are not elite members who know how to check for elite award inventory.

  11. I’ll be on a DL flight for the first time in quite awhile next month, will be interested to see how it goes. I did at least status match to DL GM from UA 1P.

    I’m a big fan of inflight WIFi after a couple recent AIrtran trips (didn’t fly them by choice)…but I did stop to think, well, UA can’t even manage Wifi fleetwide and here FL at least has it. Anyway it was great I didn’t have to waste my evening catching up on email at the hotel.

  12. @HockeySTL – “Virtually all domestic PMNW crafts are converted” and that is not true. Since when do EXNW A320’s have AVOD or power??

  13. Almost every airline has wifi now (even southwest). Biggest holdouts are USAirways which only have their A321 equipped and United which only has their PS fleet (757s from JFK to SFO and LA) equipped. UA does have a solo 757 equipped with another wifi provider that is traversing the domestic routes as UA evaluates the technology. Jetblue still only has the one aircraft. Airtran is fully equipped.

  14. I have to agree with mooper. Last year, 99% of my travel was in the CONUS and a couple of trips to Vancouver. The one other trip was a last-minute saver F award to Hawaii.

    As a domestic flyer, I’ve gotten 96% upgrades this year (the CO Plat next to me on a MCO-EWR flight the other day was astonished that I got that many upgrades, as he was happy at 60%) and my only misses were on award tickets (which is more of a coincidence as I trump Plats on non-full Ys).

    Biggest thing for me is the wi-fi. I’m an exclusive leisure traveler but I have a flexible work schedule. Instead of having to wait until 6 p.m. Friday to catch a flight, and I get into my destination at 10 p.m. (East Coast) or 8-9 p.m. (West Coast), I can leave at lunchtime, work on the plane finishing up my stuff for the week, then be able to go to my hotel, freshen up, and go to dinner at a reasonable hour and still have the evening ahead of me.

  15. Delta is my favorite “legacy” airline to fly. But that mileage program….ugh. I love those pimped out 737’s.

  16. “@HockeySTL – “Virtually all domestic PMNW crafts are converted” and that is not true. Since when do EXNW A320′s have AVOD or power??”

    I was referring to the ‘conversion’ DL performed to PMNW aircraft as being the installation of WiFi.

  17. In response to one of your recent posts, I’d definitely recommend trying Alaska Airlines at some point… As a Seattleite, not only do they offer decent routes, but I think the service is definitely a few notches above the other airlines that serve SEA. I am MVP Gold on Alaska and 1P on UA, and I find myself choosing AS much more than UA for routes out of SEA.

    Enjoy your time in the Emerald City! Sorry our weather isn’t better…

  18. After reading through almost your entire post, I was actually sweating….how would you go through an entire blog post without complaining about something?? You saved me when you mentioned the seat. Whew.

  19. As a former, UA 1P, now a DL PM the technology focus of DL in their planes is a welcome difference from UA. Note that there is talk of DL selling F upgrages. Perhaps the roll-out of domestic WiFi and upgrades to AVOD on some jets is a precursor to DL claiming the paid F and paid upgrade revenue streams?

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