burj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 892 posts, RR: 5 Posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 18675 times:
P E R S O N A L - I N T R O
Reading trip reports on a.net is one of my favorite on-line activities. Unfortunately most of my flying is U.S. domestic on Delta Air Lines and there is nothing too interesting or special about them. I recently flew Delta from the U.S. to Hong Kong via their hubs in ATL and NRT. I knew I wanted to do a trip report and got some advice from some a.net veterans beforehand. Unfortunately taking photos on a U.S. carrier is very problematic as many a.netters have found. So PLEASE forgive the poor quality of these pictures as I took most of them with my Palm Pre 2 mobile under very poor lighting conditions. For some reason taking discrete snapshots with a mobile is not a problem, but pull out a full sized SLR and plenty of people will approach you and question your motives.
B A C K G R O U N D
Delta had a promotion for double MQM (elite qualifying miles) for trips originating from a few select cities, one of which was PIT. I hadn't really considered taking advantage of the promotion until I found an EXTREMELY good fare from PIT and HKG. Even better, I could route through ATL and take one of Delta's 777-200LR's to NRT and then a 747 from NRT to HKG with a visit to the NRT SkyClub, which has the reputation for being one of the very best Delta SkyClub lounges. The deciding factor was that the cheapest fare was for traveling on Thanksgiving (a U.S. non-religious holiday) so I would not miss any work/school! After deciding on the trip I was even able to find a fellow FlyerTalk.com member who would be on the flight and another who would be in Hong Kong who was available to meet up.
P R E - F L I G H T....me against the bus!
I booked my ticket through Delta.com and constantly played "seat assignment roulette" to try to pick a seat where the middle seat would remain empty. It was hard because from day to day it would seem SOMEONE would specifically pick the middle seat right next to me, even with plenty of aisle and window seats available! Several days out I got confirmation that my domestic flights had been upgraded to first class thanks to my Platinum status. Alas Delta does NOT give complimentary (free) upgrades on international flights and in fact makes it very difficult to use miles to upgrade from economy to their "BusinessElite" cabin.
I had a pretty long drive from my home in Upstate, NY to PIT but the roads were deserted and I had a nice audio book to keep me company. As I got closer to PIT the rain started! I parked in the extended economy lot and proceeded to the nearest bus shuttle stand/shelter to catch the shuttle to the airport.
Despite having an umbrella I was pretty wet when I got to the stand/shelter and it was PACKED with people. Sorry for no pictures because it was far too wet to risk taking out electronics and in a few minutes I would be too busy playing chicken with a bus to worry about photos!
As the shelter was packed I stood outside in the rain and waited for the bus. It was visible as it slowly snaked around the economy lot going from shelter to shelter. At the shelter right before ours quite a few people got on the bus. Much to my surprise it didn't slow down as it approached our shelter and just drove right past without stopping despite the yells of the people in the shelter.
At this point several of them swore and started RUNNING out into the rain towards the distant airport. With them gone I could enter the shelter and I asked why the others had left. Several older people explained that they had been standing at the shelter for over 30 minutes and that had been the SECOND bus to drive by without stopping.
Maybe it was being wet, or being tired from the long drive...but I found myself saying "Oh HELL NO! The next bus is stopping here!" An elderly woman on the verge of tears said if a bus didn't come she would miss her flight and not get to see her children and grandchildren for Thanksgiving. I told her not to worry as I'm from Boston and we don't play games!
Another 15 minutes later we saw a bus in the distance stopping at the shelter before ours and again a lot of people seemed to get on. The bus then proceeded towards our shelter. At this point, being already wet...I went and stood in the road in front of our shelter.
The bus approached but slowed down WELL before reaching our shelter. Thinking it was slowing to stop this time I started to move aside only to see the bus speed up! I went back to standing directly in the middle of the roadway with my suitcase. Without slowing the bus then started to swerve as if it was trying to go around me but I just side stepped to block its path. The bus finally stopped, but well before the shelter, and a middle aged woman stuck her head out and started yelling at the top of her lungs:
Driver: ARE YOU CRAZY! Do you want to get RUN OVER!
Me: Are you STOPPING to pick us up this time?!
Driver: NO! I AM COMPLETELY FULL!
Me: We have been WAITING AND WAITING when is a bus coming?!
Driver: A bus will come...NOW GET OUT OF MY WAY!
Me: This will be the THIRD BUS to pass us! I'm not moving until ANOTHER bus comes!
Drive: GET OUT OF MY WAY OR YOU'LL GET HIT!
Now not responding well to threats I could feel the adrenaline getting the better of me...so turning to the people in the shelter.
Me: She isn't going to STOP! GO see if they bus is really full....GO!
Much to their credit they FINALLY left the shelter, walked to the side of the bus and started pounding on the doors. There were two side doors, one up front near the driver and a mid-door.
The driver's head went back into the bus and I could see people were getting on the bus! I then quickly walked around to the side of the bus and got in at the second door, away from the driver, and prayed their wouldn't be a police officer waiting for me at the airport! Sure enough there had been plenty of space on bus!
The drive to the airport took about 15 minutes and there was quite a buzz as the people who had been on the bus were asking what had happened.
When the bus arrived at departures I got off first, as I had been the last one on, and didn't see any police...I then walked to the front door and waited to apologize to the driver. To their credit as each person from my shelter got off they thanked me as they ran into the terminal.
To her credit the driver then came down and the conversation was much more civil...
Driver: You know another bus would have come!
Me: I'm sorry about all of of that, it was just that two other buses had already driven past us
Driver: Well things are crazy because of all the Thanksgiving travelers...just don't do that again! What if I had hit you!
Me: Lucky for me you are such a good driver! (Flashing my friendliest smile...)
Driver: Half smiling...Just have a safe Thanksgiving!
Me: Thanks! You too!
And with that...dripping wet I FINALLY made it to the airport!
C H E C K I N G I N....and my Freedom Grope!
I took the escalators up to the ticketing counters and bypassed the kiosks as I knew they would have to see my passport since it was the start of an international trip.
The desk area was completely empty as I was pretty early for my flight but I still proceeded down the "SkyPriority" carpet. Behind the desks were two middle aged agents, one male and one female. I started off by saying "I'm skipping the kiosk and coming here so you can see my passport."
In the past approaching the desk first was met with a brusque "First use the kiosk!" but this time the reply from the man was a friendly "SkyPriority members are always welcome to use the desk!"
It was quite a pleasant change! I then handed over my passport and printed out itinerary, all of which were wet which I apologized for.
The woman then asked if everything was o.k., since I probably looked like a half drowned cat! I briefly recounted the story to her as the man typed away at the computer.
Without missing a beat the man turned to her and said with a straight face "If there are ANY problems with his flight this morning I'm sending YOU to the gate to deal with it!"
We all had a good laugh at that... It is this type of interaction that really characterizes Delta at its best. The friendly, easy going, rapport that the Delta culture fosters among its employees does carry over to their interactions with customers.
I then asked about my ATL-NRT flight and if there was anyone sitting next to me. They confirmed that there was not but recommended I check with the gate at ATL before the flight.
They then gave me directions to security but only explained that there was a priority line for first class and elite customers on the far right when I asked.
The line moved quickly and I noticed one of the nude-o-scopes sitting between my line and the next line. Unfortunately TSA Smurf #1 asked me to enter the machine. I politely said "I would rather not go through the machine." which was met with a blank quizzical stare as if the TSA Smurf was thinking "processing...processing...unknown input..." so I then used the magic phrase "I opt out" at which point I could almost SEE the thought bubble above his head "Oh...I've been trained for this! Wait..what do I do...oh yeah use the magic speaking box!" and he then radioed "I have an opt-out! I have an opt-out!" After a moment a large Burly Smurf with a goatee approached asking "Male or Female?" and Smurf #1 gestured at me...
Burly Smurfy then opened a side gate and gestured to me to walk around the machine to an area with a big mat on the floor. The mat had yellow foot prints and he asked me to stand on them. Smurf #1 then asked me which were my bags and I pointed to them as they came out of the x-ray. He then proceeded to do the swab test on them while Burly Smurf put on the blue gloves and explained he would be giving me the enhanced pat down, or a "freedom grope." To his credit Burly Smurf did ask if I had any medical devices on my body or any areas of sensitivity or soreness.
He proceeded with my arms and torso and then walked BEHIND me and bent down and felt my legs. He then said "I'm going to use the back of my hand to check your buttocks" and proceeded to run the back of his hands along my rear. I really wanted to fart but couldn't fart on command.
He then came around and said "I'm going to run the back my hands along your thighs until I hit resistance." Apparently my thighs are big enough and my pants loose enough that he actually stopped well before I'd expect him to buy me a drink afterwards!
I was then finally able to collect everything and head to the tram that takes you to the center of the "X" that is the PIT airport!
On the short tram ride I finally was able to get my mobile phone out and start taking photos!
Inside of the tram to the center of the PIT "X"
Leaving the tram, both lines empty into the middle area between them so there is only one way to go
Looking back at the tram arrival area at the center of the "X"
The tram arrives at the very bottom the terminal so it is necessary to go up to the concourse levels.
Leaving the trams the first sight is pretty nifty
To the side of the dinosaur is a pretty cool display on the history of PIT
Going up only one level takes you to where international passengers exit customs and passport control and was deserted this early in the morning. It was here that I found a bathroom that was empty where I could dry off, clean up, and change into some DRY socks!
Small, utilitarian, but empty and CLEAN...a great place to clean up and dry off a little!
Going up another level finally gets you to the concourse level where they had some interesting artwork
Figures related to Pennsylvania!
The very center of the terminal, the center of the "X" is interestingl and has an information desk
I then headed down the branch for my gate.
Notice the interesting wall on the right
Apparently this was part of a display for a modern art exhibit at a local museum.
Near the gate was a U.S. Postal Service Office. It was closed being Thanksgiving but it is great to have a full service post office AIRSIDE at the airport!
For some reason only the "ED STATES" deserves to be lit up!
Finally arriving at the gate I was able to see our aircraft head on. Again sorry for the lousy picture quality, but it does show how gloomy and rainy it was that morning!
I immediately noticed that the GIDS (gate information display screen) was having issues and nobody seemed to be in a hurry to fix it!
Hopefully this flight is going to ATL!
I was pleased to see the SkyPriority lane was setup!
SkyPriority to the right...steerage to the left... However the wall to the right did make it feel a little bit like standing in line for a police lineup!
burj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 892 posts, RR: 5 Reply 1, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 18812 times:
PIT to ATL
Departure 7:45 am
Arrival 9:45 am
The gate area was full but not too crowded. There were three older people in wheel chairs and at 40 minutes before departure, when Delta normally starts boarding, the gate agents started to take the wheel chairs down the jetway. This struck me as very odd as normally there are airport personnel who are responsible for doing this. I am not sure if maybe PIT has a different system, but I had never seen gate agents push wheel chairs before.
At 30 minutes before departure SkyPriority boarding was announced and I made my way down the jetway. I was pleased to see they were using L2, so I was able to turn left to get settled in the first class cabin. More and more I've noticed Delta boarding 757s from L2, right behind the first class cabin.
I was seated in 1C, and found a pillow and plastic wrapped red Delta blanket
According the seatguru.com my seat had a foot cutout in the bulkhead which meant there was plenty of legroom!
Plenty of space to stretch out
Without all the Y passengers walking through the first class cabin, it was easy to get a preflight beverage and to give the FA my coat. The plane was equipped with GoGo inflight wifi internet and as part of a promotion this service was FREE for the holidays!
Despite having wifi, it was still an older plane with SMALL overhead bins!
Small overhead bins
My carry on, which is not large by any means, sticking out of the overhead bin. Fortunately with the curved door the bin did in fact shut!
Sure enough, across the aisle one gentleman was having a hard time getting his cabin luggage into the overhead bin. He asked an FA if they could just put it into a closet. According to her, their was a new 50 lbs weight limit for the closets so she would not be able to take his bag. This surprised me as the 757 closets are quite large. The gentlemen then grunted and proceeded to push HARDER and managed to get his bag in!
During this time there were MANY announcements imploring the passengers in economy to get out of the aisle and not put their coats in the overhead bins yet as they needed to get everyone on board. At one point a FA with a slightly annoyed tone announced that departure was scheduled for 12 minutes and there were still 50+ passengers standing in the jetway waiting to board!
The door did close on time and the worst safety briefing I've ever experienced started!
The first class FA was doing the manual demonstration while another read the instructions over the intercom. It was clear she was reading it and not reciting it from memory as she would pause, sigh, and repeat sentences. You could even hear pages being turned. It was weird enough that most of the people in first class stopped reading their newspapers and even looked up and started listening!
Towards the end the first class FA started doing that arm extended swinging motion to show the emergency floor lighting. However the FA reading the announcement had already stopped. So the first class FA just kept standing their swinging her arms looking annoyed down the aisle towards the back of the plane. After a pause the intercom came back on and their was the sound of pages being turned and the FA just started again in the middle of the briefing at the part she had some how missed before.
The takeoff was fast and smooth with a nice climb as to be expected of a 757.
After the fasten seatbelt light went off the underwhelming cabin service started. Despite being a morning flight of 2 hours there was no meal, just a single pass of the snack basket.
Delta first class "breakfast"...at least I got a banana!
One reason I had picked the first row was to ensure I would be able to get a banana. There are usually only two or three in the morning flight snack basket so most first class passengers would not be getting fruit on this flight!
Despite only one pass of the snack basket the first class FA was very attentive at beverage refills.
We arrived on time but it took a while to get to a gate and get the jetway in place so I didn't have time to waste in getting to the E concourse where most of the international flights depart from.
ATL to NRT
Departure 11:00 am
Arrival 3:55 pm
I got to the gate to find it was again full but not crowded.
The gate areas in ATL concourse E are some of the nicer at ATL
I approached the gate with my boarding pass and my Platinum Medallion card out. There appeared to be 4 gate agents milling about and a middle aged Japanese man called me forward.
This podium area is nicer than most at ATL
I politely asked whether the seat next to me was still empty and if they could block it off. He said it was still empty and that while he couldn't make any promises he would do his best to keep it empty unless it was needed. I thanked him and then gave him a box of chocolate and explained it was to share with the other gate agents since they were working on Thanksgiving. He seemed a little surprised but smiled and said thank you.
Alas I didn't have time to visit the SkyClub as boarding was about to start. I was able to get a few pictures.
The 777 taking us to NRT this morning
Another 777 that I was able to get a good view of from the concourse
After boarding BusinessElite they called for SkyPriority boarding and the female agent who scanned my boarding pass thanked me for the chocolate.
Being one of the first in the economy cabin I was able to give the nearest FA a box of chocolate and use the lav. Much to my surprise and dismay the floor was ALREADY sticky! Why the floor was sticky when it had presumably just been cleaned was beyond me!
The 777-200LR economy cabin. Notice the earbuds have been placed on the TOP of the seats
The economy seats on this plane are the type that slide forwards then they recline. The net result is that that seat back does not intrude too badly into the space behind it. Some people hate these seats but found them them quite comfortable.
My row with the middle seat fully reclined. Note the bottom has moved forward and the back has not reclined too far backwards.
The rest of the cabin slowly began to fill up. It seemed that most of the passengers and the FAs were Asian. I did see one white female FA up in the BusinessElite cabin with a cute "Turkey" head piece on in honor or Thanksgiving!
The cabin towards the end of boarding. Notice the FA on the left standing on a seat to help a passenger get their bag into the bin!
While boarding finished those of us sitting were treated to a rotating assortment of Delta advertising
Each seat had a pillow, red Delta blanket, and a card with the in flight menu on one side and duty free order form on the other.
Card with menu and duty free order form on the red Delta blanket
The seat pocket had the normal Sky magazine, a special Japanese Sky magazine (not just a translation), and a duty free catalog. Shown here on the red Delta blanket (and yes I did "liberate" all of these from the flight)
At about 12 minutes before departure FAs came through with the immigration paperwork for Japan.
Takeoff was on time and the roar of the 777-200LR engines were comforting. I did notice how the overhead bins and overhead panels seemed to shake as one in relation to the rest of the plane.
Soon after leveling off there was a quick beverage service. The one really odd event of the flight occurred when the FA didn't ask me what I wanted but handed me tomato juice and a bag of nuts?! I didn't want to make a fuss so I just held up the glass and thought "It isn't a bloody mary...but here is to you ronerone!"
During this time there was an announcement about the dinner choices. I was amused when the Asian FA doing the announcement said one of the options came with "Fry Rice" instead of "Fried Rice"
I tried out the Delta IFE which I am pretty familiar with. Alas it did NOT have the trivia game that the domestic flights do where you can compete with other people on the plane so I decided to watch "Despicable Me"
Just as I was done with my tomato juice another FA arrived with my special meal. Being a glutton for punishment I continue to special order the Muslim (MOML) meal on Delta flights.
I was not surprised when the meal arrived and it had no meat and looked just like a vegetarian meal. At least it came with fruit as the dessert.
My Muslim meal, not even sure exactly what it was but it did come with some kind of sauce that gave it some flavor
After dinner was finished and the trays where picked up a FA stopped by to thank me for the chocolate and we ended up chatting about the recent union vote. She was surprised that I knew so much about the goings on at Delta and she encouraged me to come to the back galley to chat.
I finally took a brief nap which was easy as pretty much everyone had closed their shades. Before nodding off I did take a few shots of the moving map and flight info screens. it was cool that all the information was given in English, Japanese, and Spanish.
Map in Japanese!
When I woke it was about 6 hours into the flight so I headed to the back galley to get some water and chatted with the three FAs there. They were all older, one Asian woman, one white woman, and one black man. Two of them had actually started with Pan Am and joined Delta when Delta bought many of Pan Am's assets. They were both nostalgic for the Pan Am days and the woman correctly guessed my Pakistani heritage as she claimed to use to work the Karachi flight for Pan Am a long long time ago!
They were then heading off for their break so I returned to my seat. About 8 hours into the flight an Asian male FA approached my seat and apologized as they could not find my special meal mid-flight snack. He offered me fruit and crackers from the BusinessElite cabin. I thanked him for being so considerate.
Shortly thereafter the carts came down the aisle with the normal mid flight snack. The FA offered one to me pointing out that it had an apple and some cookies.
My mid-flight snack with the normal mid-flight snack.
Normal mid-flight snack with a small turkey sandwich, apple, and cookies
At about 10 hours into the flight I got up to walk around a bit. I then discovered that between the two economy cabins they had set up a snack station with drinks, some extra mid-flight snacks they had given out before, and few assorted packaged snacks.
Snack and beverage station between the two economy cabins
I then made it to the aft galley and had a nice chat with the three Asian flight attendants there. Two were Japanese speakers and one was actually a Mandarin speaker. It was very interesting to chat with them. I found out the Mandarin speaker, the FA who had brought me the fruit and crackers, was the junior member of the crew with ONLY 19 years of service. He said he was only able to get this flight as it was Thanksgiving and that normally he would have no chance of working the flight as a non-Japanese speakers. The Japanese speakers confirmed that for non-LOD (Language of Destination) FAs it takes about 30 years of service to have enough seniority to hold a ATL-Asia flight!
After getting some sleep, at about 12 hours into the flight, packaged wet naps where handed out. Not as classy as a towel service but better than nothing!
Not quite a towel service
The explanation on the back was amusing. I'm a little surprised they haven't sold this space off for advertising!
Soon after I received my special meal breakfast. I was told when the tray was delivered that there would be a hot bagel coming shortly.
Breakfast tray "setup" that everyone got. The banana was frozen solid!
The carts then came down the aisles and the FA offered me the normal hot breakfast since it was vegetarian.
My bagel along with the normal breakfast option that was vegetarian
Not far from NRT
After breakfast I made my way to the aft galley again to thank the FAs for a wonderful trip and to use the lav one last time.
The rear of the 777-200LR had two long "bowling alley" lavs to either side of the galley
View of the wing from the rear door window
The approach and landing into NRT was smooth and the 14+ hour flight seemed to be over far too soon!
On the way out I was able to get a quick picture of the BusinessElite cabin
burj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 892 posts, RR: 5 Reply 2, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 18749 times:
N A R I T A...layover and SkyClub visit
After leaving the plane I was able to get a few good pictures...
Our flight after having arrived
Korean Air, a SkyTeam partner, with TWO other Delta planes in the background
There was quit a bit of walking at NRT to get to the security screening for transfer passengers. The difference in how passengers are treated at security screenings between NRT and PIT is like night and day. In addition to the polite and respectful tone used with passengers, not having to take off your shoes is a big convenience!
Making it through I headed directly to the NRT SkyClub closest to my departure gate.
Up to the SkyClub
I was greeted by two perfectly groomed Japanese lounge attendants. I immediately asked about the shower facilities.
A wonderful shower room, but I was a little disappointed not to have a fancy Japanese toilet!
Next to the sink were three large pump containers with "Soap", "Shampoo", and "Rinse"
I took the three pump containers next to the sink with me into the shower. I finally decided that "Rinse" was Japanese for conditioner and used it after the Shampoo.
After the very long day I had (drive to PIT, flight from PIT to ATL, and then ATL to NRT) it was wonderful to take a nice hot shower!
I then had a walk around the lounge which was very large and wrapped around the curve of the satellite terminal.
Variety of seating area and good views of the tarmac
As I had heard from other Delta fliers, the NRT lounge had far better food than the U.S. SkyClubs.
It also had the much revered Beer machine!
Beer dispenser on the left and soda fountain on the right
I was curious to try some of the different soda flavors that aren't available in the U.S.
My favorite soda was the Fanta Mellon. Not only did it have an interesting taste but a color that was unreal!
At this point I had planned to meet up with a fellow FlyerTalk.com member who was suppose to arrive on the DTW-NRT flight. The lounge agents informed me that the flight was delayed and I never saw him in the lounge. I found out later that by the time his flight arrived and he got off and through security he had to hurry to catch the NRT-HKG flight and couldn't find me on the plane.
I headed to the gate at around 6:10 pm for the 6:15 pm boarding. When I arrived at the gate I found more gate agents than I've ever seen work a Delta flight. In addition to the group of young women at the podium there were a few older agents roaming around in front of the podium holding signs labeled "Zone1", "Zone 2", etc... Alas I couldn't discretely take any pictures as much as I wanted to.
An announcement was made that boarding would begin at 6:15 pm, but then another was made that it would be at 6:30 so this gave me 15 minutes to walk around and take some more pictures.
Our 747 to HKG
Next to the gate podium was a large TV for people sitting in the gate area
I debated going back to the lounge but near the escalator going up the lounge I noticed a sign saying there was a public lounge one level down!
Signs for the public lounge!
I was curious and headed down and was pleasantly surprised to find a quiet area with quite a few
Boarding was relatively quick and painless. I was sitting near the very front of the economy cabin and again I was lucky that the two seats next to me were empty with just a Japanese gentlemen in the seat on the aisle on the other side of these center set of seats.
I gave chocolate to the nearest FA, a middle aged Chinese man who again seemed a little surprised but happy to have received them.
I did notice that this former NWA aircraft had the Delta blue leather interior. However it did not have AVOD and VERY narrow seats. According to Seatguru.com the Delta 747s have 17" seats in economy, the same as on a CRJ-200!
I was also amazed at just how bad the overhead bins were, especially over the window seats. Not only where they small, but the doors did not open very wide so people really struggled to get their bags in them.
No AVOD, just old school film screens, note the overhead bins on the left.
This hopefully show just how bad the doors are and the small opening they create for the bins!
As the flight was relatively empty boarding did not take very long but it did seem chaotic with people crossing between aisle between rows of seats, other going back and then trying to come forward against the flow, etc. Sitting across from me was an elderly Chinese couple and the FA had to show them how to properly use the seatbelts.
Once boarding was pretty much complete FAs came through and offered newspapers to people in economy! I was really impressed. I assume these where left over from BusinessElite, but it was still a nice touch for the people sitting near the front of the forward economy cabin!
Announcements were made in American English, Japanese, and Chinese (I think Cantonese).
We pushed back from the gate at 7:10 pm, 5 minutes late. However it was another 10 minutes until the aircraft was turned and we started moving away from the terminal and towards the runway. Takeoff was not until 7:30 pm and was a very slow and gentle affair compared to the 777!
Soon after takeoff FAs came down the aisle with trays filled with earbuds. This was a classier approach than the "wedged into the seats" method used on the ATL-NRT flight!
The elderly couple were struggling with the earbuds. I smiled and pointed to the jacks at the end of the armrests. When they couldn't get the jack to go in I politely waved to get their attention and showed them, using my headset, how to take off the two prong adapter to reveal the single jack.
They gave me the universal nod-smile combination to show gratitude. Then, holding the adapter the man made the universal hunched shoulders-confused face combination for "What the heck is this for?!" nodding towards the useless adapter he was now left holding.
I debated for a second what the universal non-verbal communication is for "Delta has some old ass planes back in the U.S. that require two pronged adapters and instead of upgrading them they just give EVERYONE earbuds with adapters!"...but just settled for the simpler shoulder shrug sad face combination for "beats me!"
He seemed happy with this and went back to listening to music.
Next the FAs went through the cabin with a hot towel service! I was pretty surprised as this never happens in economy in the U.S. and on the ATL-NRT flight we got towelettes. The hot towels themselves were not the nice cloth type used on domestic first class, but were definitely better than packaged towelettes! I started to realize that there is a real difference between Delta's Asia service (gained through the merger with NWA) and their other flights.
Paying closer attention now I also realized just how YOUNG all the flight attendants were. Most of them were in the sexy red wrap dress uniform. On most domestic Delta flights it is a lot less common to see the dress as you have to be pretty slim to look good in it.
Then, 30 minutes, into the flight was the beverage service. An Asian FA (perhaps Filipino) apologized for not having Diet Coke or Coke Zero so I asked for a tonic water. She then offered me "pee-nats" or "press-alls."
Hot towelette service
Tonic water with "pee-nats"
Soon after the original male Chinese FA delivered my Muslim (MOML) special meal. I was amazed that it had my name on it AND it was NOT a vegetarian meal!
My special Muslim (MOML) meal which was NOT a vegetarian dish in disguise!
The fish was horribly over cooked, BUT I was just happy to have an animal protein!
The dessert concerned me a little as it appeared to be some kind of fruit in gelatin and most gelatin is NOT Halal...
During the meal they offered green tea in addition to traditional meal beverages.
After drinking my green tea I took a look at the bottom of the cup and found a very comforting logo.
Delta was quick to try to erase NWA after the merger but not all traces are gone! (And yes this cup was liberated!)
I fell asleep after the meal trays were cleared and slept only for a little while. I needed to stretch my legs and decided to walk around the cabin. There were quite a few others wondering about.
At the aft galley a female Hong Kong based Chinese FA asked if I had given them the chocolates and thanked me. We then have a very long discussion, which a few other FAs joined, as to the different between the Asia based FAs and the U.S. based FAs. She admitted it was strange for them to meet Delta FAs whose start date is before they were even born! She was also very candid and admitted that their Asian passengers are far more demanding than the American passenger, like myself, who are on intra-Asia flights after connecting through NRT.
When I mentioned this was my first time to Hong Kong she immediately started writing down suggestions for places to visit. I asked about airport transportation since we would be getting in late. She asked where I was staying and as soon as I said the "Panda Hotel" she let out a very happy laugh/squeal which caught me off guard. Apparently she lives near that hotel and explained that the easiest way to get to the hotel was by train and then taxi. She even wrote down the hotel's name for me in Chinese so I could show it to the taxi driver if I needed to.
My conversation was refreshing because while she was a young Asian FA, she was very much a Delta FA with the ability to carry on a conversation with warmth and humor and NOT be "robotic" as other Asian carriers train their FAs to be.
When I returned to my seat an in-flight movie was playing. The male Chinese FA then stopped by and offered me a small bag with a bottle of Sake and a bottle of Chardonnay and thanked me for the chocolates and for being a Delta frequent flier. I thanked him and told him it wasn't necessary but I appreciate the gesture. I did NOT mention it was a little odd to be giving alcohol to someone who had ordered a Muslim meal. To be fair I'm sure there are plenty of passengers who order booze to go with their Muslim meals!
I was so tired I immediately fell asleep and only awoke right before landing.
Getting off the plane and through passport control and customs was very quick and easy and I was finally in Hong Kong!
C O N C L U S I O N S
My trip really gave me a chance to experience a part of Delta that I had never seen before. Someone once explained to me that by Asian standards Delta's Asian service was far below those of its Asian competitors but that its prices made it the "LCC" of transpacific flying. For me it is interesting to compare flying NRT-HKG (about a 5 hour flight) to something like JFK-SFO (also about 5 hours) in economy. While there are no meals on domestic U.S. flights, 17" seats would never be acceptable and the lack of AVOD would be rare as most of Delta's long hall domestic fleet has been upgraded to have AVOD and in most cases wifi.
It is definitely a good sign that Delta is committed to upgrading the 747 fleet, but it can not happen soon enough! It will also be interesting to see what happens now that the FA union vote was against unionization. Could this give Delta the ability to staff more of their transpacific flights with younger (and cheaper?) Asia based FAs?
As always I'm happy to receive feedback and will do my best to answer questions. I know this TR has been LONG but I hope it has been interesting and little bit entertaining!
Quoting Palmjet (Reply 5): I had no problems at all taking pics aboard any Delta flight that I took in December 2010 - and posted a trip report with many pics. I wasn't using an SLR aboard, but a compact camera:
Hmm..maybe on my next TR I'll try using my compact camera...
You get a meal in domestic first class on flights that are LONGER than 900 miles but under 1,500 miles you get a meal DURING meal times....on flights longer than 15000 miles you are guaranteed a meal.
But from experience there are exceptions to this rule. For instance NYC-ATL flights get a meal as NYC has a lot of competition.
Quoting Luftfahrer (Reply 7): And you are sure you didn't want to try to cajole them into leaving the seat next to you open?
You know as I was walking up the gate I totally thought they might think I was trying to bribe them so I asked first and THEN gave them the chocolate... LOL If I were really cheeky I would have given them the chocolate and then asked about an op-up. On really full flights Delta Diamond and Plat members have been given upgrades to free up their economy seats... Alas I know that wouldn't happen on this flight as it wasn't full.
Quoting Luftfahrer (Reply 7): It sounds awkward. She gives you a drink you didn't even want? I wonder if she even noticed.
I can only assume they were meant for another passenger. LOL
chepos From Puerto Rico, joined Dec 2000, 6097 posts, RR: 11 Reply 14, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 17989 times:
Very good trip report I enjoyed reading it. On my LAX-NRT DL flight (back in Nov) newspapers were handed out as well (Japanese and American papers). On the return to SEA I don't recall newspapers being provided. That being said I recall flying DL back in 05 between ATL-FRA-JFK and newspapers were handed out on those flights as well. Additionally those wet wipes pictured in your tr were provided on both of those sectors, granted this is something very common in Japan (mostly in the form of wet towels). On the LAX-NRT flight the menu called for a mid flight snack in the form of pictured turkey sandwich, however, on my flight the F/A's just set these sandwiches in the galley and did not go through the cabin with the sandwiches. All in all the f/a's on both of the flights were professional and friendly enough.
toby25 From Hong Kong, joined May 2008, 74 posts, RR: 0 Reply 15, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 17898 times:
lol, your trip report is excellent! Really funny, I liked it! In life you have to have humour haha. You seemed to have had quite a mini adventure before you even set foot on the aeroplane! i can't believe you stood in front of a bus in the rain, you crazy fool haha! If it didnt stop I think the headlines would have hit the international stage. I am sure you were a modern day saint to those passengers in the bus shelter waiting such a long time! I wonder why the bus driver didnt stop eventhough the bus wasnt full. Very rude!
I am not too sure if i believe you that the security agent frisked you! I didnt think they did that haha, so funny! I would be like WHAT THE HELL! if they started to put the latext gloves on!! I am gonna start calling the security agents Smurfs now!
I have never seen overhead bins in that 757 so small! Reminds me of the come fly with me comedy show on the BBC, click link below and fast forward to 19:22
Delta operations in NRT always fascinates me, how many flights do they operate there and how many further flights out from NRT into the rest of Asia do they operate? I have never flown with an American carrier, and from your trip report it seems Delta needs to upgrade their cabin interiors and the 'sticky' floor in the toilet!!? Oh dear lord! i hope you wore your shoes in there! Actually in your cabin toilet photo is that wood panelling on the floor or plastic flooring made out to look like wood?
Seems the crew were much friendlier on your intra-asian flights. Do Asian based crew also operate out of NRT to America or just stay in Asia?
burj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 892 posts, RR: 5 Reply 18, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 17030 times:
Quoting The777Man (Reply 13): Very small bins on DL's 744 which seems odd; the bins on most 744s are huge and there are never any problems storing large bags in them.
It was really odd! I had heard that DL had pulled an old NWA 747 out of the desert...maybe this was it? I remember thinking I had to get pictures of the bins as nobody would believe me otherwise!
Quoting chepos (Reply 14): All in all the f/a's on both of the flights were professional and friendly enough.
Thank you for sharing.
Definitely! DL's FAs are among their strong points... Writing the TR took a while...but I enjoyed looking back through my notes and photos and remembering the trip!
Quoting toby25 (Reply 15): lol, your trip report is excellent! Really funny, I liked it! In life you have to have humour haha.
I agree, life is too short and miserable NOT to have a sense of humor!
Quoting toby25 (Reply 15): i can't believe you stood in front of a bus in the rain, you crazy fool haha!
In hind sight I don't know what I was thinking, especially since I had PLENTY of time to wait. I think it was a combination of the having been up driving, being wet, seeing the upset older folks...and really if I am honest...the idea of being so disrespected that a bus would just DRIVE BY and leave us (ME!) standing there!
Quoting toby25 (Reply 15): I wonder why the bus driver didnt stop eventhough the bus wasnt full. Very rude!
Actually I realized what had happened when I got on. A lot of people who are not used to public transportation get on a bus or subway/metro and then do NOT move to the middle or back of to make room. People had gotten on at the front door, near the driver, and then didn't move back. So for her, if she looked in her mirror it just appeared that the bus was full as there were people in the aisle right next to her.
Quoting toby25 (Reply 15): am not too sure if i believe you that the security agent frisked you! I didnt think they did that haha, so funny! I would be like WHAT THE HELL!
This has been BIG news in the U.S. right before Thanksgiving with A LOT of people complaining about just how "intimate" the "enhanced patdown" (or "Freedom Grope") can be...
Actually...here is a youtube clip that someone recorded at an airport...you can see the poor woman jerk when the Smurf fondles her breasts....
Quoting toby25 (Reply 15): Reminds me of the come fly with me comedy show on the BBC
The other day I watched that on youtube...it is so horribly stereotypical and yet so funny! Unless you've seen an episode of "Airport" the show doesn't make sense... It is such an excellent parody of Airport down to the voice overs and the exterior shots!
Quoting toby25 (Reply 15): how many flights do they operate there and how many further flights out from NRT into the rest of Asia do they operate?
I don't know but if you google a litlte you'll find out. It is a weird remnant of WWII that U.S. carriers got 5th freedom rights from NRT and can use it as a hub they way they do!
Quoting toby25 (Reply 15): Actually in your cabin toilet photo is that wood panelling on the floor or plastic flooring made out to look like wood?
It is actual wood paneling and is quite nice looking...when it isn't sticky!
Quoting toby25 (Reply 15): Seems the crew were much friendlier on your intra-asian flights. Do Asian based crew also operate out of NRT to America or just stay in Asia?
Both crews were really nice... According to the Hong Kong based FA I chatted a while with, she has worked NRT-DTW flights. It make sense for them to work Asia-North America flights.
Transpac787 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3155 posts, RR: 14 Reply 20, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 15520 times:
Great report!! When I saw the title I was wondering just why the heck someone would fly that routing as opposed to PIT-DTW-HKG but then I saw it was for the FF miles haha. Well played.
Quoting burj (Reply 18): It was really odd! I had heard that DL had pulled an old NWA 747 out of the desert...maybe this was it? I remember thinking I had to get pictures of the bins as nobody would believe me otherwise!
There were two 744's that went into the desert for a very short period back in... I want to say fall 2009. They were subsequently returned to service and 16 of 16 ships are now in active service.
The interiors will be dramatically improved with the new cabin reconfigurations beginning in just 2-3 months. Full-flat suites in J-class, AVOD PTV's in Y-class, and allegedly new 777-style overhead bins.
akhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2421 posts, RR: 53 Reply 21, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 15454 times:
Finally I felt fit enough to comment your indeed long, but informative, hilarious, sweet and truly entertaining report. I am sure you are jolly to travel around with. The chocolate box, ah yes, is definitely your signature.
Nice to know about the great service the FA's deliver on the international flights. But I think it is also because of how you have treated them and your nice gesture.
Quoting burj (Thread starter): For some reason taking discrete snapshots with a mobile is not a problem, but pull out a full sized SLR and plenty of people will approach you and question your motives.
Quoting Luftfahrer (Reply 7): Uhm... no?! I've been doing that a couple of times and never once have I been questioned about my motives.
It seems better to remain discrete and using a compact camera for photo taking.
Unfortunately both DL and NW went through long stretches in the 1990s and 2000s without any Flight Attendant hiring. I was hired in 1992 and while it would mean decent seniority in NYC where I'm based, in other bases such as ATL or MSP it wouldn't.
Quoting burj (Reply 12): But seriously WHY on an ATL-NRT flight would they have Portuguese?
There are a lot of people who connect from Brazil on the ATL-NRT flights.
BTW I really loved your SQ FC LAX-NRT-SIN report. My partner and I really wanted to do a similar journey with the SkyMiles we accumulated over the years. Last March, before SQ pulled out of SkyMiles we lucked out and were able to cash in the miles for a trip last October. Your report gave us a good ideas on what to expect!
VonRichtofen From Canada, joined Nov 2000, 4624 posts, RR: 38 Reply 23, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 15050 times:
Great first TR!!
Don't worry about using your camera to take pictures on flights. I fly to/from and within the US several times per year, I always break out the DSLR and go to town Not once have I been questioned. I just make sure I wait till the F/A's are in their jumpseats before taking the camera out
burj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 892 posts, RR: 5 Reply 24, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 14616 times:
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 19): Nice trip report, sorry to hear about the bus incident in PIT. I'm quite surprised to see the 747's in the Delta leather. I taught they were replacing those seats completely with seats with AVOD in.
Well apparently they soon after merging with NWA they did have the seat covers changed, and I think the carpeting too, so they matched the normal Delta interior.... However it is only recently that the Delta board approved the $$ it will take to really redo the interiors, new BusinessElite (using the same seats USAirways were the first to us in their Envoy cabin of some A330s) and the economy seats with integrated AVOD...
Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 20): Great report!! When I saw the title I was wondering just why the heck someone would fly that routing as opposed to PIT-DTW-AND OLD: Hong Kong - Kai Tak International (HKG / VHHH) (closed), China - Hong Kong">HKG but then I saw it was for the FF miles haha. Well played.
Yeah...the routing was definitely because I'm an airline geek! It wasn't just the miles...I *really* wanted to try out the NRT SkyClub after hearing so many Delta people rave about it...AND I wanted to try out a 747...BUT on a relatively short flight... They use them on MSP-NRT and NYC-NRT flights and those are just TOO long to be in narrow seats with no AVOD!
Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 20): The interiors will be dramatically improved with the new cabin reconfigurations beginning in just 2-3 months. Full-flat suites in J-class, AVOD PTV's in Y-class, and allegedly new 777-style overhead bins.
I'm really looking forward to it...I just hope they don't take forever to do the upgrades...most of the older 777s STILL have the old old recliner type BusinessElite seats!
Quoting akhmad (Reply 21): Finally I felt fit enough to comment your indeed long, but informative, hilarious, sweet and truly entertaining report
Thank you for the kind words!
Quoting akhmad (Reply 21): The chocolate box, ah yes, is definitely your signature.
You know it has finally started to happen that FA's on long domestic flights now recognize me, or I should say the type of boxed chocolates, from previous flights!
Quoting akhmad (Reply 21): And he is still junior? How long does it have to take for a FA to gain the seniority?
As someone pointed out...for ATL 19 years IS pretty junior...or at least not senior enough to get to do ATL-ASIA on a regular basis! It is well known that the NYC FA base is where more junior FA's can hold international trips. NYC has a good number of int'l flights AND because of the high cost of living it is not that popular of a base... I've been told that almost ALL the new FA hires will be based in NYC.
Quoting akhmad (Reply 21): Very enjoyable report, Burj. Thanks a lot for cheering me up.
The very least I can do for someone who posted the very first PIA trip report I read on a.net!
Quoting TR1 (Reply 22): Great trip report Burj--thanks for sharing
Thanks! Putting together a TR is actually a lot of work...but taking notes and photos during the trip gives me something to do and it is easy writing about something I enjoy!
Quoting TR1 (Reply 22): There are a lot of people who connect from Brazil on the ATL-NRT flights.
Really?! Seems like the long way to go...but thanks for explaining why the Portugese!
Quoting TR1 (Reply 22): BTW I really loved your SQ FC LAX-NRT-SIN report. My partner and I really wanted to do a similar journey with the SkyMiles we accumulated over the years. Last March, before SQ pulled out of SkyMiles we lucked out and were able to cash in the miles for a trip last October.
Oh glad you enjoyed it! How was your trip? Did you and your partner enjoy it?
Quoting TR1 (Reply 22): I was hired in 1992 and while it would mean decent seniority in NYC where I'm based, in other bases such as ATL or MSP it wouldn't.
So are you are based in NYC? Maybe I've had you on flights before! Well if you ever see a big brown guy with a black backpack with a big "FlyerTalk" yellow tag....who is (hopefully) sitting in F/C...giving chocolate to the crew...make sure to say hi!
Actually this is my third...but first DL int'l trip report.
Quoting VonRichtofen (Reply 23): Don't worry about using your camera to take pictures on flights. I fly to/from and within the US several times per year, I always break out the DSLR and go to town Not once have I been questioned. I just make sure I wait till the F/A's are in their jumpseats before taking the camera out
LOL...I'll keep that trick in mind...based on the encouragement I think I am going to try using my compact camera for the next trip report....
25 777ORD: great tr!!! Great detail, too! Sure not the best picture quality, but sometimes the regular pictures make the moment and story one tells that much mor
26 DeltaHolland: What a great trip report! So incredibly humorous, ah! I loved the amount of detail and your dialogue throughout the report, it really kept me entertai
27 ronerone: Any Trip Report featuring a Bloody Mary -even a Halal one at that- gets my vote Thanks for a great trip Burj! .. I have never really paid much attent
28 CoachClass: Also, maybe because neighboring Macao, former Portuguese colony, speaks Portuguese and Cantonese. I really enjoyed the trip report. I read it like an
29 CoachClass: Also, maybe because neighboring Macao, former Portuguese colony, speaks Portuguese and Cantonese. I really enjoyed the trip report. I read it like an
30 TR1: Yes, it was a most enjoyable trip. Six days in Singapore and four on Bali. While some carriers may have a top-notch soft or hard product, having both
31 burj: Thank! Glad you liked it! I've only crossed the Pacific twice now and crossing the Atlantic from the Northeast of the U.S. to Europe is going to feel
32 burj: O.K. will describe my approach and rational below...but first specific advice on your trip.... I actually would NOT give chocolate or anything to for
33 CoachClass: burj, Thanks for your thoughtful explanation. I believe you're a generous, giving person off the plane as well, and, I know you're not Irish, but I su
34 ba319-131: Nice report and quite amusing in places too, the bus incident was very amusing, lucky not to get run over me thinks! - I think this is pretty poor, he
35 burj: Thanks, glad you enjoyed it! The standard meals were not any better. As far as I could tell the only difference on the standard dinner was instead of
36 ryanair!!!: LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ah yes... I remember my days with NWA and the numerous Trans-pac flights I have done with them via NRT. "greenteagreenteagreen
37 burj: Wow that is so funny because it was SO true...she was hustling down the aisle pretty quickly...but thanks to the narrow seats it was pretty easy to l