Here is a short domestic report on my recent travel on Delta and TED. Well, both airlines were quite disappointing, but I was not expecting much in the first place, so the trip was fine. I flew Jetblue back to New York City… it was a typical fine Jetblue’s experience with beverage throughout the flight – I got more beverage service from Jetblue than my Delta’s first class flight. After attending the Pride event, I went back to LA on Tuesday. I bought a $350 A class ticket from LGA to LAS via ATL, and then a $37 flight on TED back to LA. I had no bags, so it was a simple connection process. I flew Boeing 767-400ER for the first time and it was fine aircraft – a bit speedier than –300s. Of course, Delta really cramps its Boeing 767-400s with a large but crowded first class cabin. Seat pitch is like 38”, but to my surprise, individual entertainment units were installed, so I could follow the “Compass” Sky map throughout the flight. There were also games available, and movies and video were no on demand, but on a cycle. I followed Seat Guru’s advice and took seat 7EF, which was indeed good seats with extra legroom. About TED, I only have one comment – why bother? I was no impressed with TED and if that flight was an evidence on how United is heading, I would redeem all my UA miles today. Here is the expanded version –
June 29, 2004
DL 1089 LGA-LAS Lv1200 Arr1425 Boeing 767-400ER N829MH “1805”
I used the kiosk to check in – fairly simple, but could not change my FF number on the kiosk. I somehow like CO and NW system better. I was able to use the first class express line and the TSA at LGA was fairly efficient and friendly. Then I proceeded to the Delta’s Crown Club, since I am an AE Platinum card holder. I was admitted with no problem and the club was much larger than NWA. There was a fully equipped business center and even two internet-connected computers. Beverage was Dasani water and tea/coffee, with a full bar, and snacks were typical US club system – only snack mix and biscoff cookies. I had a cup of tea, checked my emails, and then proceeded to my gate, 3 today.
As I was in Flushing earlier, I saw my aircraft landed at LGA around 10:28pm. The –400 is just amazing and I like the wingtip design. This flight was fully booked and boarding was pretty chaotic, as nobody followed the Zone instruction. The gate agent had to turn away most of the people in line. I went to my 3A and the DL F/As at this leg were extremely friendly and professional. A mini bottle of Dasani water and headset were already placed at seat console. The seats were cleaned but I had leftover newspapers on the side of the seat. F/A offered us a pre-takeoff beverage and some snacks – Fisher or Cape Cod’s pretzels and Delta’s snack mix. They even asked if we needed refills. American and United, please take note! F class was 100% full and Y class was too as well. BTW, $75 upgrades were offered at gate. Door was closed at 12:02pm and pilots informed us that our flying time was an hour and forty-seven minutes, with a cruising attitude of 35,000feet. The routing took us from New York, over Dulles International airport, Roanoke, Virginia, Asheville, and Clemson. Due to traffic at LGA, our taxiing was extremely long. I spotted my first Canjet at LGA – C-GAHB, which looks like a Boeing 737-300 or –500. We took off from R/W04 at 12:45pm, with two Delta Shuttle’s Boeing 737-300 N223DZ and N232DZ waiting at the side.
Hot towels were first offered, followed by beverage service. Linens were than passed out, but the lunch tray had plastic utensils and paper napkin. The lunch today was a Salad with grilled chicken chunks, tomato wedges, blue cheese bits, corns, and bacon bits, accompanied by Ranch dressing, a packaged bread stick, and a packaged marble brownie. It was basically previously coach food served in a tray. I think American spends more money on its transcontinental coach main meal than Delta on a first class short-haul flight. Since I was not expecting much, a lunch was better than nothing. Some short subjects were shown in the main screen and the individual units. I read a bit and followed the map. After lunch, the F/As were more interested in collecting glasses and coffee and tea were not really offered unless asked. Descent soon began at 2:02pm, and sample packages of Eclipse’s winterfrost mints were passed out. Seat belt sign turned back on at 2:10pm and we landed on a rather cloudy Atlanta’s R/W26R at 2:31pm, and parked at gate T-3 a few minutes later. ATL is a truly Delta’s land. This same aircraft will bring me to Las Vegas.
DL 841 ATL-LAS Lv1613 Arr1724 Boeing 767-400ER N829MH/1805
I hung around ATL airport a bit, had a chicken strips dinner, and then headed to the Crown Room at Concourse T. It was much larger than the LGA one, and had a large bar, seating area and business center. I got a ginger ale from the bar and the bar tender did not take my tip. (I passed him a $1 bill and then he just said, ‘it was complimentary’.) I sat by the window and read some papers, before heading to my gate. This Las Vegas flight was less full than LGA one – first class was filled with last minute upgrades and employees, but Y looked not too full, at least the first section behind first class. No Dasani water bottles, but headsets were at each seat, and a full pre-takeoff beverage was offered again – but no snacks. The F/As were once again cheerful, but not as good as the last flight. But I like DL’s uniforms – it looks very modern and stylish, unlike the tired looking UA or AA uniforms, which made them look like prison matrons. Door was closed at 4:14pm and we pushed back eight minutes later, as there was some traffic at the alleyway. We headed to R/W 26L soon after and traffic was heavy this afternoon. We passed by two interesting airplanes – first a Boeing 767-200 with a light blue color belly and an African nation flag – TJ-AAC, and a scrapped Delta’s MD-11 N802DE. We took off at 4:50pm, and flying time was three hours and thirty-eight minutes with an initial cruising attitude of 31,000feet and then proceeded to 35,000feet. Our routing took us over Sardis Lake, Little Rock, Broken Bow Lake, Lawton, Rio Grande, NM, and Chaco Canyon. For the first hour and half, seat belt sign remained on and F/As remain seated. The turbulence was actually not too bad, but I guess the pilots were cautious, as we flew past some storm activities at the South. Finally F/As were released at 6:29pm, and rushed through service. For mainscreen, Miracles was shown but the film was never finished. I felt bad for the passengers, who paid $2 for the headsets. There was also food available for purchase in coach class. For us folks in first, we got a so-called “dinner.” It was another one tray service – a green salad with tomato and cucumbers and ranch dressing (again), a warmed French Roll, an entrée of saffron risotto with more grilled chicken chunks (Delta must buy them in bulk), and a shredded cucumber, tomato, and fennel sauce on top, and a piece of turtle/brownie cheesecake. It was an edible meal, but not first class food. Basically it was coach food placed in china, and to be honest, AA’s transcontinental hot meals in coach may be more filling than this so called first class dinner. SQ’s Y meals are more filling. Of course, knowing the way Delta is heading, I am not surprised at the quality. Well, the flight pretty much came to an end after a quick tea/coffee service, and we began descent at 7:57pm EST, and landed on R/W25L at 5:28pm PST. We quickly parked at gate D38, and there was another DL’s Boeing 757 landing after us. In conclusion, I like the Boeing 767-400ER, but DL’s first class seats and service are disappointing at best. The IFE units in F are nice and the F/As are fine, but other part of the service just fails. NW charges the same for an one way F fare between LGA and LAS, and I think NW will be my choice next time. Northwest surely does not have entertainment and the seats are not that better off than DL’s Boeing 767s, but at least, it serves a more filling hot meal and the Airbus was not too bad. Boeing 767-400ER are just more crowded than I expect.
UA 1491 LAS-LAX Lv1834 Arr1937 Airbus A320-200 N484UA Operated by Ted
Well I don’t see how TED can save United, and if you ask me, it is a major failure, and I don’t see why TED is created. United has managed to become my least favorite airline on intra-California and short-haul West coast flights during the past two months – first, the MESA’s SJC-LAX experience, and now the even more disappointing TED experience. Yes, TED uses more spacious Airbus A320s and the Y-plus section is nice, but I really don’t see any major difference between mainline and TED United. The F/As wear the same UA uniform and LAS has the same UA agents. If United attempts to build a superior low fare branch, it fails miserably and I think SONG is just a much better creation. As we know, SONG does not work too well, but at least, Delta tries its best to create a real superior low fare airline service with all the leather and spacious seats, IFE and all those real fun stuff, but TED offers nothing so out of the world – the same blue seats, the same employee attitude, the same unhelpfulness… Sure it is more comfortable than Shuttle, but TED is really not a superior low fare experience. TED basically helps United to cut first class from some leisure routes and does nothing more. I feel TED is a complete waste of money and that is why I said, “Why bother?”
Well the flight was pretty basic. The inbound flight arrived an hour prior to our departure, and I was surprised that TED did not have a shorter turnaround time. That leads to the question on how United can improve the aircraft utilization rate of TED airplanes, and how TED can make money. Boarding began at 6:07pm and two martial were already seated at 1C and D, and I was at 1A. However, all the overhead lockers were filled by the whole F/As (I suspected closet spaces were reduced too), and the F/As just told me to find a spot further down the road. Once again, employees are more important than customers. Jetblue’s F/As will help me find spaces and give me a welcome smile, but the TED F/As were busy talking among themselves. Where is the “fun” part? Door was closed at 6:29pm, and we took off from a quiet LAS R/W25R at 6:41pm. Flying time was forty-four minutes and there was only some chops during takeoff – nothing major. Then a limited beverage service was offered – lemonade or Crystal Geyser water, and the F/As collected trash and sat down to read for the last twenty-five minutes of the flight. Of course, I was forewarned here, but TED can do better than a silly glass of lemonade or water. I bought my own OJ but this TED experience was simply poor. Jetblue offered a limited beverage service, but with soft drinks and bottled water served in can, and also a pack of snacks. American offers a full beverage service and pretzels. Southwest offers full beverage service with honey roasted peanuts. They all pretty much have the same fare structure, but why other airlines are so much better. Thankfully, we landed on R/W25R at 7:23pm and I was off the airport at 7:40pm. The only good thing was the on time departure and early arrival.
If TED is created to save United, I am not sure if United can survive at this time next year. TED is once again caught in this blurred area between a cheap, no frill experience like Air Tran or Southwest and a high quality low fare product, like Jetblue, Song, and Independence Air. It is not as cheap as Southwest (I guess Shuttle proves that UA can’t make money by going that cheap, but at least there is a first class cabin and a full beverage service with snack mix), but not as excellent as Jetblue and Song with high quality service and luxury products. Most of all, TED lacks the enthusiastic and motivated employees from Jetblue, Southwest, Air Tran, and Independence Air. That is why I am getting more pessimistic about United’s future after this TED flight.
Sorry to write such a negative report and it is premature to judge TED from just one short flight, but this short flight left so much bad taste in my mouth that I don’t think I can give it another chance. If you are flying LAX to LAS, please avoid TED!
Well next report will be back on CX! Hopefully more interesting…