I haven't flown on Delta since 9/11. They had a good first-class fare on their non-stops to SLC. I've tried United Express' (Skywest) RJ non-stops from LAX and felt very claustrophobic, and I didn't want to connect through SFO on 737's. Time to try Delta for a change.
LAX to SLC - 8/18/2004
Scheduled Departure Time: 15:15
Actual Pushback: 15:18 Gate 56
Aircraft #:N378DA Takeoff Runway: 25R
I chose this flight as I wanted to try the 737-800.
Photo © Jason Whitebird
Got to the airport around 13:00. Proceeded to the First Class check-in at LAX. Very pleasant agent; however, she needed to see my ID a second time, and call it in. She said, although she wasn't supposed to tell me, that I had come up on a "watch list." ??? That was finished and I was given my boarding pass for Seat 1B (as recommended on seatguru.com). She then directed me to take my checked luggage over to be x-rayed. I stood in that line, left my bags and then proceeded to security.
At this point, I have now encountered 3 things that Delta does not offer First Class passengers that United does: 1. Bags are not marked for priority handling. 2. At United I have never had to wait in a separate line to have my checked luggage x-rayed. and 3rd - their First Class Security screening was closed.
They started boarding at 14:45, I was the first on and took my seat 1B. Not a bad choice, a lot of legroom for being in the bulkhead row. The seats were pretty good too! I so hate what United now has in their domestic First Class, they are so uncomfortable. The flight was full and boarding seemed to be unorganized when compared to United. I was offered MY CHOICE of drink before takeoff (United no longer does this). I had a club soda and relaxed before we pushed back.
The flight itself was short and uneventful. The flight attendant in first, Jody, was very pleasant. There was only beverage service on this short flight. I had a couple of bourbon and 7's and watched the Delta Horizons Inflight showing - a rerun of "8 Simple Rules."
Soon enough we began our descent, approaching the Salt Lake Valley from the south. We landed on Runway 34R and taxied to Gate D-3. Arrival time was 18:00, 3 minutes behind schedule. Proceeded to Baggage Claim for a long wait, as unlike United, First Class Passengers DO NOT receive Priority Baggage Handling.
Got my rental car and headed to my hotel. At this point I do have to plug the Grand America Hotel in SLC. I'm glad I treated myself as it was truly a fantastic place to stay (for Salt Lake City).
Return SLC to LAX Sunday, August 22
Scheduled Departure Time: 19:03
Actual Pushback: 19:20 Gate D-2
Aircraft #:N177DZ Takeoff Runway: 34L
I chose this flight because of scheduling only, I hate the 767:
Photo © Justin Idle
Had a nice visit with the family in Wyoming, and got in the car and drove back to SLC on Sunday. As I got to the airport that afternoon, I noticed that takeoffs were to the South (rather than to the north which is the usual). Dropped my rental car off and proceeded to the First Class check-in.
Got to the line, which wasn't too long. My bags were screened for explosives by the TSA before I reached the counter. They actually carried them to the counter for check-in for me. Check-in was non-eventful. No additional security checks this time, and I didn't have to carry my bags to be x-rayed. I received my boarding pass and headed to security screening.
The lines were long, even for First Class/Medallion customers. It took about 15 minutes to get through, but I did with no harm. As I was early I headed to the Terrace restaurant for a light dinner, drink and do some spotting. The spotting wasn't too exciting. It seems everytime I go through SLC I do see the same America West 737-200. The old classic is still flying.
Headed to the gate at about 17:30 and picked a good seat to watch the activity to the west towards the E concourse. While waiting a quick storm passed through with a lot of wind. That meant a change in air traffic patterns, and aircraft had to be re-routed causing some minor delays. The plane I was on was coming in from CVG and and arrived about 30 minutes late.
With the late arrival, gate agents were anxious to get everybody off. Boarding was delayed, as crews were delayed on other inbound flights. Boarding finally started at about 18:55.
I was first on the plane and headed to seat 3B. I was offered a drink (just a club soda please) and sat back as the flight was boarded. Before take-off, I had to use the restroom, and was pleasantly surprised to find a sparking clean facility. United hasn't had those in a long time.
As in LAX, boarding seemed disorganized. The flights attendants were directing passengers to the correct aisle, but nobody seemed to pay attention. Finally, it was complete, the doors were shut and the jetway pulled back. We pushed back about 20 minutes after scheduled departure. We taxied to 34L and had a smooth takeoff.
The flight was choppy because of the weather, but uneventful. Beverage service only again. Delta Horizons showed a rerun of "Frasier" which I enjoyed. Attention to the First Class cabin by the flight attendants was friendly, but minimal. The 3 working first class seemed to spend a lot of time in the galley.
Soon we were on approach to land at LAX. Touchdown was on Runway 25L, at 19:58 right on schedule. We taxied to the alley between 5 and 6 and were towed to Gate 61.
Headed down to Baggage Claim and found that I then had to go back to Terminal 5 (from 6) to claim my bags. Another long wait, this time it seemed my bags were some of the last to be off loaded.
Delta gets a 40% this time. I'm glad I made the trip so that I can compare, especially with First Class service. While waiting for my flights I overheard a lot of grumbling from the employees about the state of the airline. I didn't notice any real attempt to improve customer service as was publicized in the Wall Street Journal last week.
To the management at Delta - your customers can sense the apparent doom and lack of optimism among your ranks. Its going to be hard to attact the high-fare paying "road warrior" if they receive, or think they are going to receive less than good customer service. I hope you can get things straightened out financially, but there is a lot of work to be done to get your employees enthusiastic about Delta again.