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Old 11th September 2016, 09:54 AM   #46
yflyer
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My Delta Airlines flight to Atlanta was operated by a Boeing 757-200. This would be my first ever flight on Delta. I would have preferred to try Delta on one of their classic MD-88s or MD-90s, as there are few opportunities to ride this type in Asia. Delta operates an amazing 181 MD-88/90's, out of a huge total fleet of 822 aircraft, but schedules that day dictated that I fly out on a 757.



But 757's are great too. A fun plane to fly (From a pilot's perspective) and as a passenger I prefer it to flying in a ubiquitous 737 or A320 which are way too common...



US airlines are so transparent about upgrades. They even show the upgrade priority list and status on their flight displays.



Boarding, by zone number printed on the boarding pass, was very orderly as well.



First class cabin, laid out 2-2.



Extra legroom "Comfort+" seats in Y, laid out 3-3.



Emex row...



No, that's not Adobe Photoshop in the picture above...the armrest really is attached to the emergency door!

Y cabin...adequate, even generous, legroom...



Looking at these generously padded seats, you could see how slim, narrow (and hard) airline seats have become over the years. These older generation seats were very comfortable to sit in.




Last edited by yflyer; 12th September 2016 at 11:54 AM..
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Old 11th September 2016, 10:05 AM   #47
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The 757 seems to be a great pilot's plane to fly...with those powerful P&W engines giving the planes a lot of power compared to many other types.

I could hear the engines spooling up even as we rounded the taxiway to line up along runway 19R, as the tech crew began a rolling take-off, with what seemed to be much higher thrust than usual even as we turned, then took off like a rocket...

We had great views of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico as we took off...



Great views of the beautiful coastline and the barrier island where Clearwater Beach was located as we climbed out of TPA...





The white stand along the pristine beaches facing the Gulf of Mexico were visible out of the left side windows...

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Old 11th September 2016, 03:33 PM   #48
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Cabin service began with beverage and food service...



Food onboard this flight is for purchase only, probably like every other airline in North America, whether LCC or full service.



Mainly sandwiches, wraps and cold selections...





Decent selection of cocktails, beer and liquor...



Snack boxes...



I had eaten a late lunch at Columbia Restaurant in the terminal, so skipped meals, opting for cranberry juice and a complimentary pack of pretzels.


Last edited by yflyer; 11th September 2016 at 04:39 PM..
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Old 11th September 2016, 03:50 PM   #49
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No seat back screen, but we had wifi onboard...(Also note the individual air vents).



Apart from wifi, you have streaming movies, video and music if you download an app onto your tablet or smartphone.



Good selection of programmes...and the best part: all movies and entertainment were available on a complimentary basis (Unlike JetBlue on my earlier sector.)



You need to download the app if you actually want to watch a video. The link directs you to the Apple app store to download the video.



Picture quality on my iPhone was very good.



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Old 11th September 2016, 03:51 PM   #50
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I browsed the inflight magazine...this is Delta's route map, a jumble of red lines befitting the world's largest airline...



...and these are just the North America routes!

We flew past Atlanta Hartsfield Airport -- a massive airport and the world's busiest, and Delta's main hub, before joining the queue for landing...



Speed brakes extended after landing...



...taxi to the terminal, landing after a heavy downpour.



Overall impressions of Delta?

I can see why regular Delta passengers are very loyal. This was only my first flight, but I could see that Delta treated their premium pax very well, and that the crew, both tech and cabin crew, on my flight, had a lot of pride in their company. Even their new safety video, which debuted in June 2016, highlights different cabin crew and staff members from different countries, and puts Delta employees front and centre as the face of the company.

It had not been an easy month for Delta: earlier in the month, they had a systemwide outage caused by a failure in one of their IT systems, and it took several days before things got back to normal, but none of that earlier chaos was evident in today's flight, which operated without a hitch, except for a small weather related delay caused by a storm over ATL. I was particularly impressed by how the pilots kept passengers in the loop on how the weather was shaping up and how it would impact our arrival timing.

In terms of equipment, this was not a new plane. In fact, Delta takes pride in how well they maintain their fleet of aircraft, including some very old aircraft, with an average fleet age of 17 years (Their MD-88 fleet average age is almost 26 years!).

I am not a Delta FF or a Skyteam member, so I doubt I will fly Delta a lot in future, even though this first experience was totally positive, but I am still keen to try a flight on their MD-88 or MD-90 should the opportunity arise.
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Old 11th September 2016, 04:10 PM   #51
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I spent just a day in Atlanta, and stayed at the Hyatt Regency, a large hotel in bustling downtown Atlanta.

After landing in the late evening, I caught the subway downtown, and took a short walk to the hotel.



This is a very large hotel. Rooms were comfortable, and very presentable.









It was quite late in the evening when I landed...after a week on the road, I had a craving for Chinese food, and bought a takeaway dinner from an outlet at ATL. This was General Tso Chicken, with a side of hot and sour soup and white rice.



General Tso chicken? What's that?

Well, that's what Americans appear to consider a quintessential Chinese dish...although you would get blank stares if you ask for this in Singapore or even Beijing...it was not bad, and did provide my Asian food fix for the day.

The hotel room had one feature which seems to be quite unusual for city hotels: full length glass windows that opened out to a small balcony.



The view from the hotel room...



Central Atlanta is densely packed with skycrapers...



...which was a big contrast to the lush greenery just a few minutes away from the city center, which I would see later in my stay.

Last edited by yflyer; 20th September 2016 at 03:47 PM..
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Old 11th September 2016, 04:13 PM   #52
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I ordered a room service breakfast the next morning.



None of the regular breakfast items like bacon and eggs, or waffles appealed to me, but one item caught my eye: Georgia Shrimp and Grits.



I still have no idea what grits are...

This was delicious...this is not an easy dish to find in Asia. Anyone know where I can get it in Singapore?

Last edited by yflyer; 20th September 2016 at 03:48 PM..
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Old 11th September 2016, 04:24 PM   #53
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I spent the day with a friend cycling around Freedom Park and the Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail, previously a rail corridor, now converted to trails that connect to parks and neighbourhoods, and which is very popular with pedestrians, runners and cyclists, particularly on weekends.





This was lush and green, with the dense skyline of Atlanta visible in the distance...



A very pleasant way to spend a warm summer day.

Last edited by yflyer; 11th September 2016 at 04:31 PM..
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Old 11th September 2016, 04:52 PM   #54
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My next step was San Francisco. I checked in at ATL and headed to the United Club there.



This was not a large lounge, but it had a good selection of beverages, and a small selection of snacks and finger food -- not to mention great airside views.







The wine and beer selection...





For anyone who felt like bubbles, there was Prosecco...(Anyone asking for a glass of champagne in a US business class lounge would probably start the lounge staff on a hysterical laughing fit...)



Dips and Snacks...



It appears that Sriracha chilli sauce has now earned its place as one of the standard condiments in eating establishments all over the USA.



Hot soup and a selection of bread rolls...



A delicious chicken and sausage gumbo soup today...I had multiple helpings of this fragrant broth...


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Old 11th September 2016, 04:52 PM   #55
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I sat watching the busy comings and goings at ATL...



Was that a rainbow starting to form?



Yes it was! A full rainbow! Even the staff had not seen anything like it, and took out their cellphones to capture the moment...



Not long after, I headed to the gate to board my flight to SFO...the last United flight of the day.
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Old 11th September 2016, 05:03 PM   #56
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For this five hour flight, I was back on familiar territory: A United Airlines 737-800 series with the new Boeing Sky Interior (BSI).



Bulkhead seats...



Emex rows...



A lot of legroom in Economy Plus...



Average legroom for regular Y seats...



Split scimitar winglets on this aircraft...



The aircraft next to ours, in United Express colours, was an Embraer RJ145 regional jet.

No seat back screens, but there was wifi for a fee...



And streaming IFE on your own personal devices...



In-seat power.

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Old 11th September 2016, 05:27 PM   #57
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On today's flight, the cabin crew member working the Y cabin was a slim and attractive young lady, who could easily start a career in modelling.



Complimentary soft beverages, alongside snacks, meals and alcoholic beverages for a fee...







I love the Minute Maid cranberry apple cocktail they serve on UA...served with a full can and a cup of ice.



The flight was uneventful...we landed in San Francisco airport just after 10pm in the evening.

A comfortable flight. At least, as comfortable as a 5 hour flight in economy class on a narrow body aircraft can be. Positives on this flight? I've always been a fan of the Boeing Sky Interior (BSI). It gives the venerable 737 a sleek, modern look inside, and the additional overhead locker space is very welcome. And United cabin service on this flight was fine as well.

On this trip, I stayed at the Hampton Inn (One of Hilton's budget/mid-range brands) in San Francisco, a new hotel in San Francisco (Just opened in late 2015) with a very good downtown location near Moscone Center, and just a short walk from Union Square.







Regular SQTalkers will know that one of the activities I enjoy in San Francisco is a long run along the Golden Gate Bridge and down the waterfront past Crissy Field, Fisherman's Wharf and the Embarcadero, and this trip was no exception.

On this occasion, just like on previous trips, I started at the SF end of the bridge, and did the 5km round trip (2.5km each way) across the Golden Gate Bridge...



...then continued along the coastline past Crissy Field...



...and along the Aquatic Park Pier, which had great views of Alcatraz Island...



...then past Ghirardelli Square towards Fisherman's Wharf...



...then past Fisherman's Wharf down the coastline to the Oakland Bay Bridge and AT&T Park, where the SF Giants had a baseball game on later that day, before doubling back and ending at the San Francisco Ferry Building, for a total distance of 20km.

Details on the typical route I take on these runs can be found in this previous TR.

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Old 11th September 2016, 09:22 PM   #58
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So at this point, the last three flight segments flown were domestic Y sectors on 3 different airlines: JetBlue (B6), Delta (DL) and United (UA).

If it all seems a bit repetitive, I don't blame you...my experiences on this trip reinforced the view that economy class travel within the USA is a commodity: you get pretty much the same product and service on most leading carriers, whether full service or LCC (With the possible exception of certain LCCs like Southwest, who don't do assigned seating, for example).

Are there differences? Of course they are, but in the greater scheme of things, if you want to fly from A to B within the 50 states, it would be hard to go wrong sticking with any of the full service carriers, or with LCC's such as B6.

What did I find was common across the three? All essentially provided narrowbody aircraft, typically 3-3, although Delta's MD's, affectionately nicknamed "Mad Dogs" by fans and enthusiasts are laid out 2-3. Pitch and seat comfort were quite similar across these 3 carrers, although all of them offered some sort of enhanced Y product for a small extra fee.

Economy class catering was also similarly dismal across all three carriers. Can you imagine a 5 hour flight in Asia where they served nothing but pretzels and soft drinks for free? This is the equivalent of Singapore to Mumbai or Shanghai, for goodness sake. On carriers in Asia Pacific, on a route of this length, they ply you with drinks, liquor and a full hot meal. You could of course buy a meal or a drink, but that's not quite the same, is it?

All that said, was that an issue? Not really...if you were really hungry, you could simply buy a hot meal in the terminal and eat it onboard, or as I said, buy an onboard sandwich. I did not feel dissatisfied or short changed on any of the US flights -- I guess it is all about expectations. But a small part of me wished that, on the longer transcontinental flights, they would go back to the days of a proper onboard meal service in Y.

What stood out? I liked the fact that wifi internet, and streaming video, was available on many of these flights. I enjoyed UA lounge access. I also liked the fact that JetBlue enabled me to pay a little more to enjoy perks that normally only frequent flyers get, such as priority security lanes. I was impressed by how much the DL pilots communicated flight status and possible delays to passengers over the PA. I really liked JetBlue cabin service, especially taking Y drink orders from all in the cabin before delivering the drinks.

I think I was also lucky in that I was not stuck in long security lines, or hit with major delays. Overall, I was happy with my experience flying within the USA on fairly inexpensive economy class tickets, either with or without FF status.

Next up...a short stay at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay.

To be continued...

Last edited by yflyer; 12th November 2016 at 11:46 PM..
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Old 11th September 2016, 11:48 PM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yflyer View Post
Economy class catering was also similarly dismal across all three carriers. Can you imagine a 5 hour flight in Asia where they served nothing but pretzels and soft drinks for free? This is the equivalent of Singapore to Mumbai or Shanghai, for goodness sake. On carriers in Asia Pacific, on a route of this length, they ply you with drinks, liquor and a full hot meal. You could of course buy a meal or a drink, but that's not quite the same, is it?

All that said, was that an issue? Not really...if you were really hungry, you could simply buy a hot meal in the terminal and eat it onboard, or as I said, buy an onboard sandwich. I did not feel dissatisfied or short changed on any of the US flights -- I guess it is all about expectations. But a small part of me wished that, on the longer transcontinental flights, they would go back to the days of a proper onboard meal service in Y.
I don't know about the others but I do know that B6's older A320s were never fitted with ovens onboard; perhaps some newer ones might have. I believe only the MINT A321s have ovens. That would probably be one reason why catering is such.
Perhaps our US-based friends would know better
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Old 11th September 2016, 11:53 PM   #60
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I have stayed in some very nice hotels over the years, but few, if any, are at the level of the Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay.

This resort hotel is nestled on a low cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, at Half Moon Bay, a small coastal city just an hour's drive from San Francisco, but with a completely different, laid back feel to it. The place even seems to have its own micro-climate, often foggy, and overcast, even if it is bright and sunny elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area.





This is a low-rise hotel set right by the ocean, with fantastic views of the ocean, coast line and golf courses from many of the rooms.

Golf is one of the major attractions here, with 2 championship golf courses next to the resort. That said, you don't have to be a golfer to enjoy a stay here. There are many other activities to suit a wide range of interests.



There is a jogging / walking trail along the coastline and golf course, where many guests can be seen taking a morning or evening stroll...





The golf courses themselves look quite spectacular. I don't play golf myself, but the ocean views alongside the coastline must make this one of the most scenic places to play this game.





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