Delta takes Main Cabin consistency seriously, and it shows

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At what point does reliability and fleet commonality become so prevalent within an airline that all of my past experiences on said airline start to blend together? I think I have just hit that point with Delta, and that’s a very good thing.

Whether it’s the Boeing 737-900ER, 757-200 or Airbus A321 the passenger experience in Main Cabin is remarkably similar. With the exception of the aged MD-80 family of aircraft, if you fly on a Delta mainline aircraft, you’re going to get the same set of amenities. Seatback screens, USB ports, Gogo 2Ku Wi-Fi, and decent enough legroom.

Those amenities are exactly what I found on a recent A321 flight from New York LaGuardia to Miami, but with a Basic Economy twist. With a fare of just $109.20 after all taxes and fees, upgrading from Basic Economy to Main Cabin simply didn’t make sense. Here’s why: Delta does not restrict carryon bags in its version of Basic Economy, the fare was too low to care about change and cancel restrictions, and I was willing to take a gamble on seat assignment at check-in.

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I balked at the $30 seat assignment offer within a week of flying and my hesitation paid off. At check-in, I ended up freely selecting a window seat that I would have normally selected had I booked Main Cabin.

Basic Economy just makes sense sometimes, and passengers shouldn’t always feel pressured to upgrade when prompted.

I found few breakfast options at New York LaGuardia’s Terminal C for this early morning flight. The only options in Terminal C are quite expensive, ordered either from an OTG-operated iPad or Hudson News. OTG makes quality food, but I don’t always want waiter service or an expensive breakfast. There was nothing to be had for a reasonable price, so I decided to wait for an onboard snack.

The boarding process for this fully loaded A321 was smooth, but Delta’s new boarding procedure (boarding by branded fare purchased) didn’t seem to help the passenger clutter. A line of passengers for the Main Cabin 3 group blocked the concourse aisle, and the new procedure did little to resolve this.

Although Basic Economy passengers board last, having one of Delta’s credit cards helped me cut the line to Main Cabin 1.

Harmony is important, and this is where Delta shines. Not only is Delta’s product consistent, but Delta has settled on a consistently excellent product. On board I was presented with the typical Delta cabin. Blue seats, seatback screens, power and USB ports at all seats, and not quite overly generous but plenty adequate seat pitch.

Delta’s inflight #PaxEx is delightfully consistent. Image: Jason Rabinowitz

There is no guessing as to whether I’ll have seatback IFE, live TV or streaming to my own device entertainment. I know I’ll have all three. These are things passengers notice as soon as they sit down, and Delta does not disappoint.

Image: Jason Rabinowitz

Gogo 2Ku inflight Wi-Fi was also available and worked nicely for the free hour provided to this eligible T-Mobile customer. I utilized the free messaging offer for the remainder of the flight.

I’ll take the free Wi-Fi, thank you very much. Image: Jason Rabinowitz

Still hungry and looking for breakfast, I was a bit disappointed to find that Delta does not stock fresh food items on this busy route. While a cup of coffee and Kind bar was a nice step up from the small bag of peanuts offered by other airlines, I wanted something fresh and more substantial.

Delta’s CRAVE, TAPAS and CRUNCH snack boxes were available for purchase, but none of those seemed really appropriate for breakfast. A real breakfast option would have to wait until Miami.

A very light bite. Image: Jason Rabinowitz

At the end of the day, this was a typical Delta flight, and that’s a very good thing. I was offered all the amenities I expect on Delta and we arrived early.

While fresh food on board would have been nice, that’s far from a deal breaker. I’ll just remember to bring a bacon egg and cheese sandwich with me to LaGuardia next time.

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10 Comments

  1. Jason

    Exactly why I came to this comment. I’m pretty sure any flight blogger that drinks flight coffee… Cannot be trusted.

    • Jason Rabinowitz

      I have some standards when it comes to coffee on board. I’ll only indulge on aircraft new enough that the water tank probably isn’t disgusting yet. Since this A321 was very new, I indulged. I wouldn’t dare do that on a 25 year old A320, though.

  2. It is disgusting to be crammed on airplane with people eating in such a space. Can’t you just try to plan your meals according to your trip. Take an emergency snack if you must.

  3. I am scheduled for a Delta flight from San Diego to France. Booked 9 months ago and my seat assignment has been changed 3 times. The last change was for the overseas flight which had my SO and I separated. When I called, I was informed that since the price I paid (by planning in advance) was lower than other travelers, we get what we get. Shame on Delta! #rather eat peanuts: than book another flight on Delta! Way to build loyalty! #neverdelta!

    • John

      This happens all the time on Delta. Twice to me in the last week alone!

      As a former Diamond Medallion, I have let my status fall to nothing. Due to several of Delta’s policies, including changing my selected seat and their implementation of cattle class boarding, like Southwest.

      DAL has had record profits for years. And while their employees certainly earn their share (more than 1 billion dollars annually to the employees), DAL has forgotten who pays the bills…. the traveling public.

      If you do not take care of your customers, someone else will!

  4. Najia

    Delta Comfort Plus option offers fresh Fruit and Veggies. Delta First Class is amazingly done and carried well from the moment you take your seat. Main cabin and Basic is great.
    All around we’ve flown many times on so many airlines- Delta hands down wins. Flying 6 people once a month for a few months can get pricy- service and quality is all I wanted and that’s wxactly what I got!