This was why it was particularly interesting to take a Delta flight on its home turf and see what it has to offer. I got the opportunity to try out their services in spring of 2011, on a flight from Memphis, TN to Ft Lauderdale, FL.
The flight (number DL-854) took place aboard a Boeing 737-800 such as this one:
Photo courtesy of Ana Lady from Airliners.net
Memphis International Airport is one of Delta’s regional hubs in the US. During our departure from Memphis in the morning, I observed many planes with Delta’s colors, and not a single one belonging to any other airline. There were particularly many Bombardier CRJ900 jets, which were apparently part of Delta Connection, a feeder airline, which conducts passenger flights to cities in the southern and southeastern USA.
In Memphis Airport, all Delta flights dock at one terminal, which was memorable for the very long walk between the check-in and waiting areas.
Photo courtesy of John E. Jauchler from Airliners.net
The flight described took place aboard a Boeing 737-800. The plane was in very good condition – it looked brand new, with a clean interior, leather upholstery and personal TV screens.
The view from row 8:
The seats had blue leather upholstery and a reclining back. There was moderate leg room, not too cramped, but not very spacious either.
The cabin is covered with light-gray plastic paneling.
The restrooms were standard and in good shape. The only thing I found unusual was the abundance of safety labels and instructions everywhere.
The Entertainment System
The entertainment system installed onboard the flight left a particularly good impression. A display screen is built into the back of each seat, making passengers feel right at home.
Viewing options include TV, movies, music videos, video games and flight information (speed, elevation, distance remaining, a GPS map of the flight, etc.).
The system was controlled entirely via touchscreen.
Personally I was amazed at the selection of TV channels. Over 20 channels were available, and all of them were broadcast in real-time.
It was also fun to switch to the flight information map and track our progress:
Other types of onboard entertainment included two flight magazines covering all the usual topics (voyages, other countries, shopping, etc.) and most importantly – Internet access!
Delta’s Boeing was the first ever plane I had ever encountered which had onboard Wi-Fi during the flight. By simply turning on their laptops or other portable devices, every passenger could connect to the Internet.
Internet access had to be paid for separately. For one flight, it cost $10. Frequent customers of Delta could save by buying a month-long subscription for $40.
Travel time from Memphis to Fort Lauderdale is about 2.5 hours. For a flight this short, Delta doesn’t offer full meals, and economy-class passengers only get a pack of nuts and a cup of juice. Like many traditional airlines in recent years, Delta has jumped on board with the trend of lowering costs by reducing complementary services.
Another sign of these increasing cuts are the rules concerning luggage – we were only allowed to bring one bag or suitcase per person at no additional charge. A second one costs about $25.
Our plane arrived at Fort Lauderdale:
Delta Airlines surpassed my expectations for a domestic flight. On a flight between two relatively small US cities I had expected poor service and minimal accommodations. A new, comfortable plane equipped with all the latest innovations was quite a surprise. The high level of technical innovation displayed by the airline only confirms its status as one of the world’s leaders in civil aviation.