My, these are “interesting” times. Delta has announced massive changes to both the Medallion program for 2024 (that we will qualify for flying during 2023) as well as both new generous and nearly worthless Million Miler rewards for crossing each achievement in flying with Delta and SkyTeam (as well as any MQMs earned from Delta Platinum and Reserve Amex card spending).
But beyond that, we have Delta pilots yelling and voting to strike and a push to have Delta flight attendants join a union. We shall see, as Delta fliers, what impact both of these events will have on us all over the next many months and years.
As regular readers will remember I was able to stack some amazing Delta perks for this trip to visit my fellow blogger, Chris in LA. First up I booked coach or “main cabin” seats using an Amex BOGO cert or Buy One Get One Free-ish (you have to pay taxes on seat two) and then also instantly apply RU certs or Regional Upgrade certificates to move into first class from coach both to and from LA. Beyond that I had used a number of old flight credits to stack and pay for my part of the ticket from old canceled COVID era flights I could not take. Overall it was an excellent value for Delta First class seats!
I have to tell you watching the upgrade list (not that it impacted me but out of curiosity) it was nearly sold out before the Diamond upgrade window opened up for elites and by the time of check-in it was 100% full with 40+ on the upgrade list. One would think with that much demand and that kind of price being charged Delta would provide an amazing experience in first class travel.
One couple expected a lot. They paid for the somewhat secret service you can pay for and choose to have a gate agent escort you to the gate and let you board when the very first people are called for boarding (that is, those who require additional assistance in boarding). More on this in a bit later on.
My wife and I boarded when first class was called and while Delta has reinstituted the PFB or preflight beverage service for first class the young lead Delta Flight attendant only got half way though the cabin before takeoff (there was time, she just chose not to complete this part of the first class experience). I have found that really impressive first class flight attendants buy out the time, not just for a PFB service, but to also take and confirm meal orders before departure to expedite service once in the air.
Next up the captain said there would be turbulence and flight attendants would likely have to stay in their jump seats for a while after takeoff. Now I get and agree that safety is first place, but there was simply no real turbulence for a long time after takeoff and I have been on any number of flights when the lead or head purser has chosen to service the first class cabin when they personally deemed it was safe to do so – really not so much on this flight!
Next the meal service.
Delta flight attendants are directed by the airline to follow FEBO, that is, service meal requests from the front on even flights and from the back on odd numbered flights. Our flight was an odd numbered flight and yet she started with row one for meal requests not the back row of first class as she should have done (we had pre-ordered but I would have been upset had I picked a back seat to get first request).
This next part of the adventure was not the flight crew’s issue, it was mine. Well it was my fault for pre-ordering the disgusting meal you see above. It was a “pulled beef” that the flight attendant kept calling a burger.
It was simply nasty, slimy and disgusting.
Part of the issue may have been how long it was in the warmer (again due to non turbulence and seated flight attendants a long time after takeoff) but the bottom was soggy mush while the top bun was rock hard. The side of cold green beans was just odd compared to say potato salad or even chips? Oh and pair this on a mid-con 4+ hour flight and only that utterly disappointing cheap and nasty canned wines made this one of the worst ever meals I have ever had in first class on any airline.
Just wait – it gets worse.
After meal service the flight attendants mostly went up and “hid” in the galley and had their lunch and did not come back to check on the first class cabin till shortly before landing with snacks and additional drink service.
Now before anyone jumps all over me that I am too demanding, keep in mind this was a mostly sold out first class flight from a major Delta hub of Detroit to another featured hub Los Angeles with high premium prices – one would expect home run service and top notch food and beverage options.
Well… One would expect that anyway. 🙁
I really feel sorry for the couple who paid for “enhanced” service from Delta on this flight as I would be asking for my money back and re-considering choosing Delta First class for my next mid-con first class flight.
Next up my review of the flight home from LAX with a very senior crew – would it be “Strive for Five” worthy or another #KeepDescending flight? – René
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Rene! What a deal but wow, ‘keep descending’ really sums it up, doesn’t it? What about the couple that paid for the ‘secret service?’
@Greg – The did at least get their Porsche pick-up service in LAX so there is that I guess.
As a DL Platinum in ATL, I’m happy to take the few upgrades a year we get (mostly early Saturday morning flights) and use my RUCs strategically where I can. I don’t get all these people actually paying for F. At least on AA, they price it pretty reasonably compared to Economy, but DL is almost always ridiculous prices for short flights.
It is all too common to see a pack (three or four flight attendants) gathered in the front and/or back galley talking and laughing loudly about non-flight related topics while those in all classes sit with trash in front of them until those paid to remove the trash decide it is time to work!!! While I love upgrades, my preference would be that Delta upgrade its staff. They have fallen far short in customer service and their interactions with passengers could be considered robotic at best. Of course, there are exceptions and I write letters to Delta about those exceptional staff. In recent years, I haven’t been writing very often, which tells you the state of in-flight service!
Interesting. On a morning Delta flight from Amsterdam to Detroit in May the food in “Business,” not First, was the same. One breakfast that was merely okay and one before landing snack that was a real joke. Like the old “government cheese” between two slices of bad bread. And this originating in Amsterdam where the airport has many cheese vendors for “gifts” to take back! Apparently Delta is unaware of that. But, back in the US I’ve taken quite a few “Business” class flights across the US, and inner, and had much better food and service. In fact, in August and September they must have been trying a new menu. Great and interesting choices.
The flight attendants seem to vary based on tenure, sadly. You’d think the older “Pros” would be amazing, since they get to cherry pick routes, but often seem disgruntled and bothered to be there. (one was bragging of flying 50+ yrs for DL!, hope she doesn’t have to operate emergency landing ops) The newer staff from non-hub bases seem much more engaged and focused on service. Again, not a rule but an observation. There is an issue with many chatting it up in the galley area and not working the cabin. On two recent overseas trips there was a huge contrast – one long haul the team was super attentive and the other we had to get up to go ask for water, drinks, snacks etc, hardly seeing them. Note this was in DeltaOne and business. Like other comments, we hand out thank you notes and JWD certificates. Flew several partner links in Europe too and they seemed more enthusiastic, cheerful, helpful and even….can you believe it…assisted people with bags, bins and boarding, slight shocker. DL is still the best domestic carrier, but all the changes make it very questionable and difficult to remain loyal.
There was a time not so long ago when Delta flight attendants were about the only thing great about Delta. Most often I now encounter just what Rene experienced on his transcontinental flight. Flight attendants chat loudly, ignore passengers and service is poor overall. Is Delta afraid if they require FAs to actually work that they will unionize? Well guess what: it looks like they may anyway. I can’t wait to see what that will look like.
I was in row 5 of an even flight so got the leftover chicken leg… It looked scary and the bitter collard greens with it not good. Very disapointing all around.But stayed away from the canned wine. I took a picture of it and will share with my group. Hi R and L
Well, on N-S flights from SAT-DTW, DL is still serving “boxed meals” in first. I asked why. Response from F/A – this is a low priority route (not like the trans-continental flights). From the looks of this meal, I think the boxed meals are better. But, not by much.
I often see the F/As gather in front, and have even seen training flights were trainees join in. Learning the ropes.
It amazes me considering how standardized airlines try to make travel, and their hype over first class, how little the reality matches the hype. The airline either isn’t aware of it or is indifferent to it.
I agree with most comments about the poor meals, the lack of mid-flight service on DL longer range domestic 1st class flights. Starting before Covid, I do buy first class domestic tickets from United and some from AA. Generally their prices are significant savings. Their domestic 1st class service and food is a match to DL’s. That’s not saying much!!! Periodically I find a DL first class flight that is cheap – but not often.
I keep my DL Diamond status by taking several flights per year to the UK and EU in business class. There I find Virgin Atlantic , KLM and Air France flights are usually cheaper than DL’s on the same routes (takes a little looking and flexibility) and their business class meals far surpass the poor offerings on the “keep descending” airline. I also book my tickets directly with these airlines using my DL Skymiles number. I generally get awarded additional MQD”s over DL booked tickets. This year I made my MQD$ spend to be Diamond again. However, next year when the limit is raised to $20,000 spend, I may or my not make it. Maybe I have to take an MQD Elite Flier run or finally decide to let Diamond go. Emotionally I am wanting to stay Diamond, but over the past years my brain is telling me to skip it and take the best flights meeting my requirement no mater which airline. DL is leading the way down!
I am amazed that Delta is GETTING a premium on the ATL-LAS route for 1st Class/Business . I, usually book a Thursday to Sunday, sometimes Monday and the rates approach $2k! This past weekend took a later flight and no meal, two passes for beverages and no PDB. Early flight on return, NO breakfast, snack tray passed twice with 2 passes for beverages and NO PDB. Doubles sem okay on first pass but not for second pass. Overall, the departures of senior staff during the CoVid era will take years, if ever, Changes to the Medallion program, lack of complimentary upgrades on 85%+ flights, makes me think, BIG Front Seat on Spirit for 60% savings. Renee is right, no more, Free agent moving forward. By the way, I don’t see Delta getting out of the overcrowding at the ATL Skyclubs either Delta Amex Reserve card. Waiting 35 minutes last Thursday is unacceptable.
I quit searching Delta fares, especially in first class. They have gall to ask for a premium for any of their service, especially first class.
We took DL from DFW to LHR in September – it was our 25th wedding anniversary, noted in the booking. The food was disgusting, chicken both directions wit inedible sides such as mashed potatoes tasted boxed and consistency like same – glue! Awful. On return everyone was offered a complementary glass of sparkling something or other which was nice, however one sip and it was gone. No joke. It was barely visible in the glass! The crew as mentioned above spent more time in the galley chatting with absolutely no interaction to speak of with passengers other than what was absolutely necessary.
I have never been so disappointed in DELTA in my life! It’s been several years since we have flown on Delta which was our airline of choice when we were flying overseas to several different countries in the Asia. As I was walking off the plane and I return home I was thinking how great Southwest sells compared to the level I feel DELTA has sunk to. I have to agree with just about all the comments up there are about how DELTA is going downhill. The changes they are making are true disappointment and I think will stick with the other airlines we’ve been flying rather than consider Delta for another long distance flight.
I should note that we were in what’s probable the equivalent of business in Premium Select. And not one of the flight crew made mention of it being a special occasion. We had bulkhead seats right by the galley so we saw and heard a lot of the conversation; some was about DL, other crew but much about personal or they were on their phones. Generally the flight was a big disappointment in value vs what you get.
My experiences in first class with all 3 major carriers is the flight attendants almost never work more than 50% of the time during the flight. It is as if there is an unwritten rule. Sad state of affairs. Delta flight attendants are slightly better but only slightly.