A Delta reschedule call from Singapore & things to keep in mind!

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Yesterday I got a call that caller ID’d as from Singapore. I almost did not answer the phone, but cautiously picked it up. I am happy I did as it was from Delta Air Lines from the Singapore calling center.

I have found in the past, and have up under E9 in my Essential tab, that if you are having a hard time with US calling center reps that you can try calling the other centers overseas to get better results. For me, most of the time, the Platinum Medallion desk is cheerful, happy and most times more than willing and able to help out. So I was looking forward to seeing how this call went. Here is what happened.

The cheerful heavily Asian accented rep had GREAT news, my spring trip to Sweden, that had 4 connects, now had just 3 and it had been all rebooked for me (uh oh – NOT good, I had, with thanks to my good friend at PM&M, intentionally booked via CVG to get the full flat seat flight they have CVG-CDG).

At this point I say hold on, I had booked to get full flat seats. I also knew that now, with the new years schedule loaded, that Delta is flying a 777 once a day from DTW to AMS with full flat seats. So, I quickly jumped on Delta.com to see that I was NOT on that bird but on an A330. These are fine for daytime flights, but not as nice as a full flat to sleep.

I quickly looked at the SBN-DTW-AMS-GOT and picked the perfect flights and fed the rep each flight number and time. She punches the keyboard (loudly I might add) and after a very long wait puts me on hold and comes back with the flights I want. Looks great. BUT, before she reissues the ticket I notice that the last leg, AMS-GOT is in Y-Coach NOT in O-Bisness class. This may have been due to the fact that Air France only runs a coach class plane from CDG-GOT but I asked the rep please to make sure I was in business class on the last leg too, not coach. She confirmed this change and reissued the ticket.

With all the updates to Delta.com now I had no problem picking all the seats I wanted including row 1 on the KLM flight from AMS up to GOT.

Never ever forget, when a schedule change happens, THEN, not later, is the time to ask for ALL YOU CAN. Delta has impacted YOUR travel plans at this point and you do not want to miss out on this chance to get the perfect trip that you booked originally at low level award points. Now, the point amount DOES NOT matter! Are we learning yet? – René

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DELTA confirmation numbers now WORK on AF & KLM web sites!

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For a very long time, when you had a reservation with an AF or KLM included segment, booked via Delta, you had to get your AF/KLM confirmation code to see the seat map. You could ONLY see the seat map if you were in business class. So, you could ask a Delta rep for this number to use on the web site or you could go to AirFrance.com/us and put in the Delta ticket number and your name and you would then be able to see the corresponding AF/KLM confirmation number assigned to your ticket from Delta.

Well now, it would seem, that has all changed. You can simply use your Delta confirmation on both AirFrance.com and KLM.com with your last name and pull up your reservation.

However, you still should take the step of also  joining Flying Blue  even if you never ever plan to credit one point to them. Why? Intra Europe flights. Air France is still acting in their typical way and will not let you see coach class seats. KLM, however, wants to make money off of you. To that end, look at the below:

Bingo! Delta will tell you this is airport controlled. Wrong! With a Flying Blue number you WILL be able to pick seats and use your Delta confirmation number to pull up the booking.

As you can see, you can pay for EC seats or exit row with USD or FB points if you have some. If you are a Delta Medallion I would personally not do that. I would grab the best seats FREE in coach so you at least have a “good” seat and then once you get “over there” go to the KLM crown room or AF lounge and see about getting exit or EC for free. They will give you a snaky look, but if you remind them of your Skyteam elite status and explain how you would so much appreciate it, they will most of the time help you out.

As a final note that I find very interesting is the Skyteam issue this raises. Think about this: the idyllic partnership we fly on & that KLM has found a way to upsell you, if you want, and make money off of you from a Delta purchased ticket! Also, as another fun bit, if you add your Delta itinerary to your KLM flying blue account to track, and you also have KLM in your Award Wallet account, it is a back door way to track a Delta trip (that is as long as you have one AF or KLM segment). – René

 

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Delta Economy Comfort seats CRJ-900 and a trip report part one – the perfect Delta trip?

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My roots, while ½ Swedish, the other ½ is mostly of Hungarian descent (oh and some French and Italian too). Every few years the hundreds of descendants get together in Philadelphia. So why drive when you can fly and I may just have had the best trip ever and it was not in business class!

I booked 25,000 point Skymiles award seats from AZO-DTW-PHL round trip but as we got closer to departure date I was able to switch, using my wife’s platinum medallion status and miles, to SBN-DTW-PHL. We did have my mom-in-law with us and that knocked us out of upgrade possibility and for such a short set of flights I did not want to split the PNR into many (gosh I hate this as most of 1st flew empty). But, I had not tried the EC seats on the 900’s yet nor the 737-800 for the return flight.

So here are a bunch of photos and feedback on the product. We were in row two. If you can get row one, get it as the middle arm rest does come up and you have just about unlimited leg room stretching into first class.

The GoGo WiFi worked well and was snappy and responsive. I forgot to do a speed test but will try to remember for my next flight. (may have to start a FT post and ask readers to upload their results with ( http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest ).

The return seats were nice as well. Good recline and leg room (sorry for the bad photo). I was again able to use my “mobile” HOOU coupon as I blogged about the other day and got a “travel treats” snack box to enjoy (man they pack a lot of goodies in that tiny box).

The view on the trip home from coach was just as beautiful as in 1st class. Seriously, even us who put in tens of thousands of miles each year, please, take the time just to stare out the window at the view below. Every time my wife and I “walk laps” around where we live I look up at the vapor trails and wish I was looking down at this. The view is humbling and we should enjoy it!

Lastly I said this may have been the best trip ever. I enjoyed the 2-3 hours between flights in our new clean and renovated Skyclubs. Food is nice and drinks are free. The Delta FA’s were nice and smiled and thanked me for flying and you should have seen the FA (Karon H.) on our last DTW-SBN short hop “BUST IT” to take care of us. These people WORK VERY HARD for us. Thank them! I did with a “Delta Points” Chairman’s club card and it made my day! – Rene

 

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Should you try to earn elite medallion status with Delta Air Lines? Why you should plus the best way to MQM’s!

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I get this question all the time. Many, including my fellow bloggers, those at Flyer Talk & Mile Point, will tell you you can get the same benefits by JUST getting the Delta AMEX branded credit cards! This is because the cards get you so many Delta benefits like zone 2 boarding, a free bag and on and on! I have even, in this blog, talked about the fact that having the Delta AMEX is like having “Gold Plated” medallion status with Delta. I am now modifying my stand. Really, why? Why should I try to get ANY level of status with Delta?

Times, they are a changing. Delta is going to make changes to the Skymiles program, we do not know just when. So how will status help? Simple. How our airline “looks” at us when we fly. Like what, upgrades? Much more than just that. I have a list for you to consider:

  • Upgrades. Sure, the higher your status the better and keep in mind the Delta Reserve breaks all ties.
  • Boarding and bag space. Face it, first on, your bags go up and you get leg room. The gate cattle get to put their bags under seat and get no leg room! In a tight “tin can” space, this is what we want.
  • Issues! Never underestimate the fact that our airline will compensate an elite  more Skymiles, ETVs & other goodies like these at a MUCH higher rate when you complain to Delta if you are FO or GM or PM or DM!
  • Issues at the airport as well. Redcoats have been through some intense training as of late. Do you really think a general passenger gets the same treatment as a Medallion?
  • Speaking of issues, when you call Delta the computer says, “please enter your Delta Skymiles number”. This does impact your wait time to talk to a rep and even the quality of the rep once they answer.
  • Flight Changes. I preach & preach about the glorious and ultimate wild card in Skymiles booking, the mighty schedule change. The higher your status the more likely our friends at Chisom or the other call centers will say SURE we will do that change for you!
  • Partners. Delta has a bunch of partners. Passengers in tourist class are slightly appreciated by our airline. Delta partners treat them, well, like cattle! But if you can play the DYKWIA elite Delta card, in a nice way now, like “as a valued elite with Skyteam, I am sure we can find a solution” does not hurt you one bit! They will still fight you and give you looks, but if you stand firm things tend to work out!

I could go on and on about this all day. Despite the vast amount of medallion flyers with Delta, we really are a small percentage compared to the rest of the flyers and if we understand this it can help us. Think about this, getting both a personal and business Delta AMEX Reserve card, after your first one dollar spent on each card, you are only 5000 MQMs away from Silver status for the rest of this year. Reach that and you will have status until FEB2014! Not a bad deal for $450/each in 1st year card fee’s when you think about it.

So as you can see, chasing status is about much more than just upgrades and can really have a huge can impact your travels and how we interact with our Delta Air Lines. – René

 

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What is up with all the different Delta business class seats?

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Back in February I had a post talking about the different business class seats between DL/KLM/AF. Delta has a bunch of different products due to the integration with NWA. I still like the old NWA clam shell product and have yet, as much as it pains me to admit, not had a chance to try a single one of the now many different styles of lie flat seats. But is it not strange how many different kinds of lie flats that Delta is going with? Is it really that hard to find the best type and cost of seat and then put them in all the birds? Then I came across this video interview about business seats. Take the time to look and see what you think:

Click photo to watch

This does explain a bunch. But why has Delta gone with so many choices? I mean look at all these types:

You have the 747 style in the video clip above

You have this one in the 767

You have this one in the 777

You have yet another one on the way in 330’s

???? – wait and see!

Why is this? I reached out to Delta and was told that one of the main differences between Delta and all the other airlines is that Delta wants all customers to have direct aisle access from all BE seats so we do not have to climb over another passenger to get out of our seat.  Also that it is not a question of cost of one vendor over another, but due to airplane shape and cabin size from the different aircraft manufactures. Lastly they are reacting to customer feedback going forward with seat choices.

Progress is happening. Delta hoped the refit would be done this year but I have been advised it will be between 2013 and as late as 2014 until all the planes in the fleet are done. The 330’s will not start until Q3 or Q4 this year.

So have any of you been on all the different types of Delta lie flats? Do you like one over the other? Do you think Delta’s focus on aisle access is a winner over the other airlines product choices? I would love to know! – René

 

[EDIT: Please take the time to read comments from readers in this post.
They are very helpful!]

 

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Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

 

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Oh MSP, do you miss NWA? Too bad & enjoy the tiny planes!

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I have said how much I love living where I do. The middle is just nice. I have EZ access to the “Windy City” for Stay-cations whenever a point breaks room is found. I can fly out of SBN, AZO, FWA, GRR, IND, MDW, ORD & DTW all within a 3 hr drive. I could go on and on, but you can not all move here to the great Midwest!

But if you live in MSP, you may be starting to miss the glory days of MSP. Let me ask you a few questions.

  • First, what has been going on since 2010? Look HERE.
  •  And what has Delta been doing since then about the size of the jets going in and out of MSP since 2010? Look HERE.
  •  And since Delta has not been buying any new planes for a while, can you tell me what type of plane Delta is buying right now? Look HERE.
  • Last question. If a plane is small, noisy and very old, then our airline would like to keep this as quiet as possible right? Look HERE on the Delta blog.

Of course, you celebrate the bird. Now I do like the MD’s as long as I am not in the back. I like the 3+2 seating so neither my wife or I have to have the middle seat. They are running this ship from ATL-MYR where my mom-in-law lives and I love it over a CRJ (and never again an ATR)!

But back to MSP. Like real-estate you are location location location. Unless you are going to Europe, Asia, Hawaii or Mexico, you had better get used to more MD’s and CRJ’s! Just be happy you have birds at all as readers in CVG would love to have the size issues you now have to deal with.

At least you have one of the best airports in the world to enjoy before you fly! (does that help?) – Rene

 

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Must “persons of size” buy two seats on SW Air or on Delta Air Lines?

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Last Friday The Today show had as a guest Kenlie Tiggeman, who is currently suing Southwest Airlines over an incident where she was told she was “too fat to fly” by a gate agent. Whether you agree or not with her issues with Southwest in her legal case, this is something that brings up a range of questions in my mind.

Now please bear in mind that I am not exactly tiny (yeah like most I need to drop about 30 lbs), so I get the problems with the reductions in seat sizes and this is one reason I like to sit “in front of the curtain”. You might remember my humorous post about things that will get you kicked off a Delta flight? It included being a “passenger of size” although in reality they will try to accommodate you in some way as you will see! Seriously though, my first question after seeing this story is how do airlines determine a passenger to be a “passenger of size” ? What are the alternate seating policies for “passengers of size” ?

 

Here is what our airline will do. First, Delta’s policies state that a passenger must be able to fasten the seat belt with 1 extension and lower both armrests. Failure to meet these conditions means the passenger qualifies as a “passenger of size” and must comply with alternate seating requirements. These can include requiring the passenger to move to another seat with more space available, or in the case of a full flight, they may end up having to wait for a seat on a later flight that is not fully booked so there would be an extra empty seat available. In today’s world of very full flights, this could be a long wait. But it is important to note that unlike SW Air, Delta does not require the passenger to purchase an additional seat. Delta’s policy is clearly stated at Delta.com.

Back to Southwest Airline’s policy that states in the contract of carriage on page 11 that it is their sole discretion to determine if a passenger “encroaches on an adjacent seat area or is unable to sit in a single seat with the armrest lowered.” The Today show story asserts that the Southwest Airlines employee asked this woman how much she weighed, and what size clothing she wore. Now in my experience, you NEVER ask a woman what she weighs or how old she is  (and I have been told the weight on her driver’s license is a “goal” weight)!

If the policies all center around fitting into the seat, then there should be a means provided to check to see if a passenger can in fact fit into the seat. Whether that means requesting any suspected “passengers of size” to pre-board in order to discreetly check or having a size-wise passenger seat available in a discreet location. This brochure, published in March of this year by NAAFA, makes several suggestions for persons of size to consider prior to travel in order to make things go more smoothly for them on their trip.

I like the fact that our airline will not force a 2nd seat purchase. But I also see the reason to amass just a ridiculous amount of points so I do not have to ever fly coach unless I want to! – Rene

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Today I will make everyone crazy – SORRY? What do you think about Knee Defenders?

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What is the one topic that is worse than religion, taxes or politics to talk about? No not that; it is seat recline and your right / non-right to do so.

Every day I use my laptop and I feel the screen a little loose from my incident on this trip I hollered about on Flyer Talk, I have been giving thought to trying one of these little puppies called Knee Defenders.

photo from businesstravellogue.com

Now the reason I have not ordered a set to try is because my stand on seat recline is this:

“I have every right to recline all the way
my seat will let me as it is my seat!

I always do so slowly & gently so the person behind me has time to react. I also, as much as I can, pick the exit row ( another reason to get MQM’s from my AMEX Reserve card each year to have status with Delta ) as the row in front of the exit row does not recline most of the time.

In the old days, apparently NWA banned them from it’s flights. Delta Air Lines representatives have confirmed to me the airline has no official policy on the gadgets. So my guess is that if an FA tells you not to use them you had better listen to them as they can put you in a WORLD of hurt for not following the direction of an FA ( you could complain later and maybe get some points who knows ).

Many of my fellow BoardingArea.com bloggers including Road Warriorette, View from the Wing and One Mile at a Time have talked about this issue before, but as Delta flyers it is good to know that for now we can use these if we should so choose to.

I would love to know what Delta Points readers think of this device and the topic in general. How about this. If you are PRO Knee Defender, and I pick your comment via random.org, I will order a set for you and you must agree to take a photo using them and tell us all how it went. If you are AGAINST them, and win the drawing today, I will send you a set of Delta Drink coupons and a GoGo one time pass.

This should be fun (ps let’s keep it clean and nice as I will edit comments if need be) – René

 

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An update on award booking AF flights call Asia?!?

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As I blogged about before & received both unofficial and official notice of from Delta company people, there continues to be a “bug”, well one of many, in the Delta Award booking software. Thanks to readers at FlyerTalk there seems to be a work-a-round but you have to call the Asian Delta booking center during open hours to get what you want as you can see by this post HERE.

The phone number for the center is 011-852-2810-4288 from the USA. I would use SKYPE if you don’t want to pay international calling fees!

So for now, if you want to find seats in low level business on Air France with Delta Skymiles, this will be the only way as the Delta reps in the USA’s computers still show ZERO seats. Some are speculating this an intentional attempt by Delta to limit award seats. I in no way feel this is the case, but it is just another example of how very broken the Delta software is to book award seats! – Rene

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Now AF/KLM wants to compete with RyanAir oh NO say it ain’t so!

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I fly KLM/AF quite a bit. I do like, but not love, their business class products over water and the service is generally good. But I do have a bias towards Delta metal. It is a strange (in a good way) thing for me to step onto a Delta jet and hear Sky tunes and have warm and smiling American accented attendants greet me by name and look happy to see me! I am sad to be on the last leg of my trip, but I am sorta home and I like the warm fuzzy feeling that gives me.

Now the pseudo business class product that KLM has inta-Europe in which you get a coach seat plus sometimes one blocked off for your “personal space”, and food that is a step above a vending machine from yesterday, or the AF answer to Delta regional jets is strictly coach with surly French attendants, is not my idea of the way to complete my business class trip experience!

But according to Bloomberg we may be in for a totally new experience  – enter Transavia Air! And you thought it was bad now Mr. Delta Points. HA! So tell me, how will the great new SKY boarding go on KLM/AF Transavia Air budget airline? ( I can tell you the boarding in Gothenburg right now is EVERYONE RUSH the gate as fast as you can and who cares what status or seat you have )! This is following the news that they will also acquire the reaming shares of Alitalia in 2013.

from Caddyshack Orion Pictures

With the race to the bottom to make money at least Delta beat out Spirit Air this year for the Golden Poo award – “so we got that going for us” (spoken like Carl from Caddyshack). Kids, I have said it before and I’ll say it again, this is going to be a fun year with Skyteam. – Rene

 

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An OFFICIAL update from DELTA about AF Business award seats

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Photo from scrapetv.com

“SkyMiles award seat availability in business class on Air France or KLM-operated flights is currently unavailable. Delta is working to resolve the situation.” – from Delta Air Lines

So we at last have an answer that they know “we have a problem Houston”! I blogged about this the other day after a request from a reader. I had known about this for a while but was hoping it was just a glitch that would be fixed quickly. Obviously it is not. There was also a FT reader who got an e-mail direct from the VP Jeff Robertson of Delta:

“Thanks for your note. I’m well aware of the situation and so is the entire leadership team here at Delta. We have put some postings out on our website with respect to the issue and we continue to apologize for the inconvenience. I assure you that we are doing everything in our power to fix it. The issue however is more complicated however than anyone would expect.”

Now for me, what I think Delta should do is offer low level seats on Delta metal until the bug is fixed. This would be the RIGHT thing to do as no matter how hard the problem is to fix, we should not suffer anymore as a result of Delta IT issues.

I will keep you up to date with any more official and back stage unofficial news I can – Rene

 

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Good open space Atlanta to London low level business class on Delta June

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If you are looking to go to Europe this summer, with the adding of weekly flights to LHR, now may be the time to find some good flights.

As you can see searching one way each way I find many days with 100k seats. Now it is you turn to do the work to find seats from where you are to ATL and from LHR to where ever you want to go in Europe!

For example looking for 2 seats (yes you can not trust all the “green” dates above but):

Also look at CDG-IAD as a choice for return trips on the AF 380 (if you want to fly it):

Enjoy! – Rene

 

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Seats, PNR’s & more with DELTA-KLM-AF

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Do you know that if you fly or buy a ticket on Delta then fly a KLM and or AF flight your record has more than one PNR assigned to it? It could even have 3! This will not show up on the DELTA.com web site or in any of the e-mail confirmations you get.

So how do you get these numbers. You can simply call Delta and ask for the PNR that has been creaded by KLM or AF assigned to your itinerary. Why would you want this number when you have the Delta one? Most of the time you do not need it and you can see your itinerary on the other sites with the Delta number. But  there are times when having the official KLM or AF one are nice to have when you have to contact them once in route. So I always make it a practice to get them and it has paid off.

Another reason is for seat assignments with KLM. With Delta flights you can pick seats right away. With KLM/AF only 90 days prior to fight. In the past you could work around this by starting at the AF web site and get access up to 331 days before flight, but this seems to have been locked down now. Coach and certain fare class tickets will not allow seats and even as a KLM Platinum they are less than helpful about overriding this rule and tell you they are assigned by the airport.

Hey, I have 2 more of the new Red and Pink Nuo iPad or HP Touchpad Sleeves. So, let me know, yes or no, neither answer will increase your chance to win, if you knew that KLM/AF assigns you a separate Passenger Number Record (PNR) to win! Same as last time Winner #1 get’s color choice and Winner #2 get’s the other one – René


 

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Who has the BEST business class seats to Europe Delta? AF? KLM? – A Reader Question answered!

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Many times there is much better award availability at low level to Europe on KLM or AF rather than Delta. Now with the mighty schedule change rule you can later pick a Delta flight if you would want to, but that begs the question – should you change?

I have flown business class on all three. I have been on the KLM 747 upper deck and on the new 777. It has been a while for AF as I try to avoid CDG whenever I can. On Delta I have NOT yet had the chance for the new “full flat” seats and am looking forward to them finishing the change out on all the planes with the 330’s coming last it would seem.

So what is best? I want your input as well to help this reader out.

Lets start with Delta:
For me (& Lisa as you can see), we like the old NWA 330 clam shell seat’s privacy feel. Once you recline with a big soft pillow and comfy blanket I am GONE for the rest of the flight. Yes I dislike the fact I wake up sometimes having slid down to the footrest and some tall people say they end up “standing” all night long. The old 767 seats are not good (see this post for the amazing NEW seats). End of story. But they will be gone soon so done deal.

Delta 767-300 new business class seats - Delta Points blog review (5)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw5aEOJEXSU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlxLOKOv7Vg

Now AF:
Like I said, it has been a while. As I can remember the product was fine. It was a day flight and the seat was fine for that. Entertainment was fine and the food was good. I have also never used the new 380 seats so I could really use your feedback here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9sOY2Jfioo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnVFDwJtIcM

Lastly KLM:
I like the KLM product. It is a clamshell but works. Lie flat would be better but I do not see them going there for a long time. I HATE the center seat on the 777. Once your seat mates are reclined you almost have to get personal with them to get out. Never get put there on a night flight!

Some other thoughts about the upgrades Delta specific for coach. I try to avoid coach on any flight over 4 hrs as a practice and with over 2 million points and more coming in every 91+ days this is not that hard to do (and you can too). But much of the coach upgrade includes the all new touch screen control in the seat in front of you. This has the unfortunate result that many times people seeming to be playing “whack-a-mole” (can you just see this guy behind you?) with your seat-back. This is not fun when trying to sleep. So, the hand controller IMO is a better way to go as a courtesy to the one in front of you!

Your turn. What do you think. Let’s hear it! – René
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Will Delta order the CRJ-1000 and replace what aircraft with it?

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The CRJ series aircraft have become real workhorse ships for the regional industry. Bombardier has been growing and building bigger and bigger planes. The 1000 nextgen is a nice aircraft!

Will Delta use this plane? Bombardier’s CRJ program chief Jean-Guy Blondin seems to indicate in THIS VIDEO that he has already started talking to DELTA. It looks very very nice to me. Richard Anderson has said his focus for now has been to upgrade the inside of the current jets, and for more frequency of flights. But this is mainline not regional. Also, this ship would be enough and have the legs to start to replace some DC/MD series mainline jets like the 50 and 88! I find the below add from Bambardier very telling.

Air France already has the CRJ-1000 in service and you can look at the 104 seat arrangement at SeatGuru here.

The plane has some kool stats. It can have up to 150 seats, but that would be a very cramped environment. At around 100 seats it looks good. The 16″x10″ bag size is above the 14″x9″ “Size Check” requirement so there should be much less need for plane side checking of bags!

We will see but I could see this puppy becoming a big seller and mix in to the main line fleet over the years to come. – René

 

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