Delta Air Lines Airbus A330 with a KLM Boeing 747-400 in the background in Amsterdam.

Delta Air Lines Airbus A330 with a KLM Boeing 747-400 in the background in Amsterdam.

This was my last leg of my RwandAir adventure. I had already flown from Seattle to Rwanda in a 737 and just completed a 10 hour flight from Kigali, Rwanda to Amsterdam on a KLM A330. I was already pretty tired and wasn’t sure how my mind, body and spirit would do on another ten hour ride in a different A330. On the positive side, I was looking forward to comparing two international Airbus A330s back-to-back. Overall, I have to say I like the Northwest Delta Air Lines A330 long haul premium economy a bit better than KLM’s.

When arriving into Amsterdam, I had a three hour layover and I was hoping to check out their observation deck. Before plane spotting, I needed to do some charging of my laptop and cell phone, since my last ten hour flight did not have in-seat power and neither would my next one. The classic hunt for an open outlet was on.

I started down the concourse looking from side to side. I kept going and going and… well, going. Seriously? After 45 minutes looking up and down concourses D, E and F, I found an outlet about seven feet up for vending machines, one in the bathroom, one on a fire hose holder and one on a center pillar in a crowded walkway. I choose to deal with the crowds and sat down on the floor (looking like an idiot by the way) by the pillar, plugged in my phone and then… nothing. Sweet, this outlet did not work. Now the debate was did I want to look like even more of an idiot standing in the bathroom charging my phone, climbing on a vending machine or using an outlet on a fire hose that might cause some alarm to go off. I figured my best bet was with the fire hose and luckily it worked. The bad part was it took so long to juice up, that I wasn’t able to check out the observation deck – save it for next time I guess.

Delta Economy Comfort seat on an Airbus A330.

Delta Economy Comfort seat on an Airbus A330.

I figured I might as well head to the gate, where I received my first body scan. We had to wait in a small waiting area at the gate for our flight, which had little entertainment before being able to board. I was sitting in Delta Economy Comfort, which gave me four additional inches of seat pitch, 50% more recline, priority boarding and free alcohol. You also sit near the front of the plane, which means you are first to customs after arriving in Seattle. .

Even with the extra four inches, I was unable to fully stretch out my legs since there was a huge in-flight entertainment box under my seat, negating the extra leg room. You would think with a large electrical box like that under your seat, they would at least give you an outlet, but there was none. Reading on SeatGuru.com, it looks like only Business Class has outlets. Good thing I did some charging during my layover.

One nice surprise was seeing an air vent in the overhead bin. I absolutely love my air vents, since I am normally hot and that little breeze can make a huge difference. Sure, most domestic aircraft have air vents, but I am finding more and more long haul Boeing 747, 777, Airbus A330/A330 and the A380 are lacking them.

During both legs (KGL to AMS and AMS to SEA), I had window seats. When flying on the KLM A330, I noticed that there was quite a bit of room between the seat and the wall and was wishing the outer arm rest would raise, allowing me access to that extra room. It was too bad that the armrest would not rise on the KLM A330, but it did rise on Delta’s. This gave me an extra three inches or so of seat width and I was starting to get the feeling that this might be a good flight. Unfortunately we ran into some trouble pretty quickly.

Taking off from Amsterdam.

Taking off from Amsterdam.

After boarding we were told there would be a delay. It turns out that the amount of fuel that the truck indicated being pumped into the aircraft, didn’t match the A330’s gauges. Delays can be annoying, but I am willing to wait to make sure we have enough fuel — I am old fashioned like that. It took about an hour to determine that the truck had the failure and after all the paperwork was completed, we took off.

When getting my free headphones given by Delta out of their plastic bag I accidently ripped one of the wires. Not a big deal, I figured I could just ring the call button and quickly get a new one. I decided to try something new; time how long it would take for a flight attendant to assist me after ringing the call button. I decided I would make eye contact with a flight attendant walking by, but I would not say anything like “excuse me,” to put them to the test.

I rang the call button and waited. And waited. And holy crap waited some more. At the 10 minute mark I turned off my call light and rang it again. During those ten minutes I had two different flight attendants walk by, but they did not stop… they did not even make eye contact. At the 15 minute mark I turned off my call light and rang it again. Another flight attendant walked by, but still nothing. I could see that my call light was on and the “ding” noise was definitely making its sound.

At about 18 minutes a flight attendant came by for trash. I was waiting for her to ask me about my light, but she didn’t. I decided I really wanted to start watching a movie, so I asked her for another head phone set, which she got right away. I am not normally one who uses the call button and I have never timed it before, but I am pretty certain that 18 minutes and three flight attendants walking by is not okay. It takes a lot to get me annoyed or frustrated on a flight and this definitely did it.

OH YES! The armrest near the window moves, giving me more room.

OH YES! The armrest near the window moves, giving me more room.

When trying to relax, the recline of the Economy Comfort was great. However, when the person in front of me was enjoying their extra 50% recline, it was not so great – actually pretty annoying. I am normally one that doesn’t recline my seat, since I do not want to disturb the person behind me, but I really had to recline a bit to open my laptop, even with the extra four inches.

During the flight, I was served two different meals. One was your standard airline pasta, but the second was pizza. Both of them were pretty decent and I thought it was pretty slick having pizza on the plane. I really didn’t get to enjoy all the amenities in the flight, since I slept through most of it. Having the ability to raise my outer armrest really gave me one of my best economy sleeps with someone sitting next to me. I landed in Seattle feeling a lot better than I thought I would after 24 hours of economy flight.

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER – SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

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11 Comments
Mark C. (OKC)

The “Cranky Flier” just did a post about being in a advisory group regarding what people wanted in a airport terminal and “More outlets” was at the top of the list. I’ll wait for the video of you someday showing “In Search of the Elusive Outlet”….. should be quite funny.

I got pretty frustrated honestly. I have never had such a hard time trying to find an outlet and really I don’t think I found a legit outlet, just one I could plug my stuff into.

I know quite a few travelers who keep a power bar to share with others.

David

If you go upstairs in Schipol to where all the restaurants are there is lots of free seating and several relaxation areas not associated with specific restaurants with lots of free outlets …. maybe next time 🙂

Being a person who flies Delta a lot, I know in their hubs (plus Seattle since I was just there) that they installed a bunch of outlets. I’ve never even used the FA call button, I guess their all heard it so many times, they don’t hear it anymore.

I feel for you David, like literally the physical pain in the back, the neck, the knees, and emotional toll of ding-ding! I’m here, someone please help me! Delta. I flew comfort class to Madrid on Delta, and the free drinks consisted of one drink cart for a 9 hour flight, and one water service, along with a coach meal and ‘mini-breakfast’ before landing-that’s it for a 9 hour flight. Asking for water came to be almost banging my tin cup on my tray table to attract attention. I also noticed that every FA was senior in their 50s and beyond, and the burnout was evident. Such neglect of care and concern, of which I saw none of that on my Air France return. I just con’t know how US air carriers are going to build a world class reputation even when you choose to fly “Comfort Class.”

“I just con’t know how US air carriers are going to build a world class reputation even when you choose to fly “Comfort Class.”

1. They should be PAID for the type of superior safety and service so many demand..(like their massively over paid executives). Most US cabin crews are working under a forced 40% pay cut. Try forcing that on your local Fire Dept.
2. They are looking after close to 300 people on that flight, next time, count how few crew members there are instead of “playing a game”
3. Most people would be adult enough to ask for something knowing that those crews are seeing after 300 people on top of monitoring the entire cabin for safety.

Finally, I fly that flight, NWA SEA-AMS regularly (in the front and back)for the last 10 years…and they are with out a doubt some of the best professionals in the air!

Sorry, but your game playing hits a sour note on this one. These people have serious duties to attend to in this day and age considering the dangers and responsibilities they face on every international flight.

There #1 responsibility is to ensure you are safe. Least you forget what kind of world we live in now.

Joe, I am guessing you don’t read my blog often. I am a huge fan of the airline biz and constantly give them a pat on the back. It is rare for me to be harsh on them, but putting an airline’s customer service to the test is something I feel is important. I am not being an a-hole or asking for a bunch of crazy stuff. I just broke my earphones and wanted new ones, they took a very long time and I reported on that.

I know they can get busy and I can be very understanding, but 18 minutes at a time when they were not running service is pretty bad. It is one thing to tell me “give me a minute” versus pretending I do not even exist. If I was flying Allegiant or Spirit, I wouldn’t be surprised. But this was Economy Comfort on Delta and I expected better service.

David

John Williams

Yes, Dave you’re the best but you should have said excuse me! Just ringing the call button and waiting is like walking on a moving side walk and someone is in the left walking lane just standing there and you come up to them and wait for them to move over ,instead of saying “Excuse Me” . It’s the impersonal texting world rather then picking up the phone

“There (sic) #1 responsibility is to ensure you are safe. Least you forget what kind of world we live in now.” Gee Joe, don’t be so defensive. (And you sound like a DL flight attendant defending the status quo-not care or concern to improve the situation). The world we live in now Joe, is costly, not cheap, choices have to be made, and hiding under ‘we want you to be safe’ mantra just doesn’t work to excuse poor service. You missed one important comment (and Mr Browns) about the expectation – good service, and on that Air France on return flight seemed to deliver without breaking a sweat! And, they even have special lapel pins “Safety No1 for your flight.” Wow, they can handle both duties with aplomb. We pay the money and we should feel free to comment and make choices like – not flying DL long haul, again, if I can avoid it. Also FYI, I was a long haul flight attendant and trainer – and, I know where, what and who should be doing what in this game.

Why would anyone pay extra for any of the economy comfort seats on this a330’s configuration.
They are all within close proximity of the kitchen, restrooms, and bulkhead seats (which are often taken by parents with infants or small children). Only 4 inches of extra space, which isn’t much. The seats are hard, and the headrest protrude so much that it throws your spine out…. Bottom line, if you need to sleep, stay away from this section. Take your chances midway into the plan, or if your budget permits, fly business class. Or simply use another airline with and wider, roomier, more comfortable seat.

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