Do you know where your bag is at? If you are on Delta, you can know. Photo by Kenny Ganz.
Earlier this year Delta Air Lines started experimenting with being able to track your checked bags via the internet. Although you could check the status of your bag using a browser on your smart phone, it wasn’t the best. Now, Delta has expanded the capability to use their app to check on your bag.
Once you enter your bag’s code (with the iPhone you can scan it) you are able to watch it board your plane and find out what carousel it will show up on after you land. Or you might also be able to watch as it goes to Hawaii as you fly to Ohio. Even though that would be a negative experience overall, at least, it allows you to plan ahead of time. You won’t have to stand at baggage claim for an hour waiting for your bag, just to find out that it did not make it. You can go straight from your flight to a customer service representative.
“Delta’s baggage tracking feature on our mobile applications is part of our ongoing investment in technology to bring greater convenience to the travel experience, said Bob Kupbens, Delta’s vice president – eCommerce. “We’ve added features that help put our customer’s minds at ease, simplify their journey and put them in control.”
Currently, the bag tracking is available on the iPhone and Android. Apps for Windows and Blackberry phones will be coming online in the next few weeks.
So, with many of your traveling has anyone been able to try out this service yet?
Learn more and see a video on Delta’s blog.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A FEW MORE PHOTOS
This a guest blog from Vinay Bhaskara looking how airline and train transportation has changed over time on the east coast. This is his story:
One of my more “avgeeky” hobbies is looking at the Form 41 data; specifically the T100. The T100D Segment, which I’m going to be looking at today, gives us data about every domestic flight operated by all carriers, both US owned, and international.
Now the T100 database at the DOT goes back to 1990, so I decided to take a look at how a specific route looked like in 1990, and then in 2009 (the second to last full year of data available). After a few moments of debate, I decided on New York La Guardia to Washington Reagan – one component of the venerable Northeast Shuttle.
The La Guardia to Reagan route is still one of the most traversed air routes in North America, comprising 423,483 passengers last year. There are only two airlines on the route; US Airways, and Delta. In 1990, it was the legendary Pan Am who flew the route in lieu of Delta. That being said, here are some of the stats I found most interesting:
* Capacity on the route fell by 49% and passengers dropped 50%. So in 19 years, the airlines have halved their capacity on the route, and half as many passengers are flying the route.
* Despite the precipitous drop in capacity and demand, the average number of daily flights only dropped from 31 to 24.
* This corresponds with the average aircraft size falling from 159 seats in 1990, to 103 seats in 2009. Of course this probably has a lot to do with the fact that Delta is running E175s every hour, but still.
* Delta had a load factor of 40% last year. I hope they have lots of high yielding passengers, because they sure as heck aren’t filling many seats.
The following chart shows how the capacity and passengers carried stacked up for each airline:
The next two charts show the corresponding market shares of the different airlines. Isn’t it surprising that Delta (who replaced Pan Am on the route in 1991) lost so much market share?
Why are the passenger numbers dropping so much? In a word: time. The time it takes to fly between New York and DC has grown so much, that flying has become far less attractive, especially when compared to other options like the Acela Express.
Let’s take our average businessman, and say that he lives 20 minutes away from both Penn Station and La Guardia (I’m not sure there is such a point, but work with me here). So we start with that. Then, the Acela Express takes an average of 3 hours to reach its destination, and bam, you’re in downtown DC at Union Station.
The flight on the other hand is much more complex. After arriving at the airport, you usually have to budget time for security. I’d estimate it to be 15 minutes at the Marine Air Terminal (Delta Shuttle) during peak times, and 40 minutes at US Airways’ terminal during the same time period. So let’s assume that it takes around 30 minutes for security. Then, you want to be at the gate around 25 minutes before your flight; which brings you to a total of 75 minutes before you even board the flights. Now, the average ramp to ramp time, which is how long it takes for the plane to go from gate to gate was 73 minutes last year. Once you arrive at the airport, we can figure around 10 minutes for disembarking and going to the taxi stand/limo pickup. From Reagan National, it usually takes around 25 minutes to get to downtown DC by car. So let’s tally up the total travel time for each method.
Drive to Penn Station- 20 minutes
Train Travel Time- 180 minutes
Total Travel Time- 200 minutes
US Airways and Delta Shuttles
Drive to La Guardia- 20 minutes
Security at Airport- 30 minutes
Time at Gate Prior to Departure- 25 minutes
Plane Travel Time- 73 minutes
Time to Get out of Reagan Airport- 10 minutes
Drive to Downtown DC- 25 minutes
Total Travel Time- 183 minutes
Plus, the service on the Acela Express is much better. Acela Express- Spacious seats, in-seat power, WiFi, a newspaper, and gourmet meals. US Airways/Delta Shuttle- Cramped cabin, snack boxes, free drinks, and a newspaper. You decide….. Which one would/do you choose?
Vinay Bhaskara is an aviation analyst and history buff based in the United States (New Jersey). In addition to his analyst’s position at Aspire Aviation, he also writes for the Bangalore Aviation blog, and does a podcast on Asian aviation with Innovation Analysis Group (IAG). He can be reached at @TheABVinay on Twitter, as well as at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook , and via Linkedin.
Temo Madrigal is a good friend and is a correspondent for my blog. He also is not loyal to any one airline and normally tries to find the best deal possible, especially when flying with his wife and three kids. Recently he had a flight by himself from Seattle (SEA) to Indianapolis (IND) with a layover in Minneapolis (MSP) on Delta Air Lines. I asked if he could check out the SkyClub during his four hour layover in MSP and give his honest impressions since he had never been in an airline lounge before. He agreed.
The SkyClub located at the entrance of the F and G concourses at MSP (there is another located on the C concourse) is Delta’s busiest club after Atlanta and takes up about 12,500 square feet. The club was re-done in January 2011 as part of Delta’s more than $2 billion investment in airport facilities and global products, services and technology upgrades. Here is Temo’s experience in his own words:
Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200 at MSP. Photo by Daniel Betts.
Some of my fellow travelers like to book their flights direct with no stops. I, on the other hand am all about saving money, even if it’s a measly twenty dollars. As a stay-at-home-dad, I like to enjoy the few hours I spend alone in the sometimes-busy airport terminals. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but getting to read more than one chapter of a book in one sitting is a rare treat.
Recently, I was traveling to the Midwest and had a four-hour layover in Minneapolis and the Airline Reporter (aka David) asked me to check out the Delta Sky Club and provide readers with an inside look at the amenities of the club and if a one day pass (normally $50) would be worth it.
The Delta Sky Club in Minneapolis was formally the Northwest Airlines Worldclubs and is one of the oldest lounges in the Midwest. One wouldn’t be able to tell since it was first updated during the merger of Delta and Northwest in 2008 and then again January of this year.
Honestly, before seeing the Delta Sky Club, I had never actually been in an airport lounge. In my mind I had imagined dark painted walls, black ceilings, old style leather couches, and maybe even a stuffed moose head on a wall over the bar. I usually travel with a child or two in-tow, so running up and down the terminal is something that we do to tire-out our kids and help them be less of a hassle on the plane (mostly to respect our fellow travelers), and due to my vivid imagination and ideas of what an airport lounge includes, I never looked into them. This trip had definitely helped me change my mind.
A good club takes more than just a comfy place to sit -- it takes good staff and Delta delivers.
The foyer of the Delta Sky Club looked inviting and the young ladies at the reception desk welcomed me with genuine smiles and some humor. Something you might not see at every airport establishment at 6:10 AM. I was quickly asked if I had ever been to the Minneapolis club and if I needed any assistance with the services. I let them know that I had not and one representative provided me with a brief tour of the club and the amenities that are offered. I quickly realized that there was no moose head and my ideas of what I would find were completely the opposite.
The entire lounge was actually had a retro-yet-new-feel with florescent lights dimmed by blue stained glass, both the furniture and artwork were a cross between modern and art deco that gave the entire lounge a chic and upscale look and feeling. Being in the club actually made me feel as if I had entered an exclusive nightclub, but yet somehow I belonged.
Delta's SkyClub in MSP has lots of different seating options.
After the brief tour I decided to use the amenities of the lounge. First, was the men’s room and I was a little disappointed. Being that I was on a red-eye and had a full day ahead of me, I was hoping that there would be showers at this location, but there were not. I felt awkward having to brush my teeth in sinks that were directly located in front of bathroom stalls for some reason. At least the restroom was very clean, so it that wasn’t a big deal.
The good part is most people won’t spend most of their time in the bathroom. The seating areas were outstanding, with the two level lounge being open and ample. There were a variety of seat options ranging from nest style seats that provided some privacy, full reclining chairs, living room style seating arrangements with coffee tables at the center, and bar table and stool seats as well. It also featured a “quiet area” that was in a sunken nook style space in the far corner of the club with full reclining chairs.
One can sit and relax or get down to business in the SkyClub.
The business office area offered both desks with internet hook-up and telephones, as well as desks with ready-to-use desktop computers, printers and a fax machine. I was able to use the free Wi-Fi with my tablet after being helped by the reception desk. There is also satellite TV available, but if you are looking for non-electronic entertainment, you can find plenty of daily newspapers (Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, etc.) and magazines.
The Delta Sky Club offers what Delta calls “Snacks Served All Day”. I perused the continental breakfast selections; oatmeal with the trimmings, bagels, trailmix, fresh fruits, cereal, yogurt, and a multi-selection beverage dispenser that offered coffee, tea, and hot cocoa. I’m a Seattle coffee drinker and give kudos for the strong coffee that came out of the dispenser.
There might not be a ton of food an drink options, but you can have as much as you want.
The bar was stocked with complimentary premium wines, beer and liquor. Again, there was no moose head over the bar, but there were three large plasma televisions offering both news and sports options for patrons to watch, and now that I think about it, it’s definitely better than having to stare at a dead moose head for four hours. The bar was clean, attractive, and the bartenders, Taslfalem and Sebele, were polite and very attentive. Both were able to multi-task by holding a great conversation and do their work with precision and a smile.
When heading back to Seattle and stopping at Detroit, I was offered a one-day pass to the Delta Sky Club for only $39.00. I had a four-hour layover once again and sitting with the “normal” people just didn’t seem appealing. I wanted to see the difference of how much money I would spend normally on food, drinks, etc. at the airport. I spent a total of $29.17 for an appetizer and two drinks in a bad Mexican restaurant with uncomfortable chairs. For ten dollars more (even for $20 more at the standard $50 price) I could have had the same positive experience I had in Minneapolis at the Delta Sky Club.
The bar was my favorite place. Good drinks and great conversation.
So is the cost of a day pass or even a yearly membership worth it? Well, I met a gentleman at the Sky Club Bar that mentioned he had become a member of The Delta Sky Club (formally Delta Crown Room Clubs) almost fifteen years ago because he wanted to find a better place for his kids to have a soda and relax during 2-4 hour layovers. He is a loyal member and feels that it only keeps getting better. I have to agree. It will be pretty hard for me not to have lounge access, but I do not travel enough for a yearly membership. Delta better believe they might see me a time or two using a day pass in the future, which is a big statement coming from a conservative spending guy like me.
B757 image by Daniel Betts
All others by Temo Madrigal
Delta ad on one of their seatback video displays.
On Monday, Delta Air Lines announced a new level of service coming to long-haul international flights: Economy Comfort. By summer 2011, more than 160 of Delta’s Boeing 747, 757, 767, 777 and Airbus A330 will have the new Economy Comfort seats installed. The seats themselves aren’t that much of a change, but what comes with them is a pretty a nice improvement. The seats will give you four more inches of legroom and 50% more recline, but you are also going to get free drinks and premium boarding.
The obvious comparison is to United Airline’s Economy Plus. United flies Economy Plus on international and domestic flights and it has been a great way to create loyalty for their passengers.
To learn more and see a great comparison chart between Economy Comfort and Economy Plus, check out Brett Snyder’s blog, Cranky Flier.For some photos and even more information, check out Dan Webb’s blog, Things in the Sky.
There is strong competition between the world’s two largest airlines and it looks like Delta has just played their hand. United… it is your move.