When does coach beat first?


I just returned from two back-to-back trips.  The first was a mileage run to Tokyo that started in Seattle and the second was a quick trip to San Francisco and back. 

My itinerary was:

  •    EWR-DTW-SEA on Northwest
  •    SEA-IAH-NRT-IAH-SEA on Continental
  •    SEA-JFK on Delta
  •    JFK-SFO-EWR on United

Total mileage: 27.033 miles.  Total time: 4 days.  All of the legs were upgraded except for the last leg, SFO-EWR.  

Obviously as I reached the end of this trip I was getting a bit tired and longing for a real bed.  The trip was a lot of fun and I had an amazing time, until I got on my Delta flight to JFK.   For whatever reason, Delta opted not to process any upgrades prior to departure and thus everyone was vying for a battlefield upgrade.  Fortunately for me, I got one.  Unfortunately for me, it was not in the bulk head and in the last row of first, row 4. 

Normally I have no issues falling asleep on planes but I just couldn't get comfortable enough to fall asleep.  Aside from the fact that it seemed very cramped, Delta's seats are the few seats that don't have the little adjustable winglets.  Over time i've found those to be very important to help me sleep as it prevents my head from falling off the edge and gives it a spot to rest.  

So I suffer until I get to JFK and attempt to take a shower at the Skyclub.  I must say, of all the club showers I've used over the years, this was the worst.  First, there was very little water pressure and second the water wasn't even hot, it was lukewarm at best.   This just further reinforces my belief that Delta needs to demolish Terminals 2 and 3 at JFK and start from scratch.

Fastfoward to the following night when I'm supposed to fly SFO-JFK.  Sadly, my upgrade wasn't going to clear and I asked if they could put me on the EWR flight instead as that is where my car was.  The gate agents were awesome and had no issue.  Furthermore, the agent working the EWR flight told me she was going to wait to clear my to make sure I got a good seat and thus landing me in 9D in Economy Plus. 

As I sat there in 9D I couldn't help but notice that I didn't feel cramped and the seat in front of me wasn't in my lap.  I was able to get a nice nap in and landed in a much better state then the previous day.

So, the morale of the story?  United's Economy Plus is far superior than Delta's domestic first. 




Hunter October 20, 2009 at 08:21 pm

Did you get hit on the head somewhere in this process? Is this retalliation for something? And you're telling me that on the EWR-DTW-SEA leg, on NW metal, you had good seats with winglets? Or is this you just being insane-tired on the end of a trip?

Fozz, I can't agree with your last sentence, but I will say this:

Certain flights in United Economy Plus can be (and have been) far superior than certain flights in Delta domestic First.

Just hedging my bets! ;)

Mike October 20, 2009 at 10:57 pm

I noticed you typed the word "upgrade" throughout your post. You spelled it wrong - it's actually:



Fozz October 20, 2009 at 11:05 pm

I'm quite certain I didn't get hit on the head at any point along the way. And it's not retaliation at all, but a personal observation.

No, the Northwest seats didn't have winglets, but i didn't really care as they were day flights. Though they did have the ghetto blue-leather seat condoms. :)

Don't get me wrong, First is definitely nice, but I had much more space in front of my legs on the United flight then the Delta flight. I'm sure if I had a PoS sitting next to me I would have been longing for first though.

Hunter October 20, 2009 at 11:16 pm

@Matthew- "Certain flights in United Economy Plus can be (and have been) far superior than certain flights in Delta domestic First." Forgive me for not knowing this, comrade, but I was under the impression you hadn't been on DL F.

@Fozz- Just looking for the whole story. It just sounds like a timing issue to me, but whatever. As you said, day flight vs. night flight, etc. All that aside, I give up on defending JFK. Even one of my friends that works in the SFO SC believes it sucks. I must be the only one that likes it, outside of the smoking situation.

Fozz October 20, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Hunter, there is no doubt that I was tired, but the space did seem cramped. Now, normally I sit in the bulkhead and never feel so cramped, but since it was a battlefield upgrade, there wasn't much I could do about that.

As for JFK, the two terminals Delta uses are the two oldest terminals left. All the others have since been torn down and rebuilt. Sadly the age has been showing for quite some time.

@Hunter: A few flights in DL F this year using my NW Plat status...probably not a big enough sample size to make a sweeping determination about which product is better, but to compare apples to apples--I'd probably prefer a Delta Economy exit row seat to UA's Economy Plus if the DL plane was equipped with AVOD/DirectTV. Non exit-row, though, I'd definitely take UA.

And to back-up what Fozz said above--on a redeye flight I'd be tempted to choose UA Economy Plus over Delta F because of the winglet issue. Those help a great deal in sleeping...

Gene October 21, 2009 at 10:50 am

@ Fozz and Matthew -- You're both insane. Unless you're 7 feet tall, even US Air's crappy first class is better then UA's Economy Plus. Don't get me wrong, I love UA's Economy Plus product, but my goal is 100% premium cabins! If your only beef with DL first is the lack of winglets, do like me and carry a neck-pillow. Even though I'm in first 99% of the time, I use a neck pillow almost every flight. If I can score a window seat, it's great for wedging between my head and the wall.

Hunter October 21, 2009 at 04:14 pm

@Fozz: You said condom. Giggity.
@Gene: Nice. Thank you.
Don't forget that international aircraft at DL have the winglets.

Fozz October 22, 2009 at 12:21 am

@Hunter: That was just for you. :) @Gene: Premium cabins are great when you feel like you're getting something. On a red-eye there really isn't much in the way of food and drink and it really boils down to comfort. In this case, E+ won. I'm sure if I had the bulkhead row it would have been a much different experience.