Review of Delta Connection flight Toronto Detroit in Domestic First

Airline Delta Connection
Flight DL4489
Seat 2A
Flight time 01:15
Take-off 26 Jan 20, 09:43
Arrival at 26 Jan 20, 10:58
DL   #125 out of 142 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 123 reviews
hometoyyz
By SILVER 675
Published on 26th January 2020

Introduction


Happy 2020, flight-report community!

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here, and once again, I got over-ambitious early in the year and ended up stranding a report on the way home. It didn’t end up being that exciting — I literally slept for 90 percent of my ICN-JFK flight.

But it’s a new year, and although I’m traveling a bit less these days, I am kicking the year off with a couple of adventures — and this is the first one.

This trip came together in September, when I did a search for Cathay Pacific First Class availability to or from HKG early in the year. To my considerable surprise, I found space on HKG-ORD on a Thursday afternoon, and when I called Alaska, they could see it to.

With the trip home booked, now there was just the matter of getting myself to Hong Kong, and getting back from Chicago to Toronto.

Because things never go the easy way, this brief adventure turned into seven flights on four separate tickets, and a bunch of changes in plans along the way — all of which we’ll discuss over the course of this series of flight-reports.

Let’s get into it! 


The rundown


Routing

  • DL4489 - First - Toronto → Detroit - Bombardier CRJ-900 You are here
  • DL189 - Business - Detroit → Beijing - Airbus A350-900 Coming soon
  • MU5128 - Business - Beijing → Shanghai Honqiao - Boeing 777-300ER Coming soon
  • MU721 - Business - Shanghai Hongqiao → Hong Kong - Airbus A321-200 Coming soon
  • CX806 - First - Hong Kong → Chicago - Boeing 777-300ER Coming soon
  • DL2828 - Comfort Plus - Chicago → Detroit - Boeing 717-200 Coming soon
  • DL6217 - First - Detroit → Toronto - Bombardier CRJ-900 Coming soon

photo 1

Booking


This flight wasn’t part of the original plan.

Originally, I went through all the rigmarole required to get a YYZ-JFK-TPE-HKG award with Delta, mostly on China Airlines, and had that booked.

But then I remembered I had a Global Upgrade Certificate available that was expiring at the beginning of February. Were there any options that I could cash that GUC in on?

I checked with Delta’s Twitter support team, and to my considerable surprise, they had immediately confirmable upgrade space available on the Sunday DTW-PEK flight, and that fits my schedule perfectly.

When I hopped on Delta.com, I got an even better surprise — while international one ways are typically pretty expensive, I was able to grab a V fare on the date in question for just $415, all-in.

I snagged the fare online, then immediately called in and applied the upgrade to a nearly-empty Delta One cabin on DTW-PEK, and a wide-open First cabin on YYZ-DTW. The agent who helped me commented that she hadn’t seen a one-way international fare that low “in twenty years.”

I guess demand for YYZ-PEK is pretty low in January.

So with that, I had my ticket to Asia. Then it was just a matter of finding my way from Beijing down to Hong Kong. But that’s another story for another flight-report.

I had originally booked this trip with DL6235 as my YYZ-DTW flight, but it allowed me only a 58-minute connection in Detroit. That’s close enough to make me nervous. I had to call in 24 hours before my departure anyway, because I couldn’t check in online, suggesting the upgraded ticket needed a reissue. So I decided to check on the possibility of moving to the earlier YYZ-DTW flight option. After some humming and hawwing — it seems there was some debate in the call centre as to whether same day change is allowed on the domestic segment ahead of an international itinerary — it was done, and I had a much more leisurely three hours in Detroit, just in case there are weather shenanigans to deal with. 


Arriving at Pearson


The earlier departure meant an earlier wakeup call. But at least when I woke up, I had this message awaiting me.


photo 2

On the one hand, really cool that the Medallion upgrade cleared on this award segment at the five-day window. On the other hand, a reminder that although I’ve yet to leave home, five days from now I’ll be boarding a flight back home from Detroit.

It being early on Sunday morning, I pretty much had the whole car on the commuter train into Toronto to myself, and the express train up to Pearson was only slightly more packed.

I arrive at Pearson about 8:30 am for my 9:45 departure. Not a lot of extra time, but enough time not to be rushed. It’s a fairly nice January morning — hovering just around freezing, and nothing falling from the sky. I’ll take it. 


photo 3

I head inside, and make my way towards the Delta check-in desk. 


photo 4

Check-in and Security


There’s only one person ahead of my in the Sky Priority line, so I’m quickly served. 


photo 5

I chat a bit with the agent, who notes there are two passengers with my surname today. I’m surprised he has that kind of detail top-of-mid. My surname is uncommon for my ethnicity, and not terribly common in North America, but isn’t super-unusual in a global sense.

Once I explain that I’m connecting on to Hong Kong on a separate ticket, my boarding pass is issued, and I’m on my way to security.


photo 6

Things must be a little bit of a zoo at the U.S. security checkpoint, because they’re asking pax for later flights not to check i at this point. I’m earlier that the current 10:30 deadline — and it appears Nexus passengers are exempt from this restriction anyway.

The Nexus security line is longer than usual, but still only takes about 15 minutes. Global Entry immigration another five minutes or so, so all in all, I’m airside about 25 minutes after arriving at the terminal. Not bad for a “long security line” and having to pre-clear U.S. immigration. My experience would have been much different if I did not have access to Global Entry — the queue for “regular” immigration was significantly longer.


photo 7

My flight today will be departing from “A6” which is a multi-gate serving regional aircraft — the only gate at Terminal 3 without a jetway. It’s downstairs at ground level, and there are three gates sharing the space. Generally, it’s too small, crowded, and miserable.

Abandon all hope, ye who go down this elevator.


photo 8

Fortunately, it’s not actually all that bad at this hour, and there’s plenty of seating available. I arrive with just about 15 minutes before my likely boarding time, so I take a seat in relative comfortOur crew arrives a few minutes after I do. So that’s a positive sign.


photo 9

Our crew arrives a few minutes after I do. So that’s a positive sign.  


photo 10

Our ride — a 13-year-old CRJ-900 operated by SkyWest, has overnighted in Toronto after operating a mid-afternoon DTW-YYZ segment on Saturday. So the plane is here and ready to go, but we’ll probably have to make a stop at the de-icing facility prior to departure.


Boarding Time


Boarding is called as expected at about 9:15, and after a quick check to make sure my bag will fit in the cabin, my boarding pass is scanned and I’m o my way. We’re at the closest hard stand to the doors, so I don’t get a great long shot of our CRJ-900, but still, a nice look and a little of that jet fuel aroma to start the day.  


photo 11

the flight report


Flight: DL4489
From: Toronto Pearson (YYZ)
To: Detroit Wayne (DTW)
Date: 1/26/2020
Aircraft: Bombardier CRJ-900
Registration: N804SK
Seat: 2A
ATD (STD): 09:43 (09:45)
ATA ( STA): 10:58 (11:22)


I’m in my preferred CR9 seat for this flight — 2A, a solo seat. It’s equipped as Delta standard with a light blanket, a decent pillow (for a short hop) and a little bottle of water. 


photo 12

Legroom shot — more than adequate for the relatively short flights these birds operate.


photo 13

There aren’t a lot of amenities on these planes, but at least there’s a USB port and power outlet at the seat.


photo 15

A look out the window during boarding. This WestJet Q400 would be off to Boston shortly.


photo 14

The friendly flight attendant working first class makes the rounds for PDB selections, and I opt for a cup of coffee. It takes a few minutes, as she puts on a fresh pot, but it arrives in its oh-so-humble paper cup. It does not disappoint. 


photo 16

We push back right at 9:45 — no stop at de-icing today, apparently. I guess it’s warm enough not to warrant it.


photo 17

WestJet’s lovely Frozen 737 as we taxi by — she’s clearly going to be following us out this morning.


photo 18

It takes about fifteen minutes to taxi out to runway 23, and there’s a bit of traffic ahead of us, including a pair of AC Rouge 767s (one without winglets, one with), a WestJet Q400, and a Sunwing 737. 



Finally, it’s our turn, and my first flight of 2020 is just about airborne 


photo 23

Behind us, an ACr A319, and the WestJet Frozen plane are lined up behind us. 


photo 24

A short run later, and we take off about five minutes past ten. 


photo 25photo 26photo 27

It’s much nicer once we’re up through the clouds, where the sun always shines.


photo 28

Our flight attendant sprigs into action as soon as we’re past 10,000 feet to make sure everyone in /F gets a drink. I ask for another cup of great coffee, this time made even greater by a little bit of Bailey’s.


photo 29

Once she’s done her drink run, she makes a quick pass o a basic snack basket — just granola bars, Biscofff cookies, Cheezits and almonds on offer. I take one each of the first two options since I haven’t had breakfast yet.


photo 30

By the time our flight attendant is done her snack run, we get a PA from the flight deck announcing we’ve begun our descent, and are about 20 minutes out of Detroit. Yep, this is a short flight.  It’s a low ceiling, so we’re nearly on the runway by the time we see anything other than clouds out the window.


photo 31

Almost there. 


photo 32

And touchdown, at about 10 minutes to 11. 


photo 33

It takes us a little short of ten minutes to make our way over to Regional Row, the B concourse of the McNamara Terminal, and find our gate.


photo 34

Arrival into DTW


We’re quickly released into terminal, which is pretty quiet. 


photo 36

One last look at my first ride of the year before I make my way over to the A concourse.


photo 35

Making the connection is a short walk through the ever-funky tunnel under the apron, with its trippy lights show and, today, some Motown tunes to entertain.



Over at the main terminal, you arrive right next to the dancing fountains at the centre of the terminal. And who can resist taking a shot of that in action?


photo 41

And that’s where we’ll leave this flight-report. We’ll pick things up second later, as we get ready for our ride over to Beijing.

Thanks for joining me for this quick segment, and I hope to see you on the much longer Delta One flight up next.

See more

Verdict

Delta Connection

7.0/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Meal/catering6.0

Toronto - YYZ

7.6/10
Efficiency7.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Detroit - DTW

7.9/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

I appreciate Delta’s flexibility in allowing the same-day change. I probably would have been just fine with the 58-minute connection, but taking the stress out by arriving early is great. As for the flight itself, friendly service from our flight attendant and a perfectly adequate experience for this 213-mile transborder trip.

Information on the route Toronto (YYZ) Detroit (DTW)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 5 reviews of 3 airlines on the route Toronto (YYZ) → Detroit (DTW).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Air Canada with 7.4/10.

The average flight time is 1 hours and 5 minutes.

  More information

19 Comments

  • Comment 539499 by
    JonathanL SILVER 15 Comments

    It's a little sad to see no propper glassware/mugs in a premium cabin. I know the flight was short, however it's still possible for them to do so. For example on a 45 minute flight from DCA-JFK in F I was served my drink using glassware. Just a bit odd and most likely acost cutting measure. Anyways, great review and thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 539505 by
      hometoyyz SILVER AUTHOR 538 Comments

      Thanks for stopping by and offering your thoughts.

      I agree with you on the glassware issue. DL used to offer glassware on this short flight (usually about 25-28 minutes in the air). And it used to offer water service at least in Y. Now it seems inconsistent on glassware in F and no service at all in Y. An unfortunate change.

      Cheers!

  • Comment 539514 by
    757Fan 585 Comments

    Great report, and looks like a typical DL flight on a CRJ-900. Looking forward to your next part, and the whole trip in general!

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Comment 539628 by
    ThomasDutch GOLD 458 Comments

    And off you are for a new trip towards Asia. I'm particularly interesting in those few flights of MU as I'm curious if they did a change in service somehow with a few years ago when I flew with them on one of their older longhaul birds. And all those weird ways to gain points via different programs, how do you keep up with them? Thanks for sharing your report and keep them coming!

    • Comment 539756 by
      hometoyyz SILVER AUTHOR 538 Comments

      Hi Thomas -- thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      I'm particularly interesting in those few flights of MU...

      Yeah.... about that...

      And all those weird ways to gain points via different programs, how do you keep up with them?

      I'm relatively non-diversified compared to many travel hackers. I've mostly got SkyMiles. I collect Alaska miles via credit card and whatever other tricks I can because I value them so much. And I've got some Aeroplan miles kicking around -- they're pretty easy to pick up here in Canada.

      Thanks again for stopping by, and see you around the site. Cheers!

  • Comment 539638 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5257 Comments

    Hey HometoYYZ, good to see one of your reports!

    On the one hand, really cool that the Medallion upgrade cleared on this award segment at the five-day window.

    Fancy! And lucky...that never ever happened for me as a PM for several years on revenue tickets, much less award tickets. nice

    There aren’t a lot of amenities on these planes, but at least there’s a USB port and power outlet at the seat.

    Interesting! Most of the CR9s flying for DL only have a power outlet, this is the first time I'm seeing USB

    Surprised to see Toronto relatively snow-less for this time of year--same for Detroit.

    Thanks for sharing and look forward to the rest of the series!

    • Comment 539757 by
      hometoyyz SILVER AUTHOR 538 Comments

      Hello Kevin! Thanks, as always, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      Fancy! And lucky...that never ever happened for me as a PM for several years on revenue tickets, much less award tickets. nice

      Because I'm a bit of a spreadsheet geek, I can tell you thas a DM last year, I was upgraded to F on 81% of my flights, for 76% of the total miles travelled on those flights. Of course, it depends on your route and timing. I don't think I missed an upgrade to or from YYZ last year. But that's mostly short MSP, JFK and DTW flights, with some ATL when there's no other option. The only longhaul is the daily SLC which I love for later-in-the-day flights to the west coast. For a long time, it was on an A319 and upgrades were tough, but in the last year, it's gone to A320/738, and those four extra F seats have made allllll the difference in the world.

      Interesting! Most of the CR9s flying for DL only have a power outlet, this is the first time I'm seeing USB

      I've only seen it maybe a quarter of the time I'm on CR9s. Granted, I frequently don't even bother looking. I presume it's in the newer birds from some of the regional carriers -- not sure if it's a Delta spec or an operator spec?

      Surprised to see Toronto relatively snow-less for this time of year--same for Detroit.

      It comes and goes. A week before this, we got dumped on. But then it was slightly warmer and rainy most of the week, so it all disappeared. It's been a fairly mild winter for the most part.

      Thanks again for stopping by, and see you around the site. Cheers!

      • Comment 539771 by
        KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5257 Comments

        That's a really good upgrade rate! Especially in these days where DL sell more F seats. But yeah a lot of it has to do with the route and day of the week. Back when I was a PM, even the A320s only had 12 seats so they were also a tough upgrade.

        The F product can be hit or miss depending on the operator...AFAIK, the only CR9 cabins that are sure to have outlets (and USB) are the new "Atmosphere" cabins. One way to tell an Atmosphere cabin apart is that it has 19 rows instead of 20 on standard CR9s.

        • Comment 539843 by
          hometoyyz SILVER AUTHOR 538 Comments

          That's a really good upgrade rate! Especially in these days where DL sell more F seats.

          Yeah, I'm happy with it. Doubly so since if I miss the upgrade, I'm in Comfort Plus, instead of sitting in AC rouge 29-inch pitch Y. But I've been surprised that the last few years as a DM, that's pretty consistently my rate, despite Delta's consistent FCM drive. I think a lot has to do with Toronto's reputation as a destination that doesn't drive a lot of premium seats.

          Back when I was a PM, even the A320s only had 12 seats so they were also a tough upgrade.

          Yikes. And I thought AC was below average with 14.

          The F product can be hit or miss depending on the operator...AFAIK, the only CR9 cabins that are sure to have outlets (and USB) are the new "Atmosphere" cabins.

          Did not know that. I'll have to pay more attention. I know I've been on CR7s without any outlets at all, but unsure about CR9s, which I see all the time.

  • Comment 539642 by
    YGeorgeW GOLD 183 Comments

    Hi Hometoyyz and welcome back!

    This seemed like a fairly typical Delta flight for such a short duration. I've been actually flying Delta more of late myself because of price. Looking forward to the rest of this trip. Stay safe!

    • Comment 539758 by
      hometoyyz SILVER AUTHOR 538 Comments

      Hi George -- thanks for the welcome back, and thanks for offering your thoughts!

      I've been actually flying Delta more of late myself because of price

      They do tend to price quite competitively, especially in comparison to their Canadian peers. How have you found the Delta experience? While I miss some things about AC loyalty, I can't say as I regret my loyalty to DL at all.

      Cheers!

      • Comment 539760 by
        YGeorgeW GOLD 183 Comments

        I have too small a sample size so far for a real comparison, but more operational reliability and more consistent service than UA. However, I don't think Delta is worth the worship you might see from some online. When I read some blog posts and some online comments, you'd think Delta was SQ or something. They're not too much better than their U.S. competitors. I'm more likely to become a free agent than chase any particular alliance in the future.

        • Comment 539845 by
          hometoyyz SILVER AUTHOR 538 Comments

          However, I don't think Delta is worth the worship you might see from some online. When I read some blog posts and some online comments, you'd think Delta was SQ or something.

          The web is wont for hyperbole, isn't it? For me, the biggest differences (primarily benchmarked against AC) is operational reliability and flexibility, upgrades that are actually attainable when you're not on the upper half of Y fares and the feeling that they at least are better able to hide their utter hatred for bottom-feeding frequent fliers like me. (Especially when said bottom feeders have a home address outside the U.S.)

          I'm more likely to become a free agent than chase any particular alliance in the future.

          Definitely the best way to go if circumstances allow it. Delta's a good airline for FFs (compared to AC at least), but SkyMiles is a hot mess when compared to pretty much anything that posts realistic award chart and has access to *A or OW carriers.

  • Comment 539645 by
    atco GOLD 134 Comments

    You're back!
    Thank goodness, great to see you again.
    Can't wait to see how the rest of this trip shakes out, knowing you it will probably be fairly epic!

    • Comment 539759 by
      hometoyyz SILVER AUTHOR 538 Comments

      Hello Atco! And thanks for stopping by to comment.

      You're back!

      Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in!

      Can't wait to see how the rest of this trip shakes out, knowing you it will probably be fairly epic!

      Thrills! Chills! Plot twists worthy of M. Night Shyamalan! Four-digit flight numbers starting with 99! Nearly sleeping through a connection! And I'm only halfway done the series! Dontchadaremissit!

      Cheers!

  • Comment 541883 by
    socalnow GOLD 980 Comments

    I'll echo the other contributor's sentiment that it's great to have you back writing here Hometoyyz.

    Abandon all hope, ye who go down this elevator.

    -This is what we've missed!

    The flight seems fine for the duration. I've generally had high marks for SkyWest crews

    I am genuinely curious about your thought process for embarking on tis trip given the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak (are we up to a pandemic yet?) I had an outbound to PVG planned for 1/30 that would have been an overnight transit and I changed plans without any consideration of going. Yours was a few days earlier and news of the situation changes with every hour and day. Did you give any consideration to not transiting mainland China and HKG? Delta had a travel waiver in place, no?

    I'm looking forward to this series and thank you for coming back and sharing your writing talents with the community. Happy flying.

    • Comment 541886 by
      hometoyyz SILVER AUTHOR 538 Comments

      Hi SoCal!

      Thanks for stopping by and offering your thoughts.

      Did you give any consideration to not transiting mainland China and HKG? Delta had a travel waiver in place, no?

      Honestly, I did not in this case. Had it happened even a few days later, I probably would. But at the time, the news was still pretty... new... and I don’t think there were any reports from HKG at that point in time, so I figured I’d have quite limited exposure, if any, in China, and be basically home free after that. Plus, I’m stupid, and didn’t wanna give up my HKG-ORD CX F seat. I don’t recall whether or not DL had a waiver in place at that point — but they probably did, judging by the attendance on my DTW-PEK adventure later on.

      Again... I probably should have at least considered cancelling, or at least re-routing — though that would have been difficult since it was on so many separate tickets and ultimately required me to be in HKG for the whole trip to work.

      Cheers!

      • Comment 541891 by
        socalnow GOLD 980 Comments

        Had it happened even a few days later, I probably would. But at the time, the news was still pretty... new... and I don’t think there were any reports from HKG at that point in time, so I figured I’d have quite limited exposure, if any, in China, and be basically home free after that.

        -Yeah, it was early in the information arc. I had no chance as I'm married to a nurse who leads the infection prevention and epidemiology program for a large hospital. I suppose I could have gone but I sure wasn't going to be welcomed back! I have a hard time assessing risk on these types of things. It's likely very low but it what amount is acceptable? Anyhow, it seems like you are home safe and unscathed with some great stories and memories.

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