Review of Delta Air Lines flight Frankfurt New York in Economy

Airline Delta Air Lines
Flight DL107
Class Economy
Seat 50G
Aircraft Boeing 767-400ER
Flight time 09:04
Take-off 19 Feb 22, 09:54
Arrival at 19 Feb 22, 12:58
DL   #33 out of 74 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 754 reviews
Manbou
By BRONZE 2470
Published on 21st February 2022

Hello there, and welcome to my first actual travel series on here. As the rest of the year is somewhat difficult for me in terms of finding time for a vacation, and that my last stay in the USA was cut short abruptly for reasons everybody is sick and tired of hearing from by now, the decision where to go was made very quickly. That the only other attractive goal for my trip - Japan - is still closed off to the world as I'm writing these lines, and the US lifted their immigration ban for Schengen area inhabitants last fall made the decision even more easy to make.
I had specific reasons for choosing the first three stops of my little tour of the United States but Houston was more or less chosen because it was expedient. Speaking of expediency, this was also part of the reason why I chose the airlines I chose for this trip. Trip times were good and the prices too. For American Airlines, I was even able to use some travel credit leftover from 2020. Plus, I had wanted to try Delta's long-haul product for some time now and the opportunity was there. The routing for my vacation this year is as follows:



This first part will be about the first flight (very surprisingly, I know), and I even kind of hurried up writing this as I noticed a serious drought of Delta Main Cabin long-haul trip reports since Covid started - if I'm not mistaken, there's not a single one on here. So I hope that this report is useful for you if you think about taking such a flight in the near future. This day's flight would take me from Frankfurt to Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA) via New York JFK, where I would have a 3 hour layover (Spoiler: Having this much time in between flights would come in quite handy).
I was pretty excited when I got the mail that the equipment was changed from an A330-200 to a B767-400ER. Delta is only one of two airlines operating this type of aircraft, the other one being United. So you could say it's a pretty rare aircraft to find, especially if you're not based in the US. As they're getting quite old by now, I was really looking forward to trying out the B764 for myself as long as they're still around. It would also be the first time for my flying on a 767 in Economy, with its unique 2-3-2 layout. However, I would not be able to see the advantages of this kind of layout, as the flight would turn out to be less than half-full. This would pretty much turn out to be the final state of Economy class for the flight:


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Departing Frankfurt


Welcome to Terminal 2 of Frankfurt airport! For me as a regular Terminal 1 flyer, this was sort of uncharted territory for me. Terminal 2 in general is smaller/more compact than Terminal 1, but pretty much equally drab. Airlines that depart from Terminal 2 are basically all Skyteam and Oneworld Airlines plus Emirates and (still) Ryanair, to name a few.


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Delta offers an online system where you can upload your necessary legal and health documents to speed up your experience at the airport. Speaking from my experience, however, it's not worth fiddling around with PDF files until the algorithm accepts them - despite confirmation mails, it obviously didn't work at all, as I (just like everyone else) was forced to do all the checks at the airport again, and the line for that was not exactly short. After all of that, I could finally drop my bag and, to my surprise, received two printed boarding passes for my flights today (nothing special). Then, I could just go through the passport checks, which went very quickly that day. Subsequenty, one finds oneself in a weird nether-realm with some shops and seating areas.


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Security checks actually come after that and are specific to groups of gates. In this case, flight DL107 to New York JFK departed from gate E2, which meant that the security check area for gates E1-10 was the right one. For my flight, I had to go through another round of document checks, this time performed by Delta employees, and I was finally airside. Note that not all individual gate waiting areas have shops or even restrooms. In my case, there was a sign pointing that out before the final document check. So going through the checks as early as possible doesn't really make sense here.
The waiting area at the gate was very simple and high above the ground, which meant that views of the apron were severly limited. That the sun was shining bright and the smooth glass surfaces of the terminal reflected all of the light didn't make things much better for planespotting. There were, however, some free newspapers lying around, albeit a very weird selection of them. Next to The New York Times and Financial Times, there were German-language magazines about sports and horseriding(!), respectively. The first photo of the gallery is the best shot I've got of today's airplane.



Today's aircraft: N835MH, a Boeing 767-400ER delivered new to Delta Air Lines in November 2000 (21 years old).
Information courtesy of Planespotters.com.


As the plane had landed very early that day (strong tailwinds - which would become headwinds on the way back), boarding could commence a few minutes before the scheduled boarding time of 8:55. The flight wasn't full at all, so it wasn't much of a surprise that it all went pretty quickly. After a short while, I found myself on my way to board the aircraft, which first meant going down an escalator and then the only jetbridge that was attached to the plane.


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Customary fuselage shot:


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Boarding & Take-off


Delta One (Business Class) was on the left, while for Premium Select, Comfort Plus, and the rest of us plebs it meant turning right.



Some shots as I passed different parts of the cabin on the way out. Premium Select sure does look nice, even though I can't help thinking that pretty much all three American legacy carriers feature basically the same hard product, judging from the look of it. Here, Premium Economy is arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration. Economy Class - that is Main Cabin and Comfort+ - are in the standard 767 layout of 2-3-2.
At my seat, a pillow and blanket lay sealed in a plastic bag. Also, the flight attendant who welcomed me at the door also gave each passenger a pre-packaged and very moist sanitizing wipe.
As to the seat itself, I was curious to see how it would hold up on that long of a flight, especially as it is a leather seat. The material, by the way, feltlike real leather to me, or at least it was very soft and high-quality leatherette. I was surprised at how soft the material was, considering how it looks on pictures. There is an entertainment system box under the window seats, but I found it to be of an acceptable size - you might think otherwise if you happen to be tall. Legroom was slightly above average, I would say. A footrest would have gone a long way to improve comfort.
First photo of the gallery below: view from seat 50G.



Unfortunately, I have to say that cleanliness wasn't up to the promises of a hygienic cabin. The tray table could have been cleaner, and in my seat pocket I found a used wet towel (now not so wet anymore) and a cookie. Bad job, Frankfurt cleaning crew. Meanwhile, the baggage was loaded below my seat.
At each seat, there isn't only an infotainment screen (more on that later), a headrest with foldable wings, and a USB and an audio port. Each pair of seats also features a standard power outlet and another USB outlet between the seats in front. The safety card featured a quirk I first found to be a show of patriotism on the side of Delta, stating that "Final assembly of this airplane was completed in the USA." I was, however, proven wrong - see the next trip report for that ;)
Window alignment of seat 50G wasn't too bad, but not great either. The rear window is too far to the rear to comfortably look out of, and the front window is a tad too far in the front for my liking. I really seem to have a talent for choosing non-optimal window seats.
Boarding was finished bang on time, and my former hope/expectation of having a pair of seats to myself became reality.


Load factor: C approx. 50%, P approx. 30%, Y 35-40%.
Note that Premium Plus for some reason didn't appear as bookable to me. Perhaps because the original aircaft scheduled for this flight (an A330) didn't feature that class. So I wonder where the occupants of that class came from.


Before taxi, flight attendants came around and offered earphones (very mediocre, but I didn't have wired earphones with me) and a "travel kit", consisting of a sleeping mask and earplugs. Especially in these times, I guess you feel very sealed off from the environment, donning a face mask, a sleeping mask, and earplugs.


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The mood lighting and the overall ceiling design made the aircraft look pretty fresh - at first glance. Details such as the not very tightly closing window shades still gave away the age of the plane.


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Doors were closed on time (other than what Flightradar says), and we were pushed back shortly thereafter. Enjoy some random shots of the Frankfurt apron with just regular visitors, I guess.



With just one aircraft before us, we quickly rolled onto the runway and made our way Westward.



… and off we go.



Looking at the landscapes of central Hessen below makes me wonder why I happen to live in the part of Hessen that isn't really that beautiful :)


Midflight


Now, first to the inflight entertainment. The system was switched on right after the safety video had been played. The screen was big enough, fairly bright and responsive. The resolution, though, was not crystal clear - still goood enough for what it's meant to do. Note, however, that the screen is not tiltable.
The selection of movies, TV shows, and audio offered (in partnership with several providers such as HBO Max, Hulu, and Spotify) was very large, maybe not as extensive as I remembered it to be in early 2020. The UI was contemporary and fairly easy to use. I decided to watch Rocky - a classic that had somehow eluded me so far - and was happy to find at least three episodes of the fourth season of The Handmaid's Tale, of which I had just finished season three. With the provided earphones and the general rather high noise level inside the plane, though, it wasn't very easy to understand the dialogs perfectly. And, for some reason, subtitles weren't available for either of my selections.
The moving map feature was semi-interactive, meaning that you can actively choose between different programs and views within the moving map, and can change camera angles and zoom. The screen even accepted multitouch gestures. However, you have no total control over the data you can see - so, for example, it is not possible to have a look at the altitude, if that is what you desire to see at the moment.
Units are preset as imperial, no matter the language you choose for the system. If you want to see the data in metric units, you can do that, but the choice is somewhat hidden in the settings. I only found out about this when we were already flying past Nova Scotia.
Wifi was available, but I couldn't get the free messenging feature to work. The selection of media to watch on your own device was surprisingly small, comprising of about four titles in total. Clearly, something must have gone wrong with the system on this flight.

The real luxury of having a free seat next to you in Economy Class of course is that you can use this "second screen" for the moving map while you watch something else on your own screen ;)



Now to the meal service… well, I have to say that is was unexpectedly simplistic. Gone were the welcome cocktail, the pre-meal snack service, the individual choice of appetizers, and the printed menus. As other airlines are ramping up service on long-haul flights again, the only good reason for this I can think of is that the low ridership numbers don't justify pre-Covid levels of service - otherwise, the only conclusion would be that Delta would be simply reducing service in Economy for lower cost and higher margins.
The first of two meal services began with the distribution of half-liter water bottles shortly after takeoff. Next came another sanitizing towelette and a paper bag with a napkin and wooden cutlery (no trace of the pepper and salt bags pictured on the outside?) The meal came before the drinks. There were two choices as explained by the flight attendant: First, a "Thai Curry Chicken" and "Cheese Tortellini" (basically a fancy way of saying "chicken or pasta"). As I'm not too big on Thai curry, I opted for the latter. The tortellini came with a tomato sauce with green peas, and while it was not bland or anything, it wasn't anything special either. Presentation honestly was a bit "meh." The pasta was accompanied by a fruit and cheese plate and ice cream. The fruit and cheese plate came with grapes and a single cherry tomato, as well as almonds and an unidentifiable paste. While I appreciate that the grapes and the tomato were fresh, the cheese was just some kind of generic cheddar. The ice cream, on the other hand, was pretty good.
Lacking a printed menu (which was standard on Delta long-haul pre-2020), I didn't know what exactly the drink options were. I went for a ginger ale, and was happy to see ice offered to me and being given a full can.



Between meals, flight attendants regularly came around with more water bottles and juice (and garbage bags). Also, an assortment of packaged snacks ranging from chocolate to chips and cheese were available on a self-service tray in the galley. There, more drinks were also to be had on request. Mid-flight, I got myself a pre-packaged madeleine and a Starbucks-branded coffee, which I honestly remembered to be more aromatic on my Delta domestic flights in early 2020.
After the meal, the cabin was darkened and window seat passengers asked to close the blinds - "so that you can see the screen better." I tried to catch up on some sleep, which surprisingly worked somewhat well considering the time of the day. Still, I even got some work done for university on this flight. It should also be noted that the ride was pretty bumpy at times. No wonder, considering the weather we had been having in Europe for the last few days, and headwinds along the journey consistently exceeding 150kph.

During the flight, I visited two different restrooms. They were unremarkable in any sense, sufficiently clean and well-stocked with toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, and a rather nice soap ("White Tea and Thyme"). However, two things were missing: a) paper cups, and, more curiously b) an ashtray. I thought airplane bathrooms were legally required to have one? Well, perhaps with numbers of tobacco users declining in Western countries, this regulation was loosened. I digress.


Approaching the American East Coast


The cabin was slowly brightened again, with the ambient lighting mimicking a red sunrise. There was less than an hour of flight time left when I opened the window shade again. I was soon greeted by the sight of Cape Cod (top) and the island of Nantucket (bottom).


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Another aerial shot of Nantucket.


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I already thought that the second meal service was either cut or forgotten, when the trolleys were rolled down the aisle once more. This time, the choice was between two pizza snacks, barbecue chicken or goat cheese. I had the former one. Either pizza snack was accompanied by a cup of mousse au chocolat, another set of wooden cutlery, and a sanitizing towel.


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The pizza snack was heated up thoroughly, but the dough itself, while being really good taste-wise, could have been crispier. The taste was pretty strong and savoury, but somewhat drowned out by the salty sweetness of the barbecue sauce (if this description makes any sense). The mousse, on the other hand, was delicious. I had a cup of hot tea to go with it (not pictured).


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By the time meal service finished, we were already noticeably descending. But somehow,  the cabin crew still managed to conduct the whole meal service and collect trays and cups well before the landing. Around this time, a crew member with a very official looking uniform (who turned out to be "service leader" Marybeth) came around. She personally thanked us for flying with Delta and gave us information on our connecting flights. Certainly a nice touch!
Pictured below: Robert Moses State Park on Long Island, complete with ridiculously large parking lots, and cloudy weather as we're turning portside.



Landing at New YOrk JFK Airport


Some random photos of the approach into JFK. None of them are really spectacular, but at that point the ride was quite bumpy, and combined with my slightly sleep-deprived state, it meant that I was feeling somewhat sick and was just hoping for the landing to be successful at the first go.



A pretty hard touchdown later we had safely landed at New York JFK airport, even a few minutes ahead of schedule. Today's arrival gate would be gate 30, Terminal 4. Interestingly, no information about weather, temperature, and local time was given. Another thing that was curiously missing was the immigration and customs formed that were usually handed out during the flight to be filled out and given to the immigration officer. It seems that this system was changed so that these forms aren't necessary anymore if you have nothing to declare in your baggage, which is a positive change to me.



I was patient leaving the aircraft, thinking that more than 3 hours would well suffice to enter the US, recheck my suitcase, and change the terminal. Well, I wasn't exactly wrong, but it turned out to be a suboptimal decision anyways; I had forgotten that JFK is notorious for its long queues… waiting times for immigration turned out to be about one hour and twenty minutes.


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However, everything after that was a breeze. After this long time, my suitcase had naturally been delivered already, and I could just take it and head around the corner to recheck it, right in Terminal 4. Thus my transfer to Terminal 2 via the Airtrain was hands-free, easy, and quick.


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Note: Don't make the same stupid mistake I made and don't remove the baggage tag without reading what it actually says. Though the bag wasn't through-checked to my final destination, the right codes were already printed on the tag, and all I would have had to do was to just put the suitcase on the belt to the left of the photo above.

With that, I'm leaving your for now. I'd like to thank you for coming along today and hope that this report was a good read. Be sure to check out the coming parts of this trip, too.
(Note: The next report is marked as a "bonus" because I haven't taken a lot of pictures due to me being pretty groggy at that point. So there is nothing much to say about that flight.)

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Verdict

Delta Air Lines

7.2/10
Cabin6.5
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering6.0

Frankfurt - FRA

7.4/10
Efficiency9.0
Access7.5
Services5.0
Cleanliness8.0

New York - JFK

4.1/10
Efficiency0.5
Access6.0
Services4.5
Cleanliness5.5

Conclusion

DL: A solid showing from Delta, in my book. I was still left somewhat disappointed, because I had only heard positive things about their long-haul Economy Class product, and their service looked very good in trip reports pre-2020. Except for lacking cleanliness in the details and the rather lackluster meal services, it was a good experience, but not outstanding by any means. I think they just cut too many corners in their service compared to what they used to offer. Would I go out of my way to fly Delta over a competitor? Probably not, except maybe because - thank Heavens - they're not flying 10-abreast 777s or 9-abreast 787s.

FRA: Experiencing Terminal 2 was a pretty interesting experience to me, as I hadn't flown in or out of it for 15 years. The general processes and cleanliness was very good. Access was good as always, even though it should be noted that the parking spaces are a tad narrow even for a contemporary compact/midsize car. The only letdown here really was the immediate gate area, which was barren of any kind of service facility at all.

JFK: I don't think I have much to write about this airport that isn't already widely-known. Efficiency/speed of processes was atrocious, but at least the staff were adequately pleasant to deal with. Access is the definition of mediocre, but I still gave it one extra point because this time I only needed the Airtrain, which is fairly good at transporting people between terminals.

Information on the route Frankfurt (FRA) New York (JFK)

6 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 596770 by
    lysflyer GOLD 1274 Comments

    Overall, a good product onboard this lovely 767!

  • Comment 596784 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5972 Comments

    Great report! And yes, DL long-haul main cabin reviews have been very rare since the beginning of the pandemic with the border closures so it's nice to see one!

    The updated 767 cabins look fantastic. It's so nice to see UA and DL keeping their 767s around and making the experience better. AA just gave up trying...which seems to be typical for them. The 767's 2-3-2 Y cabin is as good as it gets for Economy configurations, and the same goes for the 2-2-2 in the W cabin, which looks great (nice to see a pic of the DL Premium Economy cabin).

    Gone were the welcome cocktail, the pre-meal snack service, the individual choice of appetizers, and the printed menus. As

    Ah yes, it's easy to forget they were serving pre-departure Bellinis in Economy just before the pandemic...there was a nice move upmarket with most US carriers right before Mar 2022, and then Boom...it all comes crashing down. I will say that by pandemic-era standards, DL's offering looks well above average--very on brand for DL.

    it was a good experience, but not outstanding by any means.

    This sums up pandemic-era travel quite well. Considering, just over a year ago, many airlines weren't even serving proper hot meals in Business or First class on long-haul, it's going to be a long and painful road back to pre-departure cocktails in Economy, sadly.

    Really well-written and photographed report--a pleasure to read! Hope you enjoy your trip!
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 596791 by
      Manbou BRONZE AUTHOR 64 Comments

      Thank you for reading and your long reply. Also I'm glad that you liked the report.
      And yes, this level of service is probably everything one can expect now in these times in long-haul economy. Let's just hope things will not get worse in the next years, and Delta keeps on trying to be ahead of the competition.
      PS: I think the Bellini had actually replaced the pre-meal cocktail service. So it was served after take-off. Still, I think your point remains valid.

  • Comment 596792 by
    Chibcha SILVER 498 Comments

    Thanks for sharing, I'll ve flying AA to JFK soon, let's see how it compares!

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