The airline with the best average rating is Delta Air Lines with 7.3/10.
The average flight time is 8 hours and 51 minutes.More information
Welcome back 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:
And now, finally, it's time for the last flight of this trip. I've had a great time in the US and wasn't exactly keen on heading home, but everything needs to come to an end, right? DL14, Delta's daily flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt, is a night flight. And as a managed to sleep for a rather large part of the flight, the report probably won't be as detailed as I would have wished it to be. Anyways, here's my flight report. Enjoy :)
I had just arrived on flight DL2673 from Houston Intercontinental at gate B36 in concourse B (click here for that flight report)…
…and had just shy of 2 hours to DL14's departure time to change terminals and legally leave the US. And possibly undergo another security screening. With boarding starting 55 minutes before departure time. Sounds like quite a hurry, doesn't it?
Actually, it wasn't. The B concourse was quite busy, so it did take a while to walk to its center, where the PlaneTrain departs.
Down the escalator…
…and off to concourse E!
A train arrived in about two minutes. And while it isn't the most luxurious ride or anything, there was enough space for everyone and their luggage, and it took only a couple of minutes to get to concourse E. So it's a good service. Alternatively, there are walkways connecting the concourses if you feel like going on a stroll between flights.
To my surprise, there wasn't any passport controll or anything like that upon entering concourse E. On the contrary, I found many domestic flights departing from there as well.
Concourse E, like all the other concourses in ATL, has a central area, mainly filled with food places and seating areas. There are shops for other goods as well, but I didn't really look for them. Let me just say that the selection of eateries is excellent, especially if you consider that you can move freely between the concourses (except concourse F, which seems to be an exclusively international terminal?) The architecture/design of the concourse is nothing special, but I would say it's functional and adequate.
As most of ATL, concourse E is pretty much "owned" by Delta in the sense that they dominate the airport in terms of planes and flights that operate from there. From concourse E, several DL 767s, A330s and A350s operate to different places like London, Munich, Rome, Amsterdam, and even Lagos, Nigeria. Some of these gates were full of people. Good to see for DL.
A DL 757 was getting readied to depart for Cancún, Mexico.
Other noteable mentions, even though not special guests at all, include DL 737-800s and several different CRJs, with a 717 taxiing by on the extreme right of photo 4 in the gallery below.
Now that I think about it, there wasn't a single non-Delta flight departing from concourse E when I was there! Still, the gates were held in a neutral design without Delta logos (see photo 1). The concourse itself was lit up with curved skylines and lit up with several different artworks. There were several places spread out in the terminal with art showcases. Most of them, however, were empty with a sign saying that some new art was coming in the future.
Today's ship: N858NW, an Airbus A330-200 delivered new to Northwest Airlines in January 2006 (16 years old). Transferred to Delta Air Lines following their takeover of Northwest Airlines in October 2008. Reconfigured multiple times, the last time in December 2021. The aircraft now features a Premium Economy cabin, called Premium Select.
Information courtesy of Planespotters.com.
A couple of paragraphs above, I was surprised how there were no passport controls for this international flight. These turned out to be situated right at the gates - see these little screen terminal on the right side of the following photo. These are biometric passport controls. You hold the passport's photo page before the scanner and quickly unmask yourself (at least until the federal mask mandate is gone). This actually worked surprisingly well. Still, this procedure is so simple and straightforward that it hardly seems official.
Interestingly, a lot of information about the flight and the load factor today was published at the gate.
Boarding commenced on time and was quite orderly. The additional passport check caused boarding to progress a bit more slowly than usually. But it turned out that it was wise to plan with a longer boarding time - for reference, doors were closed 5:42pm for a 5:50pm departure. Another positive about this boarding procedure was that there wasn't much of a holdup in the single jetbridge. Even though the flight was rather full.
Today I actually have proper shots of each class. In the first photo you can see a Delta One window seat of the older reverse herringbone type. Notice the big pack of bedding waiting on the seat. Premium Select (photo 2) was pictured after landing in Frankfurt. All in all, it looks like a solid hard product though not significantly better than UA's and AA's offerings. Comfort+ increased-legroom economy in photo 3, regular economy (Main Cabin) in photo 4.
Many passengers must have been lucky today, as the Premium Select cabin originally wasn't intended to be on this flight. There were no (paid) upgrades available, so I guess they were used as Comfort+ seats with according service for special (status) customers.
Announcements were made both in English and in German, i.e. German with a noteable but lovely American accent.
Load factor: 82% in Delta One, 78% in Comfort+, 78% in Main Cabin.
Source: see above :)
The Main Cabin hard product was the same as on my earlier flight from FRA to JFK (click here). However, it was noteable that the cabin looked much fresher overall and there was more padding on the Economy seats. A pillow and a blanket of average quality were pre-placed on each seats; flight attendants handed out flimsy earphones and a travel kit, consisting of an eye mask and earplugs, to each passenger.
Originally, I had reserved a different aisle seat on the middle section of the 2-4-2 configuration. This changed after the equipment change to a Premium-Select-equipped A332, but I was given a very similar seat, albeit on the other side (C instead of F).
I had an aisle seat for this night flight, so there won't be any photos from taxi of take-off. However, I can tell you that we pushed back ahead of our scheduled departure time and had a very long taxi/wait today, only taking off at around 6:13.
Now to the inflight entertainment. First, every seat is equipped with an 11" touchscreen which totally adequate responsiveness, brightness and color contrasts. As per usual for Delta, the selection of movies, TV shows etc. was extensive. There was also a moving map which worked differently from that from my outbound flight. There was one map which could be manipulated quite freely, and one mode showing the time zones. Pressing the hamburger menu button on the upper right hand side of the display revealed another screen with flight information (altitude, speed…) which could be switched from imperial to metric and back again very easily. Funny note: in the German version, they still haven't fixed the weird translation of "ship number" to "Versandnummer" (implying we passengers are in reality parcels).
What I have forgotten to mention in all the earlier DL flight reports this year is that the screen is placed at a fixed tilt angle. This means that depending on how you and the person in front of you recline their seats, vision might be slightly impaired.
Also, every seat is equipped with a power socket in addition to the USB socket directly under the screen.
This power supply could, for instance, be used to power your device while you use DL's inflight wifi offerings. On the one hand, they offer free messaging, which is a great feature which I used quite extensively on this flight. On the other hand, pretty much all of the entertainment options could be accessed from your device as well. The wifi service wasn't available from the very get go, but only since about 10 minutes after take-off.
Around that time, the cabin was dimmed.
Very quickly after take-off, the first service commenced with water bottles and a set consisting of a placemat, a paper napkin, and plastic cutlery were handed out. Another desinfecting towelette was given out, too, on that occasion.
While it was just a paper napking and plastic cutlery, both were of a quite good quality. The lights thing, meanwhile, turned out to be a mishap. As the flight attendants conducted the meal service, one told another to make sure the lights were turned back on. Anyhow, today's meal choices were four cheese ravioli or a (generic) chicken.
Here it is. I had some red wine to go with it and to help sleep me better later. Turns out the flight attendant was very generous with me. While both the wine and the meal were really nothing to write home about, it was solid. The quinoa salad was delicious, and the beans and carrot actually tasted like beans and carrot. So that's a plus. The cookie that came with the meal, however, wasn't anything special; it was mostly (very) sweet.
The tray table was pretty small, and if the meal were any bigger, that would have probably been an issue. Speaking of bigger meals, it was solid in terms of quantity, but it was lacking a certain final touch.
After the meal service, trays and garbage was collected quickly and efficiently in multiple rounds, and I settled in watching another episode of The Handmaid's Tale.
To go with that, I got myself a black tea from the aft galley. While the flight attendant poured me the tea, I happened to catch this glimpse of a place somewhere in the Northeast through the window in the door.
At the beginning of the flight, a German couple traveling home from Hawaii sat next to me on seats D and E, with seat F remaining free. After the meal, they realized they could move to E and F, which meant that we could share seat D for storage. Which made the flight much more comfortable afterwards.
When the episode ended, I was already feeling very sleepy. So I went to brush my teeth to settle in for the night. The lavatories I visited during the flight were in good working order and well-stocked. Cleanliness was good too, and in their initial announcement the flight attendants even told us passengers to advice them if we found the cleanliness of the restrooms to have room for improvement. Regarding sleep quality and quantity, I'm pleased to report that I got about four hours of (interrupted) sleep, quite good for Economy Class. Of course this means that I can't tell you if there were any drinks/water rounds throughout the night and if any additional snacks were offered.
I woke up when we were cruising along the Southern coast of England.
The cabin lights were gradually turned on again and the second meal service commenced.
Breakfast today was served when we were above Brussels and looked like this:
In the box was a warm English muffin with a sort of synthetic looking fried egg topped off with cheese. There was also a fruit cup with melon pieces and grapes. Accessories consisted of the same place mat and cutlery set and another disinfecting towelette. There was also another beverage service, for which I've chosen a Starbucks branded coffee.
Here's the breakfast complete with coffee and the inside of the English muffin.
While the coffee was a bit thinner than the last time I had coffee on Delta, it was still pretty good. I also appreciate that the fruit in the fruit cup were actually fresh instead of the cheap sugared & canned variant, commonly found in Economy Class. The English muffin wasn't anything out of the ordinary, but still a pretty good breakfast for a flight of this length.
Meanwhile, we were closing in to today's destination, Frankfurt.
Garbage and trays were collected and the cabin readied for landing.
After starting our descent from 7:47am Frankfurt time, flaps were extended and we were brought onto a direct Eastward approach of Frankfurt airport.
Gears down around 8:10… we kept on a straight line to the Northwestern runway 07L, which is exclusively used for landings. Three minutes later, we touched down smoothly.
You were lucky if you found yourself to be seated on the lefthand side of the cabin. As we taxied over the Autobahn 3 and along pretty much the whole of Terminal 1, we encountered quite a lot of different planes and airlines. Most notable, of course, was the presence of Lufthansa (and to a smaller degree, Condor), especially LH 747s. Great that they'll still be using them for the foreseeable future. What also struck me was the surprisingly large number of Eurowings Discover aircraft. Eurowings Discover, in case you didn't know, is another attempt of Lufthansa to save money on the backs of their employees by having certain routes, mainly very tourist-heavy ones, operated by staff with worse working conditions and pay.
Anyhow, we came to a halt next to this China Airlines A350. A spot that Delta seem to have "reserved" for their Frankfurt flights. The jetbridge was attached to our aircraft around 8:24.
Off the plane and over the jetbridge…
…taking a last (obstructed) glance of the DL A332 that brought me here today safe and sound…
…and off to the modern but also quite sterile looking interior of FRA's Terminal 2.
And of course, the automatic passport control gates were out of order. So everybody had to go through a manned counter, producing a waiting time of about 10 minutes. Federal police officers didn't only chech your passport, but also your Covid vaccination and/or test certificate.
Well, at least the baggage delivery system worked flawlessly that day, and bags started coming out of the belly of the airport as soon as I reached the carousel area.
Mind you, Frankfurt airport does care about status and priority baggage, so this meant having to really wait for my suitcase until all the priority bags were delivered. I think that's a good thing about American airports (especially for Economy passengers): That baggage tends to arrive much more quickly.
At least, one can easily track one's bag via the Delta app, a useful feature especially if you transfer somewhere. A big relief to see one's bag indeed loaded onto the right flight, especially after what I have experienced last summer… A thing that could be improved though: You have to type in yourr bag number every time you want to see this screen. You'll get push notifications, though, when your bag goes through a loading/unloading process, even though I'm not sure if you need to have entered your bag number at one point to receive them.
With that, I'd like to leave your for this flight report, and this whole series. Thank you so much for coming along today. If you've managed to read up to here, than special thanks to you. Feel free to ask any questions or comments you have to this report down below. Have a great day, and safe and fun travels in the future!
DL: I really enjoyed Delta's service on this flight. While it can't be compared to the service and comfort levels of some Asian carriers, the fact that I bring these up alone speaks volumes, I believe. The cabin was well-maintained, clean, and sufficiently comfortable for a flight of this length, cabin crew was friendly and worked efficiently, and the entertainment (while not perfect) left very little to be desired (cams would be nice). Meals were also totally adequate for this flight, while still a long shot from pre-pandemic service levels. A score of 7.9/10 roughly equals 4 out of 5 stars, which feels like a justified rating for this service, indeed.
ATL: It was a breeze transiting at this airport. Despite not having the most generous connection time, at least for a big airport, I was able to make this transfer most easily. Navigating the airport was simple due to it being split into several, clearly marked concourses, connected via people mover. The selection of shops, eateries, and other facilities (I even heard something of showers) was good, even if considering that Atlanta is a big transferring airport. If Atlanta is your final destination, be assured that it's a bit far off from the city, but well-connected to downtown via a subway that runs straight to it from the airport.
FRA: An unspectacular experience at Frankfurt airport. It's a big airport, so there are a lot of shops and other facilities (i.e. rental car companies and so on). Border controls and baggage delivery are above average in terms of speed and efficiency. Access from Terminal 2 to different destinations in and around of Frankfurt ranges from good to mediocre, depending on where it is you need to go. Tip: For being picked up from the airport by private car/taxi, use the short term parking/drop-off space (free use for 10 minutes). While Terminal 2 is quite modern, I experienced it to have a very "sterile" atmosphere, with not a lot of airside shopping/eating opportunities.