I wrote yesterday about my first time encountering Delta Air Lines’ new Main Cabin international experience (which is the same in Comfort+, too). For the most part, I was quite impressed with the food and wine during my SLC to CDG flight last week.
But my trip back to the States — a London Heathrow to Atlanta hop — wasn’t very impressive.
Based on reader reaction to yesterday’s post as well as Twitter comments, it seems many people are underwhelmed by the new product — and displeased with the slow service times.
Here’s what my experience was like during the ride home.
Just like the first time, sleep kits awaited boarding passengers. Flight attendants distributed the menus much earlier than the SLC-CDG crew did on that flight.
Here’s the menu:
This was a veteran crew. One said she logged over 30 years on the job.
The crew offered Peach Bellinis. As I mentioned yesterday, I passed up the opportunity. I wasn’t crazy about the drink the first time it was offered. We received our hot towels and place settings, as well.
The flight attendants were visibly flustered, though, once it came time to actually start plating meals. For a couple of flight attendants, this was their inauguration into the new Main Cabin experience. (My flight was several days after the experience’s debut, so perhaps these particular FAs were in Delta One on the flight over to London or had an extended layover?)
“Everyone!” a flight attendant called out while nearing the front of Comfort+, “Have your tray tables ready and placemats spread out for us!” Her voice carried an edge. But passengers grew tired of waiting for service to start (although this group commenced meal service faster than my SLC-CDG crew) and some put away their tables and rolled up their placemats.
Lunch Time in Delta’s International Main Cabin Experience
I chose the fruit & cheese appetizer and marinated chicken breast (though the gnocchi was a close second).
Even though I raved about the red wine on the flight over, I opted for club soda with my meal this time.
The cheese was fine. Not great, not bad. But fine. The almonds were chewy and seemed a bit moist.
The “fruit” part of “fruit and cheese” consisted of a small tomato and a few grapes. More grapes would have been nice.
The marinated chicken breast meal wasn’t as good as my delicious chicken marsala on the previous trip.
The meat was somewhat dry. The green beans weren’t particularly tasty; just sort of bland. The rice was good, though.
This was an improvement from the international coach meals I’ve had on previous Delta flights, though.
I skipped the ice cream dessert. Passengers around me gave it plenty of “Mmm!”s and other compliments through mouths full of ice cream.
An Unacceptable Delay Picking Up Trash
Well over an hour passed from the time meals were distributed to when their trash was collected. Most people finished their lunch in about 15 minutes. So we sat there with garbage on our tray tables for about an hour.
Granted, it’s not like we had anywhere to go.
On the other hand, people wanted to use tablets or laptops on their tray tables or simply put them away — but couldn’t because of trash.
So they started putting it on the floor.
Two people in my row resorted to placing their garbage at their feet. One of them visited the lav and reported she saw others doing the same.
Speaking of which — tardy trash pick up is also an inconvenience for rows where someone in a middle or window seat needs to use the restroom, as may be expected relatively soon after eating. Everyone in the row must carefully balance their trash while stowing the tray tables. Then they either hold the garbage while standing up or place it on their seat while the passenger is at the lav. The rubbish rhumba takes place in reverse when the passenger returns from using the restroom.
When the flight attendants finally commenced trash pickup, I heard one say to another “I just finished the last row.” So it’s not like the flight attendants were sitting around not doing anything; they were busy serving everyone.
Reader FNT Delta Diamond suggested yesterday, “Delta should also have separate flight attendants to serve meals instead of the same flight attendants doing a pass of drinks and then coming back with the meals. They could save 35 minutes or 45 minutes right there.”
Bethfrommichigan added, “[Service] for meals (is) slow at best.
“Almost There” Small Meal
About 90 minutes before landing in Atlanta, flight attendants served us the “Almost There” small meal. I selected the Barbecue Chicken Pizza Twist.
It’s reminiscent of something one might find available at a convenience store.
The chicken was OK. The sauce was very spicy. Thank goodness there was some chocolate mousse to put out the flames!
The mousse was sweet, a little rich, and quite good.
When the flight attendants returned to take everyone’s plates and trash, they overlooked me because they were so rushed. A couple of fellow passengers looked at my table and simply shook their heads after the cart moved down the aisle.
I pressed the flight attendant call button.
After seven minutes of no response, I bussed my own plate to the Delta One galley. The D1 flight attendants looked a little surprised and frustrated trash collection was not going well.
Why So Many Hiccups?
This is what I find rather confounding: Delta said it “had a design team comprised of more than 20 flight attendants who’ve been leading the charge, rigorously testing and refining the service along the way to get it just right. The airline tested this service on more than 1,200 flights – making it the longest-tested service in Delta’s history.” – bold mine
So why does it seem so many flight attendants are having difficulty with the new service created by their comrades who made sure the experience is “just right”?
“I’ll have to go on Facebook tonight and see what everyone’s saying,” a flight attendant on my flight grumbled. “I’m on two or three of those flight attendant groups. I’m sure there will be plenty (to read).”
When asked what she thought of the new Main Cabin international experience, a different flight attendant was overhead simply stating, “Hate it” and later added, “It’ll just take some time to work out the kinks.”
I don’t blame the flight attendants. They’re going as fast as they can while getting used to a new system.
But I’m curious which flight attendants Delta employed to help design this process; how much experience do they have actually working flights? Are they recent graduates on reserve? Or maybe a sharp crew of FAs contributed great suggestions, only for Delta to go another direction while giving them the backhanded credit. I understand that no product rollout is perfect. But if this were tested over a thousand times, wouldn’t it be almost down to a science?
I couldn’t care less about the hot wipe towel service or Bellinis. But if passengers as a whole love it, hey, great. The upgraded food and wine certainly is impressive. If Delta can get the service’s timing down — and I mean way down — they’ll have a quality product for coach passengers.
Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.