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Two (and a Half) Features I Wish Delta Would Add to the Inflight Experience

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Delta recently made headlines by introducing their new, international Main Cabin experience last month — which features an updated menu and “welcome” cocktail.

But for us AvGeeks, there are a few touches I wish Delta would add.

Yes, I understand these are subject to manufacturer and budget limitations.

But still, these features are available on other carriers — and would be great to see (and hear) sometime soon on Delta Air Lines flights.

Cockpit Audio

Back in the days when I flew United a lot more than I do (which is rarely ever), I loved listening to their inflight entertainment (IFE)’s audio channel 9.

Titled “From the Flight Deck,” passengers could listen to communications between the flight’s pilots and their active air traffic control (ATC) channel. (Based on everything I could find, it’s no longer available.)

It was a fun, unique way to follow your flight.

An airline pilot in the cockpit
(©iStock.com/humonia)

I found it especially entertaining and insightful when my plane was in busy airspace. (Think Southern California, the New York metro area, Chicago, Atlanta, etc.) Hearing the rapid-fire, usually succinct exchanges between planes and ATC demonstrates how sharp pilots are — monitoring all the constant radio traffic while still safely operating the aircraft. (Whichever pilot isn’t flying the plane usually handles radio communications.)

United pilots were — quite understandably — not obligated to turn on Live from the Flight Deck. Allowing passengers to “eavesdrop” on their ATC chatter was at the captain’s discretion.

In fact, Lucky over at OMAAT wrote about From the Flight Deck several years ago and noted at the time “5-10% of pilots who do not turn it on, which I respect, mainly because they have had bad experiences in the past with ‘armchair’ pilots in the cabin, which I do believe has happened to some.”

I can see it now: But, captain, I totally make that maneuver all the time on Microsoft Flight Simulator in the easy mode! (Disclaimer: I’m a big FSX nerd and very excited for the new version.)

Tail Camera

These are so cool.

Despite being an option on their new Airbus A350, I guess Delta decided not to spend the extra cash.

Still, it’d be pretty fun to enjoy additional views of your flight — especially if you don’t have a window seat.

Tricked Out Flight Tracker Map

I label this the “and a half” feature because Delta already has a flight tracker map on its IFE —

Delta 767 IFE flight tracker map from Seattle to Beijing, China.
Delta 767 IFE flight tracker map from Seattle to Beijing, China.

— but there are other, jazzier versions available.

Check out just some of the options I enjoyed during an LAX to CDG long-haul aboard Air France.

Options available on my Air France 777 flight from LAX to Paris.
Options available on my Air France 777 flight from LAX to Paris.
HUD view the flight tracker map of anAir France 777 flight from LAX to Paris.
A virtual HUD (Head-Up Display)!

Options available on my Air France 777 flight from LAX to Paris.

The Real Picture

Delta knows its loyal flyers appreciate the mothership’s great service, fantastic people, and overall excellent product.

Medallions and other Delta fans won’t bolt for another airline simply because a few awesome audio-visual features aren’t available. So why would Delta spend the money on something that doesn’t greatly contribute to the flight?

But it would be fun to listen to along to ATC while watching a tail camera feed of my flight’s journey. 🙂

What Features Would You Like to See (and Hear?)

Are there any cool, AvGeek-y audio or visual elements you’d like Delta to consider? Please share your thoughts in the below Comments section!

—Chris

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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8 Comments

  1. RedTailFlyer

    My inflight wishes:

    1) Cabin service starts before top of climb 20-30 min into the flight.

    2) End the “express service” due to “our limited time together” shenanigans. Just had a decent plated breakfast served to 9 rows of J cdg-lhr which is probably 200 miles. But delta too lazy to offer a choice of drinks on 600 mile flights from slc to west coast

    3) Knock off the “cabin service discontinued” some 30-45 minutes before landing. And don’t blame it on turbulence. Skywest operated flights even demand you put away laptop at this time. Tired of watching FAs yap in the jump seat for half the flight.

    Seriously feels like even f passengers are just an inconvenience to cabin crew these days.

  2. Agreed. Add a belly cam as well. American has an outstanding GeoFusion flight following system. One feature the system lacks, however, is latitude and longitude info. Delta’s flight following system used to provide latitude and longitude info which is great for things like crossing the equator or nearing the North Pole.

    Delta has deleted the Berlitz WordTraveler system from the IFE games section on most if not all planes. That system offered basic but useful instruction in 28 languages. It is available on some other international airlines like KLM and Singapore Airlines. Brushing up on or learning a few phrases, numbers, and key words in a foreign language makes life easier in countries where you don’t speak the language. And merely knowing a few words in the local language distinguishes you from the typical American tourist.

    Another feature to add that would be cool for aviation enthusiasts (not av/otaku) are cockpit videos about pilot duties during various phases of flight. KLM has these and they are great.

  3. External cameras are also safety features as well as just plain cool. Pilots could use them to inspect the plane’s exterior during flight. Being able to checkout the plane’s exterior could have come in handy for the pilots on the Delta flight yesterday where the evacuation slide fell off on approach to BOS. In that instance, the pilots heard a loud noise but had no idea what happened because they could not see the fuselage.

  4. I used to LOVE the cockpit audio. It also keep pilots in line!!!

  5. Larry B

    You nailed the big one for this avgeek, Chris. I look at Lucky or other bloggers reviews on A350-900’s and dream of watching my own plane takeoff or during cruise via the tailcam.
    To add more cameras, why not? It likely will be the wave of the electric plane in 2050, everyone will have monitor-generated “windows” based off exterior cameras. And what better way to see the outside than many cameras, Tesla-style.

    Since I don’t want to leave you empty handed, and to supplement what John suggested, maybe FlightAware or Flightradar24 added to the in-flight tracker? Why not? Seems like a nice marketing strategy for either of these apps to grow their markets…you saw it here first!

  6. @LarryB: It’s kind of fun using Flightradar24 during a flight. I generally fire it up when I have WiFi access; it’s crazy to see your plane virtually zoom over the scenery!

  7. i wish they could get the IT dept to really make the Delta App and .com work all of the time!! and not keep revising it and making it WORSE!!!

  8. Barry Graham

    You can, sort of, fly Delta and have the tail camera. I did that recently, with a Delta codeshare with Virgin and it was really cool watching the take off!

    I disagree with dotti’s comment. One of the things that makes Delta great is its app!

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