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At the end of May my I headed out with my older two kids for a one week adventure in Paris and Luxembourg. We initially booked our tickets as cash fares using Chase Ultimate Rewards and Merrill Lynch points during a great fare sale, but I later pushed the trip back a bit, and the fares had risen. Luckily, I had a stash of Delta gift cards that mostly covered the difference.
The first leg was a short hop from SFO to SeaTac, from where we would embark on our transatlantic flight. Flying Delta 777 economy to Paris wasn’t the original plan. We were supposed to fly the “Queen of the Skies” out of SFO to Amsterdam, but KLM canceled our outbound for mechanical reasons. I did end up filing a EU261 claim that will net us ~$700 (SEE: My EU261 claim is approved! But for how much?).
Lounge access at SeaTac
With my CSR-issued Priority Pass card in hand, we headed to the Alaska Boardroom upon landing in Seattle. As expected, there was a sign at the door stating they weren’t accepting Priority Pass at that time. There have been many reports of this problem, but this was my first time experiencing it firsthand.
Luckily, Seattle has other Priority Pass options. We headed down to The Club at SEA in Concourse A, which turned out to be the perfect choice as our gate was finally assigned as A13 (SEE: The Club at SEA (Concourse A) Review). The kids and I killed two hours in the lounge snacking, playing, and working. It was a nice quiet space, but food options were a bit lackluster. Still, free lunch is free lunch. The entrance is near the very end of Concourse A.
We left the lounge about 15 minutes before our flight. Given the proximity of the gate, we could have stayed in the lounge right up until boarding, but I didn’t want to miss any announcements. Our 777 was parked at Gate A13, at the very end of the terminal.
The jet bridge unfortunately obscured our view. We hung out by the window until our boarding group was finally called.
Boarding and my big mistake
I did make a mistake that almost cost me my seat with my kids. Apparently there is a screen on the Delta app when you check in that discusses requesting an upgrade. I didn’t even know that I was upgrade eligible.
The ability to get a complimentary upgrade to Comfort+ was a forgotten benefit of the SkyMiles credit card [update: based on a comment and review of card benefits, this isn’t a benefit. So I have *no* idea why the gate agent told me this or why they even stuck me on the list].
Which is exactly what almost happened. The flight was quite full, and the lady at the desk called my name as we were about to scan our boarding passes, so we stepped out and waited our turn in the line for the desk. By the time I got to the front, she was looking to give away my seat. This would not have been acceptable flying with kids. Crisis averted.
Now if the upgrade had been to business, maybe we could strike a deal…
Since we were Zone 3 boarding and I had burnt maybe 7 minutes waiting on line for my “upgrade”, we were among the last to board. Luckily, there was still space for our one carry-on. We stowed it and quickly got into our seats. I was amazed there was still space left. Maybe I’m too used to flying regional jets where it fills every time.
The three of us were assigned 38G, 38H, and 38J. I had the aisle, and my kids had the window and middle.
From the photo you can also see that seats make great handles when you are getting up and down. My daughter complained to me after the flight about the kid behind her. Welcome to air travel, my dear.
The passenger safety card was an object of intense scrutiny. I don’t really know why. My only guess is the fact that the kids still talk about the movie Sully, which we watched over New Year’s. I did get asked if the airplane was going to “fall in the water.”
I told them that was definitely not part of the day’s plan.
Seat and amenities on the Delta 777 economy flight
It had been a while since I’d flown a triple-7. The last (and only) time I can recall was on a domestic flight between Denver and San Francisco. The plane was ice cold and configured for a long haul in that instance. It had been brought in due to irrops during a bad storm that December (SEE: The huge problem flying Frontier).
The seats in the Delta 777 economy section are in a 3-3-3 configuration, making them more desirable than other, newer configurations on other carriers (*cough* United 777-300ER *cough*) that squeeze a 3-4-3 configuration into the same space.
At each seat was blanket and pillow packaged in plastic. As if they think you can sleep on a long-haul economy flight. As thin as it seemed, the blanket kept me nice and toasty. Too toasty, in fact. Overall, I’d say both were adequately comfortable and met my expectations in flight.
Flight attendants also passed out eye masks and earplugs before takeoff. The kids declined them but regretted that choice later.
The Delta 777 economy in-flight entertainment is a touch screen in the back of the seat. When we boarded it displayed primarily ads from a major company that hails from the same hometown as Delta.
I’m really not a fan of touch screens. I always feel like I’m annoying the person in front of me and try to press as light as possible. There is a USB outlet in the seat back as well.
The tray table was fairly standard. It didn’t slide like most other tray tables I’ve used recently.
The kids were super excited. This was by far the biggest plane they have flown on (we flew on an A380 on our return, however). We don’t have a family travel mascot, but this kid takes his dog *everywhere*.
Of course there is a delay
Shortly after closing the door, an FA announced something about the APU quitting while at the gate. I had noticed the power had just gone down for several seconds, but the “blip” hadn’t really concerned me. Ten minutes passed, and the Delta app didn’t update. We were fast approaching our takeoff time, and there was still no official delay.
It was maybe 25 more minutes before the next announcement. The issue was with a relay in the APU, and it had been solved. This was followed by the typical “please be patient until we finish the paperwork” announcement.
Finally, we were underway after about 55 minutes. And then we had one little bit of excitement more. Literally a minute before take off, a lady stood up and started to make her way forward. Turns out this is a very good way to get yelled at by multiple flight attendants. And to make an airplane full of 300 people come to a quick halt.
The kids each started a movie while I went to work. But not before starting up the flight tracker.
Aided by a 100-mph tail wind, our flight time was only 8.5 hours. We should arrive in Paris only a few minutes late.
Main meal service
Meal service started about 90 minutes into the flight. A menu had been provided prior to takeoff. The main options were chicken and vegetables, pasta, or salad.
All of us went with the rosemary chicken option. My only experience with pasta on an airplane was rather disgusting, and I wasn’t feeling adventurous.
The kids had no idea what to do with the hot towel when it was passed out. And I hadn’t explained beforehand. The “hot towel” in economy is pretty sad as it is basically a lukewarm moist towelette.
The food in economy was served on a heavier-than-expected plastic tray.
None of it looked that bad. The simple salad was fine, although only ranch was provided as a dressing (I’m a vinaigrette guy).
The chicken was rather dry, but decent enough considering we were on an airplane. The sauce helped give the mushy vegetables some flavor. The cheese and grapes were a good follow prior to the excessively sweet brownie. Overall, it was about par for airplane food. I’ve definitely had worse.
The only part I am confused about is how eating brownies changes lives. This one definitely didn’t change mine.
The flight attendants followed dinner with tea and coffee. I went with tea as is already had plenty of coffee for one day. And I was sure I’d need plenty to make it through the next day. I was banking on at least a short nap during our journey.
In-flight entertainment and WiFi
There was a decent enough selection of in-flight entertainment to keep all of us occupied. Delta offered some fairly new kids titles such as Coco and Ferdinand. My kids were basically on a non-stop binge the whole flight.
WiFi was touch and go. At the beginning of the flight, when I figured it would be good, connectivity was awful. I couldn’t even make it to the landing page to see what prices were like.
I checked every 20-30 minutes to the same result. Finally, around 4:30 Pacific time I was able to connect and at least send and receive messages. By that point we were over Saskatchewan.
I didn’t pay for the WiFi service, but somehow near the end of the flight I started to receive emails on my phone and be able to use Twitter, Facebook and other apps. I don’t know if that is normal or not. It definitely seemed odd to me.
One of the most confounding things we experienced was figuring out how to turn on the overhead light. I’m obviously too used to flying 737s and regional jets where the button is literally next to the light. After looking around and trying and trying to figure out where they put the button for nearly 5 minutes, I gave up.
I finally had to ask a flight attendant, who grumpily explained that it was all in the touch screen. That never would have occurred to me, but whatever.
Sleep? What is that?
It’s been about a year and a half since I flew long-haul in economy. My most recent experience was on Qantas from Brisbane to Los Angeles, and it really wasn’t that bad. I ended up with 3 seats to myself, so even though I’m a bit too tall to lay fully flat on that, it was enough for me to at least get horizontal.
With the typical essentials of earplugs and an eye mask, I figured I’d be able to doze a bit on our Delta flight. The tops of the seats were adjustable and would slightly cradle your head. This still isn’t really enough for me to sleep, but at least it was something.
But flying Delta 777 economy was an entirely different experience than my Qantas long-haul. I couldn’t even begin to doze. This time I had two excited kids who would rather watch movies than nap, and they wouldn’t let me get more than 10 minutes in at a time without bugging me. After an hour, I decided it was useless. We’d just have to face the exhaustion all together during our first day in Paris. This was my view most of the flight:
All efforts were futile. Not having extra seats like I have on the past two trips showed me just how hard it is for me to sleep upright. I finally just turned on a movie to pass the time before breakfast.
Breakfast was served about 90 minutes before we landed in Paris. We could have had a mid-flight snack, but none of us were hungry at that point.
But breakfast was welcomed. I definitely remembered the “breakfast box” from my last Delta transatlantic flight (SEE: Delta Portland to Amsterdam in economy). Looks like things haven’t changed at all.
All of the contents were good. I especially liked the blueberry spread on the bagel. The kids weren’t keen on it though, so I ended up with extra. The other offerings were yogurt, cheese and juice. I also downed a cup of coffee.
By this point we were closing in on Charles De Gaulle Airport. And we would be starting the day over again. Yay for jetlag!
I could stare at these maps all day. The flight tracker is one of my favorite features of the IFE.
Landing at Charles De Gaulle
Landing was sudden at CDG. It seemed like we were still in the clouds, then all of a sudden we were on the ground. This was also the first time I have heard screeching after the wheels touched down. The right set of wheels distinctly hit before the left, and we bounced a bit. Honestly, it was one of the freakiest landings I’ve experienced.
We then said goodbye to our Delta 777 and hello to Paris. Well…the Paris airport. There was still customs ahead of us and a train ride into the City.
Overall, our experience flying Delta 777 economy across the pond wasn’t a bad one. I’d happily book with them again. They got us from point A to point B safely, and in they typical amount of comfort one can expect flying economy. Nothing really stood out to me, and we had no real issues. But there are better options. Spoiler: the Air France A380 is a much better ride. That review is forthcoming.
I hope you enjoyed my Delta 777 economy review! What is your favorite economy transatlantic flight?
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