Delta Long-Haul Improved Korean Edition

I was in 35J on the Delta 747-400 again, nostalgic from years of shuttling between the US and China. This time was Detroit-Seoul as part of a long day of New York-Detroit-Seoul-Brisbane-Cairns with my wife (per standard practice, she up front, I carry luggage and sit in the back).

Delta 747-400 35J

Delta long-haul economy is a solid experience. I have come to prefer United, though, because of United’s poor service: in between meal service the flight attendants utterly disappear and leave you alone to sleep.

My only consistent complaints about Dela long-haul have been minor. First is the huge number of announcements over the PA that multiply on bi-and tri-lingual flights. I never figured out why there were so many compared to other airlines.

(Most annoying prize must go to Virgin Atlantic’s fasten seat belt announcements on turbulent trans-Atlantic overnight flights, the prim British phraseology sounds nice the first time, then every time the 90-second long announcement wakes you up it is less amusing.)

The other with Delta was all the interruptions and advertisements on the in-flight entertainment system. In 2013 they even added pop-up ads. On a US-Tokyo flight, with all the filler promos and PA interruptions I timed it that it could be as much as an hour after takeoff before finally getting a movie going.

I heard from readers this is a thing of the past and was happy to experience the same on this flight. Much reduced PA announcements and a great in-flight entertainment experience. The AVOD system has one of the widest selections of films in the sky, mostly unedited, and only one ad at the beginning of each, which can be skipped.

Delta AVOD

There are other small but appreciated improvements such as handing out bottles of water to everyone in economy.

Even the Korean meal options are solid. In economy there was bibimbap for dinner and beef kimchi friend rice for breakfast. OB Beer on the drink menu. My wife upstairs reported good bibimbap and a breakfast rice with bulgogi. Pictures a little dim because my light was broken (5,000 miles!)

Delta Bibimbap Delta Beef Kimchi Fried Rice

If it weren’t for SkyMiles Blackout Dates on Korean Air we would have been on Korean all the way from New York without the Detroit stop. Still, it was good to see Delta’s continued economy improvements. I’ll miss 35J when they retire the 747s.

Readers, what have been your recent Delta long-haul experiences?

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  • Adam

    In Feb I flew NRT-DTW for the first time. On flights from Japan to the US there are only supposed to be English and Japanese announcements but this time there was a Filipino crew who also spoke Tagalog. I didn’t mind this time as I didn’t have to translate to my (somewhat elderly) parents.

  • Shannon

    you have to understand not everybody speak English and can understand English well. For those passengers, hearing announcement in their own language is reassuring and more friendly . Will you expect China Eastern only make announcement in Mandarin?

  • @Shannon – I didn’t say they shouldn’t have additional languages only that every unnecessary announcement is magnified when echoed in several languages. Delta has reduced multiple announcements about duty-free, for instance. I appreciate when airlines have English announcements, I remember on Rossiya flying to Sochi I had no idea we had been diverted to another city and thought the taxi driver was ripping me off by asking $500 to take me to my hotel.

  • Which easily could’ve been the case anyway. 🙂

  • Shannon

    you are an experienced traveler but not everyone like you. For a lot of passengers, an “unnecessary announcement” not repeating in their language will make them panic or anxious as if they are missing any important message. And who to decide what information is not important enough to make announcement in other language? It reminds me of some terrible crews especially of U.S carrier raise their volume or dramatically slow their English speaking speed to those who don’t speak English. Absolute terrible and arrogant behavior of our fellow Americans. Don’t be one of them please.

  • John

    how many miles did this set you back? impressive that the wife agreed to FOUR stops!

  • @Shannon – I did not say announcements in other languages should be curtailed. I said Delta had reduced the amount of announcements overall, more in line with other airlines, such a fewer duty free announcements, fewer credit card announcements. I did not say so do any less in additional languages, only that superfluous announcements like multiple credit card pushes get multiplied when doing multiple languages.

  • @John – 40k economy, 80k business one-way. Not many ways to get to Cairns from NYC with one connection and I think all require a forced overnight, so she accepted that minimum 3 and tolerated 4 for it to be the exact dates she wanted and a stretch on Korean which she loves, still a close run thing, though.

  • ken

    Was there only 1 award seat available in J?

    Or did you choose to sit in Y to stretch your miles?

  • @ken – bit of both, I have only ever redeemed for J for myself when Y not available, some AA burn on one trip excepted, in this case was tempted but ICN-BNE only one J and it was all or nothing for me.

  • keitherson

    The bibimbap I had on DTW-ICN on Delta was the best economy meal I’ve ever had, period. It was better than the bibimbap I had on Korean Air in prestige business class. Hope you enjoyed it!

  • Abe

    French Canadian used to make a big deal and brought Air Canada to the federal court when there was no French announcement on AC flights.. these things can be very sensitive for people

  • @Abe – even when I don’t say to reduce the languages, only that Delta has reduced overall announcements to the more necessary ones and those are translated as before.

  • John

    Forgot to ask, flying back in Y/J as well? A more direct routing?

  • @John – she is going back BNE-CAN (forced overnight)-JFK. I am going BNE-INU-MAJ-TRW-NAN-SUV-FUN-SUV-NAN-AKL-RAR-LAX/SNA-EWR.