Back in December, Delta Air Lines had some excellent fares from New York-JFK to Mexico City. I booked a ticket in First Class on Delta’s 757-200 for an excellent price. At the end of the flight, however, I was glad I didn’t spend more than I did. It really was a funky experience.
Delta and Aeromexico are close partners and Skyteam alliance members. As such, I had access to flights on both Delta and Aeromexico metal at the time of booking. While Aeromexico operates a 787-9 on some flights to Mexico City, the prices for that flight were hovering around the $1,000 mark. Meanwhile, the 757 First that I booked set me back $311.
Since this was a daytime flight, I didn’t find the need for a flatbed seat (although I was really hoping for an aircraft swap). Furthermore, this flight got me into Mexico City with time to spare and to explore some more.
When it comes to miles, this flight is a pretty bad redemption. Delta doesn’t publish an award chart. As a result, mileage prices vary for the nonstop. You can find them for as low as 37,000-45,000 Skymiles or as high as 100,000 Skymiles for a one-way.
In many cases, I’ve seen that some of Aeromexico’s 787-9 and 737 flights price out cheaper than Delta’s 757. In that case, you’re better off paying cash. Overall, you’re probably going to find a decent fare in First Class so I would recommend saving your miles for a better redemption.
I arrived at JFK’s Terminal 4 at 06:00 for my 09:30 flight. I was able to check-in at the Sky Priority desks. After checking in, I cleared security within twenty minutes thanks to a dedicated Sky Priority line. Other passengers didn’t seem too pleased at my ‘cutting’ and gave me some pretty nasty looks.
My first stop after security was Delta’s SkyClub. I had read online that it would be open by ‘Spring 2019’. I figured that May was pretty close to the end of spring, if not the beginning of summer, and expected a pretty decent experience. Well….it seems like spring comes after May in Delta’s book.
The SkyClub had very minimal food options. For breakfast, they had two dishes. One was sausage and the other was a potato dish. Delta operates some premium routes out of JFK so they definitely need to improve their offerings in the SkyClub. For what it’s worth, even though the food options were limited, the best part of the lounge had to be the observation deck.
There were quite a few seating areas which was a nice surprise. The SkyClub wasn’t very open, rather somewhat partitioned. I presume this was because of temporary walls put up for renovations. Unfortunately, I didn’t get many other pictures of the SkyClub. After walking 50 miles in three days in New York City, my feet were in pretty rough shape.
However, when I mentioned this to the staff, they were very attentive and came around more often to refresh my coffee cup or offer me water. I hobbled my way over to the gate (which was thankfully pretty close to the SkyClub) and arrived one-hour prior to departure. Boarding started shortly after I arrived.
Delta blocks this flight at around five hours and thirty minutes. I was hoping for a last-minute aircraft swap to a 757 with lie-flats, but that didn’t materialize. Despite the seat map showing a nearly empty flight the day before departure, the plane left completely full. I presume most passengers purchased Basic Economy fares and therefore couldn’t select seats.
Our 757 had 20 recliner First seats in a 2-2 configuration. Overall, it was a pretty standard Delta First configuration for a short or medium-haul flight. Waiting at my seat 1D was a standard domestic First Class pillow and blanket. No amenity kits were available. Shortly after settling in, I was offered some headphones.
Needless to say, these headphones were garbage. For First Class, even worse. They’re cheap and don’t do an effective job. I ended up using my own headphones. The least Delta could do is up their game with headphones. These are the same quality headphones Delta offers in economy, although I believe they charge $2 for them. As a general rule of thumb, any amenities offered in economy probably shouldn’t be offered in First.
The lavatories also did not have any special amenities. Although, I was fascinated by the 757-200 toilets. I realized this was the first time I’d ever used the lavatory on a 757. The flush wasn’t your traditional “vacuum” suck but instead operated more like a traditional loo. I’ll admit, I’m not sure if this is the standard on 757s. Readers, can you enlighten me on this?
The legroom in the bulkhead seemed claustrophobic for First Class. For example, when I excused myself to go the lavatory, there was barely enough room for me to exit my seat without my seatmate getting up. Also, because of the bulkhead, you probably won’t be able to stretch out much.
The seat came with two power outlets shared for both passengers in the center armrest. In addition, there was a USB outlet in the IFE monitor.
For some reason, my seat wouldn’t recline as much as others (including my seatmate). It wasn’t a big deal for me but if you’re taller and trying to get room to stretch out, you might want to avoid the bulkhead seats. Perhaps Delta started slashing recline on this flight and then got distracted (just kidding!). Thankfully, the padding was very nice.
As always, Delta Studio was fantastic and had more than enough content. Given that I had already flown with Delta twice in the week prior to this flight, most of the content was the same. However, with a large selection of films and TV shows, you’d likely have little problem finding something new to watch. It’s nice that Delta keeps a robust entertainment system available for passengers in all cabin classes.
WiFi was available on the flight. Since I was going on vacation, I went for Delta’s free inflight messaging option. After all, this was the first time in quite some time that I was in a similar time zone as my friends and family and we had a lot to talk about! In contrast to my recent A330 flight in Delta One, WIFi was available from gate-to-gate on the 757.
Flight attendants offered passengers the option of water, orange juice, or champagne prior to takeoff. The lead flight attendant was really pushing the champagne and convinced my seatmate and the passengers in row two to have some bubbly. I went with orange juice.
I was then presented with the menu for the flight.
I had pre-selected my meal when Delta emailed me a few days in advance. The ability to pre-select First Class meals is fantastic, since you know you’ll get what you want to eat. Ahead of time, I had selected the French Toast. The flight attendant confirmed this with me before takeoff.
About 40 minutes after takeoff, the initial drink service commenced. I continued with the orange juice.
Shortly thereafter, probably an hour after takeoff, the lead flight attendant in First Class presented me with my meal.
Soon after, she realized that she forgot to present me with some syrup for the toast.
The entire meal was quite good. Nothing in particular stood out to me, but everything tasted as it should. The toast definitely tasted better than it looked. This was aided by the Vermont syrup. Other than being much colder than my liking, the fruit was still fresh. The smoked salmon was also nice.
Looking back, this was a pretty standard business class meal. Nothing to write home about, but also not something to hate on. In comparison to my colleague Tom’s cheese sandwich, this meal was pretty darn good.
About two hours prior to arrival, I started to feel thirsty and asked for a Coke with a normal napkin. This was promptly delivered to me by an exasperated and overwhelmed flight attendant which I’ll explain in the next section.
This also came with a few tasty snacks.
As usual, this Delta crew was the absolute best in the sky. They consistently went above and beyond in every aspect of service. Every interaction with them was warm and pleasant and there wasn’t a single crew member who seemed to hate their job……at least I wish.
The lead flight attendant working First Class was the usual Delta phenomenal. She was cheery and chipper. However, she was the only flight attendant on the flight who didn’t speak Spanish. That caused some stress for her as some passengers had limited English and the communication barrier can get a little rough.
The other members of the crew were less enthusiastic about their job. I imagine this was due to some of the stress that comes from switching between two languages (as I would experience in Mexico City). Nevertheless, they definitely looked and sounded like they wanted to go home.
Delta served a meal in economy on this flight. After the First Class meals were served, all the First class flight attendants were called back to economy to help out. Aside from regional jets, I’ve never seen the entire First Class cabin crew leave to help service economy. That did detract from the service in First. A few people needed a refill of beverages, and it took flight attendants several minutes to respond. When they did, they seemed overwhelmed and exhausted.
Arriving in Mexico City was a bit of a hot mess. We arrived early, thus, we had to wait for gate space to open up. Mexico City is known for some fantastic heat, and boy did that cabin warm up fast. Thankfully, we weren’t subject to it for too long.
Delta is somewhat consistent when it comes to early arrivals. To me, it seems like Delta pads their schedules a bit more than other airlines.
We had a hard landing in Mexico City. As I was deplaning, I noticed that a couple of overhead panels opened up on accident releasing oxygen masks.
After meandering my way through the terminal, I got my bags and was in an Uber to my hotel within half an hour from touching down.
The only “bad” part about the flight would be the headphones, the warm cabin environment while waiting for the gate to open up, and tripping over my seatmate on the way to the lavatory. Yes, I profusely apologized to her. No, I didn’t have any alcohol on this flight.
However, this flight didn’t feel like First Class. I probably would have been upset if I had paid more than $311 for this flight. It was very funky. I’d probably say this flight is more like an international premium economy than business or first.
Going forward, I hope that Delta finishes their T4 SkyClub renovations soon. Furthermore, Delta could probably add one or two more flight attendants to service this flight. First Class should never have to go unstaffed.
Would I fly this route again? Yes. Would I pay more than $400 for this ticket? No. For the price, the experience seemed just right. After all, in the end, I had a bit of a laugh as to the events of this flight and I arrived safely in Mexico City.
Would you fly this route? Have you flown this route? Let us know in the comments!