Flight Review: Delta 757-200 in Economy — JFK-LAX

Oct 7, 2015

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As part of TPG’s summer intern trip to Maui, each of our interns flew an initial leg from New York-JFK to LAX on a different domestic carrier (American, Delta, United and JetBlue) in order to compare the economy or premium (extra legroom) economy products on this major transcontinental route. TPG Editorial Intern Danielle Truglio flew in economy on Delta’s 757-200, and here’s her review of the experience.

Booking the Flight

The total cost of my round-trip ticket from New York-JFK to Los Angeles (LAX) to Maui (OGG) was $1,576.48, which includes outbound in economy and the return in first class. On Delta, the JFK-LAX route is usually priced around $159 each way in economy. If you’re looking for a bit more legroom, though, you have the option of spending approximately $119 (each way) at the time of booking to upgrade to Delta Comfort (premium economy) — or, depending on your Medallion elite status, this upgrade to Delta Comfort may be complimentary.

An economy round-trip flight from JFK-LAX in September.

Here’s my fare breakdown:

Round-trip tickets: $1,468.38
Taxes and fees: $108.10
Total: $1,576.48

Alternatively, if you’re flying on an award ticket, a one-way nonstop ticket from JFK-LAX in economy starts at 12,500 SkyMiles + $11.20 (many dates require more miles), but you’ll be much better off paying cash. For non-elites, checked baggage costs $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second, and Medallion passengers flying in the main cabin can expect either one, two or three checked bags for free, depending on their status — as you can see in this screenshot below:

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 10.41.17 AM
Medallions receive different numbers of free checked bags depending on their elite status and cabin class.

Delta also has a number of American Express cards that allow cardholders to avoid checked bag fees regardless of Medallion status, such as the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, which allow cardholders and up to eight companions on the same reservation to check a bag for free.

JFK’s Terminal 4 and Check-In/Security

The quiet scene at my gate — once I finally got there.
The quiet scene at my gate — once I finally got there.

My flight departed from JFK’s Terminal 4, one of the airport’s most spacious terminals. Between waiting at Delta’s main check-in desk and going through non-expedited security, it was about 40 minutes before I arrived at my departure gate. Be sure to leave plenty of time if you’re flying economy on Delta, especially if you don’t have TSA Precheck. (Note that if you’re a Delta Platinum or above, you can choose a $100 Global Entry application voucher as your choice benefit.)

If you’re looking for a pre-flight meal, you can do worse than Terminal 4 — here you’ll find two Shake Shacks, a Buffalo Wild Wings and an Irish pub.

Cabin and Seat

The main cabin is arranged in a 3-3 configuration.

As I boarded this 757-200, I was warmly greeted by the Delta cabin crew. Making my way slowly through the main cabin — all rows arranged in a 3-3 configuration — I eventually made it to my seat way back in row 42. Delta’s economy seat on the 757-200 has 31-33 inches of pitch (Delta Comfort has 34-35 inches) and 17.2 inches of width (the same as Delta Comfort). I’m about 5’5″ and found that my window seat had a surprising amount of legroom for an economy product.

A toddler and his mother were seated beside me, but luckily for me (and his mother, I might add), this child was well behaved. Whew.

Food and Other Amenities

My in-flight entertainment.

The Delta Studio in-flight entertainment, shown on individual seatback touchscreens, was one of the best parts of my flight. There’s a good variety of movies, television and more, although only some of the options are complimentary for Economy passengers.

In-flight Wi-Fi speeds varied, but I was still able to get my work done.

The flight also included Gogo internet, which costs $16 for a 24-hour pass. I found the Wi-Fi to be a bit sporadic, but was still able to catch up on email and get some work done.

I was very satisfied with some mini pretzels and a glass of apple juice.
I was very satisfied with some mini pretzels and apple juice.

Delta economy passengers on this flight are offered a choice of complimentary snacks (pretzels, peanuts or cookies) and non-alcoholic beverages (including Starbucks coffee), while beer, wine and spirits are available for purchase. Delta Comfort passengers enjoy complimentary Premium Snacks like chips, candy and fresh fruit. Economy passengers also have a few meal options available for purchase from Delta’s EATS menu, such as a Luvo sandwich wrap, a cheeseburger, roast beef sliders and/or a fruit and cheese plate — each for around $10-$12. If you’re not looking for a bigger meal, there are also some elaborate snack box options available for purchase, all of which cost about $10 apiece.

Because I wasn’t especially hungry, I didn’t purchase any food on my flight, opting instead for a couple packets of pretzels and an apple juice.

This was a largely uneventful flight (thanks to my blissfully quiet young seatmate) without much turbulence, no in-flight drama and a few downright cheerful smiles from the FAs. I was able to stretch my legs a few times in my relatively roomy window seat . I never imagined that flying for roughly five hours in a coach seat toward the rear of a plane could be, well, pleasant.

Bottom Line

The view from my gate.

I feel that Delta’s economy on its 757-200 provides a solid way to travel across the country without spending a bundle. I arrived in Los Angeles feeling pretty rested and satisfied, having had the opportunity to evenly split my time between decent in-flight entertainment and getting some work done online. I was perfectly comfortable in my window seat, but for a taller person who wanted to be closer to the front, paying the additional $119 for Delta Comfort would be an easy, relatively inexpensive way to perk up the trip. However, if you’re looking to save on your next trip to LA, Delta’s economy seating is the way to go.

What’s your favorite way to get between New York and Los Angeles? We’d love to hear your comments or questions below!

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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