Flight Review: Delta (777-200LR) Economy From New York to Barcelona
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Earlier this month, I booked a trip on the inaugural flight of IAG's brand new low-cost carrier, LEVEL, from Barcelona (BCN) to Los Angeles (LAX) — the only thing is I'm based in New York, so I had to find a way to get to Spain so I could catch it. After weighing my options, Delta seemed like a good fit thanks to a great award redemption I was able to get. Here's what it was like to fly in economy aboard Delta's 777-200LR.
I bought my ticket about a month before I was set to take off. At the time, the only nonstop flights from New York to BCN were on American, Delta and United — note that Norwegian has since launched a nonstop between the two cities — so I started looking into award availability on each of them. Delta offered the best deal, saver-level award space on the date I needed, so for 30,000 Delta SkyMiles and $5.60, I could fly nonstop from JFK to BCN.
I was curious to see how much Delta was charging for a revenue ticket on the same route on the same day — shockingly, it was $2,231 for the same flight, though you'd pay about half as much when booking a round-trip.
Based on TPG's most recent valuations, the 30,000 miles I paid for the ticket are worth $360, so based on what Delta was charging for the one-way flight, I ended up with more than seven cents per point in value for my redemption — again, I could have saved a significant amount but booking a round-trip.
I chose my seat for this flight as I was booking, opting for 50J since I'm a fan of window seats. While the system showed an empty middle seat next to me — even up until about two hours before departure — it was eventually filled.
Overall, I scored a terrific value by redeeming Delta SkyMiles to cover this flight, especially since I didn't have any use for a return flight from BCN. Delta doesn't have a published award chart on its site, but saver-level economy awards with the carrier tend to go for about 30,000 miles one-way. If you don't have enough SkyMiles in your account for a redemption like this, consider applying for the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, which currently comes with a bonus of 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 within the first three months of opening your account — that's enough miles for a one-way saver economy ticket to Europe.
When I arrived at JFK's Terminal 4, I walked straight to the Delta check-in area. The lines at the desk were rather long, so I opted for the self-service check-in kiosks instead.
The self check-in kiosks appeared to be pretty crowded as well, but as I got closer, I saw there were at least five devices open. Because I wasn't checking any bags, I was able to check in using my passport, verify my information and head to the security lane.
The check-in process itself was rather uneventful, and I was on my way through security in no time. There were pretty long lines for both the "normal" security lane and the TSA PreCheck lane. By having PreCheck, I was able to bypass some of the extra steps, like taking off my shoes, and before long, I was through and on my way to the lounge. In all, going through security took about 15 minutes.
Next, I headed straight for the Delta Sky Club, which, unfortunately, was located far, far away from the security checkpoint — it took me about 15 minutes to reach it.
I was able to get into the Delta Sky Club because of my Platinum Card from American Express, which gives you complimentary access when you're flying with the carrier as well as free entry to Amex Centurion and Priority Pass lounges.
Once inside the front doors to the lounge, I went up the escalator to the front desk to check in.
The front desk was busy, as was the entire lounge. When I first turned the corner, I was overwhelmed by how crowded it was.
My flight was scheduled to depart at 8:05pm and I arrived at the lounge at about 6:30pm. I spent a decent amount of time walking around looking for a place to sit — that's how crowded it was in there.
The dining and bar areas were similarly packed, so much so that I ended up circling the lounge for about 10 minutes before I was able to find a seat. I was traveling alone, so it was still easier for me than for many other travelers who were looking for two or more seats together if they were flying with family.
Unfortunately, the Delta Sky Deck was closed at the time — I'd been looking forward to getting a glimpse of the lounge's outdoor terrace space, but I understood it was closed because it was cold and rainy outside.
Overall, the lounge was way too crowded and it would have been nice if there were just a few more seats open. I passed by the dining and bar areas a couple of times, but the lines were always very long. That said, the lounge itself is very fresh looking, updated with artsy details throughout. Had it been less crowded, I'm sure this would have been a great domestic lounge experience.
Cabin and Seat
After checking out the lounge, I headed straight for the gate, which wasn't too far away. As the boarding process began, I stepped to the side to take some pictures of the Boeing 777-200LR that would soon be transporting me to Barcelona.
Boarding went smoothly — a perfectly ordinary experience.
Once on board and on my way to the rear of the aircraft, I snapped a quick photo of the Delta One cabin, which is comprised of 37 flat-bed seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. Each seat has 78 inches of pitch and is 21 inches wide.
Next, I passed by the Delta Comfort+ cabin. On the 777-200LR, there are 36 seats arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration — each of these seats has 35 inches of pitch, is 18.5 inches wide and features red trim around the headrest to help differentiate them from the rest of the seats in the rear cabin.
Finally, I arrived in the main cabin, which is comprised of 218 seats arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration.
The nine-across seating provides a much-needed break from the industry-wide 10-across trend, which is incredibly cramped — AA recently installed 10-across seating (3-4-3) in the economy cabin on its retrofitted 777-200 aircraft.
The bulkhead seats had plenty of room to spare.
There was also plenty of space in the overhead bins.
Each economy seat came with a pillow and a plastic-wrapped blue blanket. I'm not a big fan of airlines placing a ton of things on my seat before a flight — especially in economy — since there's so little space to store these extra items.
As I mentioned earlier, I selected my seat through Delta before my flight and ended up choosing window seat 50J. The rest of the cabin seemed to be full.
Each economy seat has 31-32 inches of pitch, which I found to be comfortable on this long-haul flight.
Additionally, the seats were 18.5 inches wide, which made for a comfortable flight.
I liked that the headrest could be easily formed to fit your head. There was plenty of cushioning on the headrest and the flaps were sturdy, which worked out nicely whenever I fell asleep since they didn't fall flat.
My seat was toward the rear of the aircraft, giving me a nice view of the wing.
There wasn't much to the seat-back besides the in-flight entertainment screen, a tray table and a pocket with standard Delta literature inside. I didn't like how the tray table had no extension — whenever the person sitting in front of me reclined her seat, it was challenging to get the most use out it — especially when I wanted to use my laptop or was trying to eat.
The seats were pretty comfortable overall though, especially for this nearly eight-hour flight. Cushions were plentiful, there was more legroom than I'd expected and it was nice to be able to stretch my legs during this flight.
Because this was a Europe-bound flight that departed from New York at 8:05pm, I tried my best to sleep as much as possible in an effort to curb the jet lag that would otherwise hit me in Barcelona. As meals were being served, I did take some time to scan the many in-flight entertainment options.
On Delta's Boeing 777-200LR aircraft, each economy seat has a seat-back entertainment screen, and while it isn't the most advanced system, it does use a touchscreen — I found mine to be fairly receptive to my motions.
There was a good selection of movies built into the IFE system, including new releases like Hacksaw Ridge and Hidden Figures, among other titles.
The new release options were pretty great, too, and included movies like Moana, and Moonlight, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture this year.
There was also a flight-tracking map, which I love to watch on any flight. Wi-Fi was provided by Gogo, however, since I was planning to sleep through the night, I chose not to use it. I'd say the in-flight entertainment options were sufficient, however I wish Delta would have chosen a more updated IFE screen with a crisper image for its 777-200LRs.
Food and Beverage
Not long after we took off from JFK, flight attendants began serving our first meal service. Dinner started with a warm towel service, a nice gesture even if they were rather cool in temperature and not very damp. I did still like the thought of including this, especially for economy passengers.
For dinner, I chose a chicken dish, which was served with potatoes. The chicken was pretty rubbery and far from being the ideal texture. The potatoes tasted okay but this wasn't the best economy meal I've ever had. Also on the tray were a salad (which was pretty bleak-looking), a plastic-wrapped roll, some "fresh" vegetables and a brownie. The salad and vegetables left a lot to be desired — the veggies were dry and the furthest thing from fresh. I paired my dinner with a white wine, which tasted light and refreshing.
Just under two hours before we landed, flight attendants served a boxed breakfast featuring a selection of breakfast foods, including Noosa honey yogurt, a peach muffin, cheddar cheese and orange juice. I was a huge fan of the yogurt. This was a pretty standard economy breakfast and it left my appetite satisfied before we landed in BCN.
The food on this flight was so-so and what the dinner meal lacked, the breakfast made up for. While the chicken was a bit rubbery and the vegetables were anything but fresh, I loved the breakfast options, especially the honey yogurt.
For an economy flight, I really didn't expect to have many amenities, but I was still hoping to see more than what I ended up receiving on low-cost carrier LEVEL, which provided nothing except for some items I purchased separately.
As I mentioned earlier, each economy seat had a plastic-wrapped blue blanket on it, as well as a white pillow. The pillow was in pretty sad shape and there was nothing to it, so it was essentially like a piece of paper. I didn't end up using either of these items on the flight and was perfectly comfortable without them.
Flight attendants also came around the cabin while we were still at the gate with an eyeshade and earplugs.
I ended up using the eyeshade, which was of pretty good quality — no light seeped in through the bottom or through the shade itself. I didn't use the earplugs since I'd brought my own.
I was impressed with the amenity options on this economy flight. Delta really tries to make sure its passengers have a comfortable flight, regardless of what class of service they're traveling in. I just wish the carrier had put more effort into its pillows — a little extra fluff would have made me want to use it.
The service on this flight was pretty standard for Delta's economy section — there was nothing on this flight that made me think it was either exceptional or below average. The flight attendants were friendly, offering service with a smile, especially at mealtimes, but there were no instances I can remember in which the crew went above and beyond to make the flight more memorable.
For a nearly eight-hour flight, Delta's 777-200 economy product was comfortable enough. The seats were fairly large and cushioned so I was able to get some sleep on the transatlantic route, ensuring I would arrive in Barcelona refreshed.
I think Delta could improve its product — as can many other carriers — by improving its level of customer service. Of course, this experience differs for everyone on a flight-to-flight basis, but having some consistency would be a nice, reliable factor for travelers. I would definitely consider this as an option when crossing the Atlantic again — especially if I can snag another great redemption like this one.
Have you ever flown in economy on Delta's 777-200LR? Tell us about it, below.