I recently took two flights on 757s across the pond. This is a comparison of the two. The 757 is an aircraft that has been retrofitted for longer-range flying, but isn’t a native to TATL routes. Many of my frequent-flier friends offer their condolences when they hear that I’ll be taking a trip across the Atlantic on a 757. As you’ll see below, though, that isn’t always a bad thing.

 

Flight no. 1

Carrier: Delta Air Lines

Route: Brussels, BE (BRU) to New York (JFK)

Approximate flight time: 7hrs 55mins

Approximate ticket cost: $1300 RT, including two connecting flights (BWI-JFK-BRU-JFK-BWI)

The verdict: This flight was extremely comfortable. On the way out I had seat 19A, an Economy Comfort seat with no seat in front of it, meaning a very comfortable flight. On the way back, I had seat 24F, a window near the front of the plane. In both circumstances no one was seated in the middle seat.

At each seat in the coach cabin, there was AVOD and (working) AC power. However, not all seats in the economy cabin feature AC power. The configurations vary, but power is mainly found in the first ten rows of economy, which are usually reserved for SkyMiles Medallion elites or Economy Comfort passengers.

I rather like the configuration on Delta’s ETOPS 757s (ex-TWA), which feature a small galley between First Class and Economy as well as ample legroom in the front of the economy cabin, which also means that boarding and deplaning can take place through door 2L without disturbing those who may already be seated in seats 19A-C. I like this because it allows for F passengers to get settled without people having to walk through the F cabin constantly, and it also means less of a walk for economy passengers to get to their seat (and potentially less lamenting about how nice First is!).

The flight attendants were absolutely excellent on both the outbound JFK-BRU, and the inbound BRU-JFK. However, on the outbound, service completely surpassed my expectations. The flight attendants talking care of the coach passengers were all friendly, professional, and seemed pretty senior, though not old. They were so friendly throughout all services, etc., and flying seemed like something they enjoyed, not just a job. In an industry plagued with union turmoils, pay cuts, and tons of complaints, I can honestly say that these FAs were true diamonds in the rough. I have never experienced such exceptional service in coach.

Flight no. 2

Carrier: American Airlines

Route: Madrid-Barajas, ES (MAD) to New York (JFK)

Approximate flight time: 8hrs 20mins

Approximate ticket cost: $1900 RT, including four connecting flights (BWI-JFK-MAD-ALC-MAD-JFK-BWI)

The verdict: American has the less superior product by far. There are no PTVs in Coach, however there was working AC power. The seats are cloth/polyester instead of leather, and the plane was in much worse condition. However whatever the downfall in product was, the flight attendants were absolutely excellent. It was a more senior crew, and they were laughing and smiling with the passengers the whole way, which was so refreshing, and kept me awake and in a good mood even though I was super tired.

That was one thing that I noticed at American. All of the employees had great morale, and really took pride in their jobs. It was nice to see that the product doesn’t really matter if you have a great flight crew taking care of you.

Conclusion

In closing, I would say that I would be more likely to take Delta across the pond if the situation ever arose. However, that is only if the prices and times are comparable. If American was much cheaper, I would not hesitate to fly them again.

Flying transatlantic on a 757 wasn’t the most comfortable thing, but it wasn’t uncomfortable either. I have been in much worse domestic situations than this one. And I had great destinations to look forward to on the other end.

Look for trip reports for both trips coming soon.

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