Wednesday, April 21, 2010

All the perks of international travel

Okay, not all the perks -- I would have had to pay for alcohol, had I been so inclined.

Other than that, though, Delta's new Australia fleet is pretty sweet for a simple old domestic flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta. And Alec Baldwin's look of post-coital satisfaction to the right summarized how I felt pretty well, sans the coitus.

My first real business trip in over two years -- one that requires air travel and an overnight stay -- kicked off Tuesday morning. But it was Monday night, upon checking my flight status, that I realized I'd be flying in the same big plane that I rode to Sydney back in December. See, my flight to Atlanta was delayed from 7:50 to 9 a.m., because the flight left late from Sydney.

But the movie-viewing possibilities didn't strike me until I actually boarded. I knew that this plane carried over a hundred movies, to provide maximum variety for a captive audience stuck in the same seat for 14 hours. But what about me, joining the flight for its final four-hour leg to Atlanta?

I thought at worst, I'd have the movies available to me, but would have to swipe a credit card and pay $5 to watch my choice. There was a credit card slot along the bottom of the screen for just that purpose.

But when the plane lifted off and the seat-back TV screens never powered on, I worried that instead of providing us domestic peons access to all those choices, they'd simply give us nothing and tell us to like it.

About 20 minutes in, however, I noticed that the next section had their screens working. Soon after that, the pilot announced that they'd need to reset the whole entertainment system to fix the problem with the back section of the plane.

And ten minutes after that, voila -- all the latest and greatest in movies that fall into that window between their theatrical release and their DVD release. Plus a heckuva lot of older releases.

All for free.

As you can tell from the poster above, I chose Nancy Meyers' It's Complicated, a movie starring three great comic talents (Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin), which held almost enough interest for me to consider seeing it in the theater.

And though I ended up really enjoying it -- more than I thought I would -- I almost wished I'd selected something shorter than its two-hour running time. All those choices send a movie fan like me into fits, and if I'd picked a 90-minute movie, maybe I could have squeezed in a second one.

Also, for free.

At a time when the airline industry is going through one of the worst periods in its history, and certain dubious airlines have begun charging passengers for carry-on luggage, it's worth a shout-out when airlines pass up obvious moneymaking opportunities, just for the sake of customer service.

And since I'm patting Delta on the back, I'll also thank them for the two sodas, the coffee, and the three small packages of peanuts, not to mention a package of pretzels for good measure, that they provided me.

And though I couldn't watch seven movies like I did back in January, this trip had the benefit of being about ten hours shorter. Oh, and I had a whole row to stretch out, which would be unheard of flying to Australia.

You know, it's the little things.


Daddy Geek Boy said...

Been flying Delta too and enjoying the gratis on-demand flicks. (Though why anyone would want to watch Avatar on that tiny screen is beyond me).

They want us to pay $2 for an episode of Flight of the Conchords, but Sherlock Holmes is free.

Go Delta!

Vancetastic said...

Well, I spoke too soon. On my flight home, not only did they charge you for the movies ($6), but they would have charged you for a headset as well ($2) if you needed one.

DGB, you were really on a flight where they charged you for Flight of the Conchords but not Sherlock Holmes? It seems to me that Delta breaks it down thus: planes that fly internationally, everything is free; planes that only fly domestically, everything costs.

I'll still take the selection and the chance to pay $6 for the movie of my choice (a much more limited selection this time, though) over having just one screen where you can watch whatever they tell you to watch, or not.