Flight Review: Delta Air Lines DL168 from Singapore to Tokyo-Narita by Boeing 767-300ER

Delta Air Lines is an American airline which does not operate direct flights to the United States of America from Singapore. In fact, even if you book such a ticket, it would require a transit in Tokyo Narita Airport as Delta operates a unique Seventh Freedom Flight to Tokyo, whereby the flight does not carry on to USA (on paper). Delta Air Lines DL168 is purely a Singapore to Tokyo-Narita flight, which offers a rather unique experience to Japan.

Nevertheless, as it is still an American airline, check-in procedures were rather strict, which is why there are no pictures of the check-in process as I didn’t want to be prevented from flying, or worse, be put on a blacklist.

Before check-in, my itinerary was checked, before being assigned an interviewing officer. Yes, you read that right. The check-in area for Delta was cordoned off and a few Certis CISCO officers were waiting just after the entrance to the cordoned area to interview every single passenger. After being asked a few questions about my trip and if I have been to certain countries before, and after opening my bag to declare what might look like a sharp object when scanned later, I was finally given a slip of paper to bring to the check-in desk where I was allowed to check in. The interview process took about 5 minutes.

At the check-in desk, my passport was checked and given a security sticker behind to say that I’m security checked. While the check-in row had the new FAST Check-in system, the manned mode was used throughout the process.

Having never been to America before, I wonder if this is a standard for all American airlines. I have not thought much about booking that Delta flight, but after seeing how tight security was, I wasn’t sure if that helped with me thinking that it is a very safe airline or that I should be more concerned about flying them since security is so tight.

This time, getting my boarding pass felt like a great achievement since there was quite a few rounds to go to actually get it, as compared with my usual instant self-service methods.

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Heading into the transit area after successfully checking in.

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My prized boarding pass for my Delta Air Lines DL168 flight from Singapore to Tokyo-Narita.

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Heading to the gate.

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My flight details at Gate D36.

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N197DN would be taking me from Singapore to Tokyo-Narita today.

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The rather crowded gate hold room. Guess it’s going to be a full fight.

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Heading to board the plane. Strangely, excluding those with priority such as US Military personnel, boarding was called from front to back. Since I was seated in the second last row of the plane, I boarded last.

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Heading down the aerobridge.

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Boarding my first Delta flight.

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Passing through the Delta One (Business Class) cabin decked out in a 1-2-1 configuration.

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Heading into the Main Cabin (Economy Class) where I belong.

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My window seat at 40G. Despite pre-selecting my seat during my ticket purchase, my seat selection was removed during my online check-in and was given this window seat instead. Even when asking for a seat swap at the actual check-in desk at the airport, no other seats were available to swap with. Guess it’s a really full flight.

(Also, notice how all the window shades were closed during boarding.)

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A pillow and sleeping kit was laid out on the seat as I got to it.

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The legroom on board Delta’s Main Cabin on the Boeing 767-300ER.

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Advertisements were played during boarding and no access was given to the IFE yet.

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The seat belt and no smoking signs on board Delta’s Boeing 767-300ER.

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The reading lights and aircon vents on board Delta’s Boeing 767-300ER.

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The view out of the aircraft after I opened my window shade, thinking that it’s a pretty standard requirement for taxi, take-off and landing.

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Bags are still being loaded up at this point.

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The sleeping kit contains a set of ear plugs and an eye shade.

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Hmm, is this 2+2 configuration really First Class?

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Shortly after everyone was seated, headsets were distributed.

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A paper menu was also distributed after the head sets. That’s thoughtful, haven’t had one in quite a while.

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I know what I’ll be having for breakfast already.

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A single choice of light snack before arriving into Tokyo.

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A surprisingly extensive drinks menu for Main Cabin.

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A welcome video was played before the safety video.

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Playing the safety video as the aircraft readies for pushback.

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The safety video is like a safety card coming to life, with the 2D characters demonstrating the procedures.

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Sliding out of the safety card.

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Mini-characters helping with stowing away the stuff for take-off.

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Watch the Delta Air Lines Safety Card Safety Video here:

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Pushing back from the gate.

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The lights were switched off for take-off, but no announcements or enforcements were made for passengers to open the window shades. Hmm.

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Nevertheless, I opened mine up for safety (and for photos).

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Passing by a Thai Airways Boeing 777-200 at the end of Terminal 1.

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Taxiing to the runway.

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Ready to take-off.

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Bye Singapore.

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The plane took off heading southwest, so that necessitated a u-turn in the air shortly after this photo was taken.

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A few minutes after take-off, the IFE finally came alive.

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Languages available on Delta’s IFE includes English, Spanish, Purtugese, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Korean and Thai. That’s a lot of languages.

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The IFE is rather up to date with western movies and TV shows.

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My estimated flight path to Tokyo.

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Some additional flight information on the IFE.

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As the flight was eastward, the sun rose rapidly when seen from on board the plane. Just before the sunrise, the pilot advised us to open up the window shades “if we’d like” to adjust to the sunrise. Hmm, I guess putting your window shades up is indeed optional on Delta.

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About an hour into the flight, breakfast was served.

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I opted for the Sundried Tomato Omelet with Creamed Spinach, Chicken Sausage and Potatoes.

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The meal was quite okay at usual airplane omelette standards. They didn’t go for deep fried hash browns so that helped the potatoes maintain their softness when reheated on board.

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The washrooms were also rather clean.

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Rather surprisingly, only paper towels are provided in the washrooms, which is excellent. They were also of a thicker quality than what I’m used to in ASEAN, almost like a real towel.

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To top off the Delta experience, Free Messaging on Delta WiFi is was available on board.

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Free Messaging works with iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp for text only, that means photos can’t be sent – but that’s good enough for me since it was free of charge for the duration of the flight.

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No additional apps are needed to connect to the free WiFi on board. Additional WiFi for full internet access can also be purchased though it isn’t very affordable. Priced are in US Dollars.

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Approaching Tokyo, a hot towel service was provided followed by a light snack. The two snacks provided were a Mediterranean Vegetable and Cheese Puff Pastry and a Chocolate Chip Cake.

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The drinks cart followed behind the snack cart, and I ordered a Sparkling Wine and Starbucks Coffee. The Sparkling Wine was Segura Viudas Aria Brut Nature Cava, Penedes, one of the cheaper brands on the market. But nevertheless, still impressive to be offering more than 2 types of wines on a flight.

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Delta serves Starbucks Pike Place Roast, but as a non-Starbucks drinker, it tastes like normal coffee to me. Sorry.

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Passing by Mikurajima Island, the first sight of Japan land from my window.

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The plain Delta Boeing 767-300ER blended winglet.

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The lowered window shades are more obvious in the daylight as no announcements were made for passengers to open them. Cabin lights were also switched off for a daytime landing. Hmm.

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Flying past Choshi as the plane approaches Honshu, Mainland Japan.

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Hello Japan again.

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Descending into Narita.

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A 209 series EMU on the Narita Line.

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Approaching Narita Airport.

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Touched down into Narita Airport at 1.17pm – 43 minutes early.

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After touch down, the First Officer came on the PA and said to sit back for a while more as it was going to be a long taxi to the gate, and after a lot of minutes I realised he wasn’t joking.

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Passing by a Thai AirAsia X Airbus A330-300 (ex-China Eastern Airlines) at Terminal 2.

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Passing by a NokScoot Boeing 777-200 (ex-Singapore Airlines) at Terminal 2.

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Continuing on to Terminal 1.

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Passing by the fenced-up Yokobori Unity Hut.

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The aircraft remains dark after landing, hmm.

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Heading to Terminal 1.

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Passing by an Aeroflot Boeing 777-300 in SkyTeam livery.

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Passing by an Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 in Formula 1 livery.

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Turning into Terminal 1.

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This time, the First Officer came on the PA again to say that we’re near the gate, but we require a tug to pull us in. Looks like Narita still has some tow-in gates and my plane was going to use one. Sigh.

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My gate was Gate 21 I assumed.

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A tug was standing by at Gate 21.

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And I was right, the tug towed us in to Gate 21.

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Once in the gate, ground staff immediately started to offload baggage.

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Being one of the very last to disembark as I was seated at the very end of the plane.

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The legroom of Delta Comfort+ versus the Main Cabin. Looks like it’s just the legroom that’s the premium.

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Passing through the Delta One cabin.

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Heading into the terminal building via the aerobridge.

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Heading up to the arrivals level.

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Heading down the travellator towards immigration.

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The washroom along the path had a rather nice view of my plane from the urinal, so here’s some planespotting in the toilet.

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Heading down to immigration. The queue at immigration was surprisingly long.

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There’s some renovation going on in the immigration area, but essential stuff like baggage reclaim screens are still available, peeking out from the hoardings.

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My bags would be at Belt A5. A slight wait for my bags of less than 10 minutes, not too painful.

Overall, a pleasant flight with Delta. Despite the crew being mostly Japanese, their service levels and attitudes are similar to a Westerner. Weren’t too friendly and courteous, but at least they weren’t rude. But nevertheless, the hard product is still surprisingly good. The 2-3-2 configuration on the Boeing 767 also helped as it makes the plane feel less crowded with lots of middle seats eliminated. With the promotional fare I paid, I don’t think I have anything to complain about anyway.

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