I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 4 for the 1235 departure on Delta 36 to Seattle at 1000. Check-in for this flight in business is in the dedicated Skyteam Priority Area at Zone H.
There were three desks available for Delta check-in (100-102) and there was a five-minute queue for these, while we had our passports and visas checked.
The other desks were not being used with check-in staff just chatting so I asked why that was – they are for other flights and in fact are trained on different systems, so couldn’t step in to help at times like this when they were idle and the queue for Delta’s flights was longer.
I dropped off two bags, went through fast-track security and was airside in a matter of minutes. From there I went to the Skyteam lounge.
The Skyteam lounge is a spacious place, but was quite busy so I went upstairs.
The breakfast selection was just ending so the cooked items (sausages, beans, scrambled egg) were looking a little tired. I waited for the lunch salads to arrive at a little after 1100 and had a selection of those. There is free wifi in the lounge courtesy of BT but it is so slow it isn’t much use.
No flights are called from this lounge so I watched the boards and went down to Gate Seven when it opened.
There was a slight delay and then we were boarded with premium passengers going first. Despite this being an inaugural, there was no fuss at the gate, cheerleaders, band playing or in fact any recognition of the fact. But I think this as much as anything was because the flight would only operate from T4 for a few days, changing to T3 (and indeed our return was to T3).
This review is for the day flight over to Seattle. For the return night flight, with more about the seat and perhaps less about the service (because I was asleep), click here.
Once on board, our jackets were taken, drinks offered (champagne, orange juice or water) and before take-off menus were given out and orders taken. The selection of of newspapers included USA Today and The Independent – on the way back it was USA Today and the Daily Mail).
The configuration of the flight in business class is 1-2-1 (A-BC-D) with fully-flat Business Elite seats upholstered in blue leather. Click here for a seatplan.
I was in 2B in an aisle seat. The seat has plenty of room to spread out, with a space for your shoes to be stored (just — they stick out if you are size 9 or greater), a couple of small magazine pouches and room around your feet, although if you put a bag here it would have to be moved when the seat reclines and the seat moves forward and foot rest rises.
In these centre seats, the overhead lockers are very small, and my companion’s roll-on bag wouldn’t fit in so he had to ask a passenger in a window seat if they would swap to allow him space in the lockers above the window seats (she said yes).
A bottle of water and amenity pack — Tumi, with Malin & Goetz toiletries — were already waiting at the seat.
The controls for the in-flight entertainment (IFE) are in the arm of the seat, although the small IFE screen is close enough to touch when you’re sitting up (and is a touch screen).
The IFE is audio and video on demand (AVOD) and there was a good choice of films coming in many categories including a large selection of recent blockbusters, as well as HBO and Showtime programming. Also on the IFE control is the button for the overhead light and there is also an over-shoulder spotlight.
The seat is simple to use with clear pre-set positions as well as buttons to alter the recline of the seat and lumbar support. There is power, both USB and for US-style plugs, and I used this firstly to power my laptop and then my mobile phone.
My tray table came out of the wide side area where the in-seat power, headphone socket and IFE controls were situated. The table slanted slightly and bounced too much for me to use to work on my laptop, but I used the large duvet (by Westin) and propped it up from underneath, which worked just fine.
If I have a criticism of the seat, it is that when it is fully reclined it’s quite tight, not so much in the shoulders but how your feet fit under the seat in front. You certainly would have to take your shoes off, and even then I found myself braced against the sides of the alcove, which meant I could feel the vibrations or knocks as the passengers in the row in front shifted around.
My travelling companion thought that the seat lacked storage space but, other than the small overhead lockers, I thought it wasn’t so bad for that, although my Tumi washbag vanished from the armrest while I was asleep, so whether it fell and was picked up or just got lost under the seat I don’t know.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?
I would avoid the row in front of mine, Row 1, which is slightly exposed to the galley, and also the back row, 9, where your head is almost in Economy Comfort.
For full notes on the best seats, click here to read my review of the return flight.
The flight took off on time and the drinks service started quickly.
After a short while, the pilot came on to tell us we were flying over Iceland and would have some great views, and so it proved. He pointed out Reykjavik and also the famous Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which to his credit, he didn’t even try pronouncing.
The passengers in the window seats were pretty understanding about us leaning over to take photos of all of this, but if they hadn’t have been then I suppose we would have had to take the photos from the aisle and they’d have been in the shot.
We were told a couple of times that the crew were Seattle-based, so presumably given their seniority they had previously been on international Delta flights elsewhere such as Amsterdam, Beijing and Paris, as well as Shanghai and Tokyo. (The airline points out that Seattle is one of its fastest-growing global gateways with Hong Kong and Seoul on the cards for June this year. It has invested $14 million in its facilities at Sea-Tac airport, including lobby renovations, new Delta Sky Club, Sky Priority services, new gate area power recharging stations and expanded ticket counters.)
Getting back to the flight attendants, they were professional, friendly, and seemed quite energised to be working this flight.
Food and drink:
- Antipasto with bresaola, pecorino romano cheese, artichoke and olives.
- Caprese salad and cream of asparagus soup.
- Roasted chicken breast with welsh rarebit cheese sauce, carrots, leeks and parsley potatoes.
- Grilled lamb chops with rosemary orzo, artichoke and tomato ragout
- Panzerotti pasta with mushroom sauce
- Chilled deli plate salmon with marinated Greek salad and grilled asparagus
- Vanilla ice cream sundae
- Tasting of sweet treats
- Fine cheeses
- Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaique, France NV
- Simi chardonnay, Sonoma, California 2009 (white)
- Louis Latour ‘Chanfleure’ Chablis, Burgundy, France 2011 (white)
- La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Rioja Reserva, Spain 2000 (red)
- Chateau Lestruelle Cru Bourgeois, Medoc, Bordeaux, France 2009 (red)
- Chambers rosewood Muscadelle, Rutherglen, Australia NV (dessert wine)
- Qunita Do Noval ten-year-old tawny porto
After the meal I worked and watched two films, then dozed for an hour or two.
There was nothing eventful about the flight, and I went up to the galley to help myself to some fruit and a packet of crisps (and some mini Mars Bars, if I’m honest), then carried on watching films.
About 90 minutes before landing, there was another meal — lunch by this time, since we had moved onto Seattle time eight hours behind the UK. The options were:
- Italian pizza with pesto, roasted tomato and fresh mozzarella
- Grilled shrimp salad topped with sun-dried tomato, olives and feat cheese and almonds served with breadsticks
I had the shrimp salad which was both huge and very tasty.
We started our descent into Seattle and had a great view of the area flying in, with clear skies and sunshine after a very wet March for Washington State.
We landed on time, were quickly out of the aircraft, and passed through US immigration more quickly than I have even managed before (literally no queue – just walked up to the desk, had a chat with a smiling officer and was through). I was told later this was because the flight landed at a quiet time, and there can be some very long queues when arriving from Europe if several flights arrive simultaneously.
The arrivals area is also being upgraded, although this won’t be completed until June. We went down an escalator to the carousel area, and the bags came shortly afterwards.
A good solid performance form the crew, comfortable seats, impressive IFE selection and top notch flight food.
Click here to read for how things went on my return jounrey, when passing through the new check-in areas and Sky Club lounge on a night flight back on Delta DL37.
- PLANE TYPE B767-300ER
- ECONOMY CLASS 17.2-inch seat width, 31 to 32-inch seat pitch (44cm/79-81cm)
- ECONOMY COMFORT 17.2-inch seat width, 34 to 35-inch seat pitch
- BUSINESS ELITE 18.5-inch seat width / 76.5 to 81-inch seat pitch (47cm/194-206cm)