FIRST IMPRESSIONS I arrived at Terminal 4 London Heathrow at 0830 for the 1015 departure on DL4 for New York JFK on Delta Airlines. I took the escalators up from the Piccadilly Line Underground Station and then checked in at Zone H which is for BusinessElite passengers and top tier members of Skyteam airlines.
Delta has three daily flights to New York JFK from London Heathrow. This was the first flight, and then there is one at lunchtime and another late afternoon. I could see that the lunchtime flight had been cancelled due to what was referred to as crew sickness, and so I asked if our flight was going to be busier as a result and was told that it would be. I didn’t have any bags to check, so picked up my boarding card and went through to fast track security, which was slow, taking ten minutes despite there not being many passengers queuing. From there I went to the Skyteam lounge.
THE LOUNGE Delta uses the Skyteam lounge airside at Terminal 4 which is over two floors. To see some photos, click here.
The lounge was busy downstairs so I went upstairs, and despite the usual lack of food and a broken coffee machine, the staff were helpful, and even went downstairs to fetch some toast when I asked for some. The flights aren’t called from the lounge, so after working and using the free wifi for about 30 minutes I left the lounge and walked down to Gate 11 when I saw the flight was boarding.
BOARDING There was a priority queue for BusinessElite passengers and I was straight on board via an airbridge to the front of the plane.
THE SEAT This was a B767-300ER aircraft with 36 BusinessElite seats, 32 Economy Comfort and 143 Economy Seats. Delta has fully flat BusinessElite seats on these aircraft in a configuration of 1-2-1 (A-BC-D) with seats being upholstered in blue leather. The seats are staggered so have a look at the seatplan here to make sense of what follows.
I was in 5D, which was one of the seats closest to the window, and the ones I prefer, since in 4D for instance you are much closer to the aisle. The seat has plenty of room to spread out, with a space for your shoes to be stored, a couple of small magazine pouches and space around your feet, though this would have to be moved when the seat reclines. Despite the cabin being full, there was plenty of room in the overhead lockers for bags, and I had a whole locker to myself for my two bags. All seats have direct access to the aisle. For a seatplan, click here
It’s been almost three years since I last flew this seat with Delta, but it has aged well, both in terms of being robust and also not becoming outdated. A bottle of water and amenity pack were already waiting at the seat.
The controls for the in-flight entertainment (IFE) are in the arm of the seat, though the small IFE screen is close enough to touch when you’re sitting up (and is a touch screen). You have to hope that the person behind does this gently if they do it at all, since it can disturb you as they prod the screen, I noticed this from the passenger behind me, but perhaps she was just trying to get my attention.
The IFE is audio and video on demand (AVOD) and there was a good choice of films coming in many categories including independent, European, Japanese, Chinese, Korean etc… as well as HBO 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 bounced a little when I typed on it, but was fine for eating the meal, and I found the wide side area useful for placing my tray onto so I could continue to work while the meal service took place.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? I would avoid Row 1 which is slightly exposed to the galley, and the back row, 9. On this flight, 8A was curtained off for the pilot to sleep and the final row of BusinessElite backs straight onto Economy Comfort (unlike, say, the B777-400ER where there is a galley separating the two). I would choose A or D if travelling alone, and since I like looking out of the window and having some protection from the aisle, I would choose seat A in rows 3,5 or 7.
THE FLIGHT It quickly became clear that several of the seats in the business class cabin were occupied by Delta staff, perhaps flight attendants from the cancelled flight later in the day. They were very jolly to begin with, but settled down later. The pilot came on to welcome us and thank us for flying Delta on this “American-made Boeing aircraft”.
As chance would have it I was reading the protective plastic bag covering the Tumi amenity kit which declared that it had been “Packaged in China using American products” (In fact this referred only to the Malin + Goetz Hand and Body Lotion and Moisturizer, the other products – facial tissues, toothbrush, dental floss, socks, eye mask, pen, shoe polish, shoe horn, earplugs, hand wipe, comb are all made in China).
Once in the air we were offered drinks and a dish of nuts before the food service began.
First course: Smoked salmon with caper onion relish and sour cream and Cream of asparagus soup (you get both).
Second course: mixed green salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and almonds.
- Grilled beef tenderloin with blue cheese sauce, Lyonnaise potatoes and sautéed haricots verts;
- Pan seared chicken with citrus salad, mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus with roasted garlic;
- Gemelli pasta with cheese sauce, radicchio, spinach and shitake mushrooms;
- Chilled deli plate, beef tenderloin and smoked salmon with potato salad and tomato with egg mousse.
Dessert: selection of fine cheeses offered with fresh fruit; vanilla ice cream sundae with a choice of sauces, whipped cream and chopped nuts, or peach cake.
I had the chicken, which was huge, very tasty and really filled me up, though I still managed the ice cream.
- Champagne: Jacquart Brut Mosaique, France NV.
- Whites: Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonay, Napa, California, 201; Arucano Sauvignon Blanc Reswerva, Chile 2012.
- Reds: Chateau Bellegrave Cru Bourgeios Medoc, Bordeaux 2010; Capezzana Barco Reale di Carmignano, Tuscany, Italy 2010.
- Dessert wines and port: Chateau L Rame, Sainte-Criox-du-Mont, Bordeaux, France 2011; Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port, Portugal NV
I wasn’t drinking, so instead had several cups of tea which came as a selection of different tea bags and then a metal tea pot with boiling water for me to serve myself, which was great. The attendants were always coming round and you simply had to ask if you wanted anything, and throughout the flight the service was very good – friendly, experienced and ready to share a joke.
After the meal service had been cleared away I reclined the seat and slept easily for 90 minutes. I found the seat comfortable, if a little narrow. The side arm rest is not adjustable, so though there is plenty of length to the seat there isn’t much room for your shoulders, and if you lie on your back you end up crossing your arms in front of you, or sleeping on your side as I ended up doing. The cabin was quiet for a day flight, which was very welcome.
Before landing there was another delicious meal – a choice of hamburger with swiss cheese, onion, tomato and pickle served with potato chips or chicken cobb salad topped with corn, tomato, egg and cheddar cheese served with breadsticks and fresh fruit or chocolate. I had the chicken cobb salad and it was a really good and filling meal, and if I’m not mistaken, healthy as well. So I ate the chocolates that came with it just to make sure.
I had some more tea, of which there were four choices, all by Tazo Teas: earl grey, refresh, passion and wild sweet orange. These came with a large tea cup and saucer and a small metal tea pot allowing the tea to brew nicely on the large side arm/table so I could drink it while working.
ARRIVAL We came into JFK on time, and just before landing the cabin services director came round to thank us all for flying with Delta. There was no queue in these final hours of the T3 terminal arrival (though it’s a grotty place, with a low ceiling, no natural light, and looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in weeks – roll on T4 which opens in just a few days). Immigration was quick, as were bags, and we were off into New York within 20 minutes of landing.
VERDICT A really good flight, comfortable seat, good IFE, great food and the service was very welcoming and professional.
DEPARTURE TIME 1015
FLIGHT TIME 7 hours and 30 minutes
PLANE TYPE B767-300ER
SEAT PITCH 76.5-81.4 inch
SEAT WIDTH 21 inch
SEAT LENGTH 73in
SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight from London to New York in June start from £2383.