BACKGROUND This was the first day of Delta’s flight operating from its new concourse B, Terminal 4 at New York’s JFK Airport. The airline now operates from both Terminal 2 and Terminal 4, and there is a shuttle bus, airside, called the Jitney, between the two terminals for transferring passengers.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS I arrived at the airport very early for the 1835 departure DL3 to London Heathrow to have a tour of the terminal and also the new Sky Club lounge which is situated (via a very discreet door) around Gate B32. A separate review of the lounge will appear on Businesstraveller.com. Flights are not called in the lounge, so at 1750 I walked down to the gate, where the flight was called a little late at 1755. BusinessElite (business class) passengers were given priority boarding, and we were quickly on board.
In contrast to the flight out a few days earlier, which had been on a B767-300ER – for that review, click here – this was a B767-400ER aircraft with 40 BusinessElite seats, 28 Economy Comfort and 178 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 and each seat having direct access to the aisle. For a seatplan click here.
THE SEAT The main difference for business class passengers is that the washrooms are at the back of the business class cabin, and there is a galley between business class and the front of the economy cabin, where the Economy Comfort seating is situated. The remarks about the seat remain the same, however, and can be found in the earlier review.
At my seat there was a bottle of water and a Tumi amenity bag containing Malin + Goetz hand and body lotion and moisturizer, facial tissues, toothbrush, dental floss, socks, eye mask, pen, shoe polish, shoe horn, earplugs, hand wipe and comb.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? The window seating is staggered so in 2A, 4A and 6A (and 2, 4 and 6D) you are closest to the aisle, with the odd numbers being closest to the windows. I would choose to be close to the window, since on the aisle you get banged by people walking past, particularly when they are boarding with bags. I also noticed that passengers were bringing on huge bags, and in the base of one business class passenger, it was so big it would only fit on sideways into the overhead locker.
I’d avoid the front row and the last row in the cabin, and also the window seats on the aisles. These also seemed to have marginally less leg room, an certainly the alcove for your shoes did not even fit a pair of shoes, and the gap between the body of the seat and the one in front was tighter. That said, it was still a comfortable seat, and reclined fully flat, and I didn’t notice the full length bed being any shorter than it was on the flight on the way out.
THE FLIGHT There was a long delay after we had all boarded, and then the captain came on to say they were having trouble disconnecting the air bridge from the aircraft. This was solved after another 15 minutes and we backed away, and had only a short queue (about ten minutes) before take off – unusual for a Friday evening at JFK, especially on a long weekend (it was Memorial Day on the following Monday). The captain said the flight time would be six hours and 50 minutes.
Since this was a short night flight, I wanted to maximise the amount of time I had to sleep, but I had not eaten in the lounge, since I was not prepared to pay for it. I therefore decided to go for the “Gourmet Express Surf and Turf”, which was grilled beef tenderloin and lobster with asparagus and southwest slaw, tomato basil soup, salad, fruit, cheese and chocolate.
This was a huge and delicious meal, and better still was delivered to me while the rest of the cabin waited for their pre-meal drinks. I had finished it before they had started eating, and so reclined my seat and fell asleep for the rest of the flight, waking 20 minutes before landing. The seat for sleeping was very comfortable, fully flat, and if there was any noise in the cabin (or turbulence), I didn’t notice it.
(Having eaten the full meal service on the way out, and been very impressed with both the quality and size of the portions (large), I think it’s worthwhile making a note of these, though of course on this return flight I did not taste them:
First course: Shrimp with grilled pineapple, tomato basil soup.
Second course: Mixed green salad with dried cranberries, cucumbers, tomatoes and pine nuts.
- Braised beef short ribs with red wine sauce, parsnip puree and five spice baby carrots;
- Pan seared cod with citrus butter, faro risotto and sautéed haricots verts
- Fettuccine Alfredo with broccolini, roasted tomatoes and hazelnuts
- Chilled deli plate, chilled tenderloin and lobster with asparagus and southwest slaw.
- Selection of fine cheeses offered with fresh fruit
- Vanilla ice cream sundae with a choice of sauces, whipped cream and chopped nuts
- Chocolate covered profiteroles.
Wines: Champagne: Jacquart Brut Mosaique, France NV. Reds: 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
Waking late, I missed the “Pre-arrival meal” which was assorted breakfast breads and condiments, seasonal fresh fruit and granola cereal with milk and yoghurt.
ARRIVAL We arrived on time at London Heathrow Terminal 4, were quickly off the aircraft, there was only a short queue at immigration and my one checked bag quickly appeared at the carousel.
VERDICT Excellent, once again. The crew know what they are doing, serve you quickly and efficiently if they know you want to sleep, and then leave you alone to do just that. There were also no unnecessary announcements to wake us in the night (Duty Free coming round, for instance).
DEPARTURE TIME 1015
FLIGHT TIME 7 hours and 30 minutes
PLANE TYPE B767-40ER
SEAT PITCH 76.5-81.4 inch
SEAT WIDTH 21 inch
SEAT LENGTH 73in
SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees