Carfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1727 posts, RR: 9 Posted (3 years 11 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 30693 times:
Not really expected to write a report on this typical Delta’s New York JFK to London Heathrow flight, especially with only one Boeing 767-400ER equipped with the new flat bed business class seats. Fortunately, god has answered my prayer and I indeed had the opportunity to fly the new Business Elite seats. The moment came when my Air Train was about to approach the Terminal Four station (Yes, Delta is using Terminal Four for its London, Los Angeles, and Tokyo, as well as the Northwest flights!) and I saw the brand new repainted Delta’s Boeing 767-400ER N828MH/1804 parked at gate B20! Well how did the new seats score? As a note, I refer the older generation of sleeper seats currently on the international 767-300s and 767-400s (76C), as current sleeper seats, and refer to the new 76D seats as “lie flat” seats. Don’t want to confuse anyone! I think I still have mixed feelings about it. I will write about it more below!
June 19, 2009
DL 3 JFK-LHR Lv1800 Arr0705+1 Boeing 767-400ER N828MH/”1804”
Northwest and Delta both used Row 5, but separate machines though for their own flights! There are priority check-in desks, so I skipped the self-check-in kiosk and used one of the open desks. The agent printed me out a boarding pass with seat 4D, and I asked her if it was a window. Then she reaffirmed me that the configuration was 1-2-1, so D indeed was a window seat.
A word about security – at the early afternoon and evening bank, I recommend arriving at the security line as least forty-five minutes prior to your boarding time. The crowd was crazy, and thank goodness, I have my CLEAR card, and basically went through security within minutes. This particular afternoon made me feel good about paying for my CLEAR card.
Delta and Northwest uses the Oasis lounge before entering security, so passengers traveling in terminal four need to allow some time because the crowd at T-4 is totally out of control especially Delta has a large operation at T-4 now. The Oasis lounge is formerly the Aer Lingus Gold Circle Lounge/Northwest World Club, so the interior is quite large and can accommodate many passengers. Food offerings including Cream of Mushroom Soup, some sandwiches, some salad, as well as the usual array of snack food and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. I did not take pictures here as the lounge is quite ordinary. There is complimentary wifi and you can enter the lounge with a $45 fee too (but must show boarding pass or confirmed flights for the day).
Quite an excited evening as usual:
Qatar’s 77W A7-BAI, Swiss’ Airbus A330-300 HB-JHB as LX 17 to ZRH, Airbus A340-300 HB-JMD late flight to ZRH, and HB-IQH, the usual A330-200 flight to Geneva, Aer Lingus’ Airbus A330-200 EI-DAA to DUB, Lot Polish’s Boeing 767-300ER SP-LPE Star Alliance livery to Warsaw, Egypt Air’s Star Alliance Boeing 777-200ER SU-GBR, KLM’s Boeing777-200ER PH-BQB, Delta’s Airbus A330-300 N809NW to AMS as NW 54, Ethiad’s Airbus A340-600 A6-EMJ “Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2009”, Singapore Airlines’ Boeing 747-400 9V-SPH to FRA, Royal Jordanian’s Airbus A340-200 JY-AIB to AMM, Asiana’s Boeing 747-400 New Color HL7421 to ICN, Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A340-600s – “KD” Miss Behaving as VS 4, and “EB” Surfer Girl as the later flight to LHR
Definitely the lowest light of the whole flight experience! B20 was the gate for our flight, as well as the 6:30pm flight to LAX, so you can imagine how crowded the area was with a full Boeing 767-400ER and Boeing 757-200! Then our flight was delayed to 6:40pm, which was announced around 5:30pm, and the reason was restricted landing slot at London Heathrow. So passengers went around and did their own things. Suddenly at 5:55pm, there was an terminal automated announcement about boarding for our flight to London, so people began crowding. Only till then, the agent announced that it was a mistake, and the LAX flight was boarding. It was so interested because people to LAX should be boarding, but waiting around, and many LHR passengers kept on heading to the entrance. The agent agents were overwhelmed as they are clearing the waitlist for the LAX flight, while facing mob of people confused. The screen kept on showing DL 3 boarding, and the other flight nothing. The scene was just chaotic at best. I overheard numbers of passengers complaining about the boarding, as well as the mob scenes at Terminal Three and on their outbound flight to JFK on London Heathrow. Delta’s ground experience is just unacceptable and the terminal is so outdated (especially Terminal Three) that it cannot handle the large amount of European flights especially the evening bank.
I knew terminal four, and B20 was one of those gates, which can serve two flights. Virgin America used B20 before, as B20A and B20B, and the scene was crowded, but not chaotic. First, VX used Airbus A319 and A320s, much smaller aircraft than Boeing 757 and 767, and second, both are domestic flights. Later I found out that our flight could not be boarded till the LAX flight completed their boarding because our flight was selected to have special police officers checking passports and asking people questions for our London flight. Boarding finally began at 6:28pm, as the LAX flight closed. Delta really needs to rethink about its Terminal Four plan, and maybe they should put the domestic flights together at B20 and left other flights used the normal gates. You simply cannot mix an international and a domestic flight departing so close together. I really have to give a “F” to Delta on its ground experience. Nothing but nightmare! I thought it would be better at Terminal Four, but I guess not.
Well after boarding the plane, the mood changed completely, as I was quite excited about the new cabin and had some time to take multiple pictures of the new cabin. The F/As were typical Delta friendly except one European-accented lady, who seemed to be rushing and not smiling. Anyway, amenity kit and Dasani bottled water are placed at seat pockets at each seat. Menus were then passed out and entrée orders were taken prior to takeoff, and elites and fare paying passengers were asked their meal preference first. Non-revenue passengers seem to fill out the rest of today’s empty seats.
Door was finally closed at 7:14pm. We pushed back at 7:23pm and taxing time was really short for JFK. We headed towards R/W22R, and after Jetblue’s “Beta Blue” N651JB lifted off, we took our turn and lifted off at 7:42pm for our six hours and forty-four minutes flight. We climbed to 31,000feet first, as we hugged the east coast of the US, and passing by Provinctown, and then climbed to 33,000feet hitting the cities of Jonesport, Frederickton, Baie-du-Renard, Baie-des-Hal-Hal, and then descending towards 32,000feet as our cruising attitude over the Atlantic Ocean. We climbed back to 35,000feet before hitting the coast of Ireland passing the cities of Omagh and Portadown, and then into Liverpool, Crewe, where we began our descent, Stafford, and Birmingham.
Cabin and Seat:
There are ten rows of seats on the new Boeing 767-400ER with a four abreast configuration: 1-2-1. The new Business Elite seats use the same Blue Upholstery as the new generation of Delta seats. The cabin looks smart and with the new Boeing signature interior, there are lots of headroom and spaces. A couple important notes, first 2A and 2D will have reduced overhead room, and Row 10A and 10D have no window at all so avoid those seats. 9A was the crew rest and a curtain can be placed around that seat.
What I like about the new seats:
1. Solo window seats and no herringbone configuration – so I can look out the window normally. Odd-numbered rows have seats directly next to window but even-numbered seats also have an accessible window. Not much different even if you like looking out the windows.
2. Very comfortable position while in takeoff and lightly reclined mode especially when compared to the older Business Elite seats on the 767-300s and 767-400s (76C), which are very narrow especially the six abreast seating configuration.
3. The new seats are well padded and there are message functions that can be adjusted.
4. It has a smart tray table function, so are pushed out by a button and can be raised to various heights. But the mechanism is a bit trickier and not sure how long will those tray tables last!
5. A new larger television with AVOD
6. Electrical outlet (a real one not the EmPort) and USB drive are available at each seat, as well as additional Personal seat lamp.
What I dislike about the new seats:
1. Very narrow while at sleeping or semi sleeping position. I can barely sleep facing front, and when I turn to the side, my legs got tangled and there are lacks of space in the feet area. I really hope that the armrest can be dropped which will allow more width. I can see how people that are a bit larger will not problem sleeping in the full bed position On my return flight, I flew the old style business elite sleeper seats on the 76C, and had a much easier time falling asleep! The space really is lacking when in full flat position.
2. Limited storage space – underseat storage is permitted but of course, you cannot recline your seat in full flat position if you have a bag under. So you really need to put everything in the overhead bin. Then there are two magazine pockets, but nothing large enough to handle a laptop.
In general, I am still not sure if the new Business Elite seats are way better than then current sleeper seats used on the 767s. The new seats are comfortable in takeoff/landing and slight recline position, but really narrow and tight at sleeping positions and when I sleep on my side, my legs did not have space to move. The space is really tight. Some reports said the new seats are horrible, but I won’t say that they are great, but slight improvement from the past. Delta has much work to do with the seat manufacturer before replacing all the Business Elite seats on its international Boeing 767s. I am not sure if the new seats fulfill the high expectation and the sleeper seats are just as comfortable. I actually think if Delta introduces a 1-2-2 seating configuration with the current sleeper seats on 763s and 76Cs, they can be just as comfortable. The problems with the current sleeper seats are, first, the lack of width, which the new seats only address them in the takeoff/landing and slight recline positions. Once the new lie flat seats go flat down, the narrowness of the seats are even worst than before.
Food and Beverage:
A full dinner was served after takeoff and a breakfast was offered an hour and half prior to arrival. Dinner was served traditional first class style, and appetizer, salad and soup are all available, and the entrees were served in a proper plate being plated individually in the galley, instead of a casserole dish. The menu listed a cold breakfast, but an omelet entrée was available too. I think breakfast could wait till an hour prior to landing, and continental breakfast seems sufficient for a seven hours flight. Here is the menu and wine list:
Pacific Rim Dry Riesling, California, 2007
Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino, California, 2008
Wakefield Promised Land Shiraz Cabernet, Australia, 2005
Chateau Greysac Medoc Cru Bourgeois, France, 2002
Seasoned Shrimp with avocado and salsa rosa
Tomato Florentine Soup
Romaine Hearts with tomato and blue cheese
Delta Chef, Michelle Bernstein’s Selection
Roasted Chicken a l’orange
Served with celery puree and stir fried green beans
“My version of a classic dish, with a twist. Truly succulent!” – Michelle Bernstein
Fillet of beef with grain mustard sauce, accompanied by sweet potato wedges, zucchini and yellow squash
Lasagne Pasta Bites tossed with spinach and radicchio in a light gorgonzola sauce, topped with pine nuts
Roast Beef and Gravlax with a deviled egg, hearts of palm and tomato served chilled
Light and Quick
If you would like more time to work or relax, we suggest this chilled entrée as a replacement to the traditional entree
Selected to perfectly complement one another in flavor and texture, offered with fresh fruit
All Natural Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae with your choice of sauces, whipped cream and chopped nuts, garnished with a pirouline cookie
Pre-Arrival Light Meal
Seasonal Fresh Fruit
Oats and Honey Granola Cereal served with milk
(For my flight to London on DL 3, the F/A offered me the following entrée choices:
Swiss Cheese and Mushroom Omelet with grilled tomato, potato cake, and chicken apple sausage)
06/09 BE US-EUROPE-SH C9C (JFK-BRU/DUB/EDI/LHR/MAN/SNN; DTW-LHR)
The F/As were okay – not Singapore Airlines, but good enough for a US carrier. They will smile and the purser was actually quite a fun guy and gave very good service. He was keeping track of what was going on, and later one of the F/As told me that it was their first real flight on the new products too. They were sort of learning how to answer passengers’ questions too. They definitely had seen the seat demo, but in reality, the seats can be tricky too.
In conclusion, I was glad to be able to fly on the brand new Boeing 767-400ERs. Delta service was great in the air and the new food service surpassed any expectation. The new Business Elite seats felt great for a daytime flight, but once placed at the lie-flat positions, the narrowness of the seats really show and make sleeping really difficult, especially for a big guy like me. Lengthwise, it was sufficient, but the seats were rather narrow and not much space for the leg to move around. The new lie flat seats are a slight improvement over the current sleeper seats, but the difference is minimal and I honestly won’t get too disappointed if I get the sleeper seats, instead of the lie flat seats. Delta has much work to do with seat manufacturer.
The current rotation of the aircraft seems to be alternating between LHR-JFK-LHR and LHR-DTW-LHR. So the rotation seems to be:
LHR-JFK-LHR (arriving day 2 morning)
They go back and forth with the new 76D N828MH and the special Skyteam livery N844MH. So far for this week, Monday (June 22, 2009) has the 76C serving the LHR to JFK (DL ¾) flights, and 76D serving the London to Detroit and back flight. So you do the math. JFK flight will see the new 76D on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and DTW will see the new 76D on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and next week will be different. I assume this pattern will go on till maintenance and the arrival of the second and third 76Ds that are being reconfigured in HKG. I hope it helps. Over the past weekend, the rotation seems to go this way, and unless one of the planes have major mechanical problems, you can sort of predict if you will get the new seats or not. I hope it helps!
JKJ777 From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 397 posts, RR: 0 Reply 1, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 30574 times:
Wow, as a HUGE DL nut, I must say that I am not impressed at all by the aesthetics of this new product nor by the comfort it seems to give. Something just does not seem right about this new cabin, and I cannot place my finger on what. Hopefully, as time goes by, more people will be able to report their experiences with this product. In the end, if it is us customers that love the product and will come back to it, that is all that DL cares about. Even if it does not look as luxurious as BA, VS, EK, etc........
Great trip report and thank you for introducing this to all of us.
Wants2fly From United States of America, joined Oct 2002, 84 posts, RR: 0 Reply 4, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days ago) and read 29626 times:
Gate B22 had been used by DL 3 up to few weeks ago when DL added Rome flights from T4 (at least on Saturdays when I was there). I agree with you that Gate B20 area is too small to handle two flights close to each other. Last Saturday (June 20th), DL 3 used the special Skyteam livery at B20
Great report however, enjoyed reading it.
PI4EVER From United States of America, joined May 2009, 599 posts, RR: 2 Reply 5, posted (3 years 11 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 28540 times:
Thank you for the pictures and report on the 76D. I understand that DL itself is not happy with the new BE seats and will retrofit only 7 of the 764's to test customer response before a decision is made how to proceed. Your review and comments should be directed to ATL HQ.
It is apparent DL is not learning from its mistakes. I rode DL3 in May from gate B20 and it was a mirror image of your experience. Very poor showing for DL in such an important local market as JFK-LHR. The employees seemed to be overwhelmed in the small and cramped gate area and struggled boarding our full flight. One observation I noted. Once the BE cabin/elites etc were boarded via the Breezeway lane, an agent stood in this now empty line and would not board any Y passengers. Y was regulated to a one lane boarding process by zone, crowded with people, while Breezeway Agent simply stood with his arms folded observing the hectic scene. Makes you wonder where a supervisor or station manager might be.
Once on the plane, things calmed down as you experienced. Our takeoff was not until 730pm due to the delayed boarding process and a taxiway hold due to LHR slots not permitting an early arrival. I was told the JFK-LHR schedules are padded by at least an hour to allow for typical ATC delays/weather/whatever at JFK, and slot restrictions at LHR that will not permit in most cases an early arrival. Appears to be a gate availability issue at LHR as well.
Overall, I too enjoyed my flight on DL, and will fly them again over the water.....just not through JFK ever again. My third and last experience with JFK in the last two years, when other cities offer much easier transfer/connection/flight experiences. Give me good ole comfortable ATL anyday!
Enough of my rant. Thank you again for a very nice report.
Flavio340 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 180 posts, RR: 0 Reply 7, posted (3 years 11 months 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 27688 times:
How is the room for your feet in fully flat bed position? From your picture is looks like there is very little room. I hate to say it but in the bed mode they look like coffins!!!! Do they give you the option to buy flowers when you are buying your ticket?
Carfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1727 posts, RR: 9 Reply 8, posted (3 years 11 months 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 27621 times:
Awful... there are almost no rooms to manuveur... first I can't really lay flat without feeling constrained... so I tried sleeping on the side, and the little space can just barely contain my two feet placing on top of each other. I can barely get an hour of sleep... I really tried...
However I really don't know how Delta can work around it.
GayStudPilot From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 421 posts, RR: 7 Reply 10, posted (3 years 11 months 4 days ago) and read 26334 times:
Thanks for the TR and photos.
Quoting JKJ777 (Reply 1): I must say that I am not impressed at all by the aesthetics of this new product nor by the comfort it seems to give. Something just does not seem right about this new cabin, and I cannot place my finger on what.
There are a couple of things wrong. First, the blue and white colors used in the cabin are too stark. Second, the materials look really cheap. The environment is not inviting and comfortable looking and does not evoke international sophistication... except perhaps when compared to the coach cabin. I have the same opinion of the herringbone style BE cabin on the 777LR. My bet is that in a couple of years the cabins will look extremely worn and dirty.
Compare to Swiss.
Delta needs a GAY design team.
Unfortunately, Delta stumbled on execution and the result is not world class.
ExFATboy From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 2974 posts, RR: 9 Reply 14, posted (3 years 11 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 25875 times:
Enjoyed the report, great pics!
I have to admit I'm seriously underwhelmed by the new seat - I'm not a big fan of seats that require you to put your feet under something, it looks pretty narrow for business class (especially in a two-class trans-Atlantic format where the upper class is supposed to be more of a business/first hybrid) class seat, and the lack of storage is a major drawback. And why is that panel with the light and power outlet so big?
Okay, it's a "flat sleeper" seat, but frankly Continental's BusinessFirst seats, which I've flown in before, look more comfy, even if not "flat". I really think Delta needs to reconsider its relationship with Thompson Solutions - between this really second-rate business seat and the "Cosy Suite" (a/k/a "The Claustrophobe's Nightmare"), I don't think they have a good grasp of what passengers actually want.
And I feel for you at JFK, DL's product on the ground there is, compared to DL in general, very shoddy...
Carfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1727 posts, RR: 9 Reply 16, posted (3 years 11 months 3 days ago) and read 25348 times:
The guy at #24 is actually the technician working for Thompson Solutions. He actually helps the crew to prepare the cabin, as it was the first flight for this particular set of crew. He also stayed on the flight to LHR. I assume a number of Thompson Solutions' technicians will assist in the cabin during the beginning of the trial period.
Yes I wonder about Swiss new seats. I am indeed flying Swiss new business class in mid-August... I was able to grab an award seat to Muscat via Zurich from JFK on mid-August. I will have the new plane all the way, so I am sure I will find out.
Panamair From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 4584 posts, RR: 26 Reply 17, posted (3 years 11 months 4 hours ago) and read 24445 times:
Thanks for the detailed report and in particular the great pics...
I just flew N828MH operating DL001 JFK-LHR and had a bulkhead window seat. Overall, I think the seat is a big improvement over the current BE seat (though I have never had any problems with the current BE seat maybe except for the width) primarily because of the full-flat sleep position (not an angled lie-flat seat) and the privacy of the single window seats.
Aspects of the seat I liked:
- Fully-flat 180 degree recline of course
- Console on the side with liberal amounts of room to place personal items, drinks, etc.
- Privacy of the single window seats; all seats forward-facing
- Easier to reach AC110V plugs, headphone plugs, etc.
- Ability to have various reclining positions (unlike say with some J seats like NZ, SQ, VS where it's only three options: a) upright; b) one minor recline position; c) fully flat (have to stand up and turn the seat back down to become a full bed)
- Width of seat when in the normal sitting/recline position is actually a bigger than the current generation 767 BE seats
- Larger AVOD PTV screens that don't have to be stowed for takeoff/landings (compared to the current 767s)
- Bed is actually longer than the ones found on the new 77Ls. When in the sleeping position on the 76D, my feet did not touch the 'bottom' of the bed but on the 77L, my feet were always going up against the 'end' of the bed
- Pretty much my own private overhead bin due to the single window seat config.
My two main issues with the seat are:
1) Tray table is a PITA. Maybe I wasn't doing it correctly, but the seat had to be fully upright to get the tray table into place. Once the table was in place however, I had room to be in various recline positions. Stowing the table was easier and I didn't have to be fully upright. Also, when the table is in place, if it's not somehow "locked" properly, too much weight pressure on it can cause the middle to sag and that's not a good thing when you have red wine on the table!
2) Agree that if one were to sleep on one's back that the space is narrow when fully reclined, particularly up at the shoulder/arms level. Larger people sleeping on their backs will not be able to fit their upper torso with arms on the side into the seat when fully reclined; biggest culprit in this case is that the armrest on one side cannot be lowered when in the fully flat position (unlike on AA or UA's new generation J seats where the armrest can be pushed down to give more space when the seat is fully flat).
Most comfortable sleeping position, however, is on the side, and when I did that, I had no problems sleeping straight through for 3.5-4 hours (flight time was a short 6.5 hours). Most people I noticed when I went to the lav were sleeping on their sides.
Maybe because I had a bulkhead, which has a 'cutout' in front instead of another seat, I had no issues whatsoever with the feet area; in fact, there was plenty of room there even in the fully sleeping position, and as mentioned above, my feet never touched the 'bottom' of the bed.
Storage area of the two pouches was fine for me. While a laptop storage area (like on BA) would have been nice, I found the two pouches OK and no worse than most carriers' new J seats and better than say UA's (where personal item storage space is pretty much non-existent).
On the other hand, because of the single seat on the window side, the entire overhead bin was now all mine (previously had to share with the person next to you in a 2-2-2 config) so there was plenty of space for my bags.
Other notes about this new set-up:
- they have now moved both lavatories to the back of the cabin; the front is now all occupied by the galleys
- the aisle area around the bulkhead seats is very very narrow; there is a closet in front of 1B and C which together with the overheads on the 1A / 1D sides, really limits the amount of room.
Overall, I do think this is a nice improvement, and I would take this new seat over the current Business seat any day. Most feedback I heard from other pax who have tried the new seat has been positive though; my seat mate on another LHR-JFK flight last month (in the old config) who had the opportunity to try this new flat seat on an ATL-LHR said that after the full-flat experience, going back to the recliner seats was like going back to Economy!
Carfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1727 posts, RR: 9 Reply 21, posted (3 years 10 months 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 20456 times:
No the seats are not same as Boeing 777-200LRs. The 77L feature a much more comfortable lie flat seats but at a herringbone configuration. The seats are completely different in terms of design and seat manufacturer.
DL seems to lean towards a different seats for the 767s, which feature a narrower cabin. I assume DL will decide whether to reconfigure the whole 767-300s and -400s fleet after more passengers' surveys. Only 12 Boeing 767-400ERs will receive the new seats for now. They will fly the LHR routes mainly!
Panamair From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 4584 posts, RR: 26 Reply 23, posted (3 years 10 months 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 20048 times:
Quoting Carfield (Reply 21): Only 12 Boeing 767-400ERs will receive the new seats for now
When did they change this? Only 7 of the 764ERs that were still flying domestic early this year are scheduled for conversion this year.
Quoting Carfield (Reply 21): The 77L feature a much more comfortable lie flat seats
One better attribute of the 764ER seat is the length of the fully-flat bed - it's longer than on the 77L - my feet actually touch the end of the bed on the 77L but there was still plenty of room on the 764ER.
On a side note, I will not complain about the width of the fully-flat bed on the 764ER anymore after experiencing the BA 3-class 777 Club World bed seat last night from HKG to LHR (my first time with Club World on a 777; hav done plenty of CW flying on the BA 744) - boy was it narrow and tight - even tighter than the DL 764ER seat! With the DL seat, I could fit my arms/shoulder when lying on my back but this was not possible on the BA 777 - I was essentially forced to sleep on my side as there was no way to lie on my back.....