Well everyone, this is my first trip report and I'll start off by saying unfortunately I did not take any pics. So I'll try to make up with the details. I'll break it down by flight segments.
09/19/05 DL 356 MIA - ATL
This was the typical DL 764 service that I've become so acustomed to out of Florida. First let me say that the TSA in MIA is a joke. I attempted to use the security line for first class through security... instead I waited just as long as everyone else while the agent proceeded to eat her lunch in front of us. Upon arrival to the gate, I didn't even bother going to the Crown Room. If you've ever been to the DL Crown Room Club in MIA, you'll know why. It's the size of a closet and horribly dreadful. Fortunately though, my timing was decent and boarding began about 15 minutes after I sat down. Upon boarding the aircraft and taking my seat, an EXTREMELY wonderful FA offered me a drink. I say wonderful because she must have been the most pleasant, outstanding and helpful FA I've seen on DL in years! My partner who was flying with me joked with her during the flight that we'd love to offer her a job in our company because of her personality... and while she laughed as she said it... her comment was "well you know, we're all looking for jobs now." It's an unfortunate reality and I hope that DL and their employees pull through this. Anyway, the service in first is still dreadful from the standpoint that wine was served in plastic cups and we were offered either peanuts, granola bars or Sun Chips. Granted, the flight was under 2 hours... but come on DL... plastic cups?! Also, do I really need to comment on just how tight those seats are for even domestic first?? I can live with them being narrow... but at least give them some more recline. Overall the flight was uneventful as we arrived in ATL...
09/17/05 DL 172 ATL - JFK
Having never flown on one of the internationally configured 763's... I was looking forward to the experience. I quickly proceeded to my connection in the international T concourse at Atlanta (the incoming flight arrived in the A concourse) since there was only a 41 minute layover scheduled. When I arrived at the gate, boarding was delayed approximately 30 minutes while they 'cleaned' the aircraft according to the gate announcements... however, I did hear more than one gate agent comment about how no one was allowed on the aircraft until they 'cleared it' after the 'security sweep'... not sure what that was all about. Regardless, we eventually boarded the aircraft and I was pleased to see how much leg room there was between the rows in BE (after having just come from a 764!). My pleasure was quickly replaced by disappointment when I sat down. I'm not sure if the seats are just worn, but literally there was no cushion to the seat... to the point that I had to shift in my seat every 10 to 15 minutes because it hurt. Imagine flying on a place with concrete benches... that's what it felt like. I was also a bit surprised when I overheard the FA's conversing... and no one could figure out how to start the safety video... almost as if it were their first day. The only good surprise about this flight was actual food! Granted it was very little, but the turkey wrap with some sort of corn/bean salad was a welcomed change from Sun Chips. Upon arrival at JFK... we landed... and sat on the taxi way for 1 hour and 15 minutes... I kid you not. Aparently JFK has a severe international departure rush hour in the early evening and we hit it. Combined with a very old layout, the taxi ways simply could not handle the traffic. The DL terminal itself is a disgrace... while I don't mind 'retro'... falling-apart-retro is another story. The driver who met us at the airport (we stayed in NYC a few days before continuing on to London) commented that DL was one of the worst airlines at JFK and was known for ungodly delays. So... after sitting on the taxi ways for an hour... we spent another 45 minutes in baggage claim waiting for luggage which was stuck on the aircraft due to 'a jammed locking mechanism' as stated by the DL agent. Overall, I understand the lock malfunction and the taxi way delays aren't DL's direct fault, but the condition of their seats are... and they need to make some changes. I was considering flying DL BE to EXE in January, but decided against it after flying the 763 for just 2 hours.
09/20/05 VS 010 JFK - LHR
Okay, so after a brief visit in my favorite American city... it was back to JFK, but this time for my flight on VS. Obviously the terminal where VS departs from is a polar opposite from the DL terminal. Modern... clean... bright... all things I could say to describe the place. Anyhow, I proceeded to the upperclass check-in for VS which seemed to take far longer than any other check-in I've ever done. I'm not quite sure why things were so slow... but it wasn't just myself who made that comment. After the luggage was weighed and tagged... we were informed to carry it over to the x-ray machine near the entrance to the gate area. This was unexpected but from what I understand, several US airports are operating this way now... however, what was really interesting is that you just drop the bags at the x-ray machine... and leave... you don't need to wait until they actually go through the machine. So after that, I went to the VS lounge which was actually very interesting. First it had a fun atmosphere and it lacked 'real' walls and ceilings in the sense that it was open to the rest of the terminal. Overall the service inside the lounge could have been better (the servers were too busy watching tv at the bar); however, one was kind enough to tell me to connect to the wireless access points from either Swiss or Varig since they were free but VS would charge. Boarding began 1 hour prior to departure (which I thought was a bit early...) and I took my seat in upperclass on a very nice A346. This was my first time flying the A346 and I was pleasantly surprised, although I think it's the VS version (lighting, chrome-esk handles on the window shades, bar, seat arrangement, etc.) that made it so nice. Since the flight departed at 11PM, I opted to eat dinner in the lounge and go right to sleep after takeoff. Let me say though... the A346 feels very slow down the runway and I was starting to wonder if it would get off the ground. The upperclass seats on VS are definitely unique and the truly flat surface is a plus, but they are slightly on the narrow side and still too short for me (I'm 6'3" thought...). After flipping the bed back into a seat and changing back into my normal clothes, we were served breakfast and shortly thereafter landed at LHR. Breakfast onboard was decent... but nothing to write home about. Two comments about the upperclass suite: 1. Looking out the window is very difficult... and I LOVE looking outside and 2. Even without the douvet on top of me, I was still horribly warm throughout the flight and kept waking up from it. Oh... and be prepared to brace yourself upon landing when the thrust reversers are deployed... otherwise your head may come very close to impacting the reading light in front of you from your body trying to continue to move forward as the plane slows.
09/29/05 VS 005 LHR - MIA
Finally, the last leg to the trip (I'm sure I'm boring some of you!). I was actually looking forward to this leg the most since it was a day flight and I could play with the AVOD system that everyone raves so much about on VS. Let me first say that VS definitely has some of the most attractive FA's I've ever seen... male and female. Not only are they painfully good-looking, but sweet as well. I've always said personality is key... and they have it! Upon arriving at LHR, I went to the VS lounge (well half of it... since they haven't opened the rest yet). Again, very unique (fun and playful) atmosphere which is typical VS. The food was decent... I had a full English breakfast there prior to boarding BUT the staff could not get orders right for the life of them. Several passengers around me complained and one table received the wrong order 3 times. The one thing I noticed about LHR is just how far the gates are... I'm wondering if this is just how they treat certain airlines and where their flights depart from. Anyway, the flight departed LHR and again I wondered if it would get off the runway (we were on another A346). Shortly after departure, lunch orders were taken and I opted for a chicken dish which wasn't too bad. Small things catch my attention such as the fact that the meal trays are inside a linen tablecloth/envelope sort of thing... rather than a loose tablecloth being laid out first. The AVOD system was definitely nice with a wide selection of movies BUT it was slow at time... the map part of the system crashed... oh, and they really should have a pause feature so that you can go from viewing a movie to say the map feature and back to the movie, without having to restart the whole movie from the beginning. The seat itself was comfortable however since it does not stretch out to a flat surface like most other seats (this one flips over itself), the recline isn't as much as I would have liked it to be. Afternoon tea was served about an hour before landing in MIA right as we hit the roughest air of the whole trip... go figure. Overall I was still very impressed by the VS upperclass experience but it could still use some improvements... the food being one of them. Upon arrival to MIA, we were met by 5 armed officers at the boarding door (not sure why) and the ever so common unfriendly passport control agents. By the way... why is it that people (who live in the US) don't understand when you visit Cuba and you want to come back to the US... you NEED a letter of permission and you need to show it at passport control. There were 5 people alone in the same line as myself who didn't grasp this concept. I did have to laugh though... after proceeding through customs (after baggage claim), customs agents were yelling at one man because he stopped to look at a picture on the wall! He tried to explain that he was just looking at the picture and they told him "if we wanted you to look at the picture, there'd be a sign... but there's not... so KEEP MOVING." All I could say is... Welcome back to the US!
Anyway, that's my trip... hopefully someone might find this writeup helpful... and if not, sorry. Oh... and VS... I know you're trying to serve a British menu onboard, but the selection of food I had onboard AF last year in F was so much better in my opinion.