I was on a short business trip to London and Atlanta and had the opportunity to fly cross the Atlantic on SkyTeam partners Delta and Air France in their business cabins. It was really interesting experience to compare the products of the two carriers.
Route: London, LGW to Atlanta, ATL
Flight number: DL11
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 12A, Business Class
STD:09.00, ATD: 09.00
STA:13.20, ATA: 13.05
Date: Tuesday 12th of September
Check-in at LGW's North Terminal was really efficient. I was checking in already at 6.30am. The check-in was pretty crowded but there was plenty of counters for BusinessElite, so after the security profiling I was able to proceed the counter almost immediately. The lady behind the counter was very cheerful considering the time of the day. I had reserved a window seat in the aft cabin of Delta's BusinessElite and the lady said that the seat next to me will probably stay empty...cool! After checking in I went to security control. The lines were really long and slow. Unfortunately, after the 10th of August happenings in UK, the security screening is more or less as humiliating as the US version of it, i.e remove shoes, belts, jackets, everything! I realize it is for our own safety but I really hope that frequent fliers to the US would get some kind of pre-cleared status in order to avoid all the hassle at security. I just hate walking without my shoes at the Airports!
Since this was my first time at LGW in many years I wanted to use the walking bridge to the new satellite terminal. Oh boy, it was really cool feeling to see BA 777 going under my feet! In the bridge they are playing the sounds of a singing bird, I guess it is supposed to be calming and relaxing, but I can also see it being very annoying if you are running late trying to catch your flight! Well, the bridge was nice experience anyway, I managed to get a picture of it from the aircraft.
Then I headed to the departure gate 50. The boarding started approximately 45 minutes prior to departure time. I was one of the first ones to board the flight. Very cheerful female flight attendant was welcoming passengers at the boarding door. I settled quickly to my seat and handed my jacket to the male flight attendant who would be working on my aisle. The whole crew working on this flight was quite junior compared to the usual crews on Trans-Atlantic flights. I was offered champagne and oj (champagne for me, please) and since there was still plenty of time before pushback, I made few work phone calls.
The boarding door was closed almost 10 minutes before nine, so it was time to turn off the mobile and start relaxing. I find the BusinessElite seat on 777 SuperComfy! It is few inches wider than the ones in 767 but those few inches really make the difference! Each seat had the amenity kit, headsets and bottle of water ready. One negative point comes from the colour of the amenity kit, those brownish socks are not the best looking...!
The cabin was almost full but the seat next to me remained empty as the agent at the check-in had promised. I am really social person, but when it comes to flying, I really prefer sitting alone with my thoughts, not talking to anybody except the flight attendants. The hours I am spending up in the air are quality time time just for myself and I really enjoy the peace and quiet. No talking please!
Right next to us was BA's 777 freshly arrived from ATL
While we taxied to the runway, the safety demo was played in the overhead monitors.
I managed to catch some rare birds while taxing. My apologies for the somewhat bad picture quality..my camera is from the stone age (2002), I might need to get a new one..!
Qatar in special livery
We were quickly at the end of the runway and got cleared for take off almost immediately. I just love the powerful take off of the 777, it really gives me the kicks!
And so we are off!
The climb to cruising altitude was quite slow. As soon as we reached it, the flight attendants came across the cabin offering hot towels. The pilots had informed that there might be some bumps on our way right after the departure, but I really could not feel anything...very smooth ride. The flight attendants asked my choice for aperitif and that was really easy to decide...Mile High Mojito! I really can recommend this to everyone...it doesn't taste like real Mojito but it is close enough. I think it's cool that Delta offers the signature cocktails. I saw several passengers choosing the Mojito or Mango Kiss! The drinks were offered with warmed nuts. Excellent!
Me and my Mojito!
Then it was lunch time. I am still very impressed about the fact that Delta does not use the tray service but set the table individually with linens and condiments to each passenger. That is the only way to do it in Business Class, other airlines should really follow Delta's example! The service was very efficient and friendly, not overwhelming, but good enough.
BusinessElite Personalized Dining
Grilled Rosemary Shrimp accompanied by a Daikon and Sweet Pepper Slaw
Mesclun Lettuce Mix with Cucumber Slices, Tomato Wedges and Toasted Pine Nuts, served with Garlic and Sour Cream Dressing or Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Orzo featuring Zucchini, Carrots and Red Peppers
Assorted Breads and Butter
Celebrity Chef Michelle Bernstein's Original Entree
Grilled Tenderloin of Beef with Chimichurri Sauce, accompanied by Corn Polenta with Blue Cheese and sauteed Mushrooms with fresh Thyme
Seared Turbot complemented by Lobster Dill Sauce, presented with Lemon Basmati Rice and Asparagus with grilled Red Bell Peppers
Mushroom Ravioli enhanced by Porcini Mushroom Sauce, tossed with Arugula, diced Tomatoes, Shiitake Mushrooms and chopped Walnuts
Roasted Chicken Breast may be added to this Entree
Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Orzo featuring Zucchini, Carrots and Red Peppers, garnished with shredded Parmesan Cheese
Fruit or Cheese
Sliced, fresh seasonal Fruit
Fine Cheeses selected to perfectly complement one another in flavor and texture, offered with grapes
Premium Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae with your choice of Sauces, Whipped Cream and chopped Nuts, garnished with a Pirouline Cookie
Pretty impressive menu in my opinion!
Pasta with chicken
The quality and quantity of meals were good. I usually choose the Pasta dish when I fly as the carbs make me sleepy and I can easily sleep up to 5-6 hours on a longhaul flight. The fruits were served with crackers which I found very strange...?! The fruits were the weakest link of this meal as I am not big fan of papaya, especially when it is not ripe as was the case here.
After the meal I thought I would watch a movie but the pasta was really working and I was asleep in few minutes. Since I had slept only four hours in the previous night, I slept at least four hours without waking up. When I woke up, I found a fresh bottle of water on the tray between the seats. Nice little feature. I went to the galley to crab some snacks, chips and chocolate. I tried to watch the movies, but there was nothing that I really wanted to watch so I decided to go for the games. Delta used to have Tetris in its game selection. It has since then replaced by more modern version of it, called Volcano. In the beginning I did not liked it so much as it has all kind of gimmicks and I like the simplicity of Tetris. Anyway, I suddenly found out that I have spent almost two hours with that lousy game. I had a good reason end the playing when flight attendants started serving the afternoon snack.
Italian -style Pizza with sliced Tomatoes and Cheese, accompanied by a Garden Salad with Cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes and Olives, served with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Asian Chicken Salad featuring roasted Chicken breast with toasted Sesame Seeds, Snow Peas and Oranges, offered with Sesame Ginger Dressing, Breadsticks and fresh Fruit
I chose the Pizza which was not a good choice as I was not hungry at all. The best part of the snack was the warmed cookie, really yummy! Also, I like the tea selection at Delta. I chose the red one, cannot remember the name but it was good!
The rest of the flight was very uneventful. I checked that I had all my documents ready for the immigration and customs. The plane started its descent to Atlanta. Jackets were distributed at this time. What I was missing the personal good bye from the Onboard Leader. Usually they go around the cabin and thank customers for flying Delta but that did not happened today.
Getting close to ATL
The weather in Atlanta area was very grey and rainy. I tried to take some pictures of Atlanta downtown but no luck with that.
The landing was smooth. We taxied to the gate and disembarked the flight swiftly. As this was one of the first flights arriving from Europe, there was no lines in the immigration and the baggage arrived in less than five minutes after I had reached the baggage claim area. In the security control people who had bought liquid duty-free items were very upset about the fact that they were not allowed to have them in their carry on baggage even if Atlanta was their final destination. I had a bottle of water from the flight in my bag and I was excited to see whats happening with that. My bag was hand-searched by the request of the x-ray screener and the result was that the side pocket of my bag was thoroughly searched, but bag itself remained unopened during this whole process and nobody confiscated my water bottle...! So you see, lot of hassle in the security checkpoints with shoes and everything, and still they manage to miss a bottle of liquid which could have been whatever!!!
After the security, I was approached by a lady who wanted to interview me to Atlanta Business Chronicle. There was also a photographer taking a lot of pictures of me even though I said that i don't feel too photogenic after flying for nine hours! The questions were very simple, about my trip to ATL. After that I went to the baggage hall to reclaim my bag and then headed out to my hotel transportation.
Verdict of the flight
I have to say I am impressed about Delta's BusinessElite everytime when I fly in it. The seats are not the most modern but they are absolutely one of the best seats available, especially in 777. The meals are good quality with lot of choice. Service was very attentive and professional, sometime I have had better service from the more senior attendants, but the "youngsters" working today made still very good job. It feels that the flight attendants really care about the well-being of their customers. And that is a lot in these days! Way to go, Delta!
Oh yes, when I saw the copy of the Atlanta Business Chronicle, guess if there was my photo...? Ehh....what did I said; I am not very photogenic after nine hours flying!
[Edited 2006-09-22 01:12:25]
[Edited 2006-09-22 01:16:44]