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
Lv1800 Arr0705+1 Boeing 767-400ER N828MH/”1804”
Here is the photo album link with a good amount of cabin and seat photos of the new Boeing 767-400ER.
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
, Delta’s Airbus A330-300 N809NW to AMS
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
Plunkett’s Blackwood Ridge Botryitis Semillion, Australia, NV
Ferreira Dona Antonia Reserve Port, Portugal, NV
Scharffenberger Brut Sparkling Wine, California, NV
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)
US-EUROPE-SH C9C (JFK
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
. So the rotation seems to be:
(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
(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!
I hope you enjoy this short report!