First, thanks to everyone who read and commented on my last trip report (UA and BA
First – LHR
). I don’t write these often, so I very much appreciated the comments and feedback received. Your comments and feedback on this report would also be very much appreciated so that my subsequent reports are more comprehensive.
This trip report will detail my recent trip from London-Heathrow to Cincinnati on Delta.
Since moving to London, I have had the privilege of experiencing the Delta lie-flat BusinessElite seat on many occasions. As a result, the 767-400 has become, by far, my favorite aircraft in the Delta fleet. The entire plane feels spacious, light, modern, clean and inviting. And, while I would certainly prefer to fly BusinessElite on this aircraft, on my most recent trip across the pond, I was able to take a tour of the new EconomyComfort product, which looks spectacular. The amount of pitch and recline seems well worth the upgrade from Delta’s standard economy seat.
I booked my ticket in early May as my younger brother was getting married in Cincinnati (my hometown). As I travel quite frequently for work, I had amassed quite a few Delta Skymiles, so I called the UK reservations call center (which is apparently in South Africa) and booked an “M” class ticket and then upgraded using 50,000 Skymiles.
August 12, 2011
Seat 4A (BusinessElite)
Load factor 100% J / 100% Y
I left my flat in Islington (Northeast London) at 7:00am and took a minicab to Heathrow’s Terminal 4 (due to lack of traffic, it only took me about 50 minutes door-to-door). I was surprised that the outside of the terminal was not as busy as it normally is (especially for a Friday morning).
(Outside of Terminal 4’s departure area.)
I made my way into the terminal and headed towards Skyteam’s premium class check in. Again, the crowds of summer travelers that I was expecting to see were not apparent at first glance.
(Terminal 4’s entrance.)
This initial observation, however, proved to be incorrect as I made my way through the terminal. I have never seen the Skyteam check-in area so crowded. Summer travel was still in full force!
Thanks to my BusinessElite ticket, however, I was able to use the premium class Skyteam check-in area, which was not very crowded and quite calm.
(Entrance to Skyteam’s premium class check-in.)
(The mini-lounge area.)
(Skyteam check-in kiosks.)
Within five minutes, my checked baggage was taken and ticketed with a yellow “Priority” tag, and I was on my way to the Skyteam lounge. As with most airlines, Delta BusinessElite customers are able to use the FastTrack line, which made going through security formalities fairly painless.
After passing through security, I did a bit of duty free shopping in the terminal (gifts for mom and sis) and then proceeded to the Skyteam lounge.
(Main departures hall at Terminal 4.)
(Entrance to the Skyteam lounge, which I understand was once a BA
Once I arrived and settled into the lounge, I made my way around to take a few pictures for this trip report. The Skyteam lounge at Heathrow is probably my favorite airline lounge in the world, with the exception of the BA
Terraces lounges at Terminal 5 (sorry, Delta – you are my favorite airline, but BA
’s Terminal 5 lounges are amazing). I love the food on offer, the views, the design and the overall experience. The pictures below should give you a good overview of things.
(View from the lounge – the Delta 767-400 across the tarmac would be mine to JFK
(Seating area – I love the circular design and the “vegetal” wall.)
(My breakfast of champions – I don’t eat eggs, so I stuck with carbs and bacon. When I have flown Air France in the afternoon and taken the evening Delta flight to JFK
, I found the lounge’s lunch offerings to be great, especially the soups.)
(The oxygen bar as seen from the massage chair area – this was new to me. It was not operational, but I plan on trying it the next time I fly home.)
(Getting a chair massage.)
(The buffet area.)
(Second floor of the lounge – pretty much a mirror image of the first floor, but less crowded.)
(The “vegetal” wall again)
(I thought the simplicity of the Skyteam logo with the wood was nice.)
Boarding was called at about 9:15, so I made my way to the gate and used the Sky Priority line to board. The jetways at LHR
feel like they are five miles long, so, after a brisk walk, I finally boarded the plane. I was immediately greeted by the purser who gave me a very warm Delta welcome (after first joking with me for looking too serious – I was focused on getting pictures before things got too crowded!). He ended up taking very good care of me throughout the flight.
After I got settled into my seat, my amateur aviation photography session began.
(View from my seat - 4A.)
I prefer having a window seat on any flight, so I was happy that 4A was available. Moreover, I have found that, given the way the BusinessElite lie-flat seats are “staggered”, the seats that are closer to the aisle (e.g., seat 4A) are more comfortable as they are cooler: it has been my experience that the seats staggered closer to the window/center (if in the middle pairing) can get quite warm in-flight.
(View from my seat.)
(Champagne, my iPad and the new BusinessElite Menu.)
I very much have my “habits” when I fly, placing my iPad, noise cancelling headphones and phones in the same location as soon as I sit down!
As always, lunch orders were taken on the ground, and I was asked if I would like to purchase duty free during the flight. We left about five minutes before scheduled departure time and then made our way to the runway. This time, it felt as though we cut the queue of airplanes awaiting take-off and went directly from the gate to the runway.
(Turning for take-off)
Take-off was exhilarating as always, and we made a very smooth ascent. The IFE was immediately turned on, so I made my way through the movie selection and decided to watch “Paul” (only because Jason Bateman was in it – I was a huge “Arrested Development” fan). Within a few minutes, hot towels were distributed, and I had a Bloody Mary in hand. At this point, it finally sunk in that I was on vacation for the next two weeks!
Lunch was then served. Unfortunately, I misplaced the menu that accompanied my lunch, so I am going off of memory. The pictures should give you a pretty good idea of what I ate.
(Thai shrimp with mixed vegetables and some sort of bisque – all very good.)
(Mixed greens salad with peppercorn sauce and the remains of some pretzel bread – my absolute Delta favorite.)
(Grilled chicken with asparagus and mashed potatoes – this was not very good at all and, sadly, probably the most disappointing meal that I have ever had on Delta – it lacked flavor and was cold.)
I opted not to have desert and tried to get some sleep. I did, of course, have several additional Bloody Mary’s at the insistence of the very friendly and attentive purser.
(View of the cabin before I took a nap.)
I actually got quite a bit of sleep and awoke just in time for the pre-arrival snack. I opted for the chicken sandwich and a Diet Coke. It came with a salad (already eaten) and some great chocolate, all of which was really tasty.
(The pre-arrival snack.)
(Watching “Modern Family” as we descended towards JFK
We landed and taxied to Terminal 4 at JFK
, my preference (except when you have to make a connection in Terminal 2 or 3). I made it through passport control in record time and my bag was already waiting for me at the carousel. I decided to walk rather than take to the AirTrain over to Terminal 2. Upon arrival, I went through security again, using the Sky Priority line, and headed for the Terminal 2 SkyClub (I still call it the Crown Room and probably always will).
(Much like everything at JFK
, the lounge was nothing to write home about.)
Boarding was later called for my connecting flight to Cincinnati.
August 12, 2011
Seat 3A (First)
Load factor 100% F / 90% Y
Boarding commenced about 20 minutes prior to departure from gate 25.
(The multi-flight gate 25.)
(Leg room was actually pretty good, and I was happy to be on the side of the plane with only one seat.)
We pushed back on time and also had a very expeditious taxi to the runway. At this point, I was exhausted and content to stare out the window. I did, however, take a quick shot of the cabin before the snack service commenced.
As I have said many times, Delta is my favorite airlines, and I am always thrilled when I fly on them for work and for pleasure. Their mainline flight attendants are professional, poised and personable (look at the alliteration I managed to create). However, in my opinion (and, I know I am going to get a lot of feedback and flack for this), the level of professionalism on the connection carriers is not at all on par with that of the mainline flights. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have had some lovely connection flights and had some wonderful crews (so this is not meant to be a sweeping statement, but more of a general observation). This particular crew was a bit disheveled and basically threw a few snacks and drinks in front of us, barely mustered a smile and then returned to the galley to gossip. However, I respect what they do and have no idea what leg this was in their day. In the end, I did get a very big and sincere thank you from the First Class flight attendant.
We landed earlier, and my family picked me up to take me to dinner.
As always, Delta provided an amazing travel experience across the pond, and, despite knowing that it meant I would have to return to work, I looked forward to my return flight home via Boston (a first time for me).
Now, let’s fast-forward to the return trip…
After an incredible couple of days with friends and family (and trips to the pool, King’s Island and, of course, my brother’s wedding), it was time for me to make my way back to London.
I left for the airport with my mom, who was flying to ABQ
to see family, at around 1pm.
(My hanging bag and trustee backpack ready to go.)
I had my mom drop me off at the Sky Priority check in area so that I could self-check-in a bit earlier (given my flight was international).
Check-in was quick and, again, my bags were taken and tagged with the yellow “Priority” tag. I was invited to the Skyclub (still, and especially at CVG
for me, the Crown Room) as I waited for my flight. I wasn’t planning on going to the lounge before the flight, but a fellow a.netter made a request in my last trip report, so I couldn’t skip that part of the experience!
(Check-in area – I was sad to see it was not busy given the cuts at CVG
but was pleasantly surprised at how busy the airport was after I passed through security, apparently a theme for this trip.)
(Looking towards the new security area – CVG
is such a nice airport. I really think Delta needs to reevaluate its position at CVG
(The Skyclub at Concourse B.)
(View from the Skyclub – it was sad to see RJs at the old mainline domestic gates.)
(Entrance to the Skyclub – note the sparsely populated arrival and departure boards.)
I left the Skyclub after about 10 minutes, as I wanted to eat Chik-fil-A before I left for Boston! It’s one of my guilty pleasures!
’s food court.)
(A surprisingly (albeit moderately) busy Concourse B – the security line was also quite long for both premium and economy class customers.)
August 22, 2011
Seat 2A (First)
Load factor 100% J / 95% Y
After visiting with my mom until the very last minute, I boarded the plane and took my window seat. I purposefully selected seat 2A, as I liked that it was close to the front of the cabin but not a bulkhead seat. Out of all of the aircraft in the Delta fleet, I have spent probably the most time on the MD
-88 and really enjoy flying as close to the front as possible as it is pretty silent. I also like the lack of IFE because it’s one of the few planes where you still get the live safety demonstration (I am sure that I just out-geeked myself – obviously IFE is a plus!).
(My seat to Logan.)
(Obligatory leg room shot.)
(Delta 737-800 about to push back for LAX
As suspected, we had a very smooth and quiet take-off. Once we leveled out, drinks and snacks were served. Of note, the flight boarded late, so there was no ground service, so my habitual Delta Bloody Mary had to wait until we were airborne.
(My Bloody Mary with Sunchips and “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”.)
It had been several years since I had flown into BOS
, so I was excited when we started making our initial approach. I unfortunately did not get any good shots of the city, but below is the best that I could get.
(About to land – apologies for the glare.)
After we landed and taxied to the “A” gates, I made my way to the Skyclub. I only had about an hour before my connecting flight to LHR
departed, so I had to take pictures and grab a snack in a relatively limited amount of time.
(Stairs to the Skyclub.)
(Very clean signage as you approached the doors to the lounge.)
(Entrance to the BOS
(Nice views from inside – 757 to CDG
(Inside of the Skyclub – I actually prefer the décor of the Skyclub at CVG
but would welcome any thoughts.)
(Delta passport holder with my snack – cheese and carrots with Ranch dressing (which was really, really good – perhaps I was just hungry.)
After about 15 minutes in the lounge, they called boarding for my flight to LHR
. I made my way to gate A19 and then, once again, boarded using the Sky Priority lane.
(Passengers making their way to the gate.)
(My beautiful bird across the pond.)
August 22, 2011
Seat 4A (BusinessElite)
Load factor 50% J / 65% Y
After reaching the boarding door, I was welcomed on-board by an extraordinarily gracious purser. She gave me a big smile, welcomed me and referred me to another flight attendant who then escorted me to my seat and took my drink order. As usual, the cabin was spotless, bright and airy. Even though I travel all of the time, for some reason, the “energy” in the cabin was superb, and I knew that this flight, despite being only six hours and 55 minutes in duration, was going to be above average.
(Walking to seat 4A.)
(An initially very empty BusinessElite cabin.)
(I was bored and decided to take pictures of the gate area.)
(Obligatory leg room shot – note the new Delta cabin socks!)
(Note again my pre-departure habit – however, the headphones are in a different place, but I later moved them to be back so as to be maniacally conformed ☺).
As we were waiting for push-back, the purser stopped by several times to talk to me. She had a glowing smile and was genuinely nice and interested in our conversation. She asked many times about my brother’s wedding, what I did in London and how I liked the flat-bed seat. She also noticed some AA
tickets and jokingly said that those were not allowed on-board. She was awesome, and I made sure that Delta knew about how lovely she was. As is usual, she took my dinner order on the ground, asked if I wanted duty free and checked to see if I wanted to be woken up for breakfast. We both laughed when I said, “Let’s see” given the length of the flight.
We pushed back and took off quickly. Hot towels were then expeditiously distributed. Following this, cocktails were served. I went for a gin and tonic with the warm nuts (after all, it was now the evening).
(Table set with warm nuts and my cocktail – note the new linens.)
At this point, I first got to experience the new Delta BusinessElite dinner linens and place setting. In addition, on the ground we received the new toiletry kits, which were upgraded with better socks, an improved toothbrush/toothpaste and other amenities.
The first course was subsequently served on the new wooden tray. It was truly delicious.
(Seared five spice tuna and Asian noodle salad, tomato and basil soup and mixed green salad – note that the salad is now served together with the appetizer and soup.)
After seriously considering asking for another portion of the appetizer, the main course was served.
(Braised beef short ribs with red wine sauce, parsnip puree and five spice baby carrots.)
Exactly as the purser described the dish, the meat was moist and tender and spectacular. I was really pleased and would have to rate this dish the best that I have ever had on any Delta flight.
I was one happy camper at this point, as everything about this flight had been perfect. The service was spot-on, the mood in the cabin was inviting and the food was excellent. I was so pleased and already thinking ahead as to when I could book my next Delta BusinessElite trip home. Finally, the purser convinced me to have desert, so I opted for the sundae with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and chopped nuts. With this, I also had a glass of the Ferreira Dona Antonia Reserve Porto.
(A great way to conclude a superb great meal service.)
After the plates were cleared, I ordered another Porto, bought some duty free and decided to finish watching “Insidious”, a horror movie that I stupidly decided to download for my flight back.
(“Insidious” was actually pretty scary – not so much the plot, which was ridiculous, but the sinister background music stayed in my mind the whole flight.)
After the movie was over, I took a quick shot of where we were in the flight and decided to turn in for the “evening”.
(The moving map.)
I ended up sleeping through breakfast and basically woke up when we were on final approach to Heathrow. Though groggy, it was nice to wake up and be only five minutes or so from landing. We taxied directly to Terminal 4, and I deplaned, once again thanking the amazing crew for their excellent level of service. Since we were among the first international arrivals, there was hardly any queue for passport control, so I didn’t need to use the Fast Track pass that I was given. My bag was again ready for me once I got to the baggage claim area so my transit time from plane to arrivals was next to nothing. I opted to skip the arrivals suite for BusinessElite passengers and went straight to the Heathrow Express. I was at my flat by 7:45am and went back to bed until noon (I always take the day off when I arrive from the States, as I have found it to be a very long day if I go straight into the office).
As always, Delta exceeded my expectations. Everything from the seat to the service (especially on the BOS
leg) was superb. Many thanks to Delta for another wonderful crossing. I look forward to my next Delta flight.