Inside Delta’s £3k business class cabin from London to New York – then returning in economy (and missing the posh-seat perks from the gourmet pork sandwiches to Hi-Fi headphones)
- The pictures here compare leg room and the chicken dinners served in business and economy
- They also reveal the marked difference in TV screen sizes and the ‘cocoonability’ of the top tier seats
- Here we also uncover how celebrities are whisked through airports using a $250 VIP meet and greet service
It’s the age of the wow factor when flying business class these days with airlines offering the likes of double beds and bars when you turn left.
Delta Air Lines doesn’t have either, but it does serve one of the most downright delicious Cuban pork sandwiches to those paying top whack on its flights. It contains pork loin, smoked ham and Swiss cheese and eating one is a messy moment of magic at 38,000ft – so good it’s almost worth classing as a ‘wow factor’.
I tackled one while flying in Delta’s business class cabin (the carrier calls it ‘Delta One’) from London Heathrow to New York on an A330-200 recently – and I flew economy on the way back a week later to see what the difference is between a £700 ($930) ticket and a £3,000 ($4,000) ticket. Quite a bit, it turns out.
The high life: Ted flew in Delta’s ‘Delta One’ business class cabin (pictured) from London to New York
All smiles: No wonder Ted is beaming. He’s enjoying a movie here using Hi-Fi headphones by LSTN
The Delta One seats cocoon passengers nicely, as you can see – and the 15.4in entertainment screen is very good. It’s even bigger on Delta’s A350s – 18 inches
On approach to New York, Ted was served this mouthwatering Cuban pork sandwich. A food ‘wow factor’
One of the highlights of flying Delta One from Heathrow arrives before you take off – having access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (Virgin is a codeshare partner with Delta).
This is a top-tier lounge experience that’s akin to being inside a swanky five-star, cocktail-bar harbouring hotel.
I was with my partner and our ten-month-old baby and we were a bit stressed because she was in a tantrum-y frame of mind, but the excellent Clubhouse staff soothed away our worries with prompt deliveries of Eggs Royale/Benedict, juices and coffees. All complimentary.
Once on board I didn’t get to turn left because my Delta One seat – 9J – was on the right-hand side as you enter, just in front of the main cabin.
The seats are laid out in Herringbone style so those by the window – such as mine – are gloriously private, pointing away from all the other passengers.
I sipped a welcome glass of bubbles (I’m fairly sure it was Prosecco, despite Champagne being on the actual wine list) and took in my luxury lair.
To Ted’s right was a handy shelf where he could gather the essentials for the journey – amenity bag and headphones (to the left), serviette, pacifier for the baby to help with changes in air pressure, a bottle of water, the menu and a glass of bubbles
Once the the tray table was out it was time to lay out the goodies from the amenity bag and nibble some nuts
Cocooning in the Delta One cabin is helped by chunky arm rests (left) and seat customisation is achieved at the touch of a button (right)
I quickly opened the amenity kit, by fancy bag maker Tumi, which contained hand lotion and lip balm by Kiehl’s, Crest toothpaste, a toothbrush, mouthwash, ear plugs, a plastic pen, an eye mask, a pair of socks and ‘ultra soft’ tissues. I’m never that fussed by amenity bags but I know that many find them a profoundly joyful perk.
Then it was time to gleefully fiddle with the buttons for manoeuvring the seat.
In all there are 12 separate movements available – impressive – and three further buttons that recline the seat in one go, bring it back upright and turn it into a lie-flat bed.
Though others I’ve experienced have a massage function, too.
Still, I was able to make myself extremely comfortably and my 5ft 10in frame had plenty of space in which to stretch out.
One of the highlights of flying Delta One from Heathrow arrives before you take off – having access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (pictured)
Ted doffed his cap to the five-course meal, which included prawns with cucumber relish (pictured). Baby toy not included
The main course was marinated chicken thigh with creamy potato leek ragout and sugar snap peas (pictured). Scroll down to see a picture of the chicken dinner offered in Delta’s economy class cabin on the return journey
And while storage space is somewhat lacking, I loved the way the structure cocooned me. I was cosy within seconds after bringing up the aisle-side armrest (Delta One seats on its newer A350 planes even have a privacy screen).
It’s hats off for the five-course meal and wine, too.
On top of the aforementioned pork-based baguette bonanza I feasted on prawns with cucumber relish (very refreshing) marinated chicken thigh with creamy potato leek ragout and sugar snap peas (tender, nicely cooked meat) and an ice cream sundae and a chocolate ganache (truly delicious).
All this was accompanied by a glass of Guigal Cotes du Rhone red wine, Nisia Old Vines Verdejo Rueda white wine from Spain and a tremendous glass of port.
The wine list is by master sommelier Andrea Robinson, who certainly seems to have earned the fancy job title.
The service, meanwhile, from clearly very-well drilled staff, was consistently gracious and attentive throughout.
Getting his just desserts: A chocolate ganache was one of two sweets Ted ate, thanks to the friendly cabin crew
This ice cream sunday formed dessert No2. At this point in the flight, Ted was definitely won over by the Delta business class offering
Delta has upgraded its cabin on its new A350 aircraft, with the seats featuring privacy screens and 18in HD TV screens (pictured)
The icing on the cake was the generously dimensioned entertainment screen – it measures 15.4in (the screen sizes are even bigger – 18 inches – in the A350 Delta One cabin).
And there really is no need to take your own headphones if you’re flying Delta One because your ears are treated to Hi-Fi quality sound thanks to a free pair of LSTN headphones, which have an eye-catching hipster faux-wooden veneer.
The extra icing on top of the icing was the Wi-Fi. I paid £20 for access that lasted for the duration of the flight – the free service option only permits messaging via WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger – and was amazed by how fast it was.
I landed with a post-pampering grin and it wasn’t about to be wiped off my face by the dreaded U.S customs experience, because we were escorted through by a Delta agent (see boxout for more on this).
This service costs around $250 and means you’re whisked to the front of the queue and given help with luggage. We were told that celebrities and royalty use this service regularly.
We had a car seat, buggy, travel cot, a huge heavy suitcase and two carry-on bags, so this was a truly golden moment on the journey.
Our agent, Derek, once we’d emerged into arrivals then helped me make an Uber booking and even assisted with loading the luggage into the car.
On the journey back – an overnight flight that took off on a Saturday and landed at Heathrow on Sunday morning (my girlfriend took our one business class seat) – I was in economy on get-baby-to-sleep duty.
The Delta lounge at JFK features a bar and seating with handy plug points for charging devices. The drinks menu contains a range of free drinks and premium beverages you have to pay for. Ted and his partner tried and very reasonable free sauvignon blanc. There is also a complimentary buffet serving pasta and rice dishes. The lounge is good, but the lighting felt a bit antiseptic, writes Ted
The Sky Deck of the Delta Sky Club at JFK. There’s certainly plenty of room for those with access to the lounge to stretch out in
On the return trip to London Ted sat in the ‘Comfort+’ section, pictured. This is the top tier economy seat on Delta flights
Ted was all smiles in economy at the start the start of the journey (left). The image on the right hows that he was able to stretch right out
NEGOTIATE THE AIRPORT CELEBRITY-STYLE WITH DELTA’S VIP SERVICE
Want to follow in the footsteps of celebrities through the airport? Then book Delta’s VIP Select service, because many of them use it so they’re whisked through customs and don’t have to struggle with heavy baggage.
In Delta’s own words: ‘Our VIP Select travel specialists greet clients and expedite each step of the travel experience – from curbside to planeside and everywhere in between. They are the perfect combination of personal assistant and airport navigator to make travel completely worry free for high-profile clients and their travel companions.
Every VIP experiences: Complete coordination of the entire airport experience; greeter service curbside and/or at the arrival gate; assistance with baggage and porter service; complimentary access to Delta Sky Club; discreet boarding at a preferred time; 24/7 flight monitoring and rebooking assistance and full confidentiality and protection of identity and travel plans.’
It’s available at Atlanta, Detroit, LA, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York JFK and LaGuardia, San Francisco, Seattle and Salt Lake City
For the Delta VIP airport service email [email protected] or call 1.855.235.2FLYVIP (1.855.235.9847).
Before we boarded we put her in her pyjamas in the moderately stylish – but antiseptically lit – Delta One lounge (Sky Club), charged our phones, shared a complimentary glass of sauvignon blanc and nibbled some pasta from the buffet.
Our 10-month-old got a lie-flat bed in both directions in the form of a bassinet that was attached to the economy/first-class divider at the front of the main cabin (the bulkhead).
So she was sorted.
Dad had more of a struggle.
My seat was the top economy seat, which we paid £714.20 for – known as a Delta Comfort+ seat.
It comes with some handy extra touches – priority boarding and extra legroom, for instance.
I could actually stretch right out.
The fodder was also pretty good. For dinner I opted for seared rosemary chicken breast fillet with oven roasted red-skinned potatoes, broccoli florets and petite Parisian served with salad, bread and dessert.
I chose red wine to quaff with it.
Verdict? It wasn’t as tasty as it sounds in writing but the chicken was very succulent indeed and the red wine, for an economy offering, really not bad at all.
Other pluses in Comfort+ included a comfortable seat, a fairly decent entertainment screen (nine inches) and the service, while not Delta One style, was admirable. I felt well looked after.
The entertainment screen (pictured) in economy is nine inches. Quite a step down from Delta One, but perfectly adequate
The Comfort+ amenity kit and free earphones (left) and the ‘hot towel’ on the right, which is actually a warm serviette
You’ve seen the business class chicken dinner, now behold the economy version. Plus points were the wine and the quality of the chicken. But the tray it was served on slid alarmingly around the tray-table, Ted writes
I was given a pillow and blanket, too – standard economy quality though, no-where near as luxurious as the slumber-baiting Delta One offering by Westin Heavenly – and an amenity kit containing toothpaste, an eye mask and earplugs.
You get a ‘hot towel’, too. Though technically it’s a warm serviette. In Delta One you’re given an actual hot towel, naturally.
Niggles, however, presented themselves. The cabin seemed quite hot to me and the air vent above me was hard to reach from a sitting position and I couldn’t really feel the air flow.
The meal was tricky to tackle, too, because it came on a tray that slid alarmingly around the fold-away table.
And the free earphones, sorry Delta, were diabolical, producing a thin, tinny sound.
But then, I’ve yet to experience economy class earphones offered by any airline that weren’t.
The elusive breakfast that Ted never got to eat because his baby daughter woke up just after it was delivered. He can vouch for the quality of the Delta economy coffee, though
Delta currently operates Airbus A330-200 aircraft (pictured) between London and New York
Delta flies twice daily between London Heathrow and New York-JFK. Fares start at £241 plus £169.61 taxes for ‘Main Cabin’ and £2,493 plus £247.61 for Delta One. Delta offers connections to more than 60 destinations at JFK throughout North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ted used Uber for his onward journey from JFK. Uber is available in over 600 cities across 65 countries.
And that’s why I always pack in-ear Sennheiser’s. So all was well on the sonic front.
The other downside to the return flight was more troubling – I didn’t get a wink of sleep. I never can sleep sitting up though so Delta remains blameless for this. And I forgot my travel pillow.
About an hour from London breakfast was served but my baby daughter woke up and needed feeding just as it arrived so I’m afraid I can’t comment on it other than to say that it looked nice and the coffee, which I gulped down as the wailing threatened to crescendo, was smooth.
My partner, meanwhile, had clocked up four solid hours sleep on her lie-flat bed and slept so soundly she missed breakfast.
And maybe that tells you all you need to know about Delta One. Dreamy.
Would YOU take a young baby on an overnight long-haul flight? How I kept my 10-month-old (and the rest of the cabin) happy during the 6hr journey back to London
My 10-month-old baby daughter is already pretty well travelled – we’ve taken her on flights to Provence and back (where her mum is from), on TGVs and the Eurostar and is well used to London’s Tube trains and its often very busy buses.
But taking her on an overnight transatlantic flight from New York to London filled me with dread – and even made her adventurous, confident mum a tad nervous.
After all, we’d be in a plane full of passengers wanting to sleep. And we didn’t want our precious cargo to provoke air rage with wailing.
In the end, all was well.
For any parents contemplating flying with Delta it’s worth noting that its seatbelt policy on take-off is to leave the sign on right the way up to cruising altitude at around 38,000ft, which is quite a long time.
My baby decided to have a bit of a tantrum on the way out as we taxiied and took off, which became a bit stressful.
I just gave her anything she was interested in grabbing just to keep her occupied.
In both directions the cabin crew fitted a bassinet to the economy class/Delta One divider and she got a few hours’ sleep on both journeys, which was a huge relief. We requested the bassinet the moment we boarded and on the way back put her in pyjamas in the lounge toilet.
Each way we made sure that all the key baby-calming objects were at the very top of our bags or in our pockets or in the seat pockets – pacifiers, favourite toys, bottles of milk (it’s important babies suck on a bottle/nipple on take-off/landing to help equalise the pressure in their ears) – and that we had a changing bag containing nappies and a fresh change of clothes.
We also got chatting to our seat-mates straight away and made some pre-emptive apologies. They were really understanding though – even when she made multiple attempts to crawl onto their laps.
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