I arrived at London Heathrow’s T4 at 11h20 for my 13h05 departure. The main check-in area for Delta is in Zone F, and for business class passengers and top-tier members of Delta’s frequent flyer scheme, Skymiles, there is a screened-off area (H) with self-service check-in kiosks and several desks for Delta and other Skyteam members. There was no queue at check-in or security.
Delta uses Skyteam’s lounge at T4, which is over two floors. It is impressive, with sleep cabins, a bookable VIP area, a spa with massage chairs and an oxygen bar (not working when I visited), computers, Playstations, newspapers and magazines, TVs and departure screens. Food is served in four cycles – breakfast 05h00-11h00, lunch 11h00-15h00, tea 15h00-17h00 and dinner 17h00-22h15.
As a result of extra security checks following the attempted bombing of the Delta/NWA Christmas Day flight, Delta’s services have moved from Gates 7-9 to Gates 22-25, a longer walk. Some 55% of flyers face the new checks. At about 12h10 I walked to the gate, was one of the 45% not to be searched, and turned left on board the plane to find my window seat, 3A. My jacket was quickly taken and I was offered water, juice or champagne.
The B767-400ER has Delta’s new fully flat Business Elite seat, configured 1-2-1. Seats are staggered so that your legs run alongside the person in front, albeit boxed in by the surround of the seat. This means you don’t sit close to anyone, have plenty of space and direct aisle access.
The seat is simple to use with preset positions, as well as buttons to alter recline and lumbar support. There is power, both USB and for US plugs. The tray table flicks out of the side arm in a slightly alarming manner, threatening to slice you in half before stopping just in time, but is firm and strong. The touchscreen in-flight entertainment system was audio-video on-demand with a good choice of films. A bottle of water and an amenity pack were waiting for me. As I found out on the return overnight trip, the seat is comfortable as a bed, and long enough for anyone of six foot or less. Still, there isn’t a lot of room around your shoulders because the seat reclines into the same hard shell that it occupies when upright. Also, the arms do not drop down, which is slightly constricting.
Which seat to choose?
There was less footfall around the front few rows, although the meals were served from here. Avoid row one, which is slightly exposed to the galley, and the back row, ten. Choose A or D if travelling alone. If you like being by the window and having some protection from the aisle, opt for rows three, five or seven.
The flight pushed back at 13h05, then taxied slowly and didn’t seem to move for 30 minutes. No announcements were made until just before take-off. Once in the air, we were offered drinks and nuts before the food service began. To start there was Serrano ham with celery remoulade, cream of cauliflower soup, and caprese salad. I assumed these were choices but was offered all three, and refused only the soup. They were fine, if uninspired. The mains included fillet of beef with horseradish sauce, potatoes and asparagus, and spiral pasta with vegetables, tomato sauce and ricotta cheese (underwhelming). Service was professional and a light meal was served pre-arrival.
Prior to landing we were told a video they wanted to show us about Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport had not been loaded on to the aircraft. At the time I thought nothing of it – until I got there and experienced the arrival process at one of the world’s largest airports. We landed early at 17h40 and were quickly at the stand. From here I walked to immigration, where there was a 20-minute queue, then I waited ten minutes for my luggage. After a short queue at customs, I had to give away my checked baggage again and go through a full security check before catching a shuttle to baggage reclaim. An hour after landing I made it outside, and had a 20-minute wait for a hotel bus to downtown (US$16.50).
The seat is extremely comfortable and well thought-out for daytime travel, with lots of work space and an easy-to-use IFE system.
Seat configuration 1-2-1 in business, 2-3-2 in economy
Seat width 21.5in (55cm)
Seat pitch 77in-82in (195.5cm-208cm)