BACKGROUND: Delta’s London-Atlanta service previously ran from Heathrow’s Terminal 4 on a Boeing 767-300. It now flies from Terminal 3, where Delta shares a wing with joint venture partner Virgin Atlantic. It swapped the Boeing for an Airbus in March 2018.
CHECK-IN & LOUNGE: When I emerged from the tube at Terminal 3, I was immediately approached by staff who directed me to a stand to answer questions about my trip. I was then sent upstairs to the fast-track security queue, which I got through in about five minutes. I then made my way to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, which has many separate areas including an upstairs ‘den’ with a pool table, a quiet working area sectioned off by a glass wall, a kids’ section, spa, and various seating options on different levels. I did struggle to find a spot with a plug for a few minutes, but eventually did in a bar-type area where a waiter quickly appeared to take my order.
BOARDING: I underestimated how far the lounge was from the gate and ended up being just about the last person to board, grabbing a paper from the selection in front of the jet bridge before jogging on. That minor stress was quickly forgotten with the warm Southern welcome from the Delta crew.
THE SEAT: This isn’t the Delta One suite, which offers a full-length slider for privacy and seats that lie fully flat, but they do go just about flat. It’s comfortable to sleep on, but at one point I did long for that last bit of tilt that would put my neck completely level with my feet. I had plenty of legroom, but I am five foot two, and if anything, my only concern was that it was quite difficult to prop my feet up or use the armrest. For reference, the seats are 21 inches wide with 80 inches of pitch. The seat space overall is not exactly roomy. There’s a small side table with space for a drink, book and a phone, plus a lower pocket where you can stuff some newspapers and a water bottle, but a place to stash small objects like a phone and glasses would be useful. However, the retractable table is large enough for a not-too-bulky laptop and easily fits both the meal tray and a couple of drinks. The in-seat USB and charging points are convenient, and the Tumi amenities kit came with a useful set of eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, pen, earplugs, and Kiehl’s hand cream and lip balm.
SEAT PREFERENCE: The A330-200 has 34 seats in Delta One, 32 in Delta Comfort+ and 168 in economy. The Delta One seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration, so there’s no need to stress about securing aisle access. Still, I definitely preferred the window seat, which allows you to enter full hermit mode and forget the rest of the plane behind. The middle seats, meanwhile, are angled towards each other, giving you a good view of your neighbour’s legs and hands. Rows 7 to 9 are near the galley and furthest from the toilets, so best avoided if you dislike noise and have a weak bladder. Row 6 might also find the galley disturbing.
THE FLIGHT: Champagne and orange juice were offered while we were waiting for take-off. Drinks and a bowl of warm nuts came around after about 15 minutes in the air followed by a hot towel and then dinner. My starter of prawns, Parmesan salad, a brown bread roll and a spicy Thai soup was a tasty and interesting mix of contrasting colours, flavours and textures. The opposite was true of my main of spinach and cream stuffed chicken – it tasted nice and the chicken was tender, but it was a bit samey, with moist potatoes, moist veg and a very creamy chicken. The lights were lowered shortly after dinner, and the calm atmosphere made it tricky to avoid the temptation to nap and become even further out of kilter with the impending US time zone. The warm cookie brought around halfway through the flight helped perk me up a bit and fuel my film binge. The media selection was a fairly standard mix of recent Oscar nominees, blockbusters and classics, plus American TV series and a small handful of Bollywood and Anime.
VERDICT: Some might find the space cramped, and if you bring a lot on board it can be hard to keep your items in order. The design is more functional than soothing. But the layout is very convenient, the food, drink and amenities are great, and the service will make you feel like a VIP.