This is the kick-off of a short series of posts on my trip across the pond. I can’t say enough about this trip — and I can’t take much credit either. My mom did a lot of planning of our trip, hotels, etc., but of course I decided to book business class to make my way over. So hope you enjoy!
- Review: Delta One A330 JFK-ZRH
- My experiences through Europe: France
- My experiences through Europe: Switzerland
- My experiences through Europe: Renting a car and flying “domestic”
- Review: Air Canada Business Class 787 MXP-YYZ
I want to preface this review with some background knowledge about myself — for those that may be reading on my blog for the first time. I am an admitted Delta aficionado, which will not sway this review, but this is also my first international business class experience.
My goal is to provide information on the flight, but also my personal thoughts on the experience. With that being said, you have to take into account the fact that I am basing this off of no previous personal experience in international business class — so excuse my (possibly) over zealous assumptions.
I booked this flight with 70,000 Delta SkyMiles and $5.60. I earned these points through weekly business travel, so not a ton to get into detail about here but I did want to make a few notes.
I booked this flight with the intention of eventually meeting my family in Paris, so as you can see I booked my long-haul flight to Zurich (obviously). I tracked prices to all major hubs in Europe for a few weeks and this was easily the best deal, so I then booked a cheap flight on Swiss from Zurich to Paris- Charles de Gaulle.
Including the hotel layover and connecting flight I paid 70,000 SkyMiles + $210. Not bad, considering my options directly to CDG were in the 225,000 miles range.
Of course we all know that Delta doesn’t publish any award chart anymore, so booking with them is really a shot in the dark. Though, I would say that from my few experiences this is the best price you are going to get from the east coast to Europe in Delta One.
If you are looking for yourself, and you have some flexibility in your travel I’d recommend booking a flight on an Airbus A330 over the Boeing 767 (Delta’s main fleet flying to Europe), as I’ve heard the 767s can get rather tight. Of course, you can also try to book on one of Delta’s partners, like FlyingBlue or Virgin Atlantic, but the award space is rare and the prices just won’t be as good. (so maybe don’t)
While Delta is not very well regarded for their rewards program, the site is very easy to use and all of it can even be done on their app! Enough of that, though, to the fun stuff!
Coming from Washington DC I began my journey at Washington-Reagan, but I will save you from dragging on about that.
I arrived into JFK at around 4:30 pm, with a new departure time of 8:20 pm. While I had plenty of time to check out a few different lounges, I was more eager to check out some of the scenery.
I most enjoy seeing the more quirky carriers that you really don’t see at any other US airports — like Egypt Air (pictured above) or Kuwait Airways. I’ll never get tired of seeing the KLM blue, though.
After walking around Terminal 4 for a while I decided to head to the Delta SkyClub. Luckily, I was departing out of gate B38, and the Delta SkyClub at JFK Terminal 4 is located within two gates — so I wasn’t worried about trekking to my gate.
I could tell that the lounge was busy upon arrival. After getting off the escalator up at the lounge entrance, there was quite a crowd at the check-in line. With my business class ticket, though, I could by-pass any check in and walk right in.
As you see, the lounge was pretty crowded, and only got worse after an hour or so. As my goal was not to review this lounge I didn’t get a ton of pictures — I also spent most of the time working anyways:( (great views though!)
My two big takeaways from the lounge were:
- That outside deck is pretty awesome! Seats were obviously a bit more limited, and I had some work to do so needed a proper desk, but still pretty cool in an airport!
- Even though the lounge was pretty busy, there was an ample amount of chairs, food, etc. So I definitely think the lounge knows how to handle a crowd.
In an anticipation of my first business class flight I didn’t want to get to full or too “tired,” so I didn’t eat a ton or drink too much. even though the plane was “ready to go” it was delayed about an hour. Kind of weird, as the gate was empty as well, but didn’t affect our arrival at all.
Airbus A330-200 Seat 3J
For some reason I expected the boarding process to be smoother than on domestic flights — unfortunately, that was not the case. Like any other flight, everyone huddled right in front of the gate, causing a massive overload of people.
On the plus side, Delta One passengers were called first. So once I was able to sift through the large mass of people gathering in front of the gate, I was one of the first ones on the plane.
The theme that will stick with this review is the warmth that I felt from the moment I stepped on board. Not only were all the crew welcoming me on board and helping me get settled, but I also got this personalized letter from my FA Jasemin.
She even offered to take a picture of me in my seat as she noticed I was taking a few pictures.
I chose seat 3J. It was located on the right-hand side of the plane, about mid-way through the business class cabin. I would recommend this seat as it wasn’t too close to either galley or lavatory.
The business class cabin has 5.5 rows of 22 Delta One seats, all with direct-aisle access, then a mini-business class cabin behind that with 12 more Delta One seats. I didn’t wander back to that section, but I assume there is a bit more traffic there, as it seems like Delta Comfort+ passengers get served from that galley.
Waiting at my seat was the awesome Westin Heavenly Bedding, headphones, amenity kit, bottled water, and of course the note above.
Shortly after everyone in the business class cabin settled in, Jasemin came around to offer Champagne, sparkling water, or a Heineken. I chose the champagne.
The purser on the flight came around shortly after to distribute Delta One menus — if nothing else, they are pretty slick looking!
While I decided to order ahead over email a few days prior, the purser did come back around to confirm that I still wanted the braised beef — which I decided to stick with, but was intrigued to hear her response had I wanted to switch.
So begins the decisions about whether to get a real camera — that glare has me ticked.
I am a huge fan of the Delta interiors all around. No matter what product, I think that the blue leather is clean and doesn’t seem to wear as much.
My major takeaways from the seat:
- There was not a ton of extra storage at the seat. Besides the few cubbies below the seat and at my feet, a lot of things will have to be stored in the overhead.
- There was an outlet as well as a USB port, which I think is plenty for charging.
- I did not love the tray tables. I found them on the small side, and they were a bit tough to get out.
- I did really like the armrest that I kept raised throughout the flight.
- The TV screen was pushed back, then popped out, which at first glance I thought was pretty nifty. Though, later I realized this was a bit of a ploy to make you think there was more space than there really was. (or I just went on the Air Canada 787 with a similar layout and recognized the difference)
The infamous Tumi amenity kits did not dissappoint. Hand sanitizer, mouth wash, toothbrush/toothpaste, tissues, earplugs, eyeshade, and Kiehl’s lip balm and hand lotion.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the headphones, but wasn’t disappointed either. I would say that if you choose a seat on the left-hand side of the plane the wires wouldn’t be across your body the whole flight. A very minor inconvenience.
Push-back and taxi took around 20 mins. There was definitely some traffic at JFK, but it’s something I think you can expect on a Thursday evening. Unfortunately it was pretty dark, but the take-off on a wide-body is a pretty awesome feeling. Something I hadn’t experienced in a long time.
About 40 minutes into the flight the service had begun. If I had one thing to complain about on this flight it would be the relatively slow service. For a flight that didn’t take off until closer to 10, we weren’t eating dinner until close to 11 at night. For someone who was waiting for the dinner, I was getting a bit anxious.
The overall charm of the crew outweighed the (maybe) slower service.
To start, I was given a warm towel. Shortly after that I was offered a drink and decided to try the signature cocktail — it was simple, but pretty tasty. this was accompanied with some warm nuts.
The menu read as follows…
I have to say, the drink menu was pretty good! Macallan! Woodford! I think next time I may get into a bit more trouble.
Shortly after the drinks were served, they came around with the appetizer plates. These consisted of a potato and lentil soup, kale salad, pea tartare, and bread basket. I have to say, the soup was pretty killer! I am not against things green, but who doesn’t love a potato soup.
As mentioned above, I ordered the Thai braised beef ahead of time (after some research) and I was not disappointed. The grilled eggplant and garlic rice weren’t too bad either.
After the dinner trays were cleared, the FAs came around with a desert and coffee cart. While the sundae I had was good, and I enjoyed them preparing it in front of me, they did not have the tres leches as advertised on the menu. I also had wished they came back around with coffee or liqueur.
Deciding on the desert was enough, and I really would have liked a coffee or Baileys for after my desert. Unfortunately, once the desert was served the FAs were busy cleaning the galleys from dinner that I really didn’t get a chance to ask for a beverage.
After dinner I decided to lay back and finish my movie — they had a good selection of movies, but pretty limited TV selection.
One thing I liked throughout the flight was the screen at the front of the cabin showing our flight details. Instead of having to exit my entertainment I could keep tabs on our location.
WiFi was available, and I was able to use free Delta iMessaging even internationally — which was pretty cool! But I didn’t think the WiFi prices were that bad — also makes me think I should consider T-Mobile (thoughts?)
After about an hour, about 5 hours left in the flight, I decided to take a little break. While the travel blogger way may be to lay out the bed, I thought it was pretty to cool to be able to slowly recline my seat while dozing off. The Westin Heavenly bedding lived up to its billing as well!
I only slept for about 2 hours, but it was a good sleep nonetheless. Lights were raised about 90 minutes before landing to signal the start of breakfast service.
For breakfast there were two options — egg frittata or berry chia pudding with greek yogurt. As you can see below, I decided to go with the chia pudding and greek yogurt. It was served with a fruit medley and choice of breakfast bread — I went with the croissant.
As I didn’t have a huge appetite I only picked at my food, but I thought it was very good. The coffee was also very good — which I have heard can be very hit or miss!
After finishing breakfast we began our descent into Zurich. I have to say that the views were pretty spectacular.
To start we got a good glimpse of the Alps in the distance!
Then coming into ZRH we got some great views on a perfect morning in Zurich.
Finally, the crew came around to give us some chocolates. I’m not sure this was because we were flying into Zurich, the home of chocolate, or a normal Delta One treat, but it was a nice cherry on top none the less.
Things were quiet at Zurich Airport (it was also mid-morning) but I have to admit everything seemed super efficient. I want to touch on this in a separate post, but Zurich Airport really blows any American airport out of the water — efficient, clean, nice staff, etc.
Overall, I was super impressed with my first international business class cabin. I had some high expectations for my ever-precious Delta, but I was not disappointed.
As far as the actual service goes, I think that there was definitely room for improvement. The crew took a while to get everything out, but I can’t say enough about how welcoming from boarding to exit. There are a lot of things that will factor into my reviews going forward, but I know that no matter what, having a warm and welcoming crew overcomes any issues that may otherwise occur on the flight.
As for the hard product, I think that Delta One seats are one of the more competitive singular seats on the market and their amenities are super competitive. I am not only looking forward to my next Delta One flight, but hoping to book one in the near future.
Maybe I see Delta One suites in my future..