#927112 by Sealink
07 Oct 2016, 14:22
So, here goes!

Thanks to some poor customer service from Kuoni, I found myself on the Delta flight to Boston, rather than my first choice, VS.

How did Kuoni make this happen? Well, I had been told that very often, the likes of Kuoni offer great prices for straight forward city breaks. I have previously booked some great European short breaks with BA Holidays and Expedia.

Having found the Virgin Holidays website to be rather, hopeless, I visited Kuoni. Alarm bells should have started ringing when I noticed that they did not do online booking. (Bizarre, in this day and age. Although I note that Trailfinders etc. encourage people to call or visit. ) I can understand that for complex itineraries speaking to someone is better, but this was a really straightforward trip.

From the Kuoni Boston page, I filled in an enquiry form. Nice hotel, Upper flights.

24 hours later (!) a reply. Did I want Las Vegas or New York? Or another city? >-(
Boston. BOSTON!
24 hours later another reply. The quote system wasn't working.
24 hours later a quote. £2525 for four nights with Virgin flights.
Can I just confirm that the flights are in Upper?
12 hours later, a reply. No, they were economy.

My request for an Upper quote as I had originally requested went unanswered.
Two days later, a missed call and a voicemail.
A week later, a survey request based on my experience. Pity the person who had to read that.

So, buyer beware.

At this point, I had spoken with a few V-Flyers who assured me that booking flights + hotel separately was generally better for US cities. By this time, the Virgin flight had increased in price by £2k, leaving me with the (admittedly more convenient 0940hrs DL departure in their DeltaOne cabin.)

My first Virgin long haul flight in three years would have to wait a few more days.

I really can't do the early departures from Heathrow now if travelling from home the same morning, so I booked the Sofitel at T5 for the evening before. It's officially a five-star hotel but it's fair-to-middling if you ask me.
I am now Accor Silver and have received more recognition from the Ibis Styles (also more convenient for T3!)

Now I am not at all precious about 'status' but I really don't like it when a hotel scheme says 'You will get A, B and C' and you don't get anything. Don't make promises you can't keep. Strange that the Ibis staff were more on the ball.

Still, I digress.

Taxi the next morning to T3 and I still get goosebumps when I see the purple lights of the Virgin side of the terminal .
I decided not to book DTCI this time (but if you can, do! It is amazing). I booked the taxi the night before and couldn't be bothered with phone calls with registration info etc.

I was stopped at a little DL stand and asked a few questions about my flight, then on to the Virgin desks.

Check in was efficient - not overly friendly - but then I was probably mono-syllabic at 6.30am! - and actually, I was offered printed copy copy of my boarding pass without asking which was nice.

Directions for clubhouse were provided, and I entered the Elevator of Dreams. :)

A few of us missed the glass red door which was access to the private security but within seconds we'd spotted the scanner, and security was friendly and fast. Which these days at Heathrow, seems to be the norm.

The long walk through the Duty Free shops, then to Zone H where the AA Admirals Club and stairway to the Clubhouse are located.

Would the Clubhouse be mobbed with people like us? (Delta passengers?!).

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A nice welcome on arrival, to a very quiet Clubhouse. I ordered breakfast which was lovely. It wouldn't be a Sealink trip report without a pic would it?

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I didn't get a picture but the Virgin Clubhouse serves the nicest yogurt I have ever tasted. Oh man I'm booking my next flight in Upper just to get some!


I then found a perch next to the hairdressers to watch the planes come and go where champagne was offered and refilled.

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At this point I noticed the big difference between BA Galleries lounges and Virgin's Clubhouses: in the BA lounge, the staff are engaged in a never ending 'topping up shelves' exercise. With Virgin, staff are waiting to serve customers. It makes a huge difference. I still recall getting a look that could kill when I asked a BA lounge member for Champagne, with Virgin, it was offered with a smile and... CONVERSATION!!

The flight was called and I made my way to the gate, where 'priority' boarding was already completed. I picked up a few complimentary magazines (from an Emirates stand!) and boarded.

My first impressions were of a nice-ish cabin which was overlit . It was a 767 with low overhead lockers but high ceilings in the aisle area.
I found the seat actually quite claustrophobic - in the chair was an admittedly lovely Westin Hotels pillow and quilt. Next to it was a bottle of water, a bag of pecans, big headphones and a Tumi amenity kit. Add me and my carry on bag and it was quite a squeeze. The pillows, quilt and bag ended up at my feet (there being no room in the overhead lockers) as of course the middle two seats have no overhead space.

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Champagne was offered by what could have been a service droid who had smile function disabled - this was easily the strangest crew I have ever flown with.

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Menus were handed out.

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I think Delta are 'feeders' and I was powerless to resist.

The view from the gate, with the knowledge that the weather in Boston was going to be worse....!
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A fair bit of taxiing before take off. Up up and away!
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And here's the thing about Delta - I think they had the worst crew I have experienced (no one was rude but just mentally 'out' if that makes sense.)

Not one smile, not one acknowledgement of any thank you... efficient yes but to the point where they've forgotten that we are all people and it left me feeling quite down. But serving easily the nicest food I have had in the air. It was served from about 1/2 hr after take off, which meant that a full dinner was served at around 1030am. Too much too soon. But with this trip report in mind, I was obliged to try it all.

The titles below are from the menu.

SETTLING IN
Poached shrimp and codfish, with black garlic emulsion, port wine figs and roasted hazelnuts

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This was really delicious and the emulsion was really nice. (Urgh, I've just used the word emulsion in a food sentence. Bah.)

STARTERS
Cauliflower 'couscous' with pine nuts, brown butter vinaigrette, caramelised plums and shaved parmesan cheese.
Parsnip cream soup with croutons


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This was out of this world tasty. At this point I would happily have gone to desert. But Delta had other ideas.

MAIN COURSE

Four choices were offered - Chicken Tikka Masala, Grilled Tenderloin Beef, Roasted Cod or Wheatberry (no, I don't know either) and Mushroom Risotto.

This made me chuckle but its so true:

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I had the beef.

Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Port Wine Butter, barley and kale pilau, roasted butternut squash and artichokes

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DESSERTS
Three choices - an Ice Cream sundae, Chocolate Pecan cake and a cheeseboard. I had the ice cream.
I loved the little ceremony of them making it at the seat, where you could tailor it to, er, taste.

Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae, with your choice of sauces, nuts, wafer cooked and whipped cream

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Then coffee and tea was served.

I then went through the inflight entertainment and didn't really find anything I liked, so thought I'd try watching the pilot of Lucifer. I'm hooked :)

Later on I jumped a few seasons to see Parks & Recreation which I adore, I'm not even on Season 4 in the UK so interesting to see all their amazing hair. :)

I dozed off, and missed the "Skybreak" where even more food is served. This time sweets and snacks. Really Delta?
THEN a mid flight snack - a warm chocolate chip cookie. Oh go on then.

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Nearly everyone in the cabin had bedded down for the, er, night, with all the blinds down.

I dared to open the window once and was rewarded with this:

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There was a drinks run and I had great amusement making my drink look, er, red.

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Then, believe it or not, more food. Honestly. I would have refused except I had a trip report to think about, and how could I do Delta justice without trying (Almost) everything?

There was a choice of a cuban pork sandwich, or chicken satay.

Cuban Pork Sandwich - pork loin, smoked ham, swiss cheese and dill pickles served oil a baguette offered with a mixed green salad

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Here's the full menu with all the choices.
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The food on the flight was the nicest I have had, ever. In fact I'd say that if the appetiser and starter were served in a restaurant I'd be more than happy.

Boston Customs was a dream, I was the first to reach them and was served by a lady who was just delightful.

I waited a few moments for the free Silverline bus to the city, but opted to get a taxi as the bus was packed.
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In summary:
Really lovely food, but the crew were just so odd. There was little to no engagement with any passengers, this was made all the worse as they were laughing and chatting with each other in the galley. I actually felt that they didn't really want to be cabin crew. It left me cold, and that's my opinion of Delta based on this one flight. I will be trying them domestically in April next year... I would fly them again, but would also give United and American a go too.

The contrast between DL and the VS flight home is so stark. Virgin had an inferior entertainment system, pretty awful food but amazing crew. More on that later!
Last edited by Sealink on 07 Oct 2016, 15:38, edited 11 times in total.
#927129 by marshy11
07 Oct 2016, 17:56
A Sealink TR means I look, salivate, stare and then go back and read.

I particularly like the Elevator Of Dreams reference.

I shall read it again later....but for the moment, let me savour the pics.
#927131 by tontybear
07 Oct 2016, 19:19
And you were so nervous of flying DL!

Sometime the crews can be variable - just like VS!

I remember 'mr fuss pot' purser from my first DL flight but the lovely southern ladies from ATL last year were a delight.

TBH I've preferred DL for onboard for a while now and now there is access to the CH it just adds to the reasons for flying D over VS.
#927135 by horburyflyer
07 Oct 2016, 23:25
Hey Billy, super TR with crystal clear photos, really enjoyable, thank you so much for sharing.

I think you might have been unlucky with this particular crew which is a shame as I agree DL don't have the 'magic and sparkle' of VS but I have had some great crews on DL who really were trying!

That said, DL certainly do know how to ensure that nobody leaves a flight hungry. On the TATL routes the food offer is generous and pretty damn good, so good to hear you enjoyed that too.

Those ice-cream sundaes pretty tasty too.... :D

Thanks again for sharing a great TR and looking forward to hearing about your return on VS.

Jon
#927168 by buns
09 Oct 2016, 08:08
Thanks for such a super TR Billy :-D

As things develop between Delta and VS in the years to come, I am sure many of us will be following in your footsteps and taking Delta Codeshares - so it is good to see what the product is really like.

Funny, even though I have never taken a Transatlantic Delta Flight, I had already made my mind up about the comparison in service levels and your experience has merely confirmed things.

Thanks once again

buns
#927199 by pjh
09 Oct 2016, 18:36
I suppose in Delta's defence, chicken tikka masala certainly isn't from the Indian sub continent...

These Delta TRs are making me less concerned about the bargains that appear that seem to be based on Delta rather than Virgin flights. You'd have to drag me kicking and screaming onto United though after their treatment of me a few years ago. Things may well have changed but the incident still rankles.

You seemed to have a great time in Boston too...
#927211 by Sealink
09 Oct 2016, 23:45
The food on Delta was amazing and I am sure another crew may have been different.

But man, Virgin just have a different attitude. The flight home had the loveliest crew.
Virgin Atlantic

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