#938297 by SlimpyJones
10 Sep 2017, 21:40
Following on from Part 1 of my return trip...

I was looking forward to trying Delta One again after a positive experience of a LHR-ATL trip just before Christmas last year. I remarked at the time that I was concerned that the sleeping arrangements could be tricky owing to the tight shoulder space - the seat is the same width as VS PE. That being said I'd heard good things about the bedding and the food was also a definite plus point. And a first-hand experience is always the best one.

Connection trauma

So after stepping off MEX-JFK and going through immigration, I had 1 hour 20 minutes until departure. A reminder that owing to check-in problems at MEX I had not been checked in and had no boarding pass, and the App again refused to let me check-in.

After a five minute wait (which felt like fifty) the carousel finally whirred into life. Despite this it took a further fifteen minutes for my bag to finally arrive. By this point it was now an hour until departure. I received a notification on my phone that the gate had been called and that boarding would commence soon.

As I headed to Customs, I was approached by an agent who, upon hearing I was heading back from Mexico City, decided he wanted to search my bag. Perhaps I looked flustered and nervous..? He found nothing of interest in my bag, but it still ate up a further ten minutes of my already close connection.

I finally exited customs and turned left to the connections desk. A gentleman was on hand to take my bag and I rechecked it with him to the DL403. I asked if he could give me my boarding pass but alas, he was only a baggage handler and could not issue my pass. He suggested I try the self check-in desks, but these refused as I was now too late to check-in...

To fix this, I had to run all the way up from Arrivals to the check-in desks at the Departure level (3 levels...!). The Departures area was completely empty besides two Delta desks. I approached them out of breath following my stairs-running and explained that I had just connected from MEX and needed my boarding pass.

The lady at the desk informed me that they could not check me in as they had now started boarding and control was now with the gate. She also mentioned that the baggage handler downstairs should not have taken my bag. They called up the gate and explained the situation, but their system kept refusing to print me a boarding pass. This went on for a short while.

We finally got to 10pm, and departure time had moved ten minutes earlier, so I had twenty minutes to get my boarding pass, get through security, and get to my gate.

The check-in agent seemed to admit defeat at this point and informed me that there was no way I'd make it on board, and so we began discussing rebooking options for the following day. I said I had no preference between the morning VS flight or any of the VS or DL flights the following night, so long as they were in Business and that DL could put me up for the night as I didn't want to spend the night on the airport floor. She mentioned also that my bag would have to be removed from the plane. I was pretty devastated and began messaging home telling them I wouldn't be back tomorrow. What would make it worse of course, is that EU261 would not apply and thus no mandatory compensation. To make matters even more complicated, the agent was unsure if she could even make the rebooking changes to my ticket as it was VS issued, and all the VS agents had gone home.

However, despite all this, either the gate or check-in agent miraculously fixed the problem and printed me a boarding pass! She said that she would summon one of the golf carts to get me to B34 (almost as far up T4 as when I arrived..).

I hurriedly gathered my passport and all my bits of paper and was escorted to the security line by one of the Delta reps. Thankfully a few of the passengers in front of me sensed my time-critical situation and offered up their place and let me through. Typically though I got stuck behind some very slow security people, and didn't get TSA-Precheck printed on my boarding pass, so it was shirt and shoes off for me. Still, I was through in five minutes.

I ran down the stairs and tried to spy the cart that would be called for me - nothing was waiting. So I had no choice but to run. All the way from security to B34. I was met half way by one of the DL reps who informed me that the gate was aware I was coming and that they would wait for me. All I had to do was run and I'd make it. According to Google Maps, security to B34 is about 600 metres. But it felt like a mile.

After a few heckles from passers-by, I made it to a completely empty B34 where a fairly relieved gate agent was standing by! He reprinted the boarding pass that I somehow lost at security, and I headed down the jetway and onto the plane.

A sweaty mess

Needless to say, I was the last to board and as I took my seat, 1A, I heard the door close behind me. I was SEQ 208. Which meant there were 208 on board today (meaning only three empty seats on the whole aircraft!). Following my sprint and stress I was a sweaty mess and asked for some napkins to help clean myself up a bit! The chap in 2A seemed to sympathise with my situation, fortunately there was very little scolding by the other passengers as ultimately I hadn't caused a delay!

I was approached by a very pleasant FA who asked if I'd like a drink. Orange juice or champagne? Given my experience, it was champagne for me. And also another bottle of water! It's a time like this I wouldn't have minded an Emirates A380 shower..

We pushed back five minutes early and as we taxied to the runway I messaged home to tell them that everything worked out okay and that I would be making it home in the morning after all. A flight time was announced of only 6 hours 5 minutes, making it a very quick journey across the Atlantic. This was probably going to be one of the fastest JFK-LHRs I had done.

As we taxied I had a sudden realisation... had they loaded my bag? I still had some connection so went onto the Delta App to see if it had got onto the plane.

Nope. It was sitting in customs. Brilliant.

We took off a minute or so later and with nothing more I could do, I put on Airplane mode and finally began to take in the seat.

Time to recover

So, about the seat. I went into quite a lot of detail in my TR from last year so I won't repeat some of the minor details. Waiting on my seat was a menu, a hard-shelled Tumi amenity kit that I understand was only introduced at the start of September (which contained a patch that you could have monogrammed!), and some LSTN branded headphones, which were also a fairly new addition.

ImageThe new Tumi amenity kits, containing the usual swag

The menu contents were as follows!

Settling In

Signature Cocktail
Enjoy our Signature Delta Sunrise Cocktail featuring Bombay Sapphire Gun with cranberry apple juice and a splash of ginger ale

Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts

Starters

Shrimp and Sweet Potato Salad
Purple watercress and Sunburst Farms trout roe

Corn and Tomato Soup
Pickled tomato relish

Red Leaf Greens
Gotham Greens red lead lettuce, radish, fines herbs and creamy charred green onion and dill dressing

Main Course

Bourbon Braised Spiced Lamb
Spinach and Potato Purée

Dry Rubbed Smoked Chicken Breast
Creamy Coleslaw and Buttermilk Biscuit

New Orleans Style Barbecue Shrimp
Anson Mills grits

Delta Blues Brown Rice and Fall Vegetable Pirloo

Desserts

Sundae Bar
Choice of Ice Cream: Crooked Neck Pumpkin or Buttermilk Salted Caramel
Sauces: Butterscotch with Smoked Cellar Salt or Bourbon Blackberry Jam
Toppings: Buttered biscuit crumble

Tarte à la Bouillie
Clementines Preserves

Selection of Fine Cheeses
Cypress Grove Midnight Moon
Kaltbach Gruyère and Buttermilk Blue Affinée
offered with fresh fruit and fig compote

Almost There

Cold Pressed Juice
Green apple, cucumber and spinach

Baked Eggs with Fall Vegetables
Smoked Gouda cheese and beef sausage

Delta Blues Brown Rice Pudding
with Yogurt, vanilla and berries

It was a good thing I read the menu at this point as shortly after takeoff one of the FAs took my meal order. As you may expect, I was the only one he hadn't gotten an order from! I was intrigued by the lamb dish so opted for that. He asked if I would like waking for breakfast. I couldn't really decide, so we agreed that if I was asleep he would leave me be, and if I was awake, I'd eat! Seemed fair. :)
As I was still operating on Mexico time, it was getting late. That, plus the short flight time and with my horrible connection I was keen to get some sleep, so opted for the "Dine and Rest" option, which involves your entire meal being delivered in one go, rather than in courses.

The seat

I had read reviews previously saying that Row 1 had ample space in the footwell owing to no seat being in front. Fortunately these reviews were spot on as the footwell in 1A was huge.

ImageHuge footwell in 1A

ImageRow 1, so not much else in the cabin to see!

Delta's B767-300s remind me a little of Virgin's A340-600s. They are among the oldest in the fleet and are certainly starting to get tired, but the hard products were still holding up despite some better iterations on other models. The IFE at my seat was good. It was very much on the small side, but the screen had basic touchscreen capabilities (touch only, no "dragging") and the image was still sharp.

Settling down

About twenty minutes after takeoff the drinks service began, and I opted for a NZ Sauvignon. After everything, it could have been Tesco value white and it still would have gone down well! I reclined my seat down and tried to clear my head. I popped on an episode of Bob's Burgers on the IFE, which I was glad to find as I needed something easy to watch.

The meal arrived shortly after, and my tray was packed!

Image

By the looks of things, I was served the Shrimp and Salad starter (no soup) and the cheeses for dessert. The Shrimp was very good and the salad nice and crisp. The dressing helped a bit as the radishes had dried out a bit.
The lamb was absolutely delicious, certainly one of the best meals I've had in the air. It was really well cooked, had great texture and not too much fat. Just the right amount of gravy with just the right consistency.
The cheese was a nice way to finish off as well.

After dinner I was offered another round of drinks, and from the menu I selected a Cognac. I put on another episode of Bob's Burgers and decided to break out the bedding. The pillow was very soft and comfortable, and the duvet equally so. The seat reclines all the way into a horizonal position, so unlike the VS seats there was no need to get up and out. Although this does mean that you are sleeping on the leather surface of the seat.

After my TV show was done, it was time to get some shuteye. It was a little tricky to get into a comfortable position. My earlier suspicions about the seat being narrow were confirmed, although I managed to find a spot on my side where I could settle down.

I managed to get 2-3 hours of decent sleep, though we were treated to some pretty choppy air throughout which woke me up a couple of times. The bedding was great quality and certainly helped matters.

The Sound of Breakfast

I woke up to a lit cabin and the crew had begun breakfast service. Given the recline arrangements of the chair I was able to slowly raise the seat up without having to get out of the seat. It helped me to wake up easier I think.

I was offered breakfast but decided to decline as I would get some in Revivals, plus I'm not a fan of eating quite so soon after waking up. The eggs and sausage did sound good though.
I took some peppermint tea, which was a nice start to the "day". I lifted my window shade a little to get a peek, and it was full daylight outside so closed it up again.

An announcement came over the PA that we were way ahead of schedule and that we'd likely land around 10am after doing a couple of circles. We began our descent and held at around 14k ft for a short time.

The crew began handing out fast-track invitations (that still mentioned Terminal 4!) and also invitations to use the VS Arrivals lounge, as well as a chocolate mint!

Almost there...

We finally breached the low clouds and approached LHR from the East. Landed bang on 10am as advertised and it was a short taxi towards Gate 21. However, owing to our early arrival we were forced to wait for the gate to be free as it was occupied by the AA service to RDU (not due to depart until 10:30am...). The only upside of this was that it afforded me plenty of shots of passing planes, including this lady:

ImageG-VWHO on her way to another gate

We waited for nearly 40 minutes and it was looking like the AA plane wouldn't be budging, so a change of plans was made and we began moving towards Gate 3, which we arrived at for 10:42. So much for being early!

As we stood up, an American couple in 2B & C remarked that it was a sunny day outside! Hah, I don't think so. Made me chuckle, at least. Thanked the crew as I left, and made my way to immigration. I had never been to this part of T3 before, it looked quite fancy and new-ish.

Immigration was a breeze, there was no queue at the e-gates.

I headed over to Belt 1 in the hope that the app was wrong about my bag. But it was not meant to be, after checking it again, it had been updated to show that it had been expedited on that evening's DL401, so no bag until the following day at the earliest. I went over to the baggage assistance desk where the helpful agent confirmed that this was the case and asked me to fill out a delivery form.
Apparently Sky Priority customers are treated with some urgency and my bag was arranged for a next-day delivery at my address. I have to say that Delta recovered the situation very well, as my bag did indeed arrive the following day, in the evening as I requested.

Time for breakfast

And so it was off to Revivals for a much needed full English. Before I ate though I had another opporunity to chase up my missing Clubhouse guest passes, with a man who turned out to be the Clubhouse Duty Manager! Either he or the lady I spoke to in the main LHR Clubhouse managed to work their magic as I also got these the next day at long last!

Unfortunately my plans for a shower had been scuppered as I had no change of clothes, so it was just breakfast for me. I sank two full Englishes (the shame...). However I did have a lovely surprise in that I managed to meet a waiter who had previously served my Dad and I in the LHR Clubhouse a few months prior on our way to Boston. It took a bit of memory-jogging but he eventually remembered who I was so we had a great exchange and said I hoped to see him when I was back in December.

And so the long train journey back to Huntingdon began, not helped by severe delays on the Piccadilly line. Ugh!

And so the lesson I have learnt, is that if I am going to book a ticket, book it directly with the airline who will be operating the majority of my sectors. And give more than an hour and a half if I am connecting International->International.

I have sent an email to Delta to complain about the issues I faced with my connection, because in all honesty, although it was a good flight, it was certainly tarnished by the experience I had and it was a bad end to my holiday.

I've not heard back yet, but despite this I was very happy with the Delta One experience, and I am keen to try them again on a slightly longer overnight route (perhaps DTW or ATL) so I can have more time to try the food and seat without the urgent need for sleep! I think on daytime flights I'd give preference to VS as the ability to use the bar offers some nice flexibility, whereas on an overnight that is not quite as important.

On their day VS cannot be beaten though and if my recent experiences are to go by they have been consistently very good, so whilst I may throw in the odd DL flight here and there, it'll still be VS all the way.

Thanks very much for reading. :)
#938298 by honey lamb
10 Sep 2017, 22:39
Omigod! Your transfer had my heart racing as hard as it did for me when a reasonably OK connection from VS to United at IAD was compromised by UA changing their rules and not allowing me to check-in for their flight at LHR ("You shoulda flown United all the way" After an attitude like that - sorry, no!); passengers on the VS flight being bussed to a remote stand and thus pushing back 30 minutes late and waiting another 30 minutes to take off; the gate not being vacant at IAD because the Korean airlines plane was late and had not vacated the gate; the jobsworth in Immigration initially refusing to allow me and three others to queue jump even though the passengers in the queues were willing to do so because of our now extremely tight connections; the baggage coming out with crew first, a whole orchestra of musical instruments second and UC passengers third; IAD in lockdown because of a security alert. My onward flight was 20 minutes late and I made it by the skin of my teeth. My bags didn't!

Phew! It was good to read the rest of your experience on Delta One. Perhaps I may get to try it someday.
#938299 by pjh
10 Sep 2017, 23:04
Thanks for this. Our turn In few months, though (hopefully) without the stress at the start.

As you say, I'd rather have the VS and the bar on the outbound, but the structure of the rewards pricing would put both legs up to the VS redemption cost.
#938300 by Bretty
10 Sep 2017, 23:13
Thanks for the report Slimpy, although a stressful start to your journey home, it looks as though the hard product and the service on board were excellent and went some way to redeeming the problems. I hope you get a response from Delta having offered your feedback.

I think in your shower dilemma I might have opted to take the shower and then "go commando" for the trip home with plenty of deodorant on my shirt! One thing I hate is feeling like a sweaty mess and I'm paranoid about how sweet I smell, lol!

Thanks again for sharing your experiences.
#938322 by buns
11 Sep 2017, 17:58
Slimpy

Thank you for such a detailed TR and the pics.

For me, your experience is the stuff of nightmares ( a reoccurring dream I have as a vacation approaches) so to learn you finally made on board might help me for the future!

As Pretty has said, the Delta product does seem excellent

Thanks once again

buns
Virgin Atlantic

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