To begin - a couple of apologies. The first is for the lack of pictures of the flight. At some point between leaving Phoenix and landing in ATL my near-three year old phone's camera had decided it had just about had enough of taking pictures. And so I was unable to document my experience in a visual medium, except for the menu pictures which I was able to take with my other phone when I got home.
This is a Trip Report from the Upper Class cabin
Food & Drink
The second is for the latecoming of this one. Not that I imagine it has been waited for with baited breath but I'm always keen to type them up as soon as I can! Fortunately I've begun relying on my phone to make notes and so there's leeway in not having to write them up when the memory is fresh, haha.
For anyone who read my recent LHR-ATL trip report from the Delta One cabin, this was my original, unaffected return flight to MAN to round off a lovely Christmas roadtrip around Arizona.
My flight from PHX-ATL was a decent flight in DL First. Originally it was scheduled to land in ATL at 2pm, giving me a 4 hour layover in Atlanta. Following schedule changes the flight was pushed an hour and a half earlier, giving me a 5.5 hour layover, and when it came to the flight, a favourable tailwind meant we landed early and I was left with a staggering 6 hour wait.
We landed in the A concourse and with so much time to spare I opted to forego the Plane Train and walk the entire length of ATL all the way to the E gates. Some of the walkways inbetween the terminals have been jazzed up somewhat, between A-B was a rainforest theme, and B-C was almost a walkthru museum about Atlanta's history. Quite nice of them to do that, as the rest of the journey was just grey concrete.
After arriving in the International Terminal, I located the Delta Skyclub. I always anticipate troubles getting in, in case the Desk Dragon was not too familiar with the VS Partnership but as I was travelling in J it was a simple task. Warmly welcomed and given the Wifi password. I was also informed to my delight that there were Showers in the lounge, which after a very warm ride in the 737-900 from PHX I could have really used. The lounge was not too busy and there were plenty of places to sit for a rest, but I made a beeline for the shower area.
I have to say Delta have matched VS in quality and size of the shower rooms. Whilst there was no steam function they were sizeable and came with some very refreshing mint shower gels.
After freshening up, I ventured upstairs to dump my bag - the area was completely empty, save for a person sleeping along the bench area!
I left my non-critical belongings and went down to investigate the food offerings. It was the fairly standard affair, chicken and rice, some pasta, and some soup. Limited offerings, but what was there was very tasty.
In an unfortunate incident, I bodged the ladel-ing of the soup into my cup and ended up pouring a sizeable amount all over my thumb. Ouch. For the next hour or so, my thumb was spent sitting in a glass of ice.
I managed to kill time by switching between book reading, watching Netflix on my phone and generally wandering around the gates. Surprisingly the six hours passed by quickly, and at around 5pm I decided to make my way to Gate F2, passing F4 where the VS104 was departing for LHR.
Boarding began at around 5:20. However, it was something of a shambles. Unfortunately announcements from Gate F1, to Bogota, were playing over F2's speakers, leading to a lot of confusion for passengers boarding the flight to Manchester. With F1 calling for "Premium" passengers at the same time as F2's special assistance pax, there were PE passengers trying to board first. A total mess. The gate staff did little to try and unmuddle things, so wanting to get out of the mire I waited for the call for UC passengers and got out of dodge!
Warmly welcomed on board and directed to my seat, 5K. The first thing I noticed was just how warm the cabin was! After settling down with a glass of champagne, the passenger in 3K mentioned to the crew about the heat, with many of the others around the area agreeing. A few moments later the fans began blowing and all was well again.
ATL-MAN is served by A330s, so it was the UCDS for me. In this aircraft (the reg I'm afraid I never did get), the partitions were clear. Despite all that is said about the UCDS, there was something inherently calming about being back on VS. With all my segments on the trip being on DL, it was nice to be surrounded with the familiar accents, mood lighting and general VS-vibe.
The cabin began to fill up, and so I had a peruse of the menu. Behold!
The Desserts didn't seem to warrant their own picture, there was Sticky toffee chocolate fudge cake, and Lemon poppy cheesecake.
I noted the lack of breakfast card with the menu and raised this with the CC working my side when she was bringing round the sleep suits - she said that the breakfast card would be handed out in the mornings. Apparently they are giving this approach a try as they find that people tend to change their minds over the course of the flight and it seemed easier to ask after waking up. Made sense to me!
I noted also the lack of FSM around the cabin. I could only assume she was busy elsewhere on the plane. Although moments later she appeared over the PA to welcome everyone on board. Flight time of 7h 39m given and a total of 224 passengers on board.
Takeoff was on time, and the crew seemed in happy spirits. Drinks came round and flustered with options the CC lady suggested a beer - so I had a Heineken, which went down very well - great suggestion! Orders were taken for food, I opted for the Feta & Grape salad for starter. I'm not normally one to default to steaks on a flight but I just couldn't get my head around a deconstructed beef wellington, so I went for that. In lieu of a picture, it was essentially the beef steak on the plate, the mushroom part on top of the beef, topped with a pastry hat. I thought all were very delicious.
For dessert I couldn't say no to the chocolate fudge cake. It was gone in less than a minute
During dinner the Captain came onto the PA system to announce that Big Ben was striking midnight and, by British Standards, we had transitioned into 2017! A few cheers and chinks were done between passengers but I was a little disappointed that this is where the celebrations ended.
Alas one small observation I made by now was that I had received no introduction from the FSM - it didn't seem to happen for any of the passengers which was a first. I can only assume she was a very busy lady for this flight.
During dinner I decided to catch some of the IFE offerings. I've recently migrated towards watching TV shows rather than movies. In the end I watched an episode of a Tube documentary, and a Travel show with Richard Ayoade and Greg Davies, which was really funny. Just a shame that they didn't have more episodes.
After TV I decided to take advantage of the bar, which was empty. I grabbed a copy of Business Traveller and started having a flick through. Shortly after a couple who I had seen in the DL Skyclub joined me and say hello, which was nice They heading back to Manchester after being in Orlando. (Looking at the luggage tags back in MAN I'd say this was a very popular option). Whilst we were talking, who appeared but the FSM! She turned out to be a lovely lady who offered everyone at the bar a drink. She fixed me up with a Cosmopolitan which was very nice. We talked a bit about the upcoming routes to BOS, SFO and JFK from Manchester and the crew were very much looking forward to them. I can only imagine they are rather fed up of the same 5 or 6 routes. She also mentioned that they were selling very well which is positive.
At this point I began yawning, which was the signal for the FSM to offer to turn down my bed. It was nice of her to offer. She did this whilst I got changed into my sleep suit. I managed a few hours of broken sleep. Unfortunately 6K was occupied by a toddler who, whilst she didn't begin screaming, did make quite a lot of noise. Her parents didn't seem to be encouraging her to sleep, rather entertaining her which was frustrating. In the end I resorted to headphones.
Whilst the UCDS is slated for removal soon, there's still time for me to say that I really struggled to find a decent resting position. Although once I did, the bed is very comfortable. It's been a long while since I tried sleeping in the "regular" suite so I'm looking forward to getting a chance to compare in a few weeks on an A346.
I woke up to the sound of breakfast being prepared, and was promptly handed my breakfast card as promised! I'm still a little unsure about this new idea, I was quite groggy and so it was difficult to decide then and there. I made my decision, and went off to get changed back into normal clothes whilst the CC prepared my breakfast and reset my seat. Annoyingly I lost a little headphone pouch when my seat was re-flipped.
Descent into Manchester began at 6:32am, there were good views of Ireland, and as we continued to descend, the rain began to pour! What a way to enter the year.
We pulled into stand 210 at 6:44, 16 minutes ahead of schedule. Thank you's and goodbye's given to a decent crew. Despite some of the nicer touches not materialising (FSM welcome), the crew visibly worked hard on the flight and were definitely one of the good ones. I was one of the first through the e-Ticket gates, a far cry from immigration at Heathrow. If I was based further North I would seriously consider using MAN as an entry point if this is typical of the queues. But alas being in Huntingdon, it's a 3 hour train ride home!
All in all, a good flight home. Thanks for reading.