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Flying Delta Transcontinental BusinessElite on JFK-LAX

Flying Delta Transcontinental BusinessElite on JFK-LAX

Old Aug 7, 13, 6:56 am
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Flying Delta Transcontinental BusinessElite on JFK-LAX



Dear Flyertalkers, welcome to my 6th trip report. This part covers the second leg of my trip to the USA. For more background info and also the first leg in KLM World Business Class, I encourage you all to first read that trip report here.

After four days in the Big Apple, it was time to fly to LA where our fly&drive tour would commence. Originally the flight was in Economy but some months before the flight I managed to upgrade me and my family for free to Economy Comfort courtesy of my Aerolineas Elite Plus status. The trip even got better when I got upgraded to Delta’s international BusinessElite cabin.

Delta Airlines Flight 095
Route: New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) – Los Angeles International (LAX)
Aircraft: Boeing 767-332ER
Registration: N196DN
Flight time: 15:30-18:45 (sched.)
Duration: 06:15h (sched.) / 05:05h (actual)
Seat: 14B (Economy Comfort), upgraded to 6B


Our day of departure was on the fourth of July. It being a national holiday, I inquired at the concierge at our hotel about traffic to JFK. She expected traffic chaos that afternoon so I let her change our pick up to an earlier time.

We were picked up a bit before noon from our hotel near Times Square by Execucar. The ride to JFK was without any problems and really quick.

Contrary to what was expected, the roads were virtually empty! The drive to Terminal 4 took approximately 45 minutes and we arrived at JFK around the same time I originally planned the pickup for. But you are better safe than sorry and we didn’t mind, I had planned on going to Shake Shack anyways.


Ride to the airport

We proceeded to the (very nice) seperated SkyPriority check-in area. We had already checked in online but I wanted to print a real BP so used the kiosks first.


Delta check-in at Terminal 4


Skypriority entrance


Skypriority Check-in

We then went to one of the available agents for our luggage drop off. I had upgraded with miles on the transatlantic leg but that also meant I would get an entirely new reservation, also for the Delta leg. As SkyTeam Elite Plus benefits extend to companions on Delta, I feared for my family’s EC seats and baggage allowance but luckily they stayed in effect and we had no charges for our luggage (might also be because we were on an int’l ticket).

I also inquired why I was in boarding zone 1 instead of SKY but she couldn’t do anything about it.

After our bag was tagged we sat down in the small seating area near the SkyPriority check-in which was stocked with water bottles and small snacks; Biscoffs, pretzels and peanuts. The water was much appreciated as NY was very hot and humid outside. Very generous of Delta to provide and when some snacks disappeared in our bags it also made up for the inexistence of a lounge because we were on a domestic flight.


Provided water and nibbles

The floor was filled with crumbles and packages though and I can’t imagine why passengers would be so inconsiderate and leave such a mess .

After some minutes we proceeded to security. It was very busy and staff yelled to go to another lane or something. Via the corridor from the Delta SP check-in, you’ll pass the First/Business/PreCheck line. No Skypriority designation but I just went ahead and could use the lane as could my family. After the travel document checker, you are either allowed to enter the PreCheck lane or join the regular line (so you cut in front, made a BIG difference, it was busy!). An Air India flight and NRT flight were departing around that time and you could notice it. There was an Indian family in front of us and they did not speak a word of English. Add the inconsiderate TSA and it was a mess. When the family finally understood they couldn’t go through the WTMD with multiple persons, I was allowed through to pass without problem.

We gathered our belongings and proceeded directly to the gate. Due to our early arrival at the airport, we had more than enough time. We did not bother to go to any of the shops but I did convince my parents to go to Shake Shack, which was next to our gate. Luckily it was not busy here as well and we enjoyed one of their delicious burgers. One of the best I had in the US.
After that we settled at the gate where there were enough power ports. Very nice.

As it was the fourth of July, I thought it would be a light day for business travel thus Elite/Medaillion travelers. I also checked the upgrade list and saw there were more seats than people for upgrades. I decided to try my luck and went to the service desk. I asked the agent if they were willing to upgrade a Skyteam partner Elite(+) in case the seats would go out free anyways. Her response was negative but it didn’t seem she was interested in helping me either.

One thing I have learned in the aviation world is that you should never take one no as answer. So I went to the gate agent instead to try another time, perfectly in line with the Dutch saying “You already have a no, but you can get a yes”. I told the agent my request whilst applying some of my charm *cough* and more importantly smiled a lot (you can get so much done with smiling and being nice than acting entitled). He asked to see my boardingpass and much to my surprise, the answer was not negative right away. He told me to come back in a half an hour.

I was astonished that I had a chance to be upgraded for free (not used to that in Europe) so it was a nervous half an hour. Parents could/would not believe it, yet.

During the wait, I kept checking the app but also saw upgrade offers on the screens in the gate. Amount was something around $225.

After half an hour I went back to the podium. The GA told me he was about to process the Medaillions and when there was space left I would be upgraded as well. He also said it should have been automatically on the UG list but that didn’t happen. He added me manually then and told me he needed another 10 minutes but told me not to worry as he would not forget me.

After 10 minutes, I went back. During a short wait boarding already commenced. When it was my turn I got handed a BP for seat 6B!!! WOOOOW!!! I was upgraded as partner Elite (so I was below FO’s) on a transcontinental BusinessElite flight! Said to be impossible, I was so glad I ‘managed’ it. My parents could not believe it either and had no idea how I got it done.

Officially, there are no complimentary upgrades for non-DL/AFKL/AS Elites, so that’s weird. I do have a theory about my upgrade but will not share that online as it could backfire me.

I also asked to change my sister in 14A to 14B (my original seat) so she had an aisle seat. After taking my BP and thanking the GA, I called over my family and queued for boarding. I was through in an instant but my family was stopped (they were zone 1). I just presented my BP and asked with a smile Can they board with me please?’. Then it was a ‘Sure, no problem’.


Our 767 at the Gate

Last edited by KLflyerRalph; May 16, 14 at 11:53 am
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Old Aug 7, 13, 6:59 am
  #2  
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Boarding was through door 1L meaning the whole plane would pass through the BE cabin. I was even more ecstatic when I saw the configuration. It was the full flat BE seat normally used to LHR. To get an impression of the seat and cabin, I encourage you to watch this video.


Seat (photo taken on disembarkation)


No Economy for me this time


Legroom

Overhearing some seatmates, a lot of them were upgraded as well.

On the seat there were already a pillow and blanket, by Westin Hotels, bottled Dasani water, noise cancelling headphones and a Tumi amenity kit. I have to say I was really impressed by the offerings.



Settling in

The Tumi kit was far better stocked and items were of high quality compared with KLM’s offering. It consisted of an eyemask, socks, shoe horn, comb, earplugs, tissues, hand wipe, pen, shoe polish, dental kit including floss and MALIN+GOETZ lotion and moisturizer. I especially like the eyemask with its nice padding. The case is also reusable.

The full size pillow was also much appreciated and is better than the thin, small pillows I am used to.

Boarding was hectic as the plane was full. When it became less busy, I got offered PDB and the menu. I did not dare to pick champagne so chose orange juice. Newspapers were also offered.


Amenity kit, headphones and newspaper


Amenity Kit


Amenity Kit Contents


PDB OJ and Headphones

I have to say I was quite nervous during boarding. I was sitting with my BP in hand fearing this all was a screw up and they would ask me to move back to me EC seat. It was that hard to believe LOL.


Boarding

The purser was trying very hard to get the plane out on time, making numerous announcements but unfortunately to no avail. There were also some seating issues. One woman had no seat (overheard it might have been due to a lap child in a seat) so an uniformed non-rev next to my mother had to jump seat in the cockpit. After that, doors closed and we commenced push back. BE as well as Economy went out full.

I was now certain of my seat.

All in all we had half an hour delay, with take off at 4 pm.
After takeoff, the purser made an announcement ‘we had a lovely crew onboard taking care of us’. And it was.

Last edited by KLflyerRalph; Mar 9, 14 at 6:13 am
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Old Aug 7, 13, 7:02 am
  #3  
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Soon, lunch orders were taken from the back to the front, so I was one of the first to be asked ‘will you be joining us for lunch today, sir?



Menu


Michael Chiarello is the consulting chef


Lunch options

I decided to take a chance on the lamb. I knew red meat is risky on an airplane but the dish and sides sounded interesting. The meals were designed by Michael Chiarello and had an Italian theme. The purser at the same time also took our menu’s away.

I reclined my seat and started browsing the IFE, which I found mediocre. I started to watch Ted, using the provided headset, which did a fine job.

Pre-drink service started with warm mixed nuts and choice of drinks (brought from the galley). I was happy they had ginger ale onboard (Seagrams) and it got served with ice. Refills were offered and I asked for one with a wedge of lime. A ginger ale with lime is my Woodford Reserve.


IFE


Reclining options


First drink service

My tray table was covered with a cloth and I got my appetizer, again directly from the galley instead of a trolley. It consisted of salami, mozzarella with tomato and toasted bread with dip. A salad was on the side, offered with vinaigrette and carrot-raisin combo.



Woodford… err ginger ale


Appetizer and salad

The appetizer was nice enough, though the bread was a bit chewy. The salad was enjoyable. The FA made a round with the breadbasket after distribution of the trays.

I finished everything and my plates were taken away. Then my main course of lamb arrived.


Tray


Main Course close up


Cuisson

The meat was cooked to my liking albeit a tiny bit fatty. The chops were not dry though, and with some extra seasoning (salt and pepper were on the tray) they were delicious in combination with the cherry vinaigrette. No shoe sole here!

The combination of the sweet, acidic cherry vinaigrette and the salty pancetta also worked great with the Bruxelles sprouts.

I did not like the polenta though, but I had never eaten it before. It had a bit of a strange texture.

All in all I found the main course to be very good. I did not expect this level of food, which had simple but good ingredients in great taste combinations. Unfortunately no wines here either.

When my entire tray was cleared I was asked for my dessert choice. I decided on the gelato.

The gelato quickly arrived with a new set on utensils. I think the flavor was (salted) caramel. Either way it rounded of the meal very nicely, but you can’t go wrong with ice cream.


Gelato

After my plate and linen were cleared, I stowed my tray table and reclined some more to finish Ted.

The seat console offered a powerport, adjustable reading light and USB powerport where I could charge my iPhone directly. In the seat in front there was a space for storing shoes but it was too small for mine. The seat lacked storage area in my opinion, certainly if you want to keep the blanket and pillow close by.


Console


Connectivity options

Last edited by KLflyerRalph; Mar 9, 14 at 6:26 am
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Old Aug 7, 13, 7:04 am
  #4  
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Despite being on a day flight, the window shades were mostly shut. After Ted, there wasn’t anything interesting on the IFE so I just grabbed my iPhone for some music and games and reclined to an almost fully reclined position. I very much like it the seat can be in virtually every position because it’s a full flat.

I grabbed my pillow and blanket and tried to get some shut eye but due to the timing I couldn’t get to sleep despite the full flat seat. As said in my other TR, no matter what seat on a day flight I can’t sleep but when it’s a night flight I can sleep in almost anything. Seems I need to try business class again on a night flight.

The pillow, blanket and full flat seat sure made a comfortable bed where I can imagine myself sleeping in on a night flight. However I found the room for your feet (in the seat in front of you) when fully reclined to be far too narrow (when sleeping of your back instead of side). I had this with the whole seat, it was a bit too narrow and restrictive (compared to KLM) when you sink between the sides of the seat. I did appreciate the direct-aisle access configuration but the seat was simply too narrow to wind down in my opinion.


Seat


Seat reclined


Seat reclined


Westin Heavenly Inflight


Snuggled in

During the flight I used the call bell to request a drink. The FA serving my aisle was always kind (2 FA’s + purser working in BE). She was attentive and proactive (‘would you like another ginger ale, sir?’) and always with a smile. ^ She was eager to please and to get things for the passengers (seat mate requested and downed like 5 Dasani bottles pre take off).

Midflight I was feeling a bit peckish and went up to the galley to request a snack. There were still some cheese boards left and the FA said she would get me one.


Cheese board

I went to check on my family a few times, who were just behind the curtain. They were quite jealous I was in a better seat on 2 out of 2 flights but they also appreciated the Economy Comfort seats I had arranged for them. Legroom seemed very good there and I think I have convinced them to buy EC from now on.

I also checked the lavatories, which were kept tidy and had a cool sink (bit like the one in CX F?) and lighting.

For the remainder of the flight I relaxed in the seat and I also watched an episode of Downton Abbey (gosh, the selection must have been really bad for me to choose that!).

Pre landing a warm chocolate chip cookie was offered with drinks. The FA’s also passed with the snack basket and I picked a Twix and peanuts for to go.


Cookie


Snack Basket selection


BE Cabin

Half an hour before landing the landing announcement was made and I stowed my stuff in the overhead. Until landing I listened to some music and the pilots made a smooth touchdown.


After travelling across the country…


… we were in SoCal

After docking at the gate, I thanked the FA and exited the plane. After my parents had exited too, we proceeded to baggage claim.

Well, LA(X) is a dump. Tired looking airport with low ceilings and construction everywhere. Cramped baggage claim and bad signing. I hate the city too. It’s horrible to drive in with its gridlocks and I will most likely never visit it again. I did not find the sights interesting either.

After quite a wait, all our baggage arrived (all were tagged with priority) and we proceeded to the car rental shuttle.

We picked up our Ford Explorer and went to the Crowne Plaza LAX where I was luckily upgraded to a Club Room with view on the airport (funny there were earplugs on the pillows ). The next day we’d start our 17-day roadtrip.

Thank you for reading my trip report.
Comments and questions are always welcome.

Last edited by KLflyerRalph; May 29, 14 at 8:58 am
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Old Aug 7, 13, 7:36 am
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A very enjoyable read.

Originally Posted by KLflyerRalph View Post
As SkyTeam Elite Plus benefits extend to companions on Delta, I feared for my familyís EC seats and baggage allowance but luckily they stayed in effect and we had no charges for our luggage (might also be because we were on an intíl ticket).
International tickets get a consistent luggage allowance throughout the whole journey. Assuming your family were on a single PNR AMS-JFK, JFK-LAX, LAX-...-AMS, they will get a bag everywhere they go.

Originally Posted by KLflyerRalph View Post
AsI also inquired why I was in boarding zone 1 instead of SKY but she couldnít do anything about it.
Can't explain that, just flash your card if necessary.

Originally Posted by KLflyerRalph View Post
I was astonished that I had a chance to be upgraded for free (not used to that in Europe) so it was a nervous half an hour. Parents could/would not believe it, yet.
...
Officially, there are no complimentary upgrades for non-DL/AFKL/AS Elites, so thatís weird. I do have a theory about my upgrade but will not share that online as it could backfire me.
Actually domestic upgrades is a DL benefit to SkyTeam members. We are put at the bottom of the upgrade list in alphabetical order (not sorted by status) if I remember. You usually have to ask nicely. Edit: Perhaps I am mistaken, thinking about it, it may only extend to AF and KL. Could someone let us know?

Last edited by Calchas; Aug 7, 13 at 7:51 am Reason: Misinformation
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Old Aug 7, 13, 8:38 am
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There are complimentary upgrades available to non DL elites after all DL elites have been processed. If you use see them selling upgrades at the gate it probably means that there are more seats available than elites(DL+partners). You should verify if you are on the list.
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Old Aug 7, 13, 8:50 am
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Did not know that. I always thought it was only Medaillions + Alaska MVPs and Flying Blue Elites.
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Old Aug 7, 13, 11:02 am
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It's because you were flying on the 4th . I am a PM on DL (lower than only DM) and upgrades LAX/JFK are tough, though there is the random gem here and there. Good review of the 767 product, I've only flown the 757s before they introduced that service, it may be worth some Systemwide upgrades to guarantee the UG on non-holiday flights.
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Old Aug 7, 13, 11:53 am
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Thanks for the trip report, I enjoyed reading it.

Originally Posted by KLflyerRalph View Post

After travelling across the country…
Judging from the "Terug"-button, it is possible to change the screen language of the IFE to Dutch? I would not expect that from an American airline. Confusingly, the names on the map are then in Spanish, like Estados Unidos and Dakota del Norte...

Last edited by Moomba; Mar 23, 14 at 7:56 am
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Old Aug 7, 13, 1:45 pm
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Originally Posted by Siebrand View Post
Thanks for the trip report, I enjoyed reading it.



Judging from the "Terug"-button, it is possible to change the screen language of the IFE to Dutch? I would not expect that from an American airline. Confusingly, the names on the map are then in Spanish, like Estados Unidos and Dakota del Norte...
The map is just being very forward thinking.

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Old Aug 7, 13, 3:58 pm
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The TV screens look smaller than those in Y on an EK A380. Regardless, the food looks alright for a domestic US flight.

Also, I'm somewhat surprised to see a bag of peanuts as a DL snack.
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Old Aug 7, 13, 8:50 pm
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Originally Posted by Siebrand View Post
Judging from the "Terug"-button, it is possible to change the screen language of the IFE to Dutch? I would not expect that from an American airline. Confusingly, the names on the map are then in Spanish, like Estados Unidos and Dakota del Norte...
That IFE interface can be set to any of about 8 or 9 languages. (It varies on DL by type of IFE.) However, the airshow is hardcoded to flip between English and Spanish only.

BTW, the salted caramel gelato doesn't look like much, but it's totally worth getting.
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Old Aug 7, 13, 10:43 pm
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Originally Posted by asdf1223 View Post
If you use see them selling upgrades at the gate it probably means that there are more seats available than elites(DL+partners).
Not necessarily. It generally means there are seats available, only after it's clear they won't be purchased, they go to the elites (or so I was told).

BTW, 225$ for transcon on the intl BE is not so bad. Last time I flew LAS-JFK, the red-eye was operated by A320, with the usual FC seats, no refreshments other than the (in)famous basket and the upgrade was offered at the gate for 180$.
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Old Aug 7, 13, 11:55 pm
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Originally Posted by BuildingMyBento View Post
Also, I'm somewhat surprised to see a bag of peanuts as a DL snack.
DL has a snack basket that gets passed around after the meal, there are multiple options, OP must have chosen peanuts.

If there are hot nuts available, they can offer those as well. And a Delta fight ain't a Delta flight until you have some Biscoffs!

I've done AA/UA/DL J on this route and DL definitely has the best food of the 3.
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Old Aug 8, 13, 4:47 am
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Excellent report. Man the WBC flight looked so dated.
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