Day 1: Delta Business Class

I had been saving my miles to go to New Zealand, and instead blew them on business class seats to Italy in high season. We departed Fort Lauderdale at 4:15PM (original departure time was 3:00), and arrived at JFK at 6:45PM. this being JFK, where nothing can ever go smoothly, we did not arrive at the gate until almost 1 hour later, at 7:35PM. Watching those that had missed their connections due to sitting on the ground was sort of a relief, as it is usually me in that predicament. But, nope, not today, we had plenty of time to make it to our next flight to Pisa.

International Business Class is a whole different ball game than domestic. You get real pillows, a fluffy duvet, in-seat entertainment (although mine would stop working halfway through the flight just as I woke up and could not go back to sleep), and a four course meal, with several entree choices. The food is even decent.

My one issue with the meal service on the outbound flight (which was not the case on the return) is that they give you a menu, complete with wine list, and the only wine they had that was actually on the list was one of the dessert wines. They listed Piper Heidseck champagne, and served Mionetto Prosecco, a poor substitute in my opinion. Just list what you have, or say “a selection of wines” and be done with it. Simply subbing prosecco for champagne and pretending that is not the case is unacceptable.

On the return flight they had many of the wines on the list and I enjoyed many glasses of the Heritage Road Grenache, 2006, from Australia.

The Pisa airport is small and quite manageable. The train station is just outside the terminal making the 1-1/4 hour journey to Florence very easy. Except the part about not having a ticket machine on the platform – only inside (take note, people). I had a choice: pay a fine on board for not having a ticket, or go inside, buy a ticket, miss the train and wait at least half an hour for the next one. The latter would have meant missing lunch with my friend in Florence, so we opted for choice A.

As the attendant came around (after we had been on board for almost an hour) I explained, nicely, that we simply could not find a place to buy a ticket and acted as confused as I could possibly be. Turns out, the fine for not having a ticket is 40 Euro a person. Oops. Apparently I played the Stupid American card well enough, so she only charged us 5.

So was it worth blowing all of my miles? Yes. Could Delta improve service? Yes, but the service was good.

The moral of the story: use your miles wisely, and sometimes, as needed, play dumb. After all, that saved me 70 Euro.

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