“Which is the best airline?” or “Is [Insert Airline Name] the worst? I’ve heard bad things…” These are common questions from my clients, particularly when planning vacations that include long-haul flights. The truth is that on any given day, on any given flight, you can have a great experience or a lousy one. People on the same flight can have different experiences based on the crew, and their own mood. I’ve flown Delta One several times recently and am here to share the experience with you.
I am frugal. There is no chance of me shelling out thousands of dollars for a more comfortable seat on a plane. A few bucks for an exit row? Sure. Five grand for a cushy blanket and some headphones? No way. But if I can score first class seats using miles, I will buy them in a second.
Business or First Class on transatlantic and transpacific flights can vary greatly from airline to airline. From separate suites to exclusive bars, each one has their own amenities. My miles are on Delta, and it was much easier to get Delta tickets than one of the partners, so that is what we did. (How to actually use miles effectively is a whole different post.)
Pro tip: Find the airport lounge right away to maximize your time there. Oh, and clean bathrooms.
Delta One, the premium cabin on long-haul flights, has some nice perks. When you arrive at the airport, simply present your ticket to the Sky Club for entry. Most of the US-based clubs I have visited have not been anything special. They have some crappy wine and beer, and snacks. Every once in a while, you find someone working at the club that can help with flights, and that is a huge bonus. The international clubs tend to have a better selection of food and beverage. And free wifi. In airports where you still have to pay for wifi, this can come in handy.
Once onboard, greetings come in the form of champagne. (And on flights to and from Europe, it is real champagne, not “sparkling wine“.) Seats are comfortable and boast plenty of legroom, but then again, I am only 5’4” so you may feel differently. The lay-flat seats have a remote control to adjust any part of the seat at any time.
If your toiletry bag is out of reach, or you have forgotten something, chances are you will find it in the Tumi amenity bag, filled with Keihl’s products, a mini toothbrush and toothpaste set, eye mask, and more.
While being plied with champagne is always nice, there is a lot to be said for not being squished in like a sardine, having extra space, and no middle seats.
Pro tip: If you want to sleep on your overnight flight, it is best not to read a book that will suck you in.
(I was reading Lilac Girls on my last overnight flight and did not get a wink of sleep. But I finished the book.)
Once settled in and on our way, trays are set up with cloths, and the snacks start coming out. Warm mixed nuts and a choice of beverage (mine, obviously, is champagne) start the flight while you can peruse the menu. Appetizers come out next, followed by a choice of entree, usually, either a fish, meat, chicken or vegetarian option. On Delta One flights we have taken, the food has been good. Even the fish. (Yes, I chose fish as the entree choice and shockingly, it was tasty.)
Perhaps my favorite part of the meal is the cheese trolley. Because a cheese trolley is always welcome in my world.
When dinner is over, and the cheese trolley has been retired for the evening, it is best to try to sleep (or, like me, keep reading your book.) If not, the selection of movies will keep you entertained until breakfast time. Yes, they do feed you a lot.
Bottom line: The comfort of business class is a wonderful thing, and helps to arrive at your destination feeling a bit more like a person than if you have been smushed in a tiny coach seat. While I would not shell out thousands of dollars for a few extra hours of comfort, there are plenty of people that do. If you can fly business class, especially on a long flight, give it a try.