Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.
Today (November 14, 2018): Review of Delta’s Boeing 767 Business Class from Brussels to New York.
On September 21st 2018, I flew Business Class onboard a Delta Air Lines (better known as Delta) Boeing 767-300ER from Brussels in Belgium to JFK Airport in New York. One of the founding members of SkyTeam, Delta is the 6th oldest operating airline in the world, and the oldest airline in the USA. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta is the world’s second largest airline in terms of scheduled passengers carried, revenue per passenger per mile flown and fleet size (after American Airlines). Delta is also the largest transatlantic carrier, with more transatlantic flights per day than any other carrier. The B767 is the backbone of Delta’s transatlantic fleet, and while a journey onboard Delta’s B767 Business Class (called Delta One) still offers a comfortable ride, the hard product (seat) feels dated and out of step with more modern Business Class cabins, including Delta’s own terrific suite (offered on its brand new A350 aircraft only). On a positive note, the soft product (e.g. catering, bedding, entertainment, service) during this flight was excellent!
Delta Air Lines features in my top 10 list of the best airlines for transatlantic Business Class (although they only deserve a spot here because of their game changing suites on their new A350 aircraft).
Have you ever flown Delta’s Business Class? What was your experience? Leave a comment below.
- Trip: Brussels (BRU) to New York (JFK)
- Airline: Delta Air Lines
- Aircraft type: Boeing 767-300ER
- Aircraft registration number:
- Flight Number:
- Date: September 21st, 2018
- On time departure: yes (10.45 am)
- On time arrival: yes (12.30 pm)
- Miles: 3650
- Flight time: 7 hours & 45 minutes
- Seat: 3D
- Class: Business
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Cost of my ticket
- Facts & figures about Delta’s longhaul fleet
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences (views, crew, lavatory)
- My verdict (score)
1. COST OF MY TICKET
The cost of my return ticket was 1250 euros, which is a fabulous price for a Business Class trip from Europe to the USA. I purchased the ticket during a sale on the Delta website, with tickets being sold with discounts of 50%.
2. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT DELTA’S LONGHAUL FLEET
Delta’s mainline fleet includes almost 900 aircraft in service, making it one of the largest airline fleets in the world. Before merging with Northwest Airlines in 2009, Delta operated an all-Boeing and McDonnell Douglas fleet; it incorporated Northwest’s Airbus aircraft into its fleet following the merger and ordered further Airbus types. Delta is known for its policy of generally buying older generation or used aircraft and for continuing to fly aircraft for 20-30 years, much longer than most other major airlines. As such, it has one of the oldest fleets of any American airline, with an average fleet age of 16.3 years. Delta’s Boeing aircraft make up about 57% of its fleet, while its Airbus aircraft makes about 27% and McDonnell Douglas aircraft makes up about 16%. Delta is the world’s largest Boeing 767 operator.
3. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
Although they all share a similar Business Class layout and seat, Delta’s B767s come in 5 configurations that differ from each other regarding the number of seats in all cabins:
- Version one (B767-400ER aircraft): 40 Business Class + 28 Premium Economy Class + 78 Economy Class seats
- Version two: 36 Business Class + 29 Premium Economy Class + 143 Economy Class seats
- Version three: 36 Business Class + 32 Premium Economy Class + 143 Economy Class seats
- Version four: 26 Business Class + 35 Premium Economy Class + 165 Economy Class seats
- Version five: 26 Business Class + 29 Premium Economy Class + 171 Economy Class seats
My flight from Brussels to New York was operated by a high density Boeing 767-300ER that featured ‘only’ 26 lie-flat Business Class seats. The seats were spread over 7 rows in just one cabin, which was located in front of the Economy Plus Class cabin.
All of Delta’s B767s feature a Business Class cabin with a staggered, so-called Sogerma Solstys seat layout, whereby the foot compartment for each seat is located between and/or under the seat(s) ahead. An advantage of this type of layout on the B767 is that all seats face forward and enjoy direct aisle access. In addition, since none of the rows line up, nobody is directly looking into the seat across the aisle, which is good thing as it enhances the privacy a little. The middle seats all come in pairs (separated by a large arm rest) while the window seats are all single seats. These window seats alternate between ‘real window seats’ (with a large armrest between the seat and aisle) and ‘aisle seats’ (with only a narrow arm rest between the seat and aisle). Those aisle seats are not as enjoyable as the real window seats, since you will feel occasionally disturbed by passengers and crew in the aisle during the flight.
IMHO, the design of Delta’s B767 Business Class cabin is unremarkable and feels anything but exclusive. The problem is that the carrier has raised the bar with the introduction of walled cocoons with sliding doors on its newly delivered A350 aircraft, which definitely outperforms the carrier’s dated-looking B767 product. But while this style of Business Class layout and seat is not state-of-the-art anymore, it was still a very comfortable experience of course.
This staggered seat layout is not unique for Delta as it can also be found on American’s B767s, Brussels Airlines’ A330s, Austrian Airlines’ B777s, SWISS’ Airbus A330s/A340s & B777s, and Finnair’s A330s to name a few.
4. BUSINESS CLASS SEATS (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
I had selected seat 3D – a window seat – for the 7 hour 45 minutes flight to New York.
The Delta B767 Business Class seat is 21 inches (53 cm) wide and has a pitch of between 76 and 81 inches (193 to 205 cm). The seat has a large arm rest on the side, which holds the foot cubby of the seat behind it and can be used as a working surface. This wide armrest also features an electronic panel at its end to control the seat’s position (takeoff/landing versus lie-flat mode) and to activate an in-seat massage function. A foldable tray table is stored in this arm rest and kind of flips out at the push of a button. The arm rest also holds a box with a remote control for the inflight entertainment system. Above the arm rest, there’s a panel with a universal power port, a USB ports and a small personal reading lamp (at eye level).
The seat is comfortable when you are sitting upright, but it’s somewhat different in the lie-flat position. Although it’s a fully flat-bed, the seat and your lower legs descend into a box carved out for it in the armrest of the seat(s) ahead, below the entertainment screen. This coffin-like footwell is quite small, so your feet will often hit the walls of this space as you try to switch position during your sleep (although the single seats on the side have considerably more space for the feet than the paired center seats). In addition, in its lie flat position, the seat is only 45 cm (17 inch) above the floor, making it uncomfortable getting in and out to go to the restroom.
Besides its not so comfortable lie flat position, the seat also has two other disadvantages: it lacks adequate storage space and it is moved by small motors, so you hear a weird noise every time you (or the passengers around you) adjust the seat position or activate the massage function.
What are the best Business Class seats on Delta’s B767? Click here for a seat map.
- The best seats for solo travelers are the single seats on the side, especially those that are separated from the aisle by the wide arm rest.
- Travel companions should go for the paired seats in the middle.
What are the worst Business Class seats on Delta’s B767? Click here for a seat map.
- Some of the solo seats on the side have their wide arm rest located next to the window, with only a narrow arm rest between the seat and the aisle. As explained above, these seats are not as private as the real window seats, and it may feel like you are seated in the middle of the aisle as you will be occasionally disturbed by passengers and crew in the aisle during the flight.
- The middle seats have a smaller foot compartment and slightly shorter flat-bed compared to the aisle seats (76 inches or 193 cm compared to 81 inches or 205 cm).
- Window seats in row 6, 9 and/or 10 are missing a window. Try to avoid these seats with the help of Delta’s B767 seat maps as found on SeatGuru.
Delta hands out superb amenities on longhaul Business Class flights:
- You get a silver hard-sided TUMI amenity kit outbound from the USA and a soft-sided black TUMI amenity kit inbound to the USA (so you can add a variety to your amenity kit collection each way). The kits feature travel essentials including Kiehl’s lip balm and grapefruit-scented deluxe hand and body lotion with Aloe Vera and Oatmeal, a dental kit featuring Crest toothpaste, tissues, mouthwash and ear plugs.
- Delta’s bedding is Westin Heavenly branded and includes an oversized duvet, a high-quality blanket and down-alternative pillow.
- Pajamas are not offered in Business Class, except on Delta’s routes from Los Angeles to Shanghai and Sydney.
- Delta’s noise-cancelling headphones are from Los Angeles-based sound and philanthropic company LSTN Sound Co.
Shortly after takeoff, a lunch was served and I choose the following items from the Delta One stylized menu:
- Starter: Black Forest tuna with dill cream and pickled carrots
- Salad: summer tomato and fresh mozzarela salad with mixed greens
- Main course: Flemish cod with lemon beurre blanc, parsley potatoes, and sautéed spinach
- Dessert: vanilla ice cream sundae with your choice of sauces, nuts and whipped cream
I found the menu puzzling, as I had never heard before of Flamish cod (and I live in Flanders) nor did I know that tuna lived in the Black Forest :-). Apart from that, I though the meals were tasty albeit not memorable, with the dessert being the highlight. A nice touch was that the meals were served on stylish tableware by the globally renowned design company Alessi.
A snack was offered midflight: warm chocolate chip cookie service.
Then, about 90 minutes prior to landing came the second, light meal service. I choose a hamburger, which was served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato and cheese. It was the first time I had a hamburger on a plane, but it tasted quite good!
Each Business Class seat features a TV screen mounted in the back of the seat ahead. Unfortunately, the screen is quite small (13 inches), which is similar in size to the entertainment screens in Delta’s Premium Economy Class (where the seats are closer to the screen, hence making for a more enjoyable entertainment experience). In comparison, Delta’s new A350 suites feature much larger, 18 inch TV screens, representing a huge improvement.
On a positive note, Delta’s entertainment – which the carrier calls Delta Studios – is excellent, with a large library of movies (around 300), TV shows (around 800), audio books, video games and even live satellite TV. You can view the shows on the seat’s entertainment screen, or alternatively, stream the entertainment to your own mobile phone or tablet.
8. ONBOARD INTERNET
Delta is one of the largest providers of in-flight WiFi in the world, and with more than 1,100 enabled aircraft, WiFi access is offered on nearly all flights. Inflight WiFi is powered by Gogo. Like several other major airlines equipped by Gogo, access to Delta’s WiFi may be purchased before any given flight. A global day pass costs $28 USD and is valid for 24 hours on one or more Gogo-equipped Delta flights regardless of the route.
Delta also offers free mobile messaging (Facebook, Whatsapp, iMessage) so you can stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues while onboard at no charge. Ensure that you have downloaded these apps before you fly (they all are free).
Delta had also equipped this B767-300ER plane with Ku band WiFi technology, where an antenna on the top of the plane communicates with satellites in orbit. Not only does it deliver a signal strong enough to stream Netflix, but also Ku band technology is much more effective than ground-to-air when planes fly over bodies of water (or areas of land with no cell towers). It also maintains a signal throughout the entire flight, delivering seamless Wi-Fi connectivity.
9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
#CREW: Delta’s flight attendants are considered the friendliest of all USA airlines. The cabin crew on this flight was very outgoing and enthusiastic. I told them about my fear of flying over water, and I was offered a flight map, a gesture which I genuinely apreciated.
# TOILET: There are 2 lavatories for the 26 Business Class passengers, both of them located behind the cockpit. The Business Class lavatory design was very simple, and lavatories were kept clean during the flight.
10. MY VERDICT
- Cabin design: 5/10
- Seat comfort (upright): 7/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 7/10
- Food (quality): 7/10
- Food (quantity): 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 7/10
- WiFi: 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Overall experience: good: 7/10
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I have flown this plane more than handful of times. While I am not crazy about the seat design, I have slept on all the flights. I actually find Delta food to be quite good. Better than my last few Cathay Business flights. That tuna appetizer is supposedly smoked like a black forest ham. Also for the last 2 years Delta has been supplying a foam pad with a sheet to sleep on. Again I found that pad to be superior to many other business classes that had no pad. Did you not get this?
Delta is one of my favourite airlines. To be fair, I haven’t flown with that many airlines over the years. Everytime I have flown with Delta, the staff has been amazing. I love flying with companies that believe and care about the same things I believe in.