Delta Air Lines 767-400ER Delta One

At­lanta (ATL) — Lon­don Heathrow (LHR)

Business Traveler (USA) - - TRIED & TESTED -

CHECK-IN:

At­lanta’s Harts­field-Jack­son In­ter­na­tional Air­port is among the eas­i­est of US air­ports to nav­i­gate, with all the con­courses lined up like domi­noes and con­nected by a speedy un­der­ground Plane Train. It would have to be; since the air­port han­dles more pas­sen­gers than any other in the world, any­thing less would spell chaos.

As I was mak­ing a con­nec­tion, I was not re­quired to check in at the main ter­mi­nal or pass through se­cu­rity. Com­ing from my do­mes­tic flight, I headed for Con­course E to find a Delta Sky Club and await the Lon­don de­par­ture. The club was spa­cious and quiet with a fair se­lec­tion of food for that time of night, and com­pli­men­tary wines and beers from the bar.

BOARD­ING: About 10 min­utes be­fore the sched­uled board­ing time, I made my way to the gate, only to dis­cover that board­ing was al­ready well un­der­way. How­ever since I was a Delta One cus­tomer, I was able to avoid the lines and board with­out de­lay.

Once seated, I was of­fered a glass of Cham­pagne, the Deutz Brut Clas­sic, to­gether with some tasty spiced Ge­or­gia pecans, just the right note to start the trip. This flight seemed to be old home week for sev­eral pas­sen­gers as they were wel­comed back per­son­ally by the crew. I too re­ceived a warm greeting by name, but it was clear th­ese folks made this trip reg­u­larly.

THE SEAT: The busi­ness class cabin is con­fig­ured 1-2-1 with seats that ex­tend into a fully flat bed. The seat was com­fort­able in both the sit­ting and the sleep­ing po­si­tion. Maybe I just missed it, but I was sur­prised at the lack of stowage around the seat for my brief­case; it was ei­ther un­der­foot or in the over­head. The seat­back screen was smaller than I’d ex­pe­ri­enced on other airlines, and the en­ter­tain­ment se­lec­tion, while ex­ten­sive, of­fered mostly movies and shows I’d seen be­fore. About 20 min­utes into the flight, the IFE died com­pletely and took a few min­utes to re­set.

THE FLIGHT:

First a word about the ser­vice aboard the flight: It’s a stan­dard re­frain among fre­quent fliers that the cabin ser­vice on US car­ri­ers per­haps lacks a cer­tain re­fine­ment and ef­fi­ciency one might find aboard for­eign car­ri­ers. Well, ku­dos to the crew of Flight 30. I found the ser­vice to be thought­ful, punc­tual and en­tirely sat­is­fac­tory. Ei­ther this crew was ex­cep­tional, or – we can only hope – Delta is hit­ting its hos­pi­tal­ity stride in th­ese premium cab­ins.

The din­ner ser­vice started soon af­ter we reached cruis­ing al­ti­tude. From celebrity chef Lin­ton Hop­kins’menu I se­lected the red wine beef short ribs, a juicy and fla­vor­ful choice, ac­com­pa­nied by the Wente Riva Ranch pinot noir. Af­ter the dou­ble cho­co­late ganache cake, I felt the bed call­ing me and fell into a deep sleep from which even the prom­ise of break­fast sev­eral hours later would not stir me.

AR­RIVAL: We landed about a half-hour ahead of sched­ule, so sat on the tar­mac for sev­eral min­utes. Once off the plane we were given an in­vi­ta­tion to re­lax in the Re­vivals lounge of Delta’s code­share part­ner Vir­gin At­lantic. Im­mi­gra­tion lines were rel­a­tively pain­less thanks to an ex­pe­dited lane for premium pas­sen­gers and I was soon en route to Padding­ton via the Heathrow Ex­press.

VERDICT: Con­trary to pop­u­lar myth, great ser­vice has not com­pletely dis­ap­peared from US airlines, and this crew is proof. I could wish for a tad more lux­ury or con­ve­nience, but the ser­vice more than made up for it.

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