The news up there
Passenger Peter Jon Lindberg
Route New York (JFK) to Madrid Barajas Airport
Aircraft Boeing 767-300
Class/Seat No. BusinessElite, 2C
Departure Time 7:40 p.m.
Although my taxi driver overshot the badly marked turnoff for BusinessElite check-in, I luckily found no line at the main Delta counter and breezed through security. The lounge was fine, except for the two TV's tuned—loudly—to CNN and Law & Order: SVU. Actor Vincent D'Onofrio (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), who was seated nearby, might have appreciated the screening; I found it distracting.
There were plenty of empty seats on my flight, so privacy wasn't an issue, and probably wouldn't be even in a full cabin, thanks to Delta's 2-by-2-by-2 cabin arrangement. I had plenty of legroom (I'm 6'1") and was able to recline to a 160-degree pitch. However, I could feel a metal bar pushing into my back, and the adjustable headrest kept slipping down. One major plus: the pillows are big and fluffy and perfect.
The flight was a demonstration of American-style service at its finest: friendly as all heck and very informal—lots of winking and grinning and "y'alls" and "hons." Singapore Air this isn't. The Delta flight attendants are not at all deferential to passengers, but the service is what it is and what it should be.
Food and Drink
A first for me—fantastic multigrain bread, on an airplane! Though this was not the best airplane food I've had, the entrée—gnocchi (al dente) with a savory sauce, and a genuinely tender beef tenderloin—was surprisingly good. The decent wine was generously poured. The staggered meal service was a definite highlight; I could linger over my salad and get my entrée 30 minutes later.
No points for the tiny, difficult-to-adjust TV screen and the lackluster entertainment selection: XXX State of the Union, The Longest Yard (in a world without airplanes, would Adam Sandler have a career?), and CSI: Miami. Fortunately, I had a power outlet for my laptop and could watch movies on that. Delta did offer cool music choices, including Nic Harcourt's Sounds Eclectic radio show.
Delta's is definitely an old-school business service, typical of U.S.-based airlines—no flat beds, no noise-canceling headphones, no video-on-demand, no creative perks like, say, in-seat massages or free limo rides to the airport. In short, everything is pretty much what you'd expect of business class, circa, say, 1992. But it's well executed, plenty comfortable, and efficient, and there are no outright gaffes or problems.