Delta’s Plans for 767-300 Business Class

These days many bloggers are reviewing the Delta One suite.  I’ve done so a couple of times myself, the first week it was flying and after several additional flights.   That seat seems to be the future of Delta Airlines business-class seating.

In an October 2018 Ask Ed Anything session, Delta CEO Ed Bastian set out the Delta One remodeling program in a nutshell:

What we’re doing is we’re re-outfitting the entire 76-400 to be consistent with the product you see on the Airbus A350 with the new Delta One suites which we’re also putting on the 777s and we’ll eventually roll it out through all of our international widebodies.

You’ll have the new Delta premium select product which is a business cabin for international, you’ll have the suites the enclosed suites in the Delta One first class cabin and enhancements in the main cabin as well.”  Emphasis added.

Bastian is being deceptive in claiming that Premium Select (premium economy) is a business cabin for international travel and that Delta One ( business class) is a first class cabin.  Fibs like that and the difference in size of the planes in Delta’s fleet make it hard to take seriously the highlighted statement about putting the D1 suite on the 767.

The problem is the 767’s fuselage and cabin is the narrowest of any widebody.  Cabin width of the 767 is 186 inches.  The 777 width is 231 inches.  An A350 is 222 inches wide, and an A330 is 207 inches wide.  It seems to be a tall task to put D1 suites configured four across on a 767 given that a 767 is narrower than the A350 by three feet.

Maybe there’s a way to do it.  Japan Airlines on a 787-9 and Korean Airlines on the 777-300ER, 747-8 and A330 do a magnificent job of arranging Apex Suites six across in business class.  Has anyone seen a seating chart for a remodeled 767?

Delta has 77 767s.  Regardless of what the remodeled aircraft will look like, the  Thompson Vantage seat on the 767 will continue to be Delta’s most widely used international business-class seat for the next 12 to 18 months.

Other posts about this trip:

KLM Intra-Europe Business Class Using Delta Skymiles

Marriott Berlin Hotel 

Westin Grand Berlin – Hotel Review

LOT Polish Airlines Dash 8 Economy Class, Berlin, Germany to Warsaw Poland

Preludium Executive Lounge Warsaw, Poland – Priority Pass Lounge Review

Auschwitz-Birkenau and Krakow, Poland Jewish Ghetto Tour

Hotel Review – Sheraton Grand Krakow, Poland

Flight With A New Car Smell – LOT Polish Airlines Embraer 190-200 Warsaw, Poland to Krakow

6 Renovations That Take the Non-Schengen KLM Crown Lounge 52 To A New Level – Progress Report

Preludium Executive Lounge, Krakow Poland – Priority Pass Lounge Review

Delta One A330-300 Amsterdam, Netherlands to Atlanta, GA And Global Upgrade Snafu – Trip Report

Delta Flight 134 Detroit, MI to Amsterdam, Netherlands

Equipment:  767-300ER

Class:  Business Class (Delta One)

Seat: 5D

Scheduled Flight Time:  8 hours and 7 minutes

Actual Flight Time:  7 hours and 17 minutes

Great Circle Distance: 3,940 miles

Boarding

The elevated tram at the McNamara Terminal Concourse A is scheduled to be out of service until April 12, 2019.  That can make walking from a connecting flight a bit of a hike.  Concourse A is nearly one mile long.  I spent my short layover in the Delta Sky Club in the center of Concourse A.  From there, a short walk brought me to Gate 56 for boarding.

20190113_165918
Boarding process, as usual in the U.S., was slightly disorganized. A new feature on international flights from the U.S. is at boarding a camera is used to take a photo of each passenger as well as checking passports.

Cabin and Seat

Delta 767 seating is configured 1-2-1 in business class.  All 36 seats have direct access to the aisle and convert to lie-flat beds.  Single seats by the window have the console by the aisle in odd rows and by the window in even rows.  Seat 5D is a window seat on the starboard side.  Having the console by the aisle supplies some isolation from aisle traffic and makes it easier to see out the window.

20190219_230113
I selected Seat 5D because it has the console on the aisle.

The best features of the seat are clean lines, and location and ease of operation of seat and lighting controls.

The features that detract most from an enjoyable flight are the overall lack of space, the tiny, low-resolution video monitor, and the tray table that requires removing all items from the console before opening.  Also the tray table is supported only by the hinge at the console.  During the flight my tray table sloped and bounced a bit during turbulence.

20190220_022532
The entrance to the seat is only a few inches wide.
20190219_230233 (1)
The video monitor is small and lacks high resolution. The tiny footwell and lack of floor space was the most annoying aspect of the seat`.

The video remote is covered and located within easy reach on the console.

20190220_022630
Old remote to match the old video monitor.

The IFE system displays information about the flight and plane.20190224_221040

20190224_221151

The range is incorrect or we’d never make it to AMS.  A 767-300 has a range of about 4,200 nautical miles.

 Amenities

Amenities include bedding (duvet and two pillows), LSTN noise-cancelling headsets, bottled water, and a standard Delta amenity kit including pen, dental kit, facial tissues, socks, Malin-Goetz lip balm and hand and body lotion, hand wipes, and comb.

20190113_171834
Amenity kit, headphones, and water.

Delta did not supply pajamas, slippers or a mattress pad.  I didn’t expect a mattress or pajamas on a trans-Atlantic flight, but the lack of slippers was a bit disappointing.

At 17:20 a flight attendant reached my seat with a tray of juice, champagne or beer.

20190220_022417
Pre-departure Lanson brut.

Departure

Pushback was at 17:48, five minutes earlier than scheduled.  There was a 12-minute taxi to Runway 4R (Four Right).  The window shades were closed when passengers were allowed to board.  I always open the shades to get a look at what is going on outside.  I was the only one in business class who was able to enjoy a brilliant sunset.

20190220_024927
DTW sunset from taxiway.

As a matter of safety at least, I think airlines should require that all window shades be raised for takeoff and landing.

20190220_025504
The rest of the cabin had closed window shades. I’m amazed at how many can move around the airport and takeoff like spam in a can with shades closed. I get mildly disoriented without an  outside view.  US airlines need to install external view cameras.

Takeoff was at 18:00 on the nose.

20190220_033305
Our turn on Four Right. Takeoff is one of the best parts of any flight. I still get a kick out of the moment at rotation when the plane transforms from a bumpy lumbering bus into a smooth and graceful eagle anxious to soar.

In-Flight Service

The business-class seats on Delta 767s may suck in comparison to the best business-class seats.  (See e. g., Qatar Qsuites and even an older but great Singapore Airlines seat.)  Service, however, is up to Delta’s best-in-the-U.S. standards.

Twenty minutes after takeoff, a flight attendant offered moist towels before returning with a drink service.  A problem with the in-flight entertainment system (IFE) diverted the attention of the flight attendants.  Service did not resume for 30 minutes with a second round of drinks.

20190224_221536
Warm nuts (American Airlines does this better), Macallan scotch and white wine.

Menus were at each seat at boarding.  I pre ordered through a system Delta recently initiated.  Three days before departure Delta sent an email offering the opportunity to order the entree.  It is amazing that it has taken Delta so long to introduce this service.  American Airlines, a carrier that can only envy Delta’s operational performance, has been letting passengers in international business and first class and domestic first class order meals for years and you can place or change a meal order between 30 days and 24 hours before the flight.  Delta is now also offering a similar service on domestic flights for first class.

20190224_21484620190224_21494920190224_215111

Beverages:20190224_215800 (1)

20190224_215505

Delta wines are notoriously unimpressive.  Here is the wine list.

 

 

After scotch and Argentinian white wine, the first courses were delivered at 19:11.

20190224_221723
Caesar salad, Porcini mushroom soup, Harissa shrimp, and bread and butter.

Delta meals in international business class are above average in quality.  Dinner and lunch almost always include a soup course.  Appetizers are very tasty and not as simple and inexpensive as the caprese salads (tomato slices and mozzarella) popular with some airlines.  (Looking at you AA.)

My preordered entree was beef short rib with mashed potatoes, carrots and green beans.  The beef was slightly overdone even though I asked for medium.20190224_221832

20190224_221331
I opted for the French bordeaux to go with the entree.

Dessert, my favorite part of the meal, was served from a cart at 19:58.

20190113_195737
Dessert cart

I often have two or three of the dessert options.  Desserts seem to taste the same in a pressurized cabin as they do on the ground.  Airlines can’t screw them up much.

20190113_195912
Ice cream sundae and porto.
20190113_195907
Fruit and cheese

After dinner, there wasn’t much to do other than try to watch movies to take my mind off of the uncomfortable seat.  These seats have almost no floor space.  After takeoff I like to take down my backpack and place it at my feet.  There was just no room to do that.

20190220_022818
Other than the footwell where feet and lower legs must go, the only floor space is the tiny opening to the seat. But the shoe compartment is not big enough to accommodate shoes.

Unfortunately, the IFE system had to be rebooted several times mid flight.  It was never  completely fixed.  I asked the head flight attendant about compensation.  She made a note to give me 15,000 Skymiles.  The miles appeared in my account within 48 hours.

Lavatories

There are two lavatories at the front of the business-class cabin.  They are small but usually clean.

20190113_213059
Delta includes hand lotion in business bathrooms. I think that encourages washing hands.

Amsterdam Arrival

Our arrival meal was served 90 minutes before landing.  I chose quiche caprese over  granola for breakfast.  I was surprised that it tasted pretty good.

20190224_223056
The quiche and bacon were delicious.

Flight 134 landed at Amsterdam 26 minutes early at 07:08.  In spite of my dissatisfaction with the seat, I was still happy with the flight since I was lucky to find any flight at the last minute where I could use an expiring Global Upgrade Certificate and the underlying economy fare was just over $600 roundtrip.

Overall Impression

The best part of the flight was the service of the Delta flight attendants, food and alcoholic beverages except wine.  The worst part was the very tight Thompson Vantage seat and small, low definition IFE system.  When these seats are finally replaced in the next 18 to 24 months they will not be missed.