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 seemed to 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 (a premium economy product) is a business cabin for international travel and that Delta One 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 the 767 given that the 767 is three feet narrower than the A350.
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:
Delta Flight 134 Detroit, MI to Amsterdam, Netherlands
Class: Business Class (Delta One)
Scheduled Flight Time: 8 hours and 7 minutes
Actual Flight Time: 7 hours and 17 minutes
Great Circle Distance: 3,940 miles
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.
Cabin and Seat
Delta 767s are 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 isolates the seat from aisle traffic and makes it easier to see out the window.
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 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.
The video remote is covered and located within easy reach on the console.
The IFE system displays information about the flight and plane.
The range is incorrect or we’d never make it to AMS. A 767-300ER has a range of up to 5,980 nautical miles.
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.
Delta did not supply pajamas, slippers or a mattress pad. I didn’t expect a mattress and 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.
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.
As a matter of safety at least, I think airlines should require that all window shades be raised for takeoff and landing.
Takeoff was at 18:00 on the nose.
The business-class seats on Delta 767s may suck in comparison to the best business-class seats. (See e. g., Qatar Qsuites and 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.
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.
Delta wines are notoriously unimpressive. Here is the wine list.
After scotch and Argentinian white wine, the first courses were delivered at 19:11.
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.
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.
Dessert, my favorite part of the meal, was served from a cart at 19:58.
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.
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.
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.
There are two lavatories at the front of the business-class cabin. They are small but usually clean.
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.
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.
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.