Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that there are far more important things happening in the world that I was considering writing about. However, there is enough stuff online about the Coronavirus, so I will not be covering it. This post is therefore hopefully a distraction for you (and for me, for that matter).
Anyways, today I will be sharing my experience on the first leg of my Greece trip last summer (the details of which can be found here. Delta is generally regarded as the best US legacy airline, and given that I had barely flown with them in the past, I was looking forward to see if that reputation was true.
Hope you enjoy!
After a two-hour Uber ride to the airport, including being stuck in stop-and-go traffic on Belt Parkway, we arrived at Terminal 4 about two hours prior to our scheduled 5:08 PM departure.
While there was a line to check bags, there was no wait for a kiosk.
There was a 20-minute wait for the regular security lines according to a monitor, but no wait for TSA PreCheck.
There were some nice views of a variety of planes just past the security checkpoint.
We tried to get into the Wingtips Lounge (which is accessible through Priority Pass), but unfortunately, it was full.
We decided to go straight to our gate, despite it being very early. Terminal 4 has two prongs, one with the A-gates, and one with the B-gates. While I love the architectural design of Terminal 4 (particularly of the check-in area), the B-gate hall (where we were departing from) is extremely long. We were boarding at Gate B30.
There were many shops and restaurants, including a duty-free store.
Once again, even aside from Delta planes,Terminal 4 has a good variety of aircraft.
Not pictured is Air Serbia’s sole A330, which flies most days to Belgrade.
This A330-300, delivered brand new to Delta in January 2017, would be carrying us on our nine-hour flight to Athens.
It became evident earlier that our flight would be delayed. It ended up being delayed by 1 hour 41 minutes (since we actually pushed back at 6:49).
As you can see, the plane was filled to the brim.
Boarding groups were shown by overhead screens.
The gate area was crowded, as you would expect from a flight this full.
We began boarding around 6 PM. The gate agent welcomed each passenger onboard by last name, which was a nice touch. Before we knew it, we were heading down the jetbridge!
New York (JFK) – Athens (ATH)
Plane Registration: N830NW
Plane Type: Airbus A330-300
Flight Time: 9 hrs 32 min
Flown: July 2019
We boarded from the second door on the left. Interestingly, Delta chose pop music as its boarding musicThe Delta One (business class) cabin took up the entire space between doors 1 and 2. We did not walk past it, but it consisted of reverse herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 configuration for a total of 34 flat-bed seats.
The surprisingly-small Comfort+ (extra-legroom economy) section consisted of five rows of seats in a standard 2-4-2 configuration for a total of 40 seats, all with 35 inches of pitch.
Finally, there were 219 regular economy class seats, also in a normal 2-4-2 configuration. The seats were 18-inches wide and had 31-32 inches of pitch according to SeatGuru, which felt about right.
The seats themselves were comfortable enough, as I was able to get some sleep over the Atlantic. Unfortunately, I couldn’t board early enough to get a good picture of them.
Waiting at my seat was a pillow and relatively comfortable blanket. It was light, but relatively warm.
Waiting in the seatback pocket was a magazine, the safety card, an airsickness bag, and a menu! This is uncommon in Economy Class especially in the US, so kudos to Delta for providing it.
As it turned out, however, these menus were from the previous flight. Our menus would be handed out after takeoff.
We pushed back at 6:49 PM 1 hour 41 minutes late, as the safety video played. Headphones, and eyeshade, and earplugs were handed out.
We had a half-an-hour taxi to the runway, which is actually pretty normal for JFK departures at this time. Interestingly, we taxied via the outskirts of the airport to Runway 22R. We waited in line for takeoff behind a Delta 737, Jetblue A320 and E190, and American 777.
We were cleared for an immediate takeoff from Runway 22R at 7:21 PM, and had nice views of the southern long island coastline.
Let’s now go through the entertainment system. The hardware was in great condition, with a modern, super-responsive nine-inch touchscreen. The selection was good as well, with 106 movies (including many new releases), 61 TV shows, and a larger-that-average selection of games.
There was also a nice audio selection.
There was an interactive moving map, the FlightPath 2D model.
There were even parental controls and a dedicated kids’ section, which I could see being very useful.
There was a USB port under the screen, and an AC power port under the seat in front.
Water bottles were handed out shortly after takeoff.
The real menus were handed out as well, about 20 minutes after takeoff.
Hot towelettes were handed out with a smile before the meal service, which was nice and refreshing.
Special meals were served soon after. This is my dad’s asian vegetarian meal:
The regular meals were served next, about 45 min-1 hour after takeoff. I selected the chicken option. The main course was chicken, carrot, mashed potato, and green bean, all in some type of gravy, with a bread roll, grape and cheese plate, side salad and dressing, and blondie brownie on the side. The chicken was well-cooked, both the fruit and the salad tasted clean and fresh, and the brownie hit the spot. Overall, the meal tasted pretty good.
There was complimentary alcohol served with the meal, which I know is important to some.
We also got to watch a beautiful sunset outside.
The service throughout this whole flight, by the way, was friendly, and the flight attendants were funny, cracking jokes with some people. You could tell that they enjoyed their job.
After the meal, the a coffee, water, and tea service, which I did not partake in.
Now, let’s take a look at the bathroom. They were small, but well-appointed.
It was now time to get some sleep. As I mentioned earlier, the blanket and seat were comfortable, and the seat had a sturdy adjustable headrest as well.
I got about six hours of sleep. About 60-90 minutes before landing, the lights were turned on, and the continental breakfast service began. It consisted of orange juice, a muffin, yoghurt, cheese, and mint.
30 minutes before landing, we entered Greek airspace. Just a couple of minutes later, we began our descent, with gorgeous views of the Greek islands. Toblerone chocolates were handed out as a thank-you gesture.
We touched down on Runway 3L at around 10:53 AM.
We then taxied over a bridge…
…and then taxied around the airport a bit.
We then had a short hold while we waited for our gate to be ready.
Finally, we parked at 11:03 and could get off.
We parked right next to a United 767 that had come from Newark.
We then followed signs for immigration. The line was short, and we were through quickly.
We were let out near the baggage claim area.
We then got in a taxi, and were off to Athens!
Overall, I really enjoyed this flight. In terms of American carriers, I have now in my memory flown long haul on both United and Delta, and Delta is definitely more enjoyable overall. Besides the delay (which can happen with anyone), I cannot really think of any way to fault them.
I will not make the claim yet since I have not flown long-haul with American, but it seems very likely that the reputation is correct, and multiple small touches means that Delta is the best long-haul American carrier.