Tuesday, October 2, 2012

To Japan on Delta Airlines

The "Travelife office" on the way to Japan...

The other day, I was up bright and early to catch the very first flight out to Japan. This is the Delta Airlines flight, and all their Japan flights leave Manila before 8 AM.

It was my first time to ride Delta Airlines to Japan, and I'd chosen this flight because I had to make sure I was in Tokyo early enough to make it for an exquisite kaiseki dinner someone was hosting that same night. I wanted to make sure I got into town with enough time to relax, dress up and make it to the cocktails that preceded dinner.

Bangus and garlic rice 20,000 feet up in the air


The Delta jet I rode was a 747 that was stopping in Japan enroute to New York's JFK. Most of the passengers were headed to the States, I guess, but there were a few ending the Delta journey in Japan.

The first section of Delta's Business Class cabin.

On the 747 today, there were three cabins for Business Class: 2 cabins on the main deck and then the upper deck was also a business class configuration -- although I'm not sure if this was a proper business class or just an economy class making use of the business class configuration.


Several airlines do transfer economy class passengers to a specific business class section if and when they are overbooked for economy and underbooked for business class, and the lucky passengers who've paid economy but who are chosen for these seats get to ride business class seats but have economy class service and meals.

If I was guaranteed a seat like this everytime -- meaning a business seat on an economy ticket, sans business class meals and service -- I would certainly fly economy instead of business class as the main thing I care about on a plane is the seat and the personal space. I really don't need fantastic food, although that's a nice perk, of course.

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I'm a real stickler for airline seats and flat beds, and I can probably write a whole book about business class seats in different airlines by now. But for today, let me tell you about the Delta Airlines experience.

The business class seat, which is a flat bed as this is basically the first leg of a long haul flight from Manila to New York, is very nice. It's got much more space than many other airlines, and the configuration for business class in the main cabin is 1-1-1.


Today I got seat 5E, and I was very happy with it. It was the middle seat but I was the first row of the middle seat in the first section, so I had a great feeling of space.

All the buttons and controls are in the right places

The seat itself is planned very intelligently, I find, unlike a lot of other airlines still stuck in last century in terms of seat design and technology. The table is easy to take out, there's lots of shelf space for stuff, and there's a very user-friendly electric socket panel right next to the shelf space so I was able to charge my phone and camera, and also work a bit on my Mac, on the way to Japan.

There's my desk with all the eletric sockets next to it.

The individual video monitor is a large touch screen panel that's again, easy to take out and use. Next to it, on the wall are all the controls you need to work the monitor, the lights and the chair.


Delta's flat bed isn't the widest I've ever been on, but it's not the narrowest either. It's comfortable enough for a good night's sleep all the way to New York without any qualms.

I love the fact, also, that it's actually a flat bed on business class to Tokyo. The flight is just under four hours, but that bed certainly comes in handy when you've woken up at 5 AM to make it for a 750 AM flight.

Food-wise, it's okay. Simple and tasty enough. They served breakfast and I had a choice of cereals, omelette or a bangus with garlic rice. I chose the bangus and it came with tasty diced tomatoes, although I kept wishing they had bagoong to go with it. However, they can't serve bagoong on a plane, of course.

Breakfast on Delta Airlines


The other thing worth mentioning is the service. It's not the super polite or pampering type of service often found on Asian airlines, but it was warm, friendly and attentive.

The chief cabin attendant of the entire plane was dressed very nicely in a dark pantsuit with stylish gold accessories -- the kind of attire a chic woman would wear to a dressy country club event. She made time at the start of the journey to talk to each business class passenger and she had a nice personal word to say to everyone.

Scroll down to read about the top frequent flier...


The guy behind me was a top tier frequent flier, and I overheard her making special mention of that and exchanging light banter with him on traveling and routes.

In fact she was saying that Delta used to have a flight to Cape Town out of the States before, and that she loved working on this flight because it enabled her to go to Cape Town.

She told the passenger behind me: "If there's any place in the world that I would like to live in, it's Cape Town."

Well, I'm going to be in Cape Town very soon, and overhearing this certainly made me excited for my trip.

Cape Town, see you soon...


Back to the service. I found that event the announcements made on board were intelligent announcements that were straightforward and friendly. They treat passengers like real adults -- some airlines do use language that's more often used for little children.

I can't quote the announcements word for word, but they were saying things like: "We'll be landing soon and those who want to make calls on their mobile phones as soon as we land should have their phones handy. We'll let you know as soon as you can turn them on."

So all in all, a very pleasant experience and certainly a relaxing morning on the way to Japan for another chapter in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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