Delta Airlines Italy Trip Reports

Delta Airbus 330 Business Elite Review – with a baby!

Everyone loves a sleeping baby
Everyone loves a sleeping baby

I’m not going to do an in depth trip report of our flight, but I just wanted to give my impressions of Delta’s Business Elite product – the non lie-flat kind. Delta’s fleet of Airbus A330s are leftovers from the Northwest merger, and feature angled recline seating as opposed to the 777s and 767s which have fully lie-flat seating (they’re very nice, btw, flew one from HKG-DTW once). Not the most comfortable seats, but of course it beat flying overseas in coach. We flew the same type of plane both ways so I’ll just hit both flights in the same post and touch a little bit on the infant experience at the end. If you’re interested on how we got on these flights for under $100 each, you can look here and here.

The Flights

We flew two long-haul A330 legs on our trip to Italy:

7/16: JFK – FCO (redeye)

7/31: AMS – BOS

Both flights were around 7.5 hours long and more or less on time (although we taxied for an eternity in JFK, that place is a mess!)

The Lounges

Relaxing at the KLM Crown Lounge in AMS
Relaxing at the KLM Crown Lounge in AMS

Of course, one of the perks of flying business class is getting free lounge access. Unfortunately, our domestic leg from BOS-JFK ended up having a super long taxi (like, as long as the flight), so we only managed to get to Delta’s new Terminal 4 Skydeck for 5 minutes. We literally ran in to use the restroom and change a diaper and then got out of there.

We had about half an hour in Amsterdam Schiphol’s KLM Crown Lounge. The lounge was huge – so big that the bathrooms felt like bathrooms in the regular terminal (though much cleaner of course). The lounge felt a little bit impersonal for my taste, but the amenities were nice and the furniture was comfortable, which is all that matters. Still, Schiphol is a fun airport to walk around so if we had more time I’m not sure we would have spent all of it in that particular lounge anyway.

The Seats

IMG_0787
Getting ready to depart JFK

We flew out in 2H and 2J and returned in 1H and 1J. The A330’s business elite seats look like eggs – you’d think that make them more private but not really. As I mentioned in the open, these seats don’t recline fully, they supposedly recline 176 degrees but those 4 degrees make a huge difference. I actually found the seats very comfortable to lounge in – but it’s tough to sleep in them because you end up sliding down. There is an option to sleep in more of a lounge position, with your knees up, that I actually preferred to the “flat” position (it also helped with the baby).

Lounging is pretty comfortable in these seats, but the sleeping positions leave something to be desired
Lounging is pretty comfortable in these seats, but the sleeping positions leave something to be desired

Another odd thing about the egg things is the pockets where you put your personal belongings are in them. I thought the eggs were going to stay static and you’d recline “into” them (like a shell), but the eggs actually recline with the seats! That makes it awkward to get your stuff sometimes.

Overall, I wasn’t too thrilled with these seats, I much preferred the angled lie-flat seats on Aer Lingus, which were simpler but more comfortable. I really hope Delta updates these planes soon.

The Food

We were suckers for these warm mixed nuts
We were suckers for these warm mixed nuts

I thought the food in Delta’s business class was decent. Not amazing, but definitely edible. We started with some wine and were given warm mixed nuts to snack on which were awesome – even Jess ate the whole thing (they have these great sesame stick things). We then started both flights with shrimp, soup, and salad – I thought all of these were solid though not spectacular.

We were suckers for these warm mixed nuts

I thought the food in Delta’s business class was decent. Not amazing, but definitely edible. We started with some wine and were given warm mixed nuts to snack on which were awesome – even Jess ate the whole thing (they have these great sesame stick things). We then started both flights with shrimp, soup, and salad – I thought all of these were solid though not spectacular.

IMG_0794 IMG_0795

Both ways we ordered the chicken and beef, though they were done different ways on the two flights. I actually liked the beef a lot, but my picture doesn’t look to appealing so I’ll leave it out. We finished almost all of our food, so take that for what it’s worth. Finally, we finished with dessert. I got the ice cream sundae both times, though Jess got some pie thingie on the outbound. She didn’t make the same mistake twice.

Always get the ice cream sundae!
Always get the ice cream sundae!

The Service

Always get the ice cream sundae!

The Service

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I thought the biggest discrepancy between the two flights was in terms of the service. We waited quite a bit to board our JFK-FCO flight due to the baby’s schedule. Still, we sat down twenty five minutes before the plane pushed back and were never offered champagne – the flight attendants were too busy to even be flagged down (and I wasn’t going to hit the call button). Not a huge deal, but I remembered that. Still, after that, the flight attendants were very helpful and nice – we actually had quite a few conversations when I was taking walks with the baby. Nothing that blew us away, but very friendly as I’ve come to expect from Delta flight attendants.

I thought the crew on the flight back was phenomenal – almost as good as a first class crew. They were very attentive, cleared our plates very quickly to make things easier for us and the baby, and timed the food perfectly so that we could eat one at a time in as efficient a manner as possible. They also offered to take a picture of us, something I didn’t even think to ask for, which I thought was very nice. It didn’t hurt that they were obsessed with Baby M – they loved her! That crew also proactively changed our seats to give us a baby bassinet, which was appreciated although we only ended up using it for storage. Also, sitting at the bulkhead eliminated the personal storage problem I mentioned in the seats section.

Overall, I thought both crews were good though the second one was great. People complain about Delta as an airline all the time, and rightfully so, but I still feel I have the best in flight experiences with them (when it comes to dealing with humans).

Flying with a Baby in Business

We used the bassinet for storage more than anything
We used the bassinet for storage more than anything

Honestly, the baby was an angel on both flights, much to our relief. No poopy diapers, never cried for more than a minute (and never a megacry), and she slept for a good amount of time, maybe 2/3 of each flight. The nice thing about being in business class is there are essentially three flight attendants helping 36 people, so you have a lot more help if you need it. Eating is a little more complicated since you have multiple courses, but like I said they were good with the timing.

They gave us a bassinet on the second flight, but we didn’t really use it except for storage. There is this flap you’re supposed to put over the baby when the baby is in it, it seemed kinda scary. But it also seemed scary not to use the flap. But the scariest thing was how loud Baby M probably would have screamed if we put her in there – we just let her sleep on us so as not to disturb other passengers.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I thought both flights were solid. Obviously, it was much better to be in business than in coach, though the seats weren’t as nice as a lot of other business class seats out there. Still, the baby did great and we even got some rest (I watched three Marvel movies across the two flights), so I’d characterize our first transatlantic flights as a family a great success!

Other posts in this series:

Italy, Here We Come! (Ready or Not)

Pantheon, Pizza, and Pasta

Relaxing in Tuscany

Arrivederci, Tuscany!

One last day in Italy…

Delta Airbus 330 Business Elite Review – with a baby! 

Joe
Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less
http://www.asthejoeflies@gmail.com

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