Some people enjoy flying. There are those for whom boarding a plane and going
through all the airport ceremonies carries promise: landing in a new place,
meeting a new culture, breathing another air and hearing a different, often
I must admit I enjoy my vacations, but usually abhor
the means of getting there.
I’m not afraid of flying; I just dislike
Ahead of a trip to New York as a guest in the Delta Airlines newly
upgraded business class, I was looking forward to getting a bite of the Big
Apple, but I was still waiting for science to find a way to instantly teleport
us to where we want to go. As short as a 10-hour trip is, when compared to the
time people used to spend in getting from place to place only a hundred years
ago, it still somehow seems longer when flying. Perhaps it’s that primordial
fear of crashing we all have – human beings, after all, weren’t meant to
It was a very pleasant surprise, then, to discover I can kill some
of the flight time by sleeping. Normally, I don’t sleep on flights. The noise
level is very high, especially when sitting in the middle of the plane, nearer
to the engines, and I am not one of those who easily fall asleep in an upright
This of course is not the case in business class, which offers
seats that recline farther down than economy seats. Delta Airlines recently
upgraded its fleet of 747-400 aircraft, and passengers willing to pay the
premium can now recline much farther down: the seats collapse all the way to
becoming flat, horizontal beds.
At 193 cm. long, the beds are spacious
enough for most people, and they are wide enough to accommodate sleeping on your
back or on your side.
Each seat has a keypad for controlling a wide range
of positions. From upright chair to bed passengers can control the height of
their legs, the degree to which the back rest reclines and even a small built-in
cushion for the lower back can be moved up and down.
In the upper deck,
seats face the window diagonally so privacy is maximal, while in the lower
business class deck there are seats in a 1x2x1 configuration, with the center
seats in opposite diagonals, so that couples can talk in private.
senior vice president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Perry Cantarutti,
says the company’s investment in its fleet of jumbo jets paid off.
every market where we’ve introduced flat bed seats, customer satisfaction
ratings have increased significantly and Israel has been no exception,” he
explained. “Delta is the only airline offering flat-bed seats in business class
between Tel Aviv and New York’s JFK airport and feedback from our Israeli
business passengers has been extremely positive.”
Should you choose to be
awake during the flight, Delta’s entertainment options are overkill in a good
There is a selection of hundreds of movies, TV shows, music, and
even computer games. Obviously, the selection includes new features of all
genres, but also an impressive variety of Hollywood classics and movies in
At about 17 inches, the screen is more than wide
enough and, being a full touch-screen, is very easy to operate.
class meals are restaurant quality, including a wine list specially chosen by an
expert for its appropriateness for high altitudes (no joke). There is naturally
also access to a wide range of spirits and even a few cocktails.
also offers kosher meals. The business version of the Glatt kosher dinner is
similar to the economy version, only slightly bigger. I sampled it on the flight
to Israel and it was adequate, but nowhere near as tasty as the non-kosher meal.
My flight attendant assured me that the kosher option served on the trip from
Tel Aviv to New York City is much better. Delta also offers kosher wines on its
flights to and from Israel.
A unique feature to Delta’s business class
flights is SkyPriority, a series of airport services designed to help business
class passengers move more quickly through the airport from checking in, to
security, boarding and picking up their bags.
Delta is investing a
mind-boggling $1.2 billion in expanding Terminal 4 at JFK Airport in New York
City. When completed, Delta passengers will enjoy the almost company-exclusive
terminal, where, for example, transferring to a domestic Delta flight inside the
US will be a nearly seamless experience.
Among the improvements to the
new terminal is a consolidation of security and passport checkpoints – the most
annoying part of any flight in a post-9/11 world.
Naturally, most of us
can’t afford business class. As part of its jumbo-jet fleet overhaul, Delta is
now also offering Economy Comfort on Tel Aviv flights, an improved seating
experience in the economy section.
Apart from basking in the business
class glow of more alcohol, the most significant change from economy seats is
added legroom. Customers flying in Economy Comfort enjoy up to four additional
inches from the back of the seat in front of you, 35 full inches of seat pitch
and 50 percent more recline than Delta’s standard economy class seat.
planes now also include screens on the back of each seat in the economy section,
a feature that was missing before the company upgraded its jets.
flight attendants are top notch. They all undergo custom training for their
routes, to better understand the mentality and cultural peculiarities of the
clientele likely to be flying a specific route. Every flight to or from Tel Aviv
includes native Hebrew-speaking flight attendants. On my flight from JFK back
home there were no less than four Hebrew-speaking attendants.
boasts an impressive 90% average capacity on flights in the Tel Aviv-NYC route.
With its standard of service this is hardly surprising.
The writer was a
guest of Delta Airlines