The next best thing to instant teleport

Delta’s upgraded business class on their Tel Aviv - New York route will leave you ready to take on the Big Apple.

July 21, 2012 22:48
Delta's Business Class

Flight (370). (photo credit: Courtesy Delta)


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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 foreign language.

I must admit I enjoy my vacations, but usually abhor the means of getting there.

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I’m not afraid of flying; I just dislike it.

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 fly.

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 position.

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.

Delta’s 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.

“In 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 sense.

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 foreign languages.

At about 17 inches, the screen is more than wide enough and, being a full touch-screen, is very easy to operate.

Business 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.

Delta 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.

The 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.

Delta’s 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.

The company 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

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