Flight Review

Flight Review: Virgin Atlantic Business Class A330 - Atlanta to London

Feeling antsy, I made my way from the lounge to the gate in Atlanta's international terminal. Still fairly early, I wanted to be ready to board the first flight in a long line of great products coming up in this trip. From the departure gate, our plane was displayed outside of the window, ready to return home to London.

Airline: Virgin Atlantic

Aircraft: A330-300

Class: Business

Flight: 104

Route: ATL to LHR



After waiting for a short time, the business class section was called to start boarding, so I quickly made way for the aircraft.

Walking down to the plane, Virgin Atlantic does an impressive job of wowing you at first sight. On the other side of the entry door is the iconic lighting of the Virgin brand, pinks and purples flood the cabin, and style almost takes such a forward role that function kind of goes out the window. The immediate impact on you is impressive, nice little wow factor on first visual.

 Missing Overhead Bins in Center Row of Seats

Missing Overhead Bins in Center Row of Seats

Look for a few more minutes, and the flaws start to come out. The most immediate to any passenger on the plane is the complete lack of overhead space for the middle seats. I understand the thought here is that there are fewer business class seats, so they should require far fewer overhead compartments. In practice however, the seats do not provide much storage space around them, so that extra hand bag or backpack many passengers carry needs to go overhead. While there may be fewer passengers in the forward section, there is a need for more luggage per person to go in the overhead. Our flight did run out of room for a few passengers and those bags needed to be placed in the coat closet instead. In my eyes this was a huge miss.

 Upper Class Seat

Upper Class Seat

Seating was another miss in my opinion. Virgin Atlantic was definitely try to cram as many seats into the cabin as possible while still offering lie flat beds. Problem here is that the seats are placed at a pretty extreme angle, so window seats are actually hard to see out the window with.



Second and probably most annoying is how tight the seats are. Business class seats are not cheap, and if you are paying top dollar for these seats, then you are going to want a comfortable seat. Virgin attempted to get as much revenue as possible here and sacrificed passenger comfort. Honestly, I'd never pay full price for a business class seat in this arrangement, probably part of the reason this arrangement, while Virgin's newest, is already going away. Passengers just aren't happy with it. 

 See Through Seat Dividers

See Through Seat Dividers

Sitting down, the artistic seat divider becomes an in your face element. Beautiful from a design aesthetic sense, the see through nature loses a sense of privacy that is a cornerstone of business class. Business customers want privacy to work, and sleep. Making the cabin feel more open air is a nice design choice, but beyond looks, the feel isn't right for the type of customers the airline is trying to attract.

 Amenity Kit

Amenity Kit

Before the plane pushed back, the crew came around and offered amenity kits and sleep suits. Sleep suits are the British equivalent of pajamas. The flight attendant gave me a medium sized pajama. I was skeptical of the sizing since I normally wear a large to x-large, but the mediums ran so big they actually fit me quite well.

Amenity kits on Virgin were quite sparse as far as kits go. There was some useful stuff in them, but it seemed to be lacking the variety of most normal kits. The bags were also the least useful of all those I received on this trip. I find myself underwhelmed by this kit, it's not one I'll be inclined to reuse. 

 Champagne

Champagne

Preflight champagne, orange juice or water was offered before takeoff. I chose the champagne, which was middling at best, nothing to write home about. Once again, the disclaimer here is that I'm not a big drinker, so take my alcohol recommendations with a grain of salt. I don't like alcohol, so I'm pretty picky on drinks that contain it.

As for the service crew, they were quite impressive. Friendly, attentive, laughing and joking. The crew brought a friendly and fun feeling to the cabin throughout the flight. Crew did strike a nice balance between being attentive and having fun. I would say service could have been a little faster, but they were always on top of things when they were needed.

Once we taxied out to the runway at Atlanta, the plane took to the sky for a nice 8 hours flight to London. 

 Traffic in Atlanta

Traffic in Atlanta

 Traffic in Atlanta

Traffic in Atlanta

 Taking off from Atlanta

Taking off from Atlanta

After takeoff, food was ordered and served. I'll be doing a food review later this week, stay tuned for that. 

Once meals were done I watched some TV since it was still a little early to go to sleep in the US. Pulling out the in flight entertainment screen, the selection was up to date, but lacked depth. Once you saw the newest films, there wasn't a huge back catalog to choose from beyond that. Being that this was only an 8 hour flight, the entertainment selection wasn't a huge deal, but I could see it being a bit boring for the longer flights. 

As a note, the screen is controlled by a separate remote. Like many modern products, this remote has a built in screen. The screen allows you to view the flight maps while still watching something on the main entertainment screen. My unit had some issues at first. The maps froze the handheld unit's screen for much of the beginning of the flight. I did not notice when, but the unit did eventually load the maps later on in the flight after I just ignored it for a while. This just highlights that the plane and product is showing a little age. Dings and bangs showed all over the cabin, nothing major, but minor things that did make the cabin feel aged. 

After watching some movies, I got ready for bed. A flight attendant helped make my bed, and for good reason. Virgin's seating is not like most lie flat beds. Most other products allow you to stay in the seat and just go along for the ride as it converts to a bed, but not the Virgin Atlantic seats. These you need to bring to a full upright position and then unlock the back of the seat, which then folds down to a flat position. This is not intuitive and really I'm not sure I still know how to do it.

Similarly this is a problem when waking up. Getting ready for breakfast, we hit some turbulence. This meant I could not unbuckle and get up from my seat to convert back to a seat. In the mean time I just sat up in my bed until the ride smoothed out enough that the flight attendant could convert it back to a seat and give me my morning meal. 

 Landing in London

Landing in London

After a quick meal, we prepared to land in London. As always, London was cool and breezy but a beautiful day otherwise. The captain touched us down and before you knew it we were through immigration and on to British soil.

Virgin Atlantic was a beautiful product, but suffered from being too highly focused on that beauty. Design was put before function here and the seat was tight, difficult to convert to and from a bed, and see through dividers sacrificed a lot of privacy. At the end of the day I was happy to be in business class seat over economy, but the seat was a little lackluster. I look forward to seeing what the new updated business class product will be from Virgin, 

Flight Review: American 777-200 Business Class - Buenos Aires to Miami

After checking out of the Park Tower hotel the latest that I could for free, which is 4pm for SPG Gold members if I remember correctly, as taxi was soon outside of the hotel to take me to the airport. This was well ahead of my flight, but I’d rather hang around the American Airlines Admirals Club than hang around the city that I didn’t particularly like that much.



Pulling up to Terminal A and jumping out of the taxi straight out of Grand Theft Auto, I made my way into the airport check in area. Unfortunately the American Airlines counter wouldn’t be set up for another 15 minutes… in Argentinian time, that’s 30-45 min. So I attempted to check in through an automated kiosk at the end of the check in area. Placing all of my documentation on the scanner and filling out the questions, the system then told me I need to see a gate agent. This is not an unknown problem to me, a similar issue happened in South Korea because I was attempting to check in too early. Figuring that was the case, I made one more attempt, after which I hung around and checked out a few shops here and there.

While walking around the check in area, a notice came through my phone that I no longer had a seat on my flight to Miami. What? This was a bit disconcerting, why was this happening? Logging into the app, my seat did in fact disappear, but a bit of searching and quickly I discovered why. Now American Airlines has two types of 777 aircraft. The 777-300ER flagship aircraft with a first class, business class, and economy. My flight was on the older 777-200 version of the plane. Thing with the 777-200 fleet is that American is in the middle of updating the interiors of the aircraft, which means removing the first class cabin and just putting a business class and economy cabin in place. Recently American halted this update due to slow manufacturing by the seat vendors for the business class, so the 777-200 updates had been stopped leaving the majority of the fleet with the old product that had a first class, I was supposed to be on this first class.

At some point, an old 777-200 with the first class was swapped out for the 777-200 with the new interior, since I was in first class, the new plane lacked a first class, so I was bumped down to business. A little disappointing to say the least, but I did end up getting my points refunded for the difference in class that I was flying.

After getting booked into a new seat, off to the terminal I went. A quick trip through security and I was into the Admirals club. A few hours later it was time to board the plane. Argentina is weird, they send you through security, and then before you board, they make everyone open their bags and check the interiors of the bags. This check is not thorough, and only serves to slow down the boarding process. Really I’m not sure what the point of these checks are, but they require them, so we obliged.

Boarding into the business class cabin, I was in love with the seats here. The setup is a reverse herringbone design where every seat has aisle access. This isn’t a true reverse herringbone design as every other seat is backwards here, so the 777-300ER reverse herringbone is slightly different. If you do fly one of these, the backwards facing seats have better window views, so if you like the window, check out those seats. These business class seats are probably some of the best in the airline world. Each seat is private… well except that my seat was broken and the arm rest was in its lowered position and wouldn’t come up… oh well. Of all my flights on this trip, this was the best seat.

Amenity kits were waiting for us at our seats, as well as a menu for the meals on the flight. Once again, I had requested the vegetarian/vegan meal, so none of it applied to me, but take a look at what was on offer.

 Heritage Amenity Kit

Heritage Amenity Kit

Bose headphones were handed out to the cabin while we waited to push back from the gate. This is something that America deserves a lot of credit for, while many airlines hand out so called “noise cancelling” headphones, they are in most cases, not actually noise cancelling. Bose are definitely noise cancelling and so very much more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

Now let's cover the flight attendants, the word terrible comes to mind. While I give them credit for proactively confirming that I had a vegetarian meal, that's about the only positive that this crew had going for it. They were detached, clearly just there to do the bare minimum and unhappy to do it. This is business class and it was treated like we should be in the cargo hold.

Flight attendants addressed everyone in Spanish first… weird for an American carrier, every other flight overseas with American addresses passengers in English first. When I fly Air France, they address everyone in French first, as I would expect from a French carrier, this was just plain weird. When it came to meal time, everything was served on one platter… this is pretty rare in business class and just spoke to laziness of the crew. It was thrown down in front of me and then they just walked away. When I asked for some balsamic dressing, they rolled their eyes and begrudgingly grabbed the dressing for me, handing it to me without a word, even when I thanked them.

After waking up, I realized I had slept much longer than I had expected, Breakfast was just ready to be served, so as I was bringing my seat to the upright position, the flight attendant asked if I was eating breakfast, to which i said yes. I didn’t even have my seat fully upright when she was back with the try of food, reached across me and pulled out my tray table and threw down the tray. The meal looked like eggs, so in my sleepy haze I asked her if it was eggs, she told me she didn’t know. Alright… not a great interaction here either.

One other incident happened on takeoff. The flight attendants were futzing about with a woman up at the front of business class, now I don’t know what the issue was, but they would help her and then wander off, then come back for a moment and wander off, all while taxiing. Then we pulled onto the runway, and the captain had long ago called for them to take their seats. Then we started our takeoff roll and a flight attendant still was at the front of the cabin. As the big engines kicked in, she tried to walk back to her seat and basically ended up running as she was thrown backwards. This was beyond unprofessional, this was dangerous.

Now back to the other parts of the flight. The seat was fitted with all of the updated electronics. There are multiple USB and power outlets at every seat, a big screen that pops out once in the air. The controller for the monitor has a second screen which i used to display the air show, showing our position, while the main screen played movies for me to watch. I loved this setup, but the controls for the volume were very difficult to access. It required something like 4-5 menu changes just to get to the volume control, that really needs to be corrected. Volume is a basic function that people want quick access to, this is some pretty bad UI design.

 Outlets

Outlets

 Seat controls

Seat controls

Seat controls were easy to use, the fully flat bed was comfortable to lay in and gave plenty of privacy while sleeping. The aisle access at every seat is great so that you can get up and use the bathroom without interfering with anyone else and no one is interfering with you when you are trying to sleep.

The hard product (seat, entertainment, ect) was great on this flight, the soft product (service, food, ect) was terrible. While I was initially very disappointed that I was bumped down a class, after the flight I was grateful. If I had been in first class and received that level of service, and food that was that bad, I would have been even more unhappy about that being my first experience in international first class. First class will need to wait until my British Airways and Emirates flights later this year.

 Landing in Miami

Landing in Miami

After deplaning, I questioned whether or not I was being too hard on the crew. As chance would have it, later that week I ran across an article with a passing mention of American Airlines crew out of Buenos Aires and how universally terrible they were. Guess it wasn’t just me, as I would have been unhappy with that service in economy, let alone business class.


Flight Report: Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class - Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires

Airline: Turkish Airlines

Flight: 15

Route: GRU to EZE

Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER

Class: Business



After spending a long day hanging around the Star Alliance lounge in Sao Paulo, it was nearing time to board my next flight and final leg to Buenos Aires. As the lounge was getting more and more crowded, it was becoming clear that the normal terminal would be far more inviting than the mob that was forming where I was. About 1.5 hours before the flight was supposed to take off, I made my way down the winding ramp and into the main international terminal 3.

Walking around and waiting for the gate to open, every passenger on this flight was called to the front desk in order to check our passports and visas. At that time, a new boarding pass was issued to me while the waiting continued. The way this flight is operated is that Sao Paulo is a stop for the aircraft on its way from Istanbul to Buenos Aires. Since this is the case, many passengers remain on the plane. Some depart for Sao Paulo, while they pick up a few people at Sao Paulo like myself. Since this is the case, the boarding process for this plane should be fairly simple. The entire passenger load boarding in Sao Paulo was about the size of a small E195 or similar aircraft, there were very few of us in line. Somehow this was still a little too much for the gate agents to handle. Boarding was supposed to start about 40 min prior to departure, and the gate agents used roughly 35 of those minutes seeing how large of a crowd of employees they could gather to handle such a small boarding line. The entire process was confusing, illogical, and really poorly run. In the end, we did board successfully through the 777’s mid cabin door.

Turning left into the cabin and taking my seat (2A), one thing became clear quite quickly. There was a whole lot of leg room in business class. I don’t think I could even reach the ottoman in front of me while in the upright seat position. It was great, with one exception, I felt about 30 miles away from the entertainment screen.

 IFE

IFE

During boarding, the flight attendants came around with pre-depature drinks. There was no alcohol offered, but some pretty nice juice options. I chose the Strawberry/Raspberry spritzer like drink. It was really good, and an excellent refresher to start the flight.

 Strawberry/raspberry spritzer

Strawberry/raspberry spritzer

Boarding continued and quickly finished due to the small load of people getting on the plane. The business class cabin was only about half full, and more importantly, the seat next to me was empty. If this had been a long haul, I’m not sure I would have liked how little privacy there is between seats, though it would have been on par with the United set up, so it would have been fine.

 Cabin

Cabin

 Seat Controls

Seat Controls

 Connections Under The Right Armrest

Connections Under The Right Armrest

After seating everyone, the cabin crew made their way through with the menus and took seats for takeoff. Headphones were available at the seat. They claim to be noise cancelling, but having used true noise cancelling headphone, these were not. Maybe they were noise cancelling if you consider poorly wrapping around your ear and blacking some noise to be noise cancelling. Very uncomfortable as well.

After takeoff, the crew got to work fast. The flight from Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires is only around 2.5 hours in the air and a full meal was to be served on the flight, so the crew needed to move quickly. Hot towels were distributed, and then a Turkish delight was offered to every passenger. Now I’ve had friends bring back Turkish delight from Turkey before as a present to me… it was good. This was on a whole other level, wow was that a tasty treat to start off the flight. It almost made my previous Turkish delight experiences seem like tourist trap sort of food.

 Turkish Delight in the 777-300ER's Mood Lighting

Turkish Delight in the 777-300ER's Mood Lighting

Soon after, the crew started quickly distributing food to the passengers. As a heads up, while I did request a vegetarian meal through United, that was not passed on to Turkish Airlines. Luckily there was a vegetarian option, though certainly not vegan. I did go off script a little here and eat some cheese for you dear reader. I think that if I had thought about this before hand, I would have called Turkish Airlines and ordered a vegetarian meal. As it was though, I had to make due with what was on offer... live and learn.

Flipping through the entertainment system in the cabin showed a decent collection of movies and shows, though I’d say United had a better selection. Navigating the in flight entertainment was a little clunky and had a really weird favoriting system. No one is on board a plane for more than 16 hours on the longest flights (17 now with Emirates new route). Why would you need to favorite a show or movie? This feature is something someone uses on a streaming service or something they are signed up to for years. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see myself favoriting a movie to return to it later in the flight.

After dinner was cleared, I laid down for an hour or so to watch some movies/shows. Not too much longer and we made our decent into Buenos Aires.

 Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

 Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

As we approached the runway, lightning could be seen throughout the clouds as we passed through them. Things were windy and we were getting blown around all over the place. We approached the airfield and prepared to touch down.

Now I will stop here and explain, I have been flying for almost all of my life, including multiple single engine WW2 era planes. I’m not easily made nervous when flying. My normal habit is to watch old plane crash shows because I find the investigations to be fascinating, yet it still doesn’t phase me to fly. With that out of the way, back to the landing.

Immediately as we approached the runway, I could tell we were high and were going to land long. We landed long, really long, the entire time I kept thinking, get this thing down. It was such a long landing, I thought they were going to initiate a go around. We did finally touch down, but the plane did not touch down straight on the runway. As soon as the plane hit runway, the pilot cranked her to one side to get it lined up properly and he nearly lost that plane off the side of the runway. The captain had to reverse thrust and brake hard to stop us in time, and we did go all the way to the end of the runway from what I could tell.

I’m not easily spooked by a landing, but this was legitimately the most terrifying flight experience I’ve ever had. That was a dangerous touch down, and really should have been a go around. Not sure if there was a serious crosswind on landing, but from what I could tell, we weren’t crabbing in the plane, so I’m not sure why the landing was so off the mark. Either way, I’m alive and well, so we’ll just avoid Turkish Airline for a while. Stay tooned for a review of the food on board Turkish Airlines Flight 15.

Flight Review: United 787 to Sao Paulo

Airline: United

Flight: 105

Route: IAH to GRU

Aircraft: Boeing 787-8

Class: Business



Right off the bat, United wasn't winning any customer service awards with me. Despite their supposed new direction and focus on customer service, the first employee I dealt with was angry, unpleasant, and despite accusing me of not having proper visa’s, she was just plain wrong… though it took 30-45min of check-in to verify that. The problems stemmed from some confusion on a Brazil transit visa. I didn’t have a visa, because I had checked prior to leaving and everything official that I could find said I didn’t need one… this ended up being true. There was some question on when this was the case and when it wasn’t, it’s pretty cut and dry, transiting Sao Paulo? You don’t need a visa if staying in the airport. After some rudeness, pissy behavior and me trying to be nice, she finally found out I was correct and let me board the plane.

It was a short hop to Houston, with some kind of meat dish as the only option in domestic first class. This is weird to me since American always seems to have a meat and vegetarian dish available. You can’t request special meals domestically… weird for first class, but seems to be the case across the board in the US.

Once in Houston, I made my way over to the gate and then explored a shop or two before it was already time to board my flight. I had switched my seat to a window at the last minute because I prefer window seats and the 787-8 is a plane I helped to design. I hadn’t waited this long to fly this plane to end up in a center seat just so I had aisle access.

Coming through the door, I did notice that at Houston, the plane boards through the front door of the 787. We deplaned through the midplane door, but this was odd and seems like Houston is the only place that they do this. A little weird and sends all of the economy class customers walking past the business class to get their seats. It’s a minor issue, but boarding would likely go smoother for everyone if they boarded through the midplane door.

Taking my seat, I took stock of the seat layout. United 787’s are set up with a 2-2-2 configuration in business class. This is a fairly outdated way of laying out the cabin. Most modern airlines have moved to a reverse herringbone or some way that every seat has direct aisle access so that you aren’t climbing over another passenger to get to the bathroom. Luckily my seatmate was out of his seat on a number of occasions, and those opportunities allowed me to use the bathroom with little issue. Keep in mind that this type of seat setup isn’t ideal and gives little privacy from your neighbor while sleeping. Old and outdated, I find this seat type weird for a brand new airplane like the 787, but for my first international business class flight, it was pretty damn nice.

Seat layout is awkwardly angled to one side. While I can understand this move for the widow banks of seats, I don’t get why the center seats are angled to the left. This little thing really seems to severely restrict the aisle space for the left aisle in certain spots. To me, the design would be best if the left seats angled toward the left window, right seats towards the right window and the center just faced straight forward.

Sitting down at the seat you quickly find that the placement of the USB outlet and headphone jacks is really awkward. The outlets are located above your head, to the left and behind you. It is a really odd choice and requires some level of proficiency in yoga to reach the damn thing.

 Headphone Jacks

Headphone Jacks

Seat controls are fairly straight forward and having never used them before, I quickly caught on to how things worked with the seats.

The entertainment system was fairly easy to navigate, the options for entertainment were up to date, but a little clunky to navigate. I found the controller for the IFE system to be in a weird position that was hard to access and again almost required the downward dog position to grab. After flying back to the US in a recently updated 777, you do notice in retrospect how out of date the IFE controllers on the United 787 really is already.

 United IFE

United IFE

After settling in, flight attendants came by with the menu.

Flight attendants also handed out amenity kits. These kits are very well stocked and the bag has a nice feel to it.

 United Business Class Amenity Kit

United Business Class Amenity Kit

While the menu is shown above, it’s not really relevant to me since I always order the vegetarian/vegan meal on my flights. If you do eat meat, the menu has some great options. My food review tomorrow will cover the meal in more detail, for now, let me say that United impressed me with their food. They chose to go Indian style with spices and naan, it was great. I love Indian food and this was no exception, so kudos to the United team.

Flight attendants came by everyone’s seats while we were still at the gate and took a drink order for the ground and the food order for the air. Right from the start, I really need to commend the cabin crew. Not only were they friendly, but actively joked and had fun with the passengers. That is a refreshing type of person to have on a plane. A bad attitude is not welcome to me, if you don’t want to be there I understand, I’ve worked customer service types of jobs too, but I always treated the customers well. Just because I’m cranky doesn’t mean I want everyone else to be cranky too. United nailed this flight in terms of friendly behavior and attentiveness.

While on the ground, I played around with my window. The 787 has electrically controlled window shades. No physical plastic divider is present on the plane, instead you have a control which can dim the window to varying degrees. There are good and bad things involved here. On one hand there is always some light that gets through. On the other hand, this gives flight attendants control over the window shades. That random annoying person will be unable to raise their blinds to flood the cabin with light while everyone is trying to sleep… yes, that happens every damn flight… usually over the ocean where there really isn’t much to see out a window. This is coming from someone who loves the window seat.

 787 Window Shade Controls

787 Window Shade Controls

After boarding completed, we pushed back and quickly made it to the runway. As soon as we got there, we quickly took off and got into the air. Even though I helped build this beautiful airplane, seeing those carbon fiber wings flex under a positive g load is something impressive every time.  The engines look huge for the size of the plane, this is where much of the engine efficiency comes from. Oh, and boy is this sucker quiet, I really noticed how quiet the 787 was after going back to a 777-200 on my way home, even up front the 777 is loud.

Once in the air, we were served dinner and after roughly 2 hours, everything was finished up and it was on to sleep. Laying my seat to flat was easy and super comfortable. Quickly I fell asleep for almost 4 hours. Flying business class is a world of difference here, normally I can’t sleep on planes, but give me that lie flat seat and I’m finally able to get some rest. Lie flat seats overseas is the way to go hands down.

After waking, it was about and hour until breakfast was served. We enjoyed a nice decent into Sao Paulo, Brazil with a beautiful touchdown out of the captain. Well done United, your domestic flight didn’t win any awards with me, but for my first international business class flight… I was impressed.

Flight/Food Review: Delta 767 Economy - Newark to Paris

My view on Delta has never been favorable, so needless to say I was not exactly looking forward to my flight to France. Even with some negative feelings going into the flight, I wanted to give Delta a chance to redeem themselves. It has been many years since my problems with, time to give them the chance to show that they have changed for the better.



Starting out with a hired car ride to the airport, I’m unsure my driver knew that the gas can be pressed in a steady fashion… or really that highways go from my home to the airport. Riding in the car was like riding a bronco as he pulsed the gas; accelerate and back off, accelerate and back off… not a great ride.

Arriving at Newark Airport terminal B, I stopped by the priority pass lounge call Art and Lounge. Oddly this lounge is located outside of security, but more on the lounge in a separate dedicated article.  After heading to the lounge, next up was security, there was no dedicated TSA Precheck lane, but there were very few people in line and the clearing it went quickly.

Entering Newark terminal B is an underwhelming experience. The airport is dated to put it mildly. It's been more than 10 years since I've passed through EWR, but I remember the terminal being much nicer than it ultimately ended up being… maybe I am remembering a different terminal.

Boarding was the oddest experience I've ever had at an airport. My passport was checked by a gate agent, then my boarding pass was scanned and I started down the jetway, there I was directed to a TSA agent, who once again checked my boarding pass and passport, then I was sent down the jetway to be stopped by another TSA agent who questioned me on why I was going and one more time checked my passport. This wasn't just me either, this was everyone boarding who was treated this way… it was a very weird experience.

 Leg Room on the 767 in Economy - Yes I Am Tall

Leg Room on the 767 in Economy - Yes I Am Tall

On board the 767, I walked to my seat in 29B and settled in. First thing that I noticed, the seats on this 767-300 were hard as a rock. These seats definitely take the cake for the worst seats I have ever had to sit on. My butt was hurting me before we even made it to the runway… not ok Delta. Remaining passengers boarded, took their seats and we taxied to the runway. Our takeoff roll was long and eventually we took to the sky

 Delta 767-300 Entertainment System - Economy

Delta 767-300 Entertainment System - Economy

Climbing and heading out to sea, I turned to the in flight entertainment system that Delta uses, credit where credit is due, the entertainment system is good. Touchscreens were very responsive, the selection was huge. There was some issues though, the screen does not tilt, so if someone reclines their seat in front of you, it becomes a little off angle. Also, the business class cabin system froze and resetting their cabin did not fix the issue. The next thing that was attempted, resetting the entire plane’s entertainment system… this resulted in the loss of the entertainment system for the entirety of dinner service. It did come back though and all was right with the world again.

Dinner service was interesting, and in a good way. Since becoming a vegetarian, I've flown a number of international flights with vegetarian/vegan meals, and this one was on par with the best I've had to date. This is not to say it was a great meal, but it was good for an economy meal.

 Delta Economy Vegetarian/Vegan Meal - Newark to Paris

Delta Economy Vegetarian/Vegan Meal - Newark to Paris

After the meal showed up covered in aluminum foil, I unwrapped the main course to see a thing… not sure I had words to describe what is was at the time, now I'd describe it as a veggie fritter or a meatless meatball, maybe a bean cake kind of item. Really what needs to be praised here is an attempt to actually do something different. So many people's idea of a vegetarian or vegan meal is to plop vegetables on a platter and say done! A masterpiece has been made! That’s not what I eat, I eat vegetarian sushi, chickpea fritters, black bean salad with lime dressing, not a pile of carrots. To have Delta attempt something other than beans and rice is much appreciated. With that said, it was a bit bland. Carrots were good, salad was boring but tasty. The bean cake or whatever, was slightly under seasoned, the spinach plop next to it was bland as can be. Mixing the spinach and bean cake thing just succeed in making the cake bland. A for effort Delta, but a C+ on execution.

In between the first meal after takeoff and their “continental breakfast” that was given before landing, nothing of note happened. Continental breakfast was a much different story to the meal before it. Up front I have to say that right now I eat vegan, eventually I will transition back to vegetarian, but I still restrict milk products and I’ve never liked eggs so those will likely never make it back into my diet in any measure. Being that I eat vegan, when a meal is requested, I expect the provided meal to be as such. There is nothing that frustrates me more than ordering a meal months in advance and being given food on the plane and call it vegetarian.

 Delta's Non-Vegan, Vegetarian/Vegan Meal

Delta's Non-Vegan, Vegetarian/Vegan Meal

Let me clear something up here, when I say I ordered a vegetarian meal to a flight attendant, I say this because that is how a vegan meal is labeled and marketed by almost every airline. Easier to make one meal that covers vegetarian and vegan rather than two separate options. This also means that even when a regular menu item is vegetarian, it doesn’t necessarily (or rather almost ever) cover vegan as well. So handing me a regular breakfast, and then also giving me a special meal (no it wasn’t my requested meal as it wasn’t labeled correctly for vegetarian meal), that contain the same thing, is not a good start.

The meal had yogurt in it (milk based) and also cream cheese (milk based). So I’m left with no good option. Further, when this happens to me, it does make me question how closely their regular meals stick to what they are supposed to be. As I’ve written about before, I’ve had parmesan cheese put on a vegan meal, that doesn’t give me confidence in the actual ingredients for the rest of the meal. Same thing here, while I likely could have eaten the bagel.. I don’t know that it was vegan, since nothing else in breakfast was. So I didn’t eat either one, and it’s unfortunate to see the food be put to waste too.

This meal was not a good way to conclude a flight. I’m disappointed in the way they ended my flight, since up until that point, Delta had one back some points with me, and in some way still has. They will likely not become my preferred carrier unless something changes dramatically with American Airlines, but they are an alternative that I can live with if I had too, just that I prefer not to have to live with them. I am hoping the food on the return flight from Amsterdam is a bit better, at least the pre-arrival food.