Some background on the trip before I get started: My mom's company paid to build a school in Senegal, and the company that builds the school invites the people who fund the school to go to the country and help build the foundation for it. We then decided that going across the Atlantic for 6 days just to build a school wasn't much of a vacation, so we searched for somewhere to go beforehand. My dad had a TON of miles saved up on his credit card, so we transferred some to Delta and investigated which cities had the cheapest fares in J. Madrid and Barcelona were the cheapest, coming in at a whopping 80,000 miles per person. The Barcelona flight is on a 777-200ER, but it's a herringbone configuration. The A330-300 is in reverse herringbone which I think is much better, plus I'd already been to Barcelona, so Madrid it was. There are nonstops from Madrid to Dakar, but it was crazy expensive, and flying through Brussels was the next best option.
Now that that's out of the way, let's get to the airplanes!
I had been at JFK T4 10 days ago arriving back from South Africa, so this was a familiar sight. We arrived at 16:56 (about 3 hours early).
The giant check in area for T4.
The economy check in area was absolutely swamped.
Yay for Sky Priority!
Check in went seamlessly with a super funny, friendly agent. Only took 5 minutes.
Security was next. Our boarding passes said both 'TSA Precheck' and 'Sky Priority', so it wasn't clear whether we were supposed to go in the Precheck line or the Business class line. We chose the business class line, which took about 10 minutes.
Next stop: Delta Sky Club!
A nice view out the window.
Follow the bumblebee signs!
Some shops along the way.
After a 10 minute walk (this Concourse B is over a mile long if I remember correctly), we arrived at the lounge at 17:35.
While waiting to check into the lounge, we were offered chocolate and champagne - a nice touch.
After checking in, I wandered through the lounge. It's HUGE! There are lots of different seating areas which were all appointed with AC power and USB ports, and it was pretty much full. There was also free wifi throughout the lounge. There's a rooftop terrace at the lounge which I was very excited about visiting, but, for whatever reason, it was closed.
The bar - non-alcoholic drinks were free, but alcohol was only available for purchase.
I then went to check out the food option, which I found to be significantly underwhelming. There were only 3 hot options, a few different kinds of soup, a small salad bar, and some snacks (popcorn, cookies, etc.). On top of that, everything was served with paper plates and plastic utensils. Not really what I was expecting…
I got myself some vegetable dish (can't recall what I was called), a piece of garlic bread, and a cookie. It was all actually quite tasty, so the catering wasn't a complete failure (Sorry, this picture came out blurry).
Nice views from both sides of the lounge.
It was getting closer to boarding time, so I took one final lap around the lounge and found this machine. Hot chocolate? Yes please.
There was also a big FIDS inside the lounge.
We left the lounge and set off for gate B41 around 18:45. Boarding was scheduled to begin at 18:55. At the gate area, we discovered that there was almost no seating and that our plane wasn't even at the gate. This was a bit strange to me because I knew the plane had arrived from Dublin around 14:00.
There was an announcement shortly after that the plane was in a hangar and wasn't at the gate because the flight out of B41 before mine departed late. That made more sense.
With no plane in sight, we decided to walk to the very end of concourse B, all the way to gate B55. Concourse B is so long that there's actually a shuttle bus that runs from on end to the other.
Back at the gate, N818NW showed up around 19:15.
All of the crew and pilots were waiting at the gate as well, and it was kind of cool seeing the way they all interacted with each other.
Boarding started at 19:24 with J passengers, and I was the first one in line.
Hello, Seat 3A!
The cabin is 1-2-1 in a reverse herringbone configuration.
As I took the picture above, a guy in a pilot uniform (although he wasn't the pilot or first officer…anyone?) walked down the aisle. He asked, "enjoying the cabin?" to which I responded, "absolutely". To my complete shock, he asked, "wanna come see up front too?". What luck!
This was my first time in the cockpit of a plane, so it was pretty exciting for me. The captain, first officer, and third unknown guy were all super friendly and let me stay in the cockpit for 10 or 15 minutes. We talked a lot about airplanes and being a pilot, which was super cool for me. This was definitely a good start to the flight.
I said goodbye to the flight deck and went back to my seat. This plane had been refurbished with the new Delta One branding (not sure if this is complete fleetwide yet).
Hm, this doesn't seem like enough space (just kidding).
IFE screen and remote.
Out the window (each J seat has 2 windows).
The purser came by after a few minutes and caught me up on everything I had missed while I was in the cockpit.
Orange juice or champagne was offered, along with a bag or cashews - tasty!
A pair of headphones was delivered wrapped in plastic - no noise canceling headphones? I know they're offered on longhaul Delta flights… (this picture is from later in the flight).
An amenity kit was also presented. Inside were tissues, a pen, toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, an eyemask, various lotions, socks, and mouthwash. A great selection in a really nice bag/box as well.
Finally, she gave me the menu and asked what I would like for my main course.
Having some time to explore the seat, my first concern was that there was nowhere to put anything. I had to put my backpack in the overhead bin, and the only other storage space were these two small compartments (one by my knees, and one by my feet), which had already been filled with Delta stuff, further reducing the storage space. This was my only complaint about the seat.
Pushback was at 20:07, and taxi to runway 22R started at 20:15. It was busy at JFK, so we took the long way around (more time for spotting). Apologies for the quality - iPhone pictures + nighttime ≠ good pictures.
JFK's newest airline, a TP A332.
N818NW was off the ground at 20:47 - 65 minutes behind schedule.
There's a button to press to release the IFE screen from its place. I pressed it as we were still climbing and it swung rapidly towards me - no wonder it has to be stored for takeoff…
The home screen.
Flight details - I like having the image of the A333 there.
I picked out this movie, but A) it was boring, B) the food came around about 15 minutes later, and C) I wanted to sleep after the meal, so I only got through about 10 minutes of it.
Service commenced with a hot towel.
"Settling In - Roasted Shrimp and Watermelon on top of drizzled balsamic glaze and cucumber, red onion and red pepper slaw with feta cheese cubes" was delivered at 21:09.
Pros: The shrimp tasted great and worked well with the watermelon. The salad was dressed nicely.
Cons: The tablecloth was laid upside down and was super creased. The cutlery was wrapped in a paper thingy. My sprite came with a coca cola paper napkin. The salad was a bit wilted. Everything was a little too cold for my liking. Worst of all, there wasn't even any red pepper and red onion slaw or cucumber. I hate when things aren't as they are described on the menu.
I might be being a bit picky, but this was my first flight in a real business class seat, and after reading so many flight reports, this is everything I found wrong.
Everything was whisked away very quickly as soon as I was done eating. Some people might not like this, but I definitely do. I don't like having dirty, empty plates sitting in front of me for ages.
"Starters - Arugula Bread Crumb Salad with yellow and red tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, basil chiffonade, sliced red onion and red wine vinaigrette AND Corn and Green Chili Bisque with cilantro lime sauce AND a pretzel roll with butter" was delivered at 21:22.
Pros: The salad tasted really fresh, and I really enjoyed the dressing. The bread was very tasty. I liked the concept of the soup. The tray was presented nicely.
Cons: The soup was very bland and only gained some taste when I dumped salt and pepper on it (interesting side note - this was my mom's favorite thing all night - ??). The vegetables for the salad came in a paper cup. The cutlery came in a paper thingy. The butter for the bread was literally rock solid. Although made to look like wood, the tray was a cheap plastic material.
Overall: Salad - 8/10, Soup - 6/10, Bread - 4/5
As I finished each component of the meal, it was quickly whisked away.
"Main Course - Grilled Beef Tenderloin with fontina polenta cakes, grilled artichokes and smoked tomato onion salad" was delivered by hand and placed onto the same tray at 21:35.
Pros: The beef was one of the best pieces of meat I'd ever had. The polenta cake had nice texture and taste. The slaw/salad worked well with the pork. The artichoke was good (this was my first time trying an artichoke, so I don't have anything to compare it to).
Cons: The polenta cake was a bit dry.
My mom ordered the "Summer Squash, Tomato and Vidalia Onion Tart with arugula and pine nuts", which didn't get very high marks.
My FA came while I was still eating and asked what I wanted for dessert. I responded "cheesecake please", to which he said, "that's it?" I thought to myself "flight report" and said, "I'll try the cheese too".
"Desserts - Cheesecake Tart with fresh fruit and whipped cream AND Selection of Fine Cheeses offered with fresh fruit and fig compote" was delivered at 21:50.
Pros: The cheesecake was tasted great and super fresh. I enjoyed the "cypress grove midnight moon" and "kaltback gruyere" cheeses. The fruit and fig compote with the cheese were very good.
Cons: The cheesecake was dry. The "buttermilk blue affinée" was too strong for me. The cutlery was in a paper thing. I got an absolutely disgusting dirty knife.
Overall: Cheesecake - 8/10, Fruit - 8/10,
Gross Knife: -5 points
Total meal score: 55/75 - not a bad meal by any standards. There were a lot of great parts, but also, some not so great parts.
Progress by the end of the meal service.
I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth before going to sleep. While I was up, I also found that the load in J was a meager 13/34 seats.
The bed in full flat mode with and without the bedding.
I got a full three hours of sleep and woke up around here.
I put on my one of my favorite tv shows and waited for breakfast to come around.
Right around 2:00, the FA came through with a cart and delivered the same tray with a drink, fruit, and a cinnamon roll, and asked what I wanted for breakfast. Five minutes later, "Southwestern Frittata with warm pico de gallo and chicken apple sausage" was delivered.
Pros: The cinnamon roll was delicious. The fruit was fresh and tasty. The frittata and sausages tasted great.
Cons: The cinnamon roll was a bit soggy. The pico de gallo didn't have much flavor. The frittata was a bit too large and heavy. Cutlery came in a paper thingy.
My mom got the other option - "Honey Almond Granola Cereal with milk and yogurt".
Getting closer to Madrid.
Just before descent, mints were distributed.
We began our descent into MAD at 2:55 JFK time. Not knowing what to do with my pillow, I just kinda stuffed it at the end of the seat, but kept the blanket on because it was cold.
Before landing, I'll add my final thoughts on crew, seat, and IFE.
My FA was great. He was super attentive and made sure to always ask how I was doing and if I needed anything. He was a little quiet, possibly attributed to the fact that it seemed like Spanish was his first language, not English.
The seat was phenomenal. The controls were easy to use, there was plenty of space, it felt super private, it was super comfy both for sitting and sleeping, and the bedding that came along with it was great as well. My only complaint, as mentioned above, was the fact that there wasn't much space to put anything.
The IFE was excellent as well. The screen was very high quality and responsive. The selection of movies and TV shows was great. Unfortunately, we didn't receive noise canceling headphones.
We touched down on runway 32L at 9:14 local time - 9 minutes behind schedule. That's pretty good considering we left 65 minutes late.
Some iPhone spotting on the way to the gate.
A collection of D0 planes.
We pulled into the gate at 9:26.
Goodbye seat 3A! If you've read my other reports, you'll notice that travel backpack has made yet another appearance.
Thanks for the ride, N818NW!
It was a long walk to immigration.
Immigration was quick and took under 10 minutes, and our bags were some of the first off the carousel.
The reason my 'Access' rating is so low is because of the public transport situation. We didn't want to rent a car, so the best option was to take the metro. T1-T2-T3 is all one building, and they share one metro stop, located between T2 and T3. It was at least a 15 minute walk from T1, and was very poorly signed as well.
That wraps up this flight report. Thanks so much for reading, and leave a comment if you feel inclined - I love reading and responding to them!