Review of Delta Air Lines flight Detroit Shanghai in Business

Airline Delta Air Lines
Flight DL583
Class Business
Seat 6A
Aircraft Boeing 747-400
Flight time 14:20
Take-off 30 Mar 17, 16:35
Arrival at 30 Mar 17, 18:55
DL   #34 out of 94 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 833 reviews
By 2811
Published on 29th June 2017
Greetings Flight Report community and welcome to this report covering what is an endangered, actually soon to be extinct, experience. That is the long haul 747-400 flight on Delta Air Lines. As we enter the last few months of this fleet type I'm feeling nostalgic for the old bird. Hometoyyz has shared a great report flying in the exclusive upper deck and it has inspired me to share a recent rip flying in the nose of the aircraft, forward of any emergency exits, indeed, for some seated up there, forward of the machine's operators.

While this was a 4 segment trip for me I'll just be sharing the segment on the -400. The trip, in total, is laid out below.

Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:

American Airlines - LAX-DFW - A321-200 - First - Admirals Club LAX T4 - Cash - (No report)
American Airlines - DFW-DTW - Mad Dog - First - Admirals Club DFW TC - Cash - (No report)
Delta Air Lines - DTW-PVG - 747-400 - Delta One - Delta Sky Club (various) - NRSA - (This Report)
Delta Air Lines - PVG-LAX - 777-200LR - Delta One - No Lounge - NRSA - (No report)


This might be one of the more difficult flights to get a ride on in the Delta system. It's a long flight and carrying NRSA payload is the lowest priority, obviously, for the carrier. The result is often times seats go out empty in an effort to optimize weight and balance, and ultimately, profitability (cost index) of the mission. This is no secret so I know this going in yet I still paid to take a red eye from LAX to DTW, via DFW in hopes that I may have the privilege of being on board. I watch the loads obsessively, and monitor the payload on various days of the week and try to determine a trend. I picked a day with sufficient open seats and have a go. It's interesting, you would think that when you're concerned about payload limitations the more open seats the better. In my experience too many open seats can entice the cargo folks to sell some of that payload and all of a sudden a wide open flight is weight critical. This is all speculation on my part but if you're an airline operations nerd like myself these are the things you think about. Anyhow I made the decision to go several days in advance knowing that if PVG didn't work out there are still a number of delightful destinations served from a global hub like DTW, just not many left on the -400.

Terminal Transit and Sky Club

My flights on American were on time, with good service, and without incident. Flying the MD80 is also a bonus as they will be competing for space in the bone yard with the 747-400 soon. American arrives at the North Terminal so if you are transiting from just about any other airline to Delta you have to exit the sterile area and ride the bus over to the McNamara Terminal. I got off by the Westin Hotel.

Long live the T tails.
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I visited a kiosk inside to check in for the flight and obtain my seat request card that would allow me to pass through security.

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Having been on airplanes all night I was interested in a shower. I visited the "main" Skyclub just past security in the central part of the terminal.

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The club was busy and I had about a half hour wait for a shower. Unfortunately, due to the volume of traffic in the lounge, my review will be limited to the shower experience. The rooms are spacious enough and clean. Most importantly to me is they have great ventilation and did not get stuffy or hot during the shower. The Malin + Goetz shampoo, body wash, conditioner and lotion are really enjoyable.

I passed some time in the club and walked the terminal from end to end. I visited one of the other Sky Clubs as well. All 4 clubs here are still in their former NWA style. they are all dated looking but still functional and pleasant. Sorry, I didn't take any pictures inside.


My wandering led me to gate A30.

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Although there were a number of empty seats, enough to accommodate those who were listed for NRSA travel, the gate agents were not empowered to release any seats until almost the entire aircraft had boarded. Presumably the flight was flirting with the payload optimization line and the load planners in Atlanta were waiting for some piece of data (weather en route, final fuel, cargo, who knows…) before they would clear any of us. Eventually seats were assigned and I was the benefactor of a beautiful window seat in the nose of the Queen of the Skies.

Truth be told I was starting to actively work on my alternates as more time passed sitting in the gate area. I have encountered some people over the years who have access to this type of travel but insist it's too much "work" and too many "uncertainties" so they simply don't make the effort. Then there is me who gets great satisfaction out of the thrill of the "uncertainties" and the extra appreciation of being handed that boarding pass. I find it exhilarating.

Anyhow, I accesses the Sky Priority line and marched down the square metal tube with a great big smile on my face. Can't get a great view of N662US, a 28.5 year young 747-400, delivered to NWA in March of 1989.

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Any window seat is a fantastic treat on the -400. I think 6A is a fine seat. I prefer to be in the back of whatever cabin I'm in just to observe what is happening rather than being observed. Would I prefer to join Hometoyyz in the upper deck, you bet! Those seats seem to go fast as there are many Delta flyers who swear by them. Me included.

The seat is provisioned with the Westin Heavenly bedding duvet and two pillows. Noise canceling headset, slippers, and an amenity kit are also found.

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The seat is comfortable and there is a small shelf on the left side. The screen is an ample size with good resolution. I find the selection of movies and TV to be immense.

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A fun observation, for me, was that one of the other passengers riding NRSA was the college age son of a flight attendant working the flight. Seeing him interact with his Mom and the other crew brought back many fond memories of doing the same with my Mother. Trips to Hong Kong when I was in high school and we flew the L-1011-500 from LAX to Kai Tak via ANC. Later non-stop on the MD-11. Wonderful memories.

Pre-departure drinks were passed from a tray. I opted for the sparkling wine.

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The amenity kit is fairly complete and in a nice hard sided case.

The purser made the rounds introducing himself and offering the menu. I thought I had the menu but the menu I have doesn't match the food I enjoyed so I have something crossed somewhere.

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Also a cart containing "lounge wear" was circulated and I opted for a set. This is really nice option to have for a 14 hour flight.
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Soon we were all buttoned up and off into the drizzly skies above Motor City.

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Service started about 30 minutes after the wheels left the pavement. A bar service is done and the "Settling In" dish is offered. Smoked trout and some horseradish cream. I paired the starter with a Delta Sky Breeze cocktail and some San Pellegrino water.

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After leisurely enjoying the starter the bar cart passes again with the base tray, salad, and soup. Bread from a basket is also passed. The asparagus and potato salad was quite nice vs. a bowl of greens or more traditional salad.

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I can't get passed lamb on almost any menu. I really fancy the beast. This presentation was overcooked to my liking but is had a well seasoned flavor and was moderately tender.

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The dessert cart passes next adn is virtually overflowing with abundance. I opt for the ice cream with Biscoff crumble and a selection of the cheese. I also enjoy a pour of the sparkling red dessert wine but unfortunately can't remember the name of the wine.

Meal service wraps up over Hudson Bay and the cabin is darkened.

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Not ready to turn in just yet i enjoy a Cognac and simply savor the time and place in which I find myself.

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Eventually I nap but don't find satisfying sleep as I'm just too excited to sleep. I have a nice chat with the flight attendant on duty and she offers me one of the mid flight snacks. It seems there is no formal middle service but if you're awake the FAs come by and specifically ask if they can prepare you a snack. In addition to that they are in the aisles fairly frequently replenishing water bottles and offering service. I think Delta does this very well. Of course there are snack and water stations setup in both the galley and the small table in the forward portion of the airplane.

Some tuna and a Tsingtao.

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Way up north today on a polar track there is a twilight type lighting.

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A walk about the cabin

The arrival service starts and I opt for the Chinese option of chili prawns. It's not a very successful dish.

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Our arrival under darkness is uneventful…except…we get a remove parking spot! The bane of every other traveler is my joy!

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There is a twinge of emotion leaving this airplane wondering if i will get the opportunity to ride on one again.

Tourist Bonus

I ended up only staying one night of a planned 2. I got home sick and decided to go back on the late departure the next day but made sure to sample some local culinary delights.

Have to enjoy noodle soup.

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A trip to Huanghe Road Food Street (Chinese name: 黄河路美食街)

XLB at Jia Jia Tang Bao. This place was fun. I ended up at a table with a sweet, English speaking, Chinese tourist from Fuzhou. We were able to swap dumplings so we could taste more varieties. The crab roe was beautiful but I really just enjoy the pork.

I waddle across the street to yang's..cause…I'm here…

Doing dishes.

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Love the bakeries.

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The lines at cake shops all over town were intense. There was some holiday the following day but i can't remember the name. The kind woman in the XLB shop was telling me about picnics and remembering relatives that have passed.

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A walk through the park and then down Nanjing Road to The Bund.

See more


Delta Air Lines

Cabin crew7.5

Delta Air Lines Sky Club (Gate A38)


Detroit - DTW


Shanghai - PVG



The Ground Service: I found the kiosk to be especially efficient. Tehre was no line at Pre-Check.

The Lounge: Crowded and somewhat hectic. The shower was great. The decor and seating surfaces are dated and somewhat run down. A refresh is needed.

The Cabin: It's been about 5 years since this configuration was installed. There has been one refresh of seat covers. I find it to be the best in the Delta fleet and competitive with other t-pac carriers.

The Crew: Very solid service. All interactions were pleasant and the service seemed genuine.

The Food and Beverage: I found a good balance between interesting, quality, and ample portions. The asparagus potato salad stood out as something memorable. Soup is always welcome.

Overall: I got to spend 14 hours with an old friend that I don't get to see very often. I was very satisfied.

Thank you for coming along and please feel free to follow @theonlywaytofly on Instagram for previews of upcoming Flight Reports.



If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 402455 by
    eminere™ 271 Comments
    Great report! What a thrill to have a seat free up for you at the last minute.

    How interesting the spinner design is different between engines 1 and 2. The former having a GE-typical spinner and the latter the more traditional PW style.
  • Comment 402458 by
    socalnow AUTHOR 976 Comments
    Greetings Eminere and thank you for the comments.

    "How interesting the spinner design is different between engines 1 and 2. The former having a GE-typical spinner and the latter the more traditional PW style."
    -Good eye. I'm sure parts are harvested from the retired frames to keep the last 7 in top shape.

    Thanks again and happy flying.
  • Comment 402467 by
    Rewardflying 493 Comments
    Another trip on a DL 747 that I'll never see. Too bad you couldn't get upstairs. But the nose is pretty cool in itself. Was going to book it for next week and pay through the nose but took United Polaris instead. Yet another cancellation yesterday for mechanical DTW-PVG. I think that is 3 747 mechanical cancellations in the last month. I'd hate to book it and end up on the 777. But thanks to you and Hometoyyz I can say I flew it! Thanks!
    • Comment 402488 by
      socalnow AUTHOR 976 Comments
      Hello Rewardflying and thanks for stopping by.

      "Another trip on a DL 747 that I'll never see. "
      I'm trying to plan another go at her in August. Maybe back and forth from NRT-HNL-NRT. The flights are short but it's a 747 jetting out of Honolulu!

      "Yet another cancellation yesterday for mechanical DTW-PVG. I think that is 3 747 mechanical cancellations in the last month."
      -Yikes, that's terrible. That's a lot of folks to have to re-accommodate.

      Happy flying.
  • Comment 402510 by
    757Fan 632 Comments
    Great report of your flight with Delta - It looks like you had a good flight - and awesome you were able to get a seat! I bet after all the prep work and research, as you said, nothing beats getting a boarding pass for Delta One!
    • Comment 402567 by
      socalnow AUTHOR 976 Comments
      Thanks for the comments 757Fan.

      "...nothing beats getting a boarding pass for Delta One!"
      -It really is a nice feeling after all scheming, calculating, and hoping. Life goes on if it doesn't work out too.

      Happy flying.
  • Comment 402613 by
    hometoyyz 539 Comments
    Helo Socal! Thanks for sharing a great report on the DL 747. Thanks for the shoutouts as well! I loved the "trip down memory lane" story of the three-holer days.

    What a great treat to get a nonrev seat. I really need to find a hookup.

    I also really have to learn how to do the summary and all that stuff... it just makes the report layout look so much better.

    I also share your affinity for lamb. Not something I ever have at home, but always a favourite when I can find it... I also seldom choose anything else if it's available, on the ground or in the air. But I find it does relatively well in the air, probably because of the stronger flavour which makes it something of a divisive subject.

    Your pictures of Shanghai make me all the more curious to visit. I've not been yet, but someday I'm sure I'll see something of that city beyond PVG.

    I've not seen the showers at the DTW main lounge before. A pleasant surprise indeed!

    Thanks again for a great report on your experience. May all your NRSAing adventures work out as well!
    • Comment 402982 by
      socalnow AUTHOR 976 Comments
      Thanks for the comments Hometoyyz.

      "But I find it does relatively well in the air, probably because of the stronger flavour which makes it something of a divisive subject."
      -I concur. the perception of "gaminess" is the quality that makes for a flavorful protein at 35,000 feet.

      "Your pictures of Shanghai make me all the more curious to visit."
      -I think it's worth a couple of days. Of course if I could only travel to China for the remainder of my time on this planet I would not see everything I would like to see.

      "May all your NRSAing adventures work out as well!"
      -Thanks for the good mojo. It's harder and harder to get a J seat but the thrill of the hunt is fun for me.

      Thanks again and happy flying.

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