Hello, and welcome to another flight-report series with yours truly. This trip will cover a quick journey across the Pacific to Japan with Delta in business class.
DL6825 - YYZ-DTW - 8/14/2017 - CRJ-900 - F - Brief summary here DL275 - DTW-NRT - 8/14/2017 - 747-400 - J - You are here DL120 - HND-MSP - 8/17/2017 - 777-200ER - J - Coming soon DL1556 - MSP-YYZ - 8/17/2017 - 717-200 - F - Coming soon(?)
Delta seems to love to have really good business class sales to a number of destinations in Asia, in business class, from Toronto. And I’m not one to discourage that. In this case, when the opportunity came up, I booked this flight to get one more ride on the 747-400 upper deck before Delta puts the Queen out to pasture later this year.
Unfortunately, the NRT-DTW 747 return was not available on the sale fare on the day I wanted to come back, so I had to settle for the one flight on the 747, settling on HND-MSP, which will give me a chance to try out Haneda, and my first flight on the (soon-to-be-replaced) Delta 777 business class seat.
For all intents and purposes, this fight flight is the “main event” of the trip, and I very much was looking forward to this last experience with a brilliant upper deck business class experience.
But first, I have to get to Detroit, don’t I?
Getting to Detroit - DL6285, YYZ-DTW
To do that, I caught an early flight on a Delta Connection (Go Jet) CRJ-900 trip from Pearson over to Detroit that would get me in with a pretty long layover at Wayne, but better than risking things going sideways with a later YYZ-DTW flight, that would get in just about an hour between the DTW-NRT departure.
I’m not going to go into much depth before. I’ve covered very similar YYZ-DTW flights before — you could just sub in this review, if you like. I even had the same drink.
Despite getting away from Toronto a little late because the gate scanner wasn’t working, meaning that everyone (yours truly included) with an e-boarding pass had to go get a paper boarding pass, we made it into Detroit just about on schedule. This is only notable because, as the captain put it, we “made up 17 minutes in the air,” a truly remarkable feat on the 21-minute YYZ-DTW segment. Apparently, these CRJs have some of a little-used turbo-mode that can be employed in just such a situation. It was truly impressive — felt just as smooth as if we were traveling at a regular pace.
We pulled into the main part of the McNamara Terminal, near one end. I took a leisurely stroll up to the middle of the terminal, just in time to catch the fountain at mid-terminal playing.
Delta Sky Club - Gate A38
From there, it’s a short walk to the main (central) Sky Club at DTW.
I’ve recently discussed this club in a fair bit of depth (see here), so I’m just going to go quick on this one.
A quick boarding pass scan just past the doors, and I was on my way upstairs. The elevator comes up into the middle of the lounge, right next to the service desk.
As I’ve mentioned before, the lounge is large, confusingly laid-out, and the decor is quite dated, but reasonably comfortable. Plugs are fairly available, especially considering the place hasn’t been recently updated.
I find a seat overlooking the retail concourse below. So exciting!
WiFi is decently fast — a quick check-in with my ride, which shows it’s currently making its way back from Seoul and due in a few minutes later. Which is pretty good, considering it’s a Delta 747 in 2017.
The snacks on the YYZ-DTW flight aren’t cutting it, so it’s time for breakfast.
The main buffet is located off a large “TV room” area. It’s not an extensive buffet. There’s the bar, which is open at this hour — a step above AC lounges thanks to Ontario’s silly liquor laws.
Oatmeal and grits.
Cereals, milk, and little omelets.
And finally breads, yogurts, and other such details.
I decide on a relatively simple breakfast of the couple of the cheesy omelets. They’re prry good,, thanks to a liberal dose of the secret ingredient. Oh, Sriracha, is there anything you can’t do?
After chilling for a while, I decide to take a shower, because why not. It’s late morning at this point, and the lounge is pretty quiet, so there’s no wait when I ask for a shower suite. I’m showed right over. The shower is hot and water pressure is decent, so I’m happy.
After that, it’s time to check out of the lounge, and get a little walking in before my flight. So why don’t we do….
A little pre-flight spotting
I start by heading over to Gate 46, where my ride over to Tokyo is getting ready to go, having arrived from Seoul a little while ago. Lookin’ good, old bird.
Here’s what’s on display around the terminal:
A Delta 757-200 that hasn’t been given the winglet treatment as of yet.
An Airbus A330-200 heading over to Beijing in a little while.
A much more conventional Delta 757 with winglets.
An A319/A320 — can’t get a look at the side to be sure, but I think an A319?
A wide variety of CRJs, including one arriving as I show up.
A variety of Mad Dogs and 717s.
Some Embraer E-jets.
Another narrowbody Airbus, this time for sure an A319.
A number of Boeing 737-900s.
Total number of planes in non-Delta colours at the McNamara Terminal this morning: Zero. Zilch. Nada.
The Flight Report
By the time I made it back to Gate 46, pre-boarding for those who need a little bit of extra time was underway, so I slipped into the Sky Priority line, and about 11:50, the Premium line was called. Time for my last date with The Queen.
Once past the gate, the jetway affords a great opportunity to get a nice view of that beautiful 747 nose.
Flight: DL275 From: Detroit Wayne (DTW) To: Tokyo Narita (NRT) Date: 8/14/2017 Aircraft: Boeing 747-400 Registration: N668US Seat: 77K ATD (STD): 13:10 (12:26) ATA (STA): 13:52 (14:15+1)
I board through the door one, and make my way through the downstairs Delta One cabin towards the stairs to the upper deck. Time for one more walk up the stairs.
Once upstairs, I’m seated in 77K, the starboard seat immediately behind the upper-deck emergency exits, and generally accepted as one of the better seats on the plane. The seat is equipped as expected.
Delta’s business class bedding package is very good with a nice, comfy duvet, a large and soft main pillow, and a smaller secondary pillow that acts as an excellent lumbar support. All carry the Westin Heveanly brand to them.
Legroom is good, and although there is a foot well, I don’t find it a very constricting foot well.
The seat is equipped with the standard hard-sided Tumi amenity kit — we’ll unbox it a bit later — and slippers.
The outside/aft wall of the pod has a reading light, USB port, power outlet, and the headphone jack. There’s also a storage cubby with Delta’s new busines class headphones by LSTN hiding away in them. I look forward to testing them out.
The forward/inside wall of the pod has the IFE monitor, old-school IFE remote control, and seat controls.
The aisle-side armrest has to be stowed for takeoff and landing — and there’s a small storage space here that provides a prefect home for a bottle of water. Or two, I would find out later.
A look out the window as boarding continues. It’s a nice view back onto the starboard wing and those lovely power plants.
The lead flight attendant for the upper deck, Deborah, makes her way around the cabin, distributing menus. Deborah, and her partner whose name I never did catch, were both older, but lovely, friendly, fun, and genuine in their service. A very good crew.
So, let’s dive into the menu, shall we? I’m surprised by how similar it is to my menu on DTW-PVG last month. In fact, it’s pretty much identical, with the exception of the Japanese special menu replacing the Chinese special menu.
Deborah comes back through with pre-departure beverages next, and she greeted everyone requesting champagne (okay, sparkling wine, but… who needs truth in advertising?) with a “Happy birthday!” When she gets to me, I respond, “Hey, it must be my birthday too!” The sparkling served on the ground is not fantastic, but does a good job of providing me the opportunity for a first toast to the Queen.
One of the reasons 77A and 77K are two of the preferred seats on the upper deck is the shelf space in front of the seat, which provides a great opportunity to store some stuff for a minute, or act as a staging area when getting stuff out or putting stuff away.
While boarding continues — we ended up full up top — here’s a look at the amenity kit deconstucted. As always, my favourites here are the little Tumi pen, and the socks, which I actually quite like, oddly enough.
Deborah next distributes boarding cards. I always like to have them early in the flight, so this is very much appreciated.
The purser, who’s based downstairs and sounds like he’s one of the Japanese-speaking flight attendants, comes over the PA to announce to us that we’re going to be delayed about fifteen minutes, because “a family of four, with eight checked bags, failed to completely and accurately represent the contents of their baggage, so they won’t be joining us today.” No further details were provided to this little bit of a mystery, but I did get a little chuckle out of him finishing his announcement by adding that he was “deeply sorry… that some people can’t fill out forms completely and accurately.”
A few minutes later, one of the pilots stepped out of the flight deck, and introduced himself. “You know, folks… we’re going to be retiring these planes later this year, and since we’re in a bit of a delay, I thought I’d ask if any of you would like to come up and….” I’m pretty sure he said something after that, but it was drowned out by more then a dozen stampeding passengers racing to line up to get their picture taken on the flight deck of The Queen.
The person in front of me in line asked if they were excited about “the new plane,” but the captain replied that they were “all Boeing guys” so they wouldn’t be flying the new A350. I asked where they were going, and not surprisingly, all of them are going to the 777 fleet. If all the 747 crew are going 777, that’s going to be a big influx of Triple-7 crew for Delta, given that they don’t have any new birds on order. Of course, they had publicly speculated about getting off-lease 77Ws super-cheap a few years ago, didn’t they? I wonder.
Anyways… I got my moment in the left seat of a 747-400. It was quick, because of the lineup. But it was a great souvenir memory for this final flight for me on the DL 747. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Back at my seat, Deborah took meal orders — confirming that I’d pre-ordered the Japanese meal, and that I still wanted to stick with that. I did.
A few minutes before 1:00, we were ready for pushback, about half an hour behind schedule. Fortunately, the captain said we had a shorter-than-usual flight of just shy of 12 hours, so we should arrive in Tokyo on time.
On taxi, my first in-the-wild sighting of the new A350. Too bad it wasn’t there a few minutes ago when I was spotting. The past taxis past the future.
As we taxi, a Lufty 744 in the distance.
No wait at the runway this afternoon, so we were quickly on our way. It’s always an impressive roll on the 747, and it’s a lovely afternoon in Michigan.
Once we’re airborne, the IFE system is turned on, and it’s time to look for something to watch.
A look at the new LSTN headphones. While they look significantly better than the previous-generation headphones, they actually sound worse to my ears, and don’t seem to cut as much noise — although I don’t believe either generation of Delta-provided headphones are actively noise-cancelling. They’re comfortable enough for the few minutes I wear them, but quickly decide my trusty Bose should come out — not a ringing endorsement for this “upgrade.”
I’m disappointed that the movies on board haven’t been updated much (if any) from what was available on my early July flight. It’s a good thing I plan on napping for at least a good portion of the flight, because I’m not sure there’s enough that interests me to watch. Even the TV Documentaries section, usually home to at least one or two interesting offerings, is pretty flat this time. Eventually, I pick a movie. It’s not bad, but certainly nothing fantastic.
Service begins with the usual Delta (very) hot towel.
The drink cart is around next, and I request a glass of champagne and a Pellegrino, which is served with nuts. I’m glad to see the ramekins of nuts are back in D1 in my last few flights. But I wish they’d bring them back on on domestic routes as well. I’m not familiar with the Lanson champagne, but it’s a great deal more enjoyable than the on-the-ground sparkling.
Once the seatbelt sign is off, I head to the lav. Not much special about the two upper-deck washrooms, but the pax:lav ratio is great. Unfortunately, Japan doesn’t make the cut for Delta One loungewear. Fortunately, I knew this ahead of time and brought my own to change into. Delta’s loungewear is comfortable, and actually pretty good looking.
Back at my seat, the starters are presented all together. Actually, Deborah presented me the Western starters first, asking if I wanted some of the soup. But I clued in, and reminded her I was having the Japanes meal, so the error was quickly corrected. But I kept the soup. “We’ve got plenty.” A sesame salad dressing was also offered, although I’m not sure on what it was supposed to go.
This collection of small bites wasn’t exactly as advertised on the menu, as far as I could tell. No dishes with sardines were found, and there was no chicken. I’m not sure what the replacement gelatinous thingy was (thought it was quite tasty) and replacing the chicken was a bit of salmon that wasn’t terribly good — a little overdone. But most things on it were quite good, and it provided a nice variety of flavours.
The snow crab was simple but delicious.
The soup was the same as I had on my DTW-PVG sector. It wasn't a great soup then, and it’s not a great soup now.
This vegetable dish was a bit of a disappointment — cold and not much flavour.
The pickled cucumbers and ginger, however, were very nice.
Once I was done with my appetizers, the main was quickly presented. The lobster was tasty but a little tough, and it wasn’t the easiest thing to eat with chop sticks. I’d give it a medium grade.
But the miso soup. Oh my. So good. Maybe the best miso soup I’ve ever had, with deep flavours. I really enjoyed it.
The steamed rice was… well… steamed rice. The sesame salad dressing livened it up nicely, though, and the consistency was great.
As my plate was cleared, I was asked if I wanted another drink or anything else, or if I preferred to just wait for dessert. I chose to wait, and soon enough, the dessert cart came to me. I went with the cheesecake tart and some cheese, as well as sampling the dessert wine their sommelier praises so highly.
Delta does a very nice cheese course. I found this very satisfying, as usual.
The cheesecake was also very good. Unfortunately, I couldn’t offer the same rating to the wine, which didn’t really do anything for me.
With dinner over, I kicked my seat back to a lounging position, continued my movie, and decided to hop online for a little while. I jumped on a US Cellular WiFi package that the miles and points blogs were all talking about a few weeks ago — $10 US per month for unlimited WiFi, which includes on a number of airlines. And it worked just as advertised — a significant saving over even the one-flight cost of WiFi on an international flight. The WiFi coverage was impeccable. Speed was not great, but not painful either.
By the time my movie was over, we were about nine hours out of Tokyo, flying over northern Saskatchewan. Time to get a little shut-eye. I put on a podcast that I really had no interest in actually hearing, reclined into a bed, and drifted away.
I slept fairly well, considering it was mid-afternoon Eastern time, waking up about three hours later over western Alaska.
It’s time to find another movie from the slim pickings. Eventually, I choose this. It’s not great, but it dos the job.
Mid-movie, Deborah’s partner-in-cime stops by to see If I want a mid-flight snack, and I choose the soba noodles. It’s a simple snack, but it’s pretty enjoyable. I request a green tea to accompany it, and a Macallan to follow it, which is such a nice new treat in Delta One.
Towards the end of the movie, I’m offered another Macallan, and I gratefully accept the offer.
By the time Table 19 is done, we’re flying south of western Siberia, about four and three quarter hours from the end of the flight.
Up next in our little in-flight film festival is Sleepless, which keeps my attention although doesn’t exactly wow me.
The movie over, we’re flying just southeast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, about three hours out of Narita.
One more movie? Sure… why not. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
Part-way through the movie, and a little less than 90 minutes out of Tokyo, the house lights come up, and it’s time for the pre-arrival meal. Nominally breakfast, I suppose. Except I keep going with the Japanese theme, and have the Unadon, with a Bloody Mary to accompany it.
The main is pretty tasty, with a simple soy taste to it and quite a decent portion. The fried rice is… well… fried rice on a plane, which is not exactly high praise. I wish there’d been some veggie component to the main, really. The fruit was pretty good — a mix I quite like, actually. The bread was absolutely nothing special.
Once the meal is over, I grab my street clothes and head up to the washroom to change out of my D1 jammies, since we’re starting to get ready to arrive into Tokyo.
Yep, getting close indeed.
It’s a lovely day from up here above the clouds. But I’m not entirely sure it’s going to be so lovely down below based on the cloud cover. Or, for that matter, based on the weather reports I’m reading online. I’m going to Japan, so of course it’s going to rain the whole time.
It’s a long descent through the clouds, and by the time we’re through them, we’re almost on the ground. Hmmm… I guess not farewell chocolate on this flight, which is unusual.
Descent is smooth, and we land gently at Narita.
The captain comes on to announce that we’ve landed in Narita “thirty minutes early,” although Deborah and her partner talking right in front of me confirm what I thought…. it’s almost 2:00, and we were due at 2:15. So far today, both Delta flight crews have “fudged the numbers” a bit in terms of announced flight details.
He then tells us that we’re going to have to wait just short of the gate for a bit, because there’s a plane on our gate. And sure enough, he’s barely done telling us that when an Etihad 787 taxiis out from in front of us, and opens a space for us to park between our twin sister from DL, and a pretty A321 from VN.
With that, Deborah bids us goodbye, and we head downstairs and off the plane. Before heading into the terminal proper, one last look back at Her Majesty. A great ride across the Pacific, and a cabin experience I’ll miss for sure.
We arrived right next to the customs hall, which was great. Unfortunately, the customs hall lineup for foreign passports was extraordinarily terrible, which was less great. Fortunately, I had my forms all filled out, so I joined the epic lineup, which looked like it was going to take forever.
I was in the line about ten minutes (and had barely moved anywhere) when a Delta agent arrived with a sign reading Diamond Medallions, and I quickly identified myself as such. I was rewarded with a Fast Track pass, although I was left to wonder why they didn’t hand these out on the plane like most sensible airlines do pre-arrival. And is it really only for DMs? Business Class customers of lesser (or <gasp> no) status get nothing?
Oh well, I got it, and after walking across the room to the Fast Track lane, these was no one in line for the passport control agent there, so I was through and admitted into Japan in no time.
I had a few questions from a customs agent, who thoroughly looked through my bags, including looking under the lining of my suitcase. I then faced some questions about what I was doing in Japan for such a short stay — although surely it’s not so unusual for someone to appear in Japan for only a day or two, given that he didn’t ask where I was headed after Japan. But after some delay, I was free, and loose landside at Narita.
I quickly found my way to the Narita Express, and onwards to Shinagawa Station, from which it was about a 15-minute walk to the Airbnb where I was stating in Minato. Oddly enough, although I didn’t realize it when booking the place, it was pretty much across the road from the Sheraton Miyako, where I’ve stayed for my last couple of stays in Tokyo. Odd coincidence.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines Sky Club (Gate A38)
Detroit - DTW
Tokyo - NRT
A great final ride on the 747 with Delta for me — the upper deck in a 1-1 reverse herringbone seat is such a unique experience, and I’ll miss it greatly when it’s gone, although I certainly understand why they’re going away — especially with one of the seven available planes being stranded in Seoul for coming up on a week with an apparently tough mechanical issue. I’ll remember my four rides on the DL 747 — this one included — fondly.
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