Welcome to the next installment in this series. The point of this trip to Europe was to go to a big Flight-Report.com meet-up which coincided with the Le Bourget Paris Air show. I also took the opportunity to go see my parents in the Southwest of France. I worked out a somewhat complicated routing to stretch out the miles, and basically because I'm an AvGeek and the more flights the better, when you are not time constrained, that is.
Normally, when I go to my hometown in France, I do IAD-CDG-TLS and then drive 2 hours to Rodez, but that was getting a little boring. The ORY-RDZ flights will take me directly to my hometown; this was also the first time that this route had been reported on the site.
At the end of the last report, I had left off at the JFK T2 Delta Sky Club.
When I booked the ticket I was able to get a window solo seat in an odd numbered row. In my opinion, these are the best seats when you are travelling alone because the seat is against the window and you have a large table/armrest between you and the aisle which gives the impression of more privacy. The even numbered rows are on the aisle side.
When I printed my boarding pass at the Sky Club, the check-in screen informed me that my flight was oversold (not surprising considering the Air Traffic Controllers strike in Europe). The kiosk asked if I would be willing to volunteer to be rerouted to my destination and asked me to bid on how much I would take in Delta Dollars to be rerouted. At first I typed in $1000 just to see, but the screen told me the maximum was $600. Ok, so I typed $600, we'll see what happens–I guess they'll let me know at the gate if they need me or not. Of course, I'll need to know what the option are first.
After a few hours in the pleasantly, and strangely, empty T2 club, I headed over to the new terminal 4, which at the time had just opened a few weeks earlier.
The check-in area with a dedicated separate Sky Priority zone, much like in LHR, to the right.
To access the Sky Priority lane at security, you have to scan your boarding pass. Since it's relatively early before the evening rush of European departures, there is noone in line and I am through in a few minutes.
View of the tarmac once airside just after security.
This is the last time I even saw the old T3, former Pan Am World Port. It had just been closed a few weeks prior when T4 opened and was sadly torn down shortly after. It's a shame that they did not try to conserve it as they did with the TWA Flight Center, although I understand that neither DL nor the PANYNJ have the means to preserve a building that would essentially serve no purpose. Nevertheless, it was an iconic building and I was saddened that it was demolished.
An El Al B744 seen on the way to the Sky Club.
The new T4 is not particularly impressive. It's just a very very loooong concourse and the low ceilings kind of remind me of ATL. Don't get me wrong, it's certainly way nicer that the old T3, which was in a very sad state of disrepair. It was time DL had better facilities for it's NYC hub.
The Sky Club is way down at the end of the concourse. This was the first time I was going to see the Sky Deck; I was really excited!
The lounge is located upstairs.
The bar and the restaurant section, which offers offers a menu of paid-options.
A work area. There are no PCs available to use, just an empty space for your laptop.
The Flight-Report.com corporate shot.
And finally, here is the Sky Deck! It's a thing of beauty for an AvGeek! Sipping on a glass of wine while planespotting…it doesn't get better than that! Plus, I really like the design of the deck.
The only slightly negative point is that it was a pretty hot sunny day and the Sky Deck did not offer much shade. At least I had my glass of white wine or Gin & Tonic to keep me cool :-)
When I came back later in the evening, however, there was much more share.
The tip of the Singapore Airlines A380
A beautiful Swiss A333
Oh my, that's long ;-)
A Turkish A333 leaving for Istanbul
The famous Club World London City A318.
After this little planespotting session I'm starting to get hungry. Knowing that if you want to eat anything decent in the club you have to pay I headed over to the Oasis Lounge (now called the Wingtips lounge) which I had discovered a few months before on a JFK-LHR trip that you can read HERE
I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get in since there was now a DL Sky Club in T4. Prior to the opening of the DL Concourse in T4, DL international premium cabin passengers could access this lounge as DL was running a few flights out of T4. When I got to the lounge the lounge attendant let me in with no problem. Great! This lounge has a pretty decent food offering, so I was glad about that.
Luckily, I guess not too many DL pax knew they could get in to the Oasis lounge because it was pretty empty.
I found the same little quiet corner as my last visit with a great view of the tarmac. It really is pleasant being in an empty lounge.
For my first snack, I grabbed a Turkey club wrap and a roast beef croissant sandwich accompanied by a Pinot Grigio and a Perrier to re-hydrate :-)
Makes you feel like a VIP to have a whole section to yourself :-)
For my KLM-fanatic friend and fellow Flight-Report member KL651. I bet you like that huh?
Oooh, there's more!
It's pretty obvious that KLM uses the Oasis Lounge.
I pass the time planespotting and reading Flight-Reports, like this nice report by Hcl75.
An Alitalia A330 landing
The Korean A380 leaving for Seoul-Incheon
I really love the diversity of traffic at JFK…you just never get bored watching the ballet of arrivals and departures.
A Jumbo Smurf :-)
An LCC Frenchie A333
DL 763ER in Habitat for Humanity special livery.
AF006 landing from Paris late as usual.
And then it's a parade of A380s with an Emirates superjumbo arriving right after Air France.
The hot dinner options are available at the self-serve buffet at 5PM. I chose a seafood curry with basmati rice. There was also a French Onion soup, but that didn't seem appealing to me on a hot summer day.
After a shower in the lounge I decided to head over to my gate since boarding time was approaching. I wanted to check in with the gate agents to see if they'd need me to give up my see and see what the rerouting options were.
Once I got to the gate, the agent told me that the flight was now overbooked by 20 and that it had already checked in oversold. She said that a lot of pax were being rebooked on the FRA flight because of the cancellations to Paris due to the French Air Traffic Controller strike as I had suspected. At first she offers to put me in a hotel if I would be willing to fly out tomorrow evening. I wasn't thrilled about having to spend the night in New York for a $600 voucher. She then saw that there was no availability on either the JFK-FRA or JFK-CDG flights the next day…ummm, yeah, that's not gonna work then.
The agent was very good and tried to find different routing combinations that would get me to my destination, but it seemed availability on ALL DL TATL flights was zeroed out for tonight or the next day. I proposed several options to her on other airlines: AF to CDG, KL via AMS, UX via MAD, or AZ via FCO to stay on SkyTeam, then I proposed OpenSkies to Paris-Orly or SQ to FRA (which I really pushed for obvious reasons), but unfortunately the agent told me that they could nto reroute passengers on other airlines in Business class even though there was availability. She said if I was rerouted, I'd have to fly in economy. Really???? You're trying to get me to give up my seat but you have no options for me except fly in Economy on another airline…not really making me want to help you out here. What a terrible policy! Here I am trying to help out and the best options I am given is fly in 48 hours on DL in Business or on another airline in coach. I really did want to help since I've worked for airlines in the past and knew how chaotic oversales could be. The agent told me if I would be willing to go in 2 days on DL that she would offer me two $600 vouchers for a total of $1200. I just replied that if they were desperate enough to get my seat, they would find a way to reroute me in the same cabin that I have bought.
I decided to head back to the Sky Club next door until boarding. The agent said she would call me in the club if she could work something out.
Back to the Sky Deck for more planespotting I go! :-)
A beautiful ANA 77W
With no news about the oversale, I headed back to the gate to touch base with the agent right before boarding. When I got there I didn't see her and was told by another agent that she had to leave to work another flight but that she had left my information with them.
By this point, it was a total madhouse in the gate area. There were a good 30-40 passengers without seat assignments who looked like they were about to start a riot! I felt really bad for the gate agents who were trying their best to handle the situation and asked if they had come up with any better options for me so that they could take my seat. The new agent tells me they were not able to get authorization to do Business class on another airline, but that the $1200 offer to go in 48h still stood. I was disappointed and replied that she could go ahead and take me off the volunteer list as that option was just not reasonable. I apologized and said I really wanted to help out, but to ask someone to stay an extra 2 days is just a ridiculous option.
So I went ahead and boarded, leaving the chaos of the gate area behind.
My plane this evening.
I was one of the last passengers to board in the BusinessElite cabin since I was stuck at the gate for so long.
I barely got to my seat when a lovely smiling flight attendant comes up with a tray of pre-departure beverages
Welcome aboard sir. Would you like a drink?
Oh God yes! I say laughing and making her laugh,Champagne please!
Here I'll give you the fullest one! I bet it's a zoo up there!
It sure is!! I said, it sure is.
Aaaahh…tranquility in a glass, LOL
The nice TUMI amenity kit.
The contents of the pouch. There are definitely more goodies than in the AF Business class kits.
The seat pitch
Ads during boarding as always.
Menus are distributed during boarding.
Despite the chaos at the gate, boarding was finished on time; however, the captain made an announcement to inform us that we were going to be delayed due to the removal of bags of passengers who will not be flying tonight (i.e. the unlucky folks who got denied boarding).
We push back a half hour late.
Deltalina reminds us that there is no smoking on any Delta flight. It's a shame she's no longer featured in the new safety videos.
As usual at JFK in the evenings, the taxi time is long…about 45 minutes.
Takeoff with beautiful twilight.
Just after takeoff the First Officer makes an announcement to tell us that despite the delayed departure, we would be arriving on time to FRA.
Looks like the IFE has a little time zone bug…
Champagne before dinner with warm nuts.
The meal is served as we fly over Nova Scotia.
The shrimp appetizer, soup, and salad. Everything was really good, especially the soup, which is always good in DL Business. I had another glass on champagne with the appetizer.
The main dish, although nothing fancy, was rather good. The beef was tender though a little overcooked to my taste. I pair the beef with a decent Bordeaux. Throughout the meal, my awesome FA checked on me regularly to fill my wine. She spoke French to me…no idea how she found out I was French since I have an American accent, but it was a great touch! Maybe she saw my passport when I boarded.
Cheese course and crême brûlée cheesecake dessert. I finished my Bordeaux with the cheese and paired the dessert with a Sauternes. The cheesecake was delicious.
And finally, a little Cognac digestif.
After the meal, FAs distributed wated bottles for the night. I slept like a baby for a good 4-5 hours and woke up as we were close to London.
When my FA arrived with breakfast, I noticed that it was cereal…ugh, DL and its love affair with cereal in premium cabins; I'll never understand it. I told her that I would have preferred the quiche that I had seen on the menu. She apologized for the mix-up; however, the caterers had forgotten to load the quiches. I was a bit disappointed, but after such a big dinner, I wasn't that hungry.
Somewhere over the German countryside.
The cabin starts to wake up.
We did a little turn around Frankfurt and landed from the East.
A DL 764 leaving for DTW.
Lots of Star Alliance airlines...not surprising considering FRA is an LH hub.
Despite the delay on departure, we got to the gate about 20 minutes early!
Willkommen in Frankfurt!
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines Sky Club - 4
New York - JFK
Frankfurt - FRA
Comfort: I really like this seat, especially for the feeling of privacy without having walls around you which can feel claustrophobic. The only downside is that the seat is a bit narrow in sleep mode.
Crew: Amazing crew as is often the case with DL. My FA was very friendly and attentive. The factthat she spoke French to me was a great additional personal touch that I greatly appreciated. She also spoke fluent German!
Catering: Very good dinner. Everything was tasty and the portions were generous. A few points off for the quiche incident.
The flight may have left late because of the oversale, but an early arrival always gets a perfect grade!
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