Review: Delta's Business Elite on the 777
I am currently in South Korea and I had the pleasure of flying Delta's Business Elite product from the U.S. to Seoul. I'm going to give a detailed report on my thoughts about the Business Elite cabin and share some photos. I'll be returning to the U.S. in a few days, also in BE, and I'll update as needed. You can see complete photos from my flight to the right of this article. Click on the thumbnails under the main photo for additional images. I did not get a good seat picture. I will get that on my return flight.
The Journey Begins
My journey began in Washington, DC. I flew DCA to DTW to ICN. What was supposed to be an easy connection turned into a near nighmare. First, when I arrived at DCA for my 6:00am Saturday flight to Detroit I was greeted with the news my flight was delayed, later cancelled, until 10:00am. My international connection was Delta's 12:10pm flight to Seoul, so a 10:00am wasn't going to get me in on time. I was rebooked on the 9:44am flight, which I also had my doubts about, but was reassured I should have enough time in Detroit.
As a result of the cancelled flight I lost my first class seat on the first leg and was put on the upgrade list with "highest priority" as it was explained to me. I spent the next few hours sitting in the DCA SkyClub. I did send a tweet to @DeltaAssist and they assured me they would let my connecting flight know I was going to be cutting it close. As always, @DeltaAssist was quick to respond and as helpful as possible. At the gate I ended up getting changd to a first class seat, which was appreciated since I was on a paid P/S fare ticket. The only reason I ended up with the seat was because someone didn't show up, my coach seat would have been a middle seat in Economy Comfort.
My 9:44am flight arrived in Detroit late and we didn't pull up to the gate until about 11:40. We arrived at A73 and my ICN flight departed from A30. Anyone who knows Detroit knows that is a long way to go. I hopped on the tram and then ran the rest of the way. When I made it to the gate the flight was already boarded, but the gate agents told me they knew I was coming and welcomed me with a smile.
I stepped onboard the plane to a welcoming group of flight attendants. One immediately came over to me to take my jacket and a second one offered me a bottle of water. A third flight attendant brought me not one, but two glasses of champagne. One of our flight attendants was apparently supposed to be on my 6:00am flight and as a fluke took a Friday night flight to Detroit instead.
On this flight I chose seat 7A. I came to this decision after checking Seat Guru and reading reviews on FlyerTalk. Delta's business elite cabin is configured in a 1-2-1 setup. This is nice because each seat has direct aisle access. It took me a few minutes to get myself situated and explore everything at my seat. This was my first flight on Delta's 777 in Business Elite. First, I like that every seat has its own overhead bin. I easily stowed my bags and found that it was easy to access them throughout the flight at my liesure. There is no underseat storage in Business Elite, but with ample overhead space I didn't find this to be a problem.
At my seat I found a large duvet, two pillows (one large, one smaller), an amenity kit, noise cancelling headphones, slippers and a menu. What I liked about 7A is that there is an extra storage space to the right and rear of the seat. This is where I placed my iPad, the amenity kit, headphones, etc. I placed the pillows between my seat and the window to my left. The duvet I left in its plastic bag and placed under my footrest in front of me.
The seat itself was spacious and comfortable. 7A is secluded, but not as much as I thought after reading reviews online. The passenger in 5B has a pretty good view of you if they turn slightly. I found the seat perfectly acceptable. As many people have pointed out, the seats do angle toward the aisle, but I didn't find this to be a problem. You do have to twist your body and neck to see out the window.
7A is the last seat in the first section of Business Elite. It's right in front of the boarding door, but a closet and wall separate it from the door. A second section of Business Elite continues after the door through row 14. I found that even though I was at the rear of the first cabin the service didn't suffer.
The 777's BE seat converts into a full lie flat bed. I only used it in this configuration for a few hours and I left it slightly inclined just so my head wasn't tilting back. With the large pillow you have a nice place to rest your head. I thought the pillow was very nice. The seat also transforms into a variety of lounging positions and I spent much of the flight reclined with my leg rest up. These seats have a small ottoman where you can rest your feet. I'm 6' and I found the bed and seat to be perfectly acceptable and I even had some room to spare.
There are easy to use buttons to your left where you control the seat. Below the buttons is a USB power outlet and below that is your remote for the entertainment system. It took me a few minutes, but I did manage to find the standard 110V power outlet to the left and behind the USB power outlet. You have to really look hard to find it if you don't know where it is.
The seats feature a flip out LCD television which is about twice the size of the screens in coach. It was nice, but nothing exceptional. I actually thought it was a little small for a business class product. The tray table is in the wall divider to the left of the seat and it slides out in one piece. This was very nice, no folding table to balance your food and drink. You also have a small amount of table space, enough for a drink, to the right of your seat along the wall.
The amenity kit includes some useful items including a toothbrush, hand lotion, tissues, a pen, socks, earplugs, eye mask, lip balm and a few other odds and ends. I used the lip balm as well as the socks. Shortly after takeoff I stowed my shoes under my ottoman and put on the socks. I pretty much lounged and wandered around the cabin the entire flight in the socks. I didn't use the slippers, but I did see several people wearing them.
Delta also gives Business Elite passengers a set of noise-cancelling headphones to use on the flight. I have a photo of these next to my Bose headphones. I chose to stick with my own headphones, but the headphones provided by Delta was perfectly adequate.
Food and Drink
The flight attendants kept us well fed and hydrated on this fourteen hour flight. While we left at noon, the first meal was dinner. Mid flight a light lunch was served and breakfast was served before landing. I found this to be somewhat odd especially because we were landing at 4:30pm in Seoul. Regardless I enjoyed the meal service.
Dinner started with a drink and small plate of warm nuts. The flight attendants started this service about thirty minutes into the flight. From there came the first course which included three large shrimp layered on slices of avacado with red onion. The course also include pumpkin bisque and a warm roll. The shrimp were served with a slightly spicy coctail sauce and I thought they were good, but not great. The soup was my favorite part of the first course and I thought a nice addition to the meal.
Second course included a spinach salad with yellow peppers and blue cheese. I asked for one without blue cheese and the flight attendant informed me they were loaded onto the plane already mixed. He did however find me one that amazingly didn't have any blue cheese. This was very much appreciated.
For the main course we had the option of chicken breast filled with cornbread and chicken sausage, seared beef tenderloin, pan-seared sea bass, or pasta. I chose the beef. It was served with wasabi mashed potatoes and sugar snap peas. The meat was medium and tender. I found it to be a little tough to cut, but it tasted good and the sauce it came with was nice.
The final course was the most entertaining. Flight attendands wheeled a cart of desserts down the aisle. The choices included fruit and cheese, chocolate cheesecake or an ice cream sundae. I opted for the sunday with raspberry topping, nuts and whipped cream.
Drinks included the standard Delta selection of liquors, a small selection of beers and a nice list of wines. I had a few glasses of the cabernet sauvignon, a couple of beers, and my glasses of champagne. During dessert they also offered a few after dinner drink selections. I plan on changing up my meal selection on the return flight, so stay tuned for updates. There was a Korean selection on this flight which included smoke salmon and grilled kalbi beef with bulgogi sauce.
Mid-flight they offered a snack which included a caprisi salad and selection of deli meats. I passed on both of those and only took the small bowl of fruit. Before landing we were served a full breakfast. It was an upgraded version of the breakfast options on domestic first class flights. We had a choice of crepes with eggs and sausage or granola cereal. I chose the granola. It came with a side of fruit, bread and a yogurt.
In between the meals the flight attendants set up snacks and bottled water in the galley. Several times during the flight they walked through the aisles with water and to check on us. I found the flight attendants to be very attentive.
The Business Elite seat is designed for sleeping, but if you want to lounge, the on-demand entertainment system definitely will keep you busy. There are dozens of movies. Everything from new releases to old favorites. You can also catch some episodes of shows from HBO and Showtime. I also enjoy Delta's flight tracker which allows you to follow your plane's path. I have no complaints about the entertainment system, although I found the screen to be a bit small.
Flad Bed Seat
After dinner the flight attendants asked us to all close our window shades. This was a fourteen hour flight, but it would be daylight outside the entire time. By closing the shades you lost the sense of what time it was. Most of the Business Elite cabin went to sleep. I decided to try and get a few hours of sleep even though I don't normally sleep well on airplanes. I think the wine helped, not to mention of the bed with a great pillow. I managed to get about three and a half hours of sleep before awaking to do some work.
The seat is relatively comfortable for sleeping. Don't expect a soft, plush bed. I did enjoy the large pillow and duvet and found the cabin plenty dark to get some sleep. I kept my Bose noise-canceling headphones on and plugged into my iPhone to listen to some music while I slept.
While awake I kept the seat somewhat reclined and used the leg support to rest my legs. After a while any seat does begin to become unfomfortable so I found myself walking around and visiting with the flight attendants from time to time. It's also difficult to stay seated for fourteen hours.
Overall I was pleased with the Business Elite product on the 777. I will make it my mission to try out comparable products. This experience definitely ruined international coach for my future travels. I found Delta's cabin service to be nice, yet not over the top. The flight attendants were flriendly and willing to help. I'm in 4A on my return flight so I'll post an update after that flight. If you're on the fence about Business Elite I would recommend checking it out.
How I got My Seat
I ended up in Business Elite on a paid BE ticket. I found a decent fare booked into S on Delta.com. I contemplated using system wide upgrades and buying an M fare, but the difference between M and S was only a few hundred dollars. Overall, the ticket was a couple thousand more than the cheapest coach fares. If I was taking a short hop to London I probably would have saved my money, but for a long trip to Asia Business Elite was worth every penny.