Delta / GTMC New York Experience June 2016
I was delighted to accompany a group of GTMC Members along with Nadia Clinton from Delta, Chris Goring from Virgin Atlantic and Gianni Salvadori from Melia hotels to experience the Delta One Business Class product.
We met at the Virgin / Delta Premium check-in desk where those of us who hadn’t checked in online were greeted by friendly staff and were soon on our way. We were taken to the Virgin Upper Class Wing which can be used by Delta One passengers enabling chauffeur driven cars and taxis to take passengers straight to a check-in desk where they are quickly issued with a boarding pass and directed to their exclusive channel through security avoiding the queues. Once through security, we headed to the Virgin Clubhouse which again is available to Delta One passengers. The lounge has a great feel about it with plenty of different areas to eat, drink and relax with excellent food and service. One of our party made good use of the services available by having a haircut and shoe polish whilst on a conference call!
Our flight was called and we made our way to the gate and onto the aircraft. First impressions were good use of the space available with the 1 – 2 – 1 formation and a friendly helpful crew. My inside aisle seat was comfortable and included a wide platform between the adjacent seat providing distance from my travelling companion. Service throughout the flight was attentive and the food was excellent with plenty of it! WIFI is available at an additional cost within the entire continental U.S., Alaska and select International routes including New York and kept us up to date with the England score! There was a vast selection of entertainment available on the seat back screen and the pillow and duvet provided meant we were all set to relax and enjoy the flight. We were served a “snack” before landing followed by the Purser offering chocolate and thanking passengers personally for choosing Delta – a really nice touch.
As expected, there were long queues through immigration but we were escorted to the self-service machines owned by Delta and completed the requirements quickly. These machines are only available to ESTA holders who have entered the USA at least once before but certainly speed up the process as it can take up to 3 hours to get through in peak times. With all our luggage and our additional guests joining from the Manchester flight, we found our driver and were on our way to the Big Apple!
New York traffic from JFK Airport meant that the transfer took around one and a half hours but we enjoyed seeing the skyline and other landmarks along the way.
We arrived at the new Melia Innside Nomad ideally situated in Mid-Town just a couple of blocks from Madison Square Gardens and Macys. The hotel opened 3 months ago and was built from the ground up on a vacant lot and has a lovely fresh, vibrant feel about it. The reception area was welcoming and there is a well-stocked bar with seats and tables inside and out. Registration was quick and easy with IPads used to check-in and the friendly staff directed us to our rooms. The rooms have a contemporary feel, bright and airy with high ceilings, wooden floors and a minibar stocked with complementary soft drinks that are replenished daily along with a Nespresso machine. Good quality toiletries were provided for use in the large shower, a full size high power hair dryer and a full size mirror with power points close by. After a quick freshen up we met for dinner in the Impero Caffe by Scott Conant and enjoyed a lovely Italian meal in the warm, relaxing atmosphere. The bar in reception had turned into a lively meeting place frequented by guests and locals with a great buzz about it – a great place to chill with friends after a busy day.
After a great night’s sleep on a wonderfully comfortable bed and a filling breakfast, it was down to business with a meeting to discuss the Delta One product and update the group with news and improvements from Delta enjoying the sunshine on their secluded inside terrace. We then explored the rest of the hotel, including the stunning lifestyle suites on the 18th Floor with a terrace enjoying views of the Empire State Building along with their premium rooms which also have a terrace. The hotel has a well-appointed fitness centre with an adjacent terraced area and two meeting rooms, one of which is an informal ideas centre with window seats, sofas and white boards to encourage creative thinking.
We had some free time in the afternoon to explore the city, shop and sample some local cocktails before heading off to Madison Square Gardens to see Billy Joel, courtesy of Delta Airlines who sponsor events similar to those at the 02. It made for an enjoyable evening with everyone on their feet singing along to Piano Man and Uptown Girl.
All too soon it was time to return to JFK for our flight home.The journey to the airport again took around one and a half hours, so allow plenty of time when planning your transfer. Check-in at the Premium Desk was quick and easy and we were soon through security and on our way to the Delta Sky Club lounge. The large lounge has plenty of different types of seating, a well-stocked bar and great food on hand with showers available if required. The outside Sky Terrace overlooking the runway was a great spot to relax and enjoy the afternoon sunshine with a cool drink served by an attentive waiter.
Our flight was called and we made our way to the plane to be greeted by another friendly crew welcoming us on board. Although we were delayed on the ground, the meal was served quickly after take-off allowing us plenty of time to catch up on some much needed sleep. The seats converted easily to comfortable flatbeds with the pillow & duvet adding the finishing touch. Unusually, I was woken by the flight attendant advising we would be landing shortly and breakfast was served! I enjoyed the light breakfast and then it was seat belts on for landing. Disembarkation was quick and, as Delta One passengers are able to use the priority lanes at the border, we were soon saying goodbye and heading home. Delta do have an arrivals lounge at Heathrow offering a light breakfast and enabling passengers to shower and refresh before continuing their day.
It was fantastic to have the opportunity to sample the Delta One Product, discover the additional services included and I was pleased to see that the customer experience was central to their service. Thank you to Nadia, Chris and Gianni for being such generous hosts and allowing us to experience their excellent product.
Julie Cooper, Manager Membership, GTMC