Two Pesos at a SkyTeam: Delta 747-400 Business Elite

Following the crooked recliner of China Eastern’s A340, I continue my tongue-in-cheek tour of SkyTeam with Delta’s 747-400, my only true lie-flat airplane seat experience. Readers may know that of late I have frequently been traveling to China on business. All those hours studying Mandarin from 5th grade pay off at times. Finding a reasonably priced award on Delta metal to Asia enters the realm of myth, however if you get the chance, this is the closest Delta comes to a premium experience.

Delta pricing to Shanghai always tries to push Detroit-Shanghai Pudong. I avoid connections in the US whenever possible, especially with international point of first arrival hassle, so always try to connect in Tokyo-Narita.

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Delta 747-400 at Tokyo-Narita

They key to getting the full snob experience, if you are able to navigate the staircase, is to book upstairs. Downstairs you have to deal with the typical traffic like small children making a break for it from economy. The stairs are well-guarded. The bulkhead/exit row seats (72K, 73 A, 77A/K) have a flat top in font that during the flight servers as an impromptu table for stashing things.

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Ego begins to swell

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Rarefied air upstairs

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Upstairs cabin

The bed lies flat. I have not been on other true lie-flat seats so cannot compare. It is comfortable enough that, exhausted from work, I generally sleep from the first meal through till nearly landing. It does feel a bit narrow though in reality it probably isn’t. People up to about 6’4″ should be fine length-wise. Storage space is rather limited and oddly shaped. The one little issue I have had is the side arm rest. I believe it is to accommodate passengers with limited mobility, the armrest can lower with the press of a button. I am losing track of how many times I try to extricate myself from the seat during sleep mode by anchoring my palm on that, only to nearly do a face plant as it drops down.

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The seat

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Another angle

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This is getting tedious

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Limited storage

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Lying flat

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Flat again

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Collapsing arm rest

The service and food is typical Delta. By that I mean the service is solid, nothing special. Delta’s meals I find to be pretty good, even on domestic flights. Not going to be rose petals and foot massages on an US carrier. In NWA days the Japanese meal was awesome, lately it, as well as mid-flight snacks, have been steadily whittled back. If you want it, though, best to preorder.

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Western meal starter

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Western meal salad

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Western meal sea bass

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Custom cannoli sundae dessert

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Breakfast noodles

Delta BusinessElite Japanese Meal 1

Japanese meal starters

Delta BusinessElite Japanese Meal 2

Japanese meal main

For my next trip to China I was really tempted to fly Aeroflot, but with MQM earning slashed on March 1, I am either trying to fly Delta metal or Star/OneWorld carriers.

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  • Rik

    Do you think there are some seats better than the others on the upper deck?

  • @Rik – other than the ones I listed with the extra bulkhead table on top they all are exactly the same, and all are very private, you forget your surroundings in them, I suppose the far back can get a little noise during meal service, but the flight attendants spend as little time as possible busying about.

  • Thomas

    The 747 Business Elite seats on upper deck are I believe the best Delta Business Elite seats out there. Unlike the 777 seats, they face towards the windows and have more space for storage. I really enjoyed my 747 upper deck flight.

  • @Thomas – I will be trying the 777 in couple weeks, could not avoid PVG-DTW, the NRT option priced out several thousand more, as often happens.

  • traveller

    How do I score a flat bed either on Delta or Aitalia new biz flat bed seats? My itinerary would be LAX to BCN, BCN to LHR, LHR to LAX. of course, would like to use low level award.

  • Stefan

    The armrest is supposed to drop down for leeping – to give more room around your upper torso. The same is seen on other reverse herringbone seats like these.

  • Thomas

    The 777 is still nice, but I don’t like that everyone faces the aisle. You also don’t have the little counter area you do on the 747. The seats are also much older and significantly more dirty- I hate putting my head down and looking at a bunch of crud which has happened both times I was on the 777.

    BTW, you are lucky to do work in PVG! I studied there in undergrad and loved it.