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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.