I have found time and again Delta Air Lines’ economy-class service is one of the most consistent in terms of comfort, cleanliness and staffing — all critical for any flight more than two hours. This is what prompted me to spend a little extra on its Comfort Class when Viking Cruises’ agent booked my return on Delta rather than Air France.
The drawback with flying Delta’s economy or Comfort+ out of Paris is the CDG terminal serving the airline at the time was not representative of its much-hyped luxury shopping and dining experience. After connecting from Budapest (BUD), it took about an hour to get to that terminal via shuttle. The terminal was freezing, with an uninteresting assortment of routine souvenir shops, grab-and-go eateries and one sit-down place with rude management and weird hours.
However, from the moment I boarded the Los Angeles-bound flight, I was richly rewarded with an environment shouting “business class lite.” Although the seats themselves weren’t arrayed in a semi-private “pod” format now commonplace in business cabins, the arrangement of space reminded me a lot of old-school business class with roomier seats, good legroom and nicely presented cotton sleeping linens and amenity kits. A bright, cheerful flight attendant immediately figured out I had an injured leg. Minutes after reaching 30,000 feet, she returned to my seat with pillows to support my leg during the 12-hour flight and, from there, regularly checked on me.
The food service was “business class,” down to ceramic plates, metal cutlery, fabric linens, restaurant-like multicourse presentations and generous portions, along with crisp baguettes, and a wine selection in keeping with a French sensibility. I emerged in Los Angeles refreshed and feeling like my extra investment was money well spent. Six weeks later, when I returned to Europe on a roundtrip from New York City to Milan, I gamely invested in an upgrade for the international part of the flights.
Given the shorter distance between Milan and New York, the upgrade cost on the JFK–MPX flights was lower. However, the Comfort+ on this route was a different breed and, perhaps, a little less pedigreed. On the flight home, the Comfort+ section did not seem separate from the economy section. The flight attendants were accommodating and pleasant, but not as warm as the CDG–LAX crew. The food service, meanwhile, fell squarely in between economy and business in presentation and execution, though there were clever Italian touches, including a welcome Bellini cocktail.
The sturdy plastic trays used at mealtime had arty, irregular shapes and the cutlery packaging rolled out into a full-sized placemat. The dishes served were served in utilitarian packaging, but ended up being pleasantly flavorful and fresh tasting. In other words, the Milan service was fast casual bistro in comparison to Paris’ white tablecloth dining.
However, several aspects of the Comfort+ proposition were in place, justifying payment for the upgrade: early boarding, amenity kits and easy access to flight attendants. I napped well, ate well and worked comfortably. However, what separates Comfort+ from standard economy was less pronounced on the full flight returning to JFK than it was en route to Italy.
Many of Delta’s strengths as a domestic carrier translate to its international flights to and from European destinations. However, the Comfort+ experience will vary based on where in Europe you fly to or from and how long the flight is. The commitment to passenger comfort in this category, nevertheless, seems pretty solid. It will be interesting to see how the product develops over time and how it will play out on flights to other parts of the globe.
Delta’s business lounges at JFK are undergoing renovation, and were not yet completed during my experience. The T2 lounge in particular promises to bring back the exclusivity and excitement of high-end travel of a half century ago with new additions such as a sky lounge, mid-century chic décor and a major upgrade on the fresh food offerings. When I checked in to the lounge en route to Italy and back to Los Angeles, the staff members were apologetic about the offerings consisting of cold sandwiches, chips and sweets. However, there was a good selection of decent-sized, fresh sandwiches and salads for both omnivores and vegetarians, as well as a Starbucks espresso machine, spotless bar area and cold, health-oriented welcome drinks served by the crew at the top of the escalator. These amenities can only make lounge regulars excited for what is on the horizon.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Comfort+ Class
Paris (CDG) to Los Angeles (LAX)
New York City (JFK) to Milan (MPX)
Since its prestige for attracting the world elite grew in the 1960s, Greece remains the go-to destination for glittering holidays. Each step of the journey is enrobed in luxury, from culinary traditions with the highest standard of execution and name-brand, high-end shopping to first-rate wellness locales and elite accommodations, like 5-star hotels, private villas and yachts.
I imagine that when writer Hans Christian Andersen mused, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale,” he was standing at the edge of Copenhagen’s historic Tivoli Gardens, one of his favorite haunts, enlivened by the swirl of human happiness that surrounded him: children laughing; carousels spinning; games of chance played for prizes; lovers holding hands; hungry people whispering over sweets, hot drinks, beer and towering, open-faced smørrebrød, Denmark’s quintessential sandwich. That fairy tale lives on today at the second-oldest amusement park in the world, a spectacle of folly architecture, bakeries, gardens, rides, restaurants, puppet shows and joy ... and which also happens to be one of the city’s most storied places to convene for business.
The restored Park Hyatt Toronto reopened its doors, bringing luxury, sophistication and glamour alongside a nod to the hotel’s Canadian heritage. Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge collaborated on the hotel’s refresh, drawing inspiration from Canada’s seasons and natural landscapes.
The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.
The Global Business Travel Association, the world’s largest business travel and meetings trade organization, recently released a statement from GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang regarding the Biden administration’s recent announcement that the U.S. travel ban will be relaxed in November for vaccinated travelers from 26 Schengen countries, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Arriving early afternoon in Puerto Rico, we jumped in an Uber and took a short, 15-minute drive from the airport to La Concha. As it was Tuesday, the streets were not too busy and the hotel lobby was calm. During the weekend, the scene likely would have been more bustling. We were greeted by a staff member who requested proof of vaccination and government-issued ID, and were given a wristband to indicate we were fully vaccinated. All guests are required to be vaccinated and wear masks at all times while moving around the hotel. Hand sanitizer stations were placed around the lobby, in elevators and in each common area.
GBTA’s Convention 2021 will bring the business travel industry together for the first time in a long time. Once again, you’ll learn and connect with experts and each other, along with discussions with leading thinkers, entrepreneurs and change makers addressing the issues that matter most.
The Rittenhouse has long stood out as one of Philadelphia’s finest hotels, centrally located in one of the city’s poshest neighborhoods. Needless to say, I knew I was in for an afternoon of luxurious pampering when I hopped in my car and headed down I-95 from my suburban home to the heart of the City of Brotherly Love. As I drove through the seemingly endless roadwork on the highway, I realized just how long it had been since I’d driven this once-familiar route into the city as a result of the pandemic. Of course I was eager for the relaxation and bliss that was in my future, but it was also a welcome feeling to head back into Philadelphia for a moment of normalcy.