Delta Air Lines First Class New York JFK-Phoenix Flight 420 – Review

First Class Cabin, Second Class Service

By Jonathan Spira on 11 December 2015
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In the course of flying approximately 100,000 to 150,000 miles a year in recent history, I’ve had some excellent flights, some good flights, and some not-so-good flights. I’ve had excellent service, and experienced so-so service. Until today (and I’m writing this review while still on the flight), I had not experienced truly poor service while flying.

I arrived at Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport about 90 minutes before my scheduled departure time on an unseasonably warm December afternoon. There was a slightly longer-than-usual line at the TSA PreCheck security checkpoint, meaning there were several people ahead rather than the usual one or none, but I nonetheless went from curbside to airside in a quick six or seven minutes.

My first stop airside was at the Delta Sky Club where, at the check-in area, two staffers from the dining area were offering pigs in blankets and portions of pecan pie. I had one of each and checked what else was on the menu. There, I found a delightful Thai style chicken and rice soup that elicited two small helpings. The lounge presented a more extensive buffet than I had seen in the past, which included marinated chicken, rice and pasta dishes, and a variety of snacks ranging from crudités to popcorn.


My stay there was cut short by an alert on my Apple Watch telling me that boarding had started, so I headed over to the gate.


We boarded from Gate 22, one of the first gates in the B concourse. This gave me time for a brisk walk to the Sky Club, which is farther down the concourse, and back. When I arrived, boarding was already in progress and, given the absence of passengers at the gate, seemed to be just about over. Delta offers passengers traveling in first class a dedicated SkyPriority boarding lane (passengers with higher elite status in Delta’s Sky Miles program are also invited to use it) but there was no need today. The gate agents were very friendly and thanked me for being a Platinum Medallion SkyMiles member after they scanned the boarding pass on my watch.

As I boarded the aircraft, flight attendants were in the aisle greeting and assisting passengers and, in the first-class cabin, hanging up coats and offering pre-departure drinks. I found my seat, 4D, located in the last row of the first-class cabin. Once seated, I asked for sparkling wine, only to have the flight attendant come back and tell me that they only had red or white wine, something I found to be unusual for a flight of over 2,000 miles (3,218 kilometers). However, the unspecified white wine (I suspect it was a Chardonnay but the flight attendant didn’t seem to know) was good for a few sips before taking off.

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