Delta Air Lines First Class New York JFK-Havana, Cuba – Flight Review

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SEAT COMFORT

Delta’s fleet of Airbus A319 narrow-body airliners has 12 recliner seats in first class in a 2-2 configuration. They are 21” wide with a generously sized armrests and seat pitch is 36”. The aircraft also had 18 seats in Comfort Plus, the airline’s premium economy lite section, which were standard seats with more legroom, as well as 102 standard coach seats.

My seat, 1A, was a bulkhead seat and therefore had more overall room as well as no one to recline into me. The seat next to me, 1B, was empty, as was almost the remainder of the first row and more than half of the cabin as well.

The seat itself was well cushioned and roomy, with sufficient recline for the three and one-half hour journey.

IN-FLIGHT SERVICE

Once aloft, I fired up my Apple iPhone (free on Gogo for T-Mobile subscribers) and my MacBook Pro because it was a workday. This particular aircraft had Gogo’s much faster satellite-based service and I selected the faster service option.

With a downstream speed I clocked at almost 7 Mbps and an upstream speed of 3.23 Mbps, it was fast enough to watch a few YouTube videos, Netflix movies, and other services that require lots of bandwidth and fast enough to use Facebook Live and FaceTime for video calls.

Even before we pushed back, I asked the flight leader to delay putting my lunch into the oven so I could enjoy it closer to our arrival in Havana. Once we were at cruising altitude, I did stop for a cup of Starbucks coffee and a Delta Biscoff speculoos cookie.

About an hour before landing, I requested lunch, which was served promptly on the new Alessi tableware, which Delta first began to roll out in April of this year. The new items include flatware, crystal glassware, new bone china, stainless steel serving pieces, trays, and accessories such as napkin rings and salt and pepper shakers. While I liked the salt-and-pepper shakes and napkin ring, I found the tray looked cheap and the flatware already looked somewhat worn despite it being a new product.

The entrée turned out to be Cuban-style mojo grilled chicken served cold on a bed of quinoa. It was a spicy, flavorful dish and reversed the trend of atrocious meals that I’ve been served on Delta flights, long and short, over the past 12 or so months.

ARRIVAL

We arrived at Havana’s Aeropuerto Internacional José Martí at 1:59 p.m. local time (Cuba is on Cuba Daylight Time, which is Coordinated Universal Time minus 4 hours). Several organizations offer meet-and-greet services at the airport and I opted for one. I was met by someone holding a sign with my name as I deplaned. Given my seat, 1A, I was the first off, and he escorted me to the front of every line including the arrival security screening (which includes an x-ray of hand luggage and a walk-through metal detector), passport control, and customs. The only line he could not bypass was the one at the Cambio de Moneda or Currency Exchange booth, but he knew which location would have the shortest wait. Not including the wait to change currency, I was curbside in approximately ten minutes and many have reported that it can take as much as an hour to accomplish the same steps without such a service.

BOTTOM LINE

Despite the late departure from and arrival at the gate, the flight was extremely pleasant. The flight leader, Kerri, was extremely gracious and hospitable, throughout and it was an experience I’d gladly repeat.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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