First Class All the Way

They call it Business Elite on Delta but as I’ve never been a passenger in the type of environment that my more frequently traveled friends’ brag of on airlines such as Emirates, the experience was the height of first class for me.

I had to use my miles to book my journey to London and as the difference between economy and Business Elite was surprisingly minimal, I decided to live wildly and test the way “the other half” lives.

From curbside valet, to an expedited lane through the joke that is our TSA security, to the Sky Lounge (not Delta’s finest but certainly enjoyable given the free drinks), to early boarding followed by a mimosa greeting – everything about the beginning of my experience was already superior to the other flights I have had. Business Elite for my transcontinental flight included a lay-flat bed, private monitor with free movies, endless wine, beer or mixed drinks, a noise-canceling headset that really excelled at its job, superior down blanket and a pillow I would pay almost any price to own as well as a menu that rivaled some of the meals I’ve had in NYC. My pumpkin bisque soup was so good I actually fantasized about licking the bowl, the steak with wasabi (!!!) mashed potatoes made my tummy do a happy dance and the chocolate cheesecake was decadent without being too heavy.

Business Elite even included a fast track pass for UK immigration. And while the entire experience was fabulous it’s that which perhaps made me the most giddy – my previous battle with UK immigration lasted almost two hours and as that was only back in January, the memory was fresh enough in my head to slightly terrify me still.

How long did it take me to get to the tube once I walked off my plane at Heathrow, including immigration and baggage claim? All of 20 minutes.

So, what did I think about during the hour tube ride into London to catch my train out to Northamptonshire? Well, it was something along the lines of trying to memorize every part of my Business Elite experience so that I could replay it in my head the next time my feet have gone numb and my knees are locked in a charlie horse as I struggle to not pass out in cattle class. Because that will happen, and I will need a mental escape route and I’m no first class traveler … even if I did get to try it out for a day.

Next on my grand adventure? Getting to know the English countryside, I’m headed out to Northamptonshire to visit Terry and Sarah Lee.

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  • Ceri

    Wow, very cool. It sounds like Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic (and the only reason I know what that’s like is because I used to work for them, not that I’ve ever flown with them). I’d love to try out Business/First Class one day just to see what it’s like … but saying that, I’ve never really *touch wood* had problems with riding Standard up until now. :)

  • CamelsAndChocolate

    I pretty much only fly biz class when I’m using miles, too, and the coach awards seats are sold out! Though I’m currently trying to use miles to go to London (not that far!) in September, and it’s looking to be 140,000. FOR ECONOMY. Ridiculous.

    • Kirsten Alana

      140,000 for economy? That IS ridiculous. Possibly to do with Olympics and other events? Flights to the UK for the next few months of this year are definitely outrageous no matter whether paying cash or miles. Le sigh. 

      • CamelsAndChocolate

         Stupid Olympics! It’s ridiculous really: I set up flight alerts in January for any flights from June-September from ATL, BNA, JFK and EWR to pretty much all major gateway cities in Europe (London, Paris, Barcelona, Milan, etc.) as we’re going to Scotland on vacation this year and just need to get TO the continent then can hop an easyJet flight to EDI. But I did not find anything from any of those cities for less than $1200! Then I realized I had a bunch of miles expiring in December so I tried to use those…but I cannot justify spending over 100,000 per ticket just to go to Europe. It’s crazy how much the Olympics have screwed up prices for everywhere else all summer long!

        • Kirsten Alana

          Yes, it really really is crazy. I hope it all works out well for you somehow though.

  • Dana de Brito

    Swanky!  Looks like a great way to go… don’t let yourself get too spoiled :)

    • Kirsten Alana

      Thanks Dana! No, no being spoiled here. Though, it was indeed very nice to be able to experience this once.

  • Caanan @ No Vacation Required

    Love that picture of you. I like to envision you saying “How you like me now, bitch” as you indulge in free drinks and fancy soup. You deserve it :)

    • Kirsten Alana

      ROFL!!!!! I know just what you’re referring to and I’ve laughed so hard I’ve almost spit coffee out of my nose Caanan :) And seriously, such fancy soup — it was wrong how good it tasted since I was ON A PLANE. ((P.S. Would be better though if you two were here as well.))

  • Lorenzo Gonzalez

    Great post K… You made me feels as if I was there. I’m sure that you purposely made sure your jetsetter tattoo showed in one of the above pics. 😉 Enjoy the rest of your trip!

    • Kirsten Alana

      That’s wonderful to know Lorenzo. That’s what I always aim for with my writing and photographs. And the tattoo peeking through “might” have been on purpose …. 😉

  • A Montrealer Abroad

    Not too shabby! 😉 One day I will fly something else than economic, I swear! Apparently, paying stewardesses with chocolate helps getting a bump to first class when seats are available. Might have to try that out.

    • Kirsten Alana

      Not too shabby at all. It was a nice change. And I will relish the experience forever. Definitely recommend trying it once if you can.


        No need for it to be a “once if you can” adventure. There’s lots of great ways to experience business and first class with miles, credit cards points, and being loyal to one airline alliance. When you’re back, I’ll give you a crash course on hacking the frequent flyer system. Mike

        • Kirsten Alana

          Interesting! Thanks Mike! However, I don’t use credit cards – I’m cash only. So that definitely hampers my ability with point collecting. 

          I have tried to be loyal to Sky Team, hasn’t always gotten me the best treatment but it did enable me to gather enough miles for this experience.