Who has the BEST business class seats to Europe Delta? AF? KLM? – A Reader Question answered!

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Many times there is much better award availability at low level to Europe on KLM or AF rather than Delta. Now with the mighty schedule change rule you can later pick a Delta flight if you would want to, but that begs the question – should you change?

I have flown business class on all three. I have been on the KLM 747 upper deck and on the new 777. It has been a while for AF as I try to avoid CDG whenever I can. On Delta I have NOT yet had the chance for the new “full flat” seats and am looking forward to them finishing the change out on all the planes with the 330’s coming last it would seem.

So what is best? I want your input as well to help this reader out.

Lets start with Delta:
For me (& Lisa as you can see), we like the old NWA 330 clam shell seat’s privacy feel. Once you recline with a big soft pillow and comfy blanket I am GONE for the rest of the flight. Yes I dislike the fact I wake up sometimes having slid down to the footrest and some tall people say they end up “standing” all night long. The old 767 seats are not good (see this post for the amazing NEW seats). End of story. But they will be gone soon so done deal.

Delta 767-300 new business class seats - Delta Points blog review (5)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw5aEOJEXSU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlxLOKOv7Vg

Now AF:
Like I said, it has been a while. As I can remember the product was fine. It was a day flight and the seat was fine for that. Entertainment was fine and the food was good. I have also never used the new 380 seats so I could really use your feedback here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9sOY2Jfioo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnVFDwJtIcM

Lastly KLM:
I like the KLM product. It is a clamshell but works. Lie flat would be better but I do not see them going there for a long time. I HATE the center seat on the 777. Once your seat mates are reclined you almost have to get personal with them to get out. Never get put there on a night flight!

Some other thoughts about the upgrades Delta specific for coach. I try to avoid coach on any flight over 4 hrs as a practice and with over 2 million points and more coming in every 91+ days this is not that hard to do (and you can too). But much of the coach upgrade includes the all new touch screen control in the seat in front of you. This has the unfortunate result that many times people seeming to be playing “whack-a-mole” (can you just see this guy behind you?) with your seat-back. This is not fun when trying to sleep. So, the hand controller IMO is a better way to go as a courtesy to the one in front of you!

Your turn. What do you think. Let’s hear it! – René
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32 comments

  1. Hi Rene. I have flown on biz class with AF on both the 773 and the A380. It is a decent product; a lie-flat seat, but i definitely prefer the DL product on the updated 764’s. I prefer it even over the DL 777 seats. The wine offerings are better on AF, and definitely better in AF salons over skyclubs. But i find the food and service better on DL. There is also more space for storage on the 764’s. There is hardly any space extra on the AF product. The noise-cancelling headphones on AF are a joke. Delta’s is better, but still nowhere near BOSE. I have not been on KLM but considering it as an option soon. Cheers!

  2. The KLM MD-11 row 1 or 2 is by far the best angled-flat option in Skyteam. The mini-cabin is so private and makes for an excellent flight. Having flown the DL old-767, and A330, the MD-11 was a much more enjoyable experience & KL crew blew the delta’s service away.

    Looking foward to trying AZ’s new flat-bed J which is probably the best product in Skyteam right now. Also SU has a nice angled product in J and decent award availability TATL-SVO.

  3. We flew AF A380 IAD-CDG in business last summer. I have never flown international First, but AF Affairs (Business) is all I ever need. The service was top-notch, food superb and the wine outstanding. The lie-flat seat let me sleep many hours, so I was more rested than I would have been on anything less. My wife, on the other hand, did not sleep well, so YMMV.

    I don’t have too much to compare this to, but I was on a trans-Pacific flight last year on a Delta 747 in business. The service there was also very good, the meal as good, but not AF good, the wine excellent on that one flight. The big difference there was the non-lie-flat seat. It felt like I was sliding down all night. It would be better if the seat cover was less slippery. I slept some, but nowhere near as comfortable as on a true lie-flat.

  4. I experienced AF Affaires last summer — A330, A340 and B777. The angled-flat seats were fine for me, was able to get plenty of rest, and did not feel like I was sliding down. Middle seat on the 777 is not something I expected to see in business class.

    IFE was not bad, but I didn’t like the headphones too much. Service and food were top-notch. AF flight attendants were a bit more intrusive than DL staff, by reaching over you to manage window shades, or fastening your seatbelts during turbulence. Guess it’s safety first for them.

  5. What’s Delta’s policy on upgrading to EC on AF flights? I understand DM/PM can upgrade for free to EC on DL & KL flights.

    Thanks!

  6. You should remove the 777lr photo…and replace with a 767400 photo. Does DL even fly those LRs to western Europe?

    Also, that air France photo is nothing like their current tatl j seat.

  7. Rene –

    Out of LAX, forget AF because of their 3-across configuration in business. Also, I avoid AF because (and I know this sounds snotty) it’s a crapshoot if somebody, somewhere in the AF or CDG chain is going to be on strike. In fact, I think as of right this moment there is a slowdown due to some complaint.

    We do the LAX AMS route a few times per year and always go Delta, usually through MSP. Good solid product and at sub 6′, no problem sliding down.

  8. Went ATL-MIA-LHR on DL 1/29/12. The lie flat seats in biz on the 767-400 are very good. The room for your feet is cramped when in the flat position but not so bad that you can’t sleep fairly well. Food & drink is fine but my priority is sleep on an overnight flight so I’d pick DL.
    Retutn on 2/04/12 was LHR-AMS-ATL on KL’s 777. Had a right side aisle (my spouse at the window) so did not have to deal with the center section middle seat which did appear to trap whomever was sitting there (and it was a full cabin so there weren’t any options). The seats are more than fine for a flight where I didn’t plan to sleep. The schedule was 16:45 departure, 20:35 arrival, but departure was delayed until 19:00. My wife slept for several hours after dinner and said the seat was fine for her nap but not close to Delta’s for prolonged sleep.
    The food & drink on KL was a notch better but, again, for travel West-East overnight DL is the way to go.

  9. Late comment on the thread, but I just completed TPE-NRT and NRT-ATL on the Delta 747 with the lay-flat seats in BE. Frankly, they’re amazing. I’m 6’1″/250lbs and was very comfortable, in both the regular reclined and lay-flat positions. If you’re travelling solo, the outside and upstairs (essentially, all outside) seats are really private, and if you’re in a pair, the inward-facing seats (rows 10-13 or so) are great to keep a conversation going with your partner. I’d be hard pressed to find better seats in the fleet.

    Food was unexceptional, except for really tasty cereal in the Western breakfast option.

  10. Thanks for great report. I flew biz class on us airways many years ago and british airways last year. Great to have thorough reports from you! Happy new year!

  11. Flew row 60 (K/L) on the Air France A380 from LAX-CDG in October…great seats and great flight. Next up, China Southern A380 from LAX-CAN in June…can’t wait!

  12. Biz class redemptions on DL eastbound because of the lie flat seats, KLM westbound because of the booze, e.g. Highland Park single malt.

    Paying for it? AF Premium Economy-acceptable.

  13. I have flown both the 764 (ATL-GIG and several domestic legs like ATL-JFK flights) and the 777 (ATL-LAX) style seats. I think they are both great. They do NOT feel the same to me however, I feel differences between the two versions. I am an average sized guy, and I do think the 764 feels just a bit claustrophobic, if I were a big guy not sure I would like it. The 777 seat feels more open and spacious to me, the 764 you are kind of feeling in a box. The 777 also feels a little different to me in the upright or reclined positions, there is really not much lumbar support (it’s pretty much a flat back with no curve at all); the 764 feels like better support for my back when seated/reclined. Anyone else notice this, or is it my imagination? But BOTH versions are fine and comfortable, and I have NO complaints flying either style. Had great sleep on both! So it’s kind of funny, if I had a total choice I would be seated in the 764, but sleep in the 777. 🙂 (Such big problems!)

    Totally unrelated, I flew the new US A330 Envoy suite (CLT-FCO) and it is OUTSTANDING, it feels like the exact same product as UA Global First, it was a nice surprise coming from US 🙂

  14. Oh! I just remembered another important “fun fact” about the 764 flatbed version! There is actually quite a difference in the privacy based on your seat choice, let me explain. These seats (unlike the 777) have HUGE wide armrests on ONE side of your seat, and a tiny little (think “Coach-sized”) armrest on your other side. Because the passenger behind you, has their “legs” actually sliding inside and below your “Wide” armrest. This creates a “staggered” pattern of seats. I wish I could draw it and upload. So, Seat 1A has a WIDE armrest toward the AISLE, this is good because it gives you more privacy, your seat is about 8-10 inches AWAY from the aisle. but Seat 1B has the “thin” armrest CLOSE to the aisle on your left; so you feel less private. It alternates: Seat 1C good privacy; seat 1D also has good privacy, for some reason the D column is different.
    NOW it gets tricky. For Row 2 it reverses! Seat B has MORE privacy, and seats A, C & D have LESS. So the ODD rows 1,3,5,7,9 have better privacy in A, C & D seats; the EVEN rows have better privacy in B seats. If you study the Seatguru map carefully, you can sort of visualize what I am describing. I have NO idea about the new 763 flatbeds though. And on the 777 this is NO issue because of the herringbone pattern.
    OK, this is NOT a huge problem! But I absolutely felt the small difference on the 764 (long flight ATL-GIG), I was in 1B, and now I am careful to choose the one with slightly better privacy away from the aisle. 🙂
    #firstworldproblems LOL!

  15. I am springing for business class seats on our first trip to Europe. We are flying Seattle to Milan (maybe Rome, not sure yet), then Paris to Seattle.

    Would love your expert opinions on best airlines. We aren’t very tall people so long beds, etc. aren’t as important for us. For our comfort it’s more about good food, quiet and being able to catch some Z’s on the way over.

    Many thanks!

  16. @JenD – Full flats. They are the best. But one of the biggest issues is equipment change. Even when you pay, Delta can change flights. I even, on Lufthansa, got a confirmation that I would get their new full flat but got and old bird. – Rene

  17. Yes, equipment change on DL is a big problem until they get all their intl biz seats changed to a standard product. I have been burned on numerous occasions going to Asia with equipment change – having paid biz fare for what I thought would be a lie flat seat and getting the old non lie flat biz seat. This problem should become less when they get all their seats changed. I have not experienced the new 747 or 767 lie flat seats, but I love the 777 herring bone lie flat seats.

  18. Lucky enough to get the new World Business product on my return from AMS in November, and it’s fantastic. seat 1A and the two left seats in row 4 are single seats, so if you’re traveling alone those are the ones to get. Row 77 no longer has all that leg room (and you don’t need it) because of the wall for the IFE and the footrest. Slept like a baby in all manner of contorted positions, which tends to be a difficult thing for me to do on planes. Fully flat, long enough. I’m happy. KLM has always had my heart because of their service, but now they’ve really got it with these new seats.

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