After a 24 hours flight on the majestic A380 in the venerable Suites class, it is back to reality for my next segment. Most of the short haul flights to Canada from New York originates from LGA. As I am connecting in JFK, I am down to 2 choices: Delta vs American. I opted for Delta mainly for the ease of connection (both Delta and Singapore Airlines operate out of Terminal 4).
The 4 hours window I had between my flights was more than adequate. The ground experience I had this time was far from memorable. Things were much smoother back in 2015 when I flew Delta to Boston from JFK. This time, there were no check in counters. All check in were done using the self-check in machines. After collecting my baggage, we went upstairs to do our check in and we promptly got our boarding passes. One thing I noticed was the lack of the SKY PRIORITY label printed on it. I did not think too much about it initially and it turned out to be problematic. The gate agent at the Sky Priority line absolutely refuses to let me through despite pointing to her that I am flying First Class (which came with Sky Priority access). She insisted that I use the normal queue (which I am not interested given that I paid more to utilize this benefit and also I was not interested in joining the long queue after a long 24 hours flight from Singapore). I decided to seek redress and it seems that those in the baggage drop desk can’t do much to help me (despite my baggage being tagged as priority). It was third time lucky for me as the Delta Information counter gals felt that I should be allowed to use the Sky Priority line despite the absence of matching words on my boarding pass. What she did was to merely write the words out in pen and voila! I was allowed to use the line. Jokes aside, I do appreciate what the info counter gals help.
Despite the delays, I still had some time before the flight departs. I decided to go to Delta Sky Club. Anticipating problems from lounge dragons, I e-mailed Delta to check on my eligibility for lounge access. The answer given was that I am eligible as my flight is considered trans-border (and not domestic). True enough, I was not allowed to enter initially. It was after showing them my correspondence with Delta, I was allowed entry.
Being a flagship lounge of Delta, the lounge is large and spacious. However, 1pm seems to be a busy time for the lounge as it was very crowded. The lounge was bright with a very good view of the tarmac. There is also a TV room in the lounge (which is good for napping with their lounge chairs) and an outdoor lounge.
Food option however is rather limited. There is a salad counter, a soup station and some hot food. There is a drink counter but the alcohol is not part of the lounge access.
DL4106 was operated on a Bombardier CRJ-900 (similar to my flight to Boston back in 2015). It was a short flight of 1 hour, hence only snacks and drinks were served in First Class. The flight was delayed slightly as the plane was grounded as we were about to take off (due to closure of airspace heading into Montreal). After being stuck on the tarmac for 15 minutes, we were finally given the green light to take off. Thankfully, the flight was uneventful (unlike the ground experience) and we arrived in Montreal Trudeau airport slightly later than expected.
Although I was not expecting much from this short haul flight, my ground experience was far from pleasant. Given the choices available, I don’t think things can be better with American (my other option out of JFK). The price on America Airlines was significantly more expensive, it involves terminal change and the window between my arrival and departure was too narrow to my liking.
As for Delta Sky Club, I have read pretty good reviews about it. I guess comparing it to flagship Asian airlines lounge may not be fair as the standards of Asian and American airlines are quite different (and the same for their lounges too). I guess after a 24 hours flight with another few hours of layover, any lounge is better than no lounge.
As for the flight, I paid about $190 per person (vs. $125 for economy). Factoring the baggage fee, sky priority (which was almost robbed from me!) and the lounge access (which again was almost denied), $190 is definitely a fair price to pay. Alternatively, Wingtips Lounge is available for those who are denied access / no access into Delta Sky Club. Meanwhile, Delta is still actively engaging in war of words with ME3 to the point of dedicating a whole page advert on their magazine!