In praise of Delta
It's easy to criticise airlines - and lords knows I have been known to bash BA and express my annoyance with AeroMexico and American Airlines on endless occasions in the past - but how often do we take the time to praise an airline?
I'd wager: rarely if ever. So I am going to use this space to address the aforementioned and give credit where credit is due to Delta Airlines.
I recently flew for the first time with the Atlanta airline. Prior to take off, I didn't have great expectations - experiences with other American airlines (here's looking at you United, Continental and American) had left me feeling as disappointed as Miss Havisham.
Case in point? American Airlines - despite not being a low cost airline - appear to revel in charging passengers to check a case into the overhold. Meanwhile American's compatriots, Continental and United, forget to feed you or else - regardless of the fact that you have pre-ordered a special meal - will have '"run out" of your request by the time they reach your seat. And don't even get me started on the surly staff and in-flight entertainment offerings: the sound system invariably sounds like something snapped up at a car boot sale, while there is no option to pause films should you - heaven forbid - need a bathroom break.
First world problems to be sure but nonetheless I can be forgiven for taking precautions in advance of my inaugural Delta flight and boarding armed with provisions (think plenty of snacks and reading material).
Turns out my fears were entirely unfounded. From the moment I boarded, Delta Airlines and its employees proved to be models of professionalism. Passengers were welcomed with warm smiles by staff and shown to their seats, while the pilot took to the tannoy to let us know that Delta appreciated our business and was, quite simply, at our service.
So it proved. I have never, in all my years of travelling, eaten so well up in the air as I have on a Delta flight. On a eight hour journey, I was served two meals that were - shock horror - edible, plus a superior snack (posh wraps as opposed to crusty croissants). Likewise the entertainment options were first class - the latest and greatest new releases that you could watch at time of your choosing - and the leg room ample. I actually managed to sleep on Delta's London to Atlanta leg - something I had forgotten it was possible to do on a flight.
I know what you're thinking: my fantastic experience must have been a fluke? It wasn't: I've subsequently flown a further three times with Delta and it's always been flawless. So if you get the chance to decide which carrier you fly with on your next trip (and most of us don't, picking our airline according to price and schedule), give Delta a go. That would make Delta's day. But don't do it for them: do it for yourself.
In an era of cheap air travel when we are all used to be herded onto an aircraft and treated as cash cows, Delta - if not quite, then almost - represent a return to a time when travelling was (gasp) glamorous.