Review: Delta Business Elite Class Sao Paulo to New York-JFK

Sometimes, you reach your breaking point.

My breaking point came in T2 at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport as I stared down the barrel of a ten-hour layover with no lounge access.  This was after a schedule change and seating change on my outbound flight from JFK to Santiago the night before in an attempt to make it to Iguazu Falls.

At this point, I’d been traveling for over 24 hours.

I hadn’t slept.

And I still had over 12 hours left to go, culminating in a border crossing between Brazil and Argentina at the un-Godly hour of 3am.

That was it — I’d had enough.  So, I decided to throw in the towel, cut my losses and head home.

I scoured the Internet from the domestic terminal at GRU looking for award flight availability back home, and found some viable options.  I was reluctant to blow miles on a trip home, but was resigned to do so until I had a Facebook chat conversation with a friend who works for Delta.  He graciously offered me a buddy pass to get me back to the States that evening.  The best part about it?

It was in business class.  And there was plenty of non-rev space available open that evening.  I took my friend up on his offer, paid some nominal fees and taxes, and I appeared on the stand-by list for DL 472 to JFK — a flight that would sent me right back to the airport I’d departed less than 24 hours before.

I arrived at the gate about an hour prior to departure and let the gate agent know I was there, per instructions from my friend.  After all revenue passengers had boarded, my name was called and the gate agent handed me a boarding ticket for seat 6B, in business class!  I was going home…

A 36-hour Trip to Nowhere:  An Iguazu Fail

Delta Airlines (DL) 472
Sao Paulo (GRU) – New York (JFK)
Aircraft:  Boeing 767-400
Seat:  6B (Business Elite)
Friday, November 7, 2014
10:50PM – 5:25AM (+1 day)
Duration:  9:35

I entered the B767-400 cabin from the front and quickly settled into my seat — an aisle seat in the center of what is a staggered, 1-2-1 seating configuration.  This would be my first time flying Delta in international business class, so I was looking forward to it, but not nearly as much as I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep onboard in the lie-flat seat.

Shortly after I settled in, boarding was complete and we pushed back for New York.

Delta BusinessElite cabin on the B767-400

Delta Business Elite cabin on the B767-400


After takeoff, I dozed off for a few minutes before I was awoken by a very friendly flight attendant who took my drink and dinner order.  I had a scotch on the rocks and ordered the filet for dinner.

Delta BusinessElite menu GRU-JFK

Delta Business Elite menu GRU-JFK

At that point, I started a movie, “Lucy.”  Briefly afterwards, my appetizer was delivered, which consisted of a broccoli torta and shrimp, the latter of which was delicious.


Appetizer – Broccoli Torta and Shrimp with pickled vegetables and creamy cocktail sauce

Next, I was brought the black bean soup and bean and fennel salad.  While the salad was just “okay”, the black bean soup was fantastic.   I thoroughly enjoyed it with the bread.  It was very tasty, and had I my wits about me, I would have asked for seconds.


Black Bean Soup and Bean and Fennel Salad

Then, the entrée was delivered.  This was comfort food at its finest.  The dish was presented beautifully.  The filet itself was a tad overcooked, but overall quite good for a filet served onboard.  I really liked the macaroni and cheese, though I think they went a bit heavy with the truffle oil.  The green beans were simply delicious.


Grilled Filet of Beef with demi-glace sauce, macaroni and cheese, and almond green beans

Finally, dessert for me consisted of an ice cream sundae with all the toppings — a perfect end to a delightful meal with Delta.  The dessert was served from a cart, which was presented very nicely.

Dessert Cart

Dessert Cart


Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae

Dinner service was served quite quickly, which was appreciated due to the late night timing of this redeye flight.  Upon completing the meal, I ordered another drink as I finished up the movie.  At the conclusion of the movie, I reclined my seat and drifted into a deep sleep.

I awoke about 25 minutes outside of JFK.  I’d previously asked the flight attendant not to wake me for breakfast, and she complied. I had minimal time to freshen up before we began our final descent into JFK.  We landed about 30 minutes early, and I was well-rested — and as such, the flight was a winner in my book!

Service throughout the flight was efficient and friendly.  I was provided each course and drink with a smile, and I was greeted by name after every interaction with the flight attendant.  I couldn’t have been happier with the service overall.

Delta Business Elite seat 6B on GRU-JFK

Delta Business Elite seat 6B on GRU-JFK

I was in seat 6B, a “coffin” style seat in Business Elite.  Though it wasn’t the most comfortable business class seat in the world, it was far more comfortable than anything in economy.  With that said, this style of seat really does have restricted leg room when in a flat-bed.  The cubby hole in which one puts their legs is simply not big enough to set ones feet side-by-side — especially for somebody of my size.  In order to sleep, I needed to contort my legs in a relatively uncomfortable way.   Luckily, I was so exhausted that this really didn’t matter and was able to sleep anyway.

The Verdict…

Given my exhaustion, I can’t express enough how thankful  I was to be able to take this flight back home.  To be able to experience Delta’s Business Elite service was just icing on the cake.  The catering was quite good and the service was fantastic.  Though not the most comfortable business class seat in the world, the Business Elite seat on this B767-400 did provide some room to stretch out a bit, relax and ultimately get some sleep.

At the end of the day, this flight was a nice change of pace from my usual business class flights on United, and I really appreciated being able to fly with Delta on this particular flight.

How I booked it…

As mentioned earlier, I used a buddy pass that was given to me by a friend who is a Delta employee.  This enabled me to list as a non-revenue, stand-by passenger on the flight a few hours before it departed.  Since the flight was completely wide open, I cleared the standby list and was able to head back to the States a few days earlier than planned.

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