Delta Air Lines 747-400 business class (Delta One) Detroit to Atlanta

Delta Air Lines 747-400 business class (Delta One) Detroit to Atlanta

It’s always a pretty big gamble booking flights based on aircraft type alone, especially when it comes to airlines with massively diverse fleets and dynamic schedules such as Delta.

This entire trip was built around the 747 and it would have been a pretty big disaster if Delta had decided to change to a different aircraft at the last minute. It shouldn’t come as any big surprise that I was a bit nervous as I was walking into the terminal that morning to kick off this special domestic 747 adventure across the country today.

delta check in DTW airport
Delta Air Lines check in counters at DTW.
Delta terminal DTW
As you can see from this wide angle pic of the check in hall, I was one of the first ones here this morning.
McNamara Terminal DTW
Being early and having the terminal to myself is never a bad thing – especially here at DTW watching that cool red tram run back and forth in silence.

Luckily for me (and all the other passengers who wanted a ride on a domestic 747), Delta held true to their word and there was indeed a 747-400 waiting for us parked at gate A34 ready to take us to Atlanta. The whole situation felt really strange actually, mostly considering that we live in a time where small narrow bodies do the bulk of domestic US flying and it was difficult to wrap my head around the concept of a 747 flying a short domestic segment such as this.

Big airplanes on short routes were a lot more common back in the 70’s and early 80’s, and I almost felt nostalgic enough about it all to show up wearing bell-bottoms and a wide-collared shirt to celebrate the occasion. Almost.

Detroit, MI (DTW) – Atlanta, GA (ATL)
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Aircraft: 747-451
Registration: N662US
Duration: 1 hour 21 minutes
Seat: 13K (Delta One / business class)

delta 747-451 side view drawing
Delta Air Lines 747-400 (N662US) side view illustration by
Detroit to Atlanta air route
Our route from DTW to ATL this morning: ACO5 ACO HVQ HLRRY PECHY1
delta detroit 747-400
There she is. N662US waiting patiently for us at gate A34. Interestingly enough, I flew on this aircraft once before – it was with Northwest Airlines on July 9th, 2003 and the route was DTW-NRT. Hello again old friend!
N662US DTW airport 747-400
It’s not easy to get decent pics through the dot-pattern tint on the windows here at DTW, but I tried my best.
SANspotter airport selfie
Do I look excited about this or what?
gate A34 DTW airport
Yes, I got here way too early, but there was no way I was missing this flight! Speaking of getting here early, it’s not really necessary at DTW. Short layovers are no problem in Detroit due to how efficient the terminal design is. Just sayin’.
gate A34 DTW airport
Gate A34 is where the action is this morning.
gate A34 DTW airport
Yes, it says 5:02am on the display. I wasn’t kidding when I said I got here early!

It’s not very often I take special flights such as this, so I didn’t quite know what to expect as other passengers arrived at the gate. Would it be a party atmosphere? Would nobody even notice (or care) that it was a 747? It ended up leaning more to the “nobody cares” side of things as we waited to board – there were a few people taking pics through the windows just before boarding, but otherwise it was business as usual and the mood no different as if we were all about to board a regional jet to Fort Wayne.

gate A34 DTW airport
Not much happening here at gate A34 in the moments leading up to boarding.
boarding 747 detroit airport
Alright, here we go. About to board my shortest 747 segment ever!

Things got a bit more festive as soon as they let the Delta One passengers onboard, as there were many who stopped in the jet bridge to take a pic of the nose of the 747 through the window. Even one of the Delta ground staff walked by saying that she wished that she could fly on the 747 today, so at least there were some people who knew that this was a special treat. It was at this point that I didn’t feel like a total airline nerd, because hey – it was clear that I wasn’t the only one excited about this flight!

N662US DTW airport 747-400
I had to elbow my way in at the windows to get this pic of the old gal just after my boarding pass was scanned. Many other passengers were trying to do the same thing!

Delta One passengers boarded through the forward boarding door, while premium economy and economy boarded through the second. This was a completely full flight though, and they eventually started letting economy passengers board through the forward door (and walking through the Delta One cabin) to expedite the boarding process.

delta air lines jet bridge
These Delta-branded jet bridges are starting to get familiar. Mental note: fly different airlines in 2017, Scott.
boarding 747-400 DTW airport
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of stepping onto a 747.

My only other experience with Delta One was on a 767-300 from JFK to LAX late last year, and right away I was surprised to find that the seat design and layout was significantly different. The 747 seats are much more private than what was on the 767, and I much preferred these. The way they angled towards the sidewall and windows did a lot to increase the feeling of overall privacy. This layout is basically the opposite of what I recently experienced on my Virgin Atlantic A340-600 Upper Class flight from LHR to JFK, and I’m happy to report that there was none of the awkwardness.

delta one business class seat
Delta Air Lines 747-400 Delta One seat 13K.
delta one business class seat 747
Delta Air Lines 747-400 Delta One seat 13K.
747 delta one cabin
Delta Air Lines 747-400 Delta One cabin.
747 delta one cabin
Delta Air Lines 747-400 Delta One cabin.
delta one business class seat
Full size duvet on the seat even for this short flight down to ATL.
Delta One branding
Delta One branding embroidered into the seat.
delta one business class seat
The seat configuration is a little weird at first (with the seat controls in your face) but overall it’s really comfortable and private.
delta one business class seat
Plenty of leg room here, though the footwell is a bit narrow.
delta one 747 seat controls
Seat controls and tethered remote for the entertainment system.
delta one 747 power and audio
In-seat power and audio ports.
delta one 747 reading light
Reading light on the upper portion of the seat.
delta one 747 arm rest
Retractable arm rest – with a convenient little storage nook.
delta one 747-400 privacy
The privacy is quite good in these Delta One seats.

The boarding process seemed excessively long, and at first I brushed it off as a consequence of loading a very large aircraft. But the minutes were rolling past without any acknowledgment from the crew, and that’s never a good sign. My suspicions of troubles were confirmed several minutes later when the captain came over the PA to let us know that there was a fuel loading issue – but it shouldn’t take long to resolve and we’d be on our way soon.

Not long after that announcement, he walked downstairs and personally greeted the Delta One cabin – which I thought was a very nice thing to do. He even made a comment about flying the Queen of the Skies, stating that this was a special treat as she doesn’t normally do a lot of domestic flying.

Delta Air Lines 747-400 saftey card
Time to have a look at the safety card! This is the front cover.
Delta Air Lines 747-400 saftey card
Delta Air Lines 747-400 safety card inner cover.
Delta Air Lines 747-400 saftey card
Delta Air Lines 747-400 safety card interior.
Delta Air Lines 747-400 saftey card
Delta Air Lines 747-400 safety card rear cover.

I assumed that we’d be on our way out of Detroit shortly after the captain’s greeting, but…more delays. We sat at the gate for a while longer before pushing back, and even though I knew that this was the aircraft that would be continuing on to SEA from ATL later today (with me on it), I couldn’t help but worry that this delay could screw things up and it might force Delta to change things bit. Even worse, what if I missed my Alaska Airlines connection to SAN at SEA later that evening? I tried to put it out of my mind as we slowly made our way out to the runway.

Delta One 747 cabin
The Delta One cabin waiting patiently for pushback.
747 departure Detroit airport
Finally pushing off the gate!
747 departure Detroit airport
I was feeling so glad to be on our way at this point. I don’t like delays…
delta one 747 cabin
Cabin lights were turned off as soon as we started rolling. This is finally happening!
747 departure Detroit airport
Taxi times at DTW are always long, but I didn’t really mind today. More time spent on the 747 is never a bad thing.
747 departure Detroit airport
The fact that the sun started poking through the clouds was the icing on the cake.

We eventually made it to the departure runway, but we ended up sitting for a while with no comment from the captain. Uh oh. More problems? We sat longer. And longer.

delta one business class seat 747
Waiting patiently for departure but…nothing is happening.

Finally a very perturbed sounding captain made an announcement over the PA saying that there was a fuel load issue that would require us going back to the gate. The proper amount of fuel was loaded, but it was balanced improperly and it needed to be fixed. He sounded really frustrated by it, calling it a “huge mistake” and he apologized profusely. Sigh. It was by now that I was praying that they wouldn’t cancel this flight altogether.

747 departure Detroit airport
Making the turn to head back to the gate.
taxiing back to gate Delta 747-400
What a bummer.
delta 747-400 DTW
Right back where we started: gate A34.
sleeping in Delta one business class 747-400
Nothing to do but try and catch up on sleep while waiting out the delay.

After what seemed like an eternity back at the gate, we pushed back once again and I started getting excited about this flight. Again. However, our troubles were not over. Several minutes into the taxi out to the runway, we stopped for an uncomfortable amount of time, and I was once again feeling like we were screwed. The longer we sat, the more I knew we were in trouble.

delta 747-400 delay DTW
Now what’s the problem? It didn’t take long before we were stopped again.

The captain made another announcement, this time saying that there was a “clearance issue” trying to maneuver around parked deicing equipment.

DTW deicing trucks
These parked deicing trucks were the culprit of our halt on the taxiway.
delta 747-400 window
Nothing to do but sit and wait some more.

At first he said that we had to wait for the ground crew to come out and give us a tow around it, but 10 minutes went by and nothing happened. He then made an announcement that no tow was coming, but they were going to send out ops crew to determine if we could move forward without it. Long story short, we didn’t need the tow. But we were now two hours behind schedule and the excitement of flying on a 747 from DTW to ATL had been greatly diminished. Long delays are never fun no matter what kind of aircraft it is!

747 departure Detroit airport
Finally rolling again! At this point I was just praying that nothing else would stop us on our way out of here.
747 departure Detroit airport
Two hours behind schedule, but here we go!
Delta 747-400 departure DTW
So long Detroit!
Delta 747-400 departure DTW
Such a good feeling to be in the air and on the way to ATL.
crossing over lake erie delta 747-400
Our departure out of DTW was a bit odd, as we headed directly east for a while before making the turn south. Here we are crossing over the shores of Lake Erie.
Delta 747-400 wing view
The clouds eventually made their appearance though, so there wasn’t much to see shortly after takeoff.

Departing DTW never felt better, and it was so nice to finally be in the air and on the way to ATL. The in flight service began 15 minutes after departure, starting with the snack basket. Drink orders immediately followed.

delta peanuts in flight snack
What’s left of my in flight snack. The service wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, most likely due to the short flight time.
delta studio in flight map
Quick pic of the moving map as we make our way south towards Atlanta.
Delta Air Lines 747-400 forward galley
Delta Air Lines 747-400 forward galley.
delta air lines 747-400 lavatory
I didn’t really need to go, but the trip report wouldn’t be complete without a pic of the Delta One loo.
delta air lines 747-400 cabin ceiling
Detail shot of the overhead panel – just for the memories.

Overall, it was a pretty bland flight. Cold too. There was a serious draft coming from somewhere (I was never able to determine where the source was), but it was very cold and very annoying. The good news is that the weather was perfect all the way down to Atlanta and it was a pretty smooth flight for the entire distance.

Delta One 747-400 cabin
Delta One 747-400 cabin mid-flight.
delta air lines 747-400 wing and engines
Starting the descent into ATL.
approaching ATL delta 747-400
As many times as I’ve flown into and out of ATL, I’ve never seen these lakes.
flying over atlanta
Suburbia surrounding the city of Atlanta.
approaching runway 26 ATL delta 747
All lined up for a runway 26 arrival.
atlanta skyline airplane window
The city of Atlanta off in the distance.
approaching ATL delta 747
Those cars on the freeway below were lucky to get such a nice view of our 747!
747-400 shadow
The 747 sure does cast large shadows!
landing ATL delta 747-400
Welcome to Atlanta!
landing at ATL Delta 747-400
This flight was way too short, but at least I was looking forward to the 5 hour run to SEA coming up next.
landing at ATL Hartsfield Jackson airport
The familiar landscape of ATL.
gate e28 ATL delta 747-400
Pulling up to gate E28, with pallets of cargo ready to be loaded.
N662US delta 747-400
Nice close up look at N662US parked here at E28.
concourse E ATL
Looking straight down the E concourse here at ATL, killing time before the continuation of this 747 to SEA.

Our landing on runway 26 and docking at E28 was two hours behind schedule, but little did we know that the real delays were just getting started

Comments (4)

  1. Albert

    June 16, 2019
    • SANspotter

      June 17, 2019
  2. RK Aviation

    October 23, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      October 24, 2022

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