Canada – Où il est toujours hiver: Delta T4 Expansion Opening

Delta T4 Expansion Opening
The Wet, The Windy, The W

Delta T4 Expansion Opening
When I was first looking at my flight options to get me to Montreal I had several different options: a one-stop itinerary via Atlanta which would have gotten me there in the early evening, or a two-stop itinerary via either New York-JFK or Detroit.  All but the Atlanta option, would put me on either a Delta Connection CRJ-200 or ERJ-145, both of which are rather small, cramped regional jets (the Atlanta option was on the much more spacious Delta Connection CRJ-900), but by going via JFK I would be able to book the ATL-JFK leg on a newly-refurbished international configuration 767-300ER with the lie-flat seats and have a three hour layover to explore Delta’s newest offerings at JFK that were slated to open that morning.  Considering that I’m a travel nerd (really?), I figured I might as well add a terminal opening to my experiences.

In order to catch that 767-300ER on the ATL-JFK route, I wound up leaving a little bit later in the morning that I would have otherwise, leaving Panama City around 11AM.  I had figured that I would sleep in that morning and go grab breakfast before heading to the airport, but work got in the way of that and I wound up having to go in for a few hours to support a last minute meeting.  While it started my long weekend off on “bad” foot, I knew that for the rest of the weekend I wasn’t going to think about work at all. Not one bit.

Flights (ECP-ATL-JFK)
My ECP-ATL flight was the standard flight in First Class for that short leg.  Just had my Coke Zero and listened to music for the 45 minutes in the air.  I only had an hour in between flights, so there wasn’t much time to spend killing time in a Sky Club or the Concourse before boarding commenced.

How Many Times Have I Taken This Picture? (Delta Air Lines DC-9-50 at ECP)

As a Platinum Medallion, even on an award ticket, I have found it rather easy to get upgraded domestically on the international-configured aircraft flying shorter routes (I hear flights to the west coast are difficult even for Diamond Medallions, as people are actually willing to pay), in fact this would be my second time in a month, as my trip to New York in April I also was upgraded on an old configuration 767-300ER (although it was supposed to be the new configuration).  This time I lucked out; not only was I upgraded in advance, but because this flight was a ferry flight (8000-series flight number) it meant that this particular plane had to be somewhere, so the odds of an equipment swap were pretty low.  Even better was that this was the first flight for this aircraft after receiving the interior modifications, so everything was incredibly clean and shiny.

So New! Pro Tip: Pick an odd-numbered window seat on this aircraft; you’ll get the large console between you and the aisle which makes it feel more private

Pre-departure Drinks

You would also think that would mean that everything was in working order, but shortly after take-off my in-flight entertainment screen stopped working.  There was audio, but no video.  Supposedly the flight attendants tried to restart it when I told them about it, but I don’t think they did.  Actually the flight attendants I believe had never flown on this aircraft before, because anytime anyone had a question about the seats or if they could put a bag in the foot well, or anything else, they just didn’t know the answer.  The other part is that they left the cabin lights on for the entire flight!  I haven’t had that happen on a flight before, and it just seems to reiterate that this crew did not know what was going on.  I found myself trying to sleep for the duration of the flight since this was a flight outside of the meal times for this route and was semi-successful at napping with my seat in the full 180-deg recline position, but those lights just kept bugging me!

Delta Terminal 4 Expansion “Tour”
With my flight having been an internationally-configured aircraft, I was hoping that we would pull directly into Terminal 4 for my layover.  However, with my luck, we pulled into a gate in Terminal 2, which by far is one of the worst Terminals that I think is in existence within the US.  It would have been a lot better if Delta had decided to keep the more historically-significant Terminal 3 in service, but as of that day it was closed for good with plans for demolition.

To get between the Terminals, one must take a shuttle bus as there is no walkway connector.  Unfortunately the bus gates are still down near the beginning of Terminal 4’s B Concourse, so the walk to the new Delta gates are a pretty good walk from where you get off.  It would have been nice if they could have built it in to the expansion, as I’m sure that would help when people are trying to make tight connections due to delays, etc.

As I got to the end of the former end of the Concourse, the new Delta gates came into view.  It seemed much brighter and more open than the existing section.  There were balloons everywhere and I bet that not even the majority of people realized that this was the first day of operation for this new section.

Terminal 4 Expansion

After a quick tour of the gates, I made my way directly to the brand new flagship Delta Sky Club.  This new Sky Club is rather large and features many new amenities.  Probably the most exciting feature to me as a bit of a travel geek is the new Sky Deck area attached to the club.  It’s a rooftop area over part of the concourse with seating for one to catch a breath of fresh air, and of course watch as aircraft move about!  Unfortunately, on the day of it’s grand opening it was raining.

T4 Sky Club – Entrance

T4 Sky Club – Sky Deck Area

Delta was trying to make this a true grand opening and had glasses of bubbly for everyone who walked in.  I don’t turn down a free drink and it was a good way to start off the tour inside.  Another addition was the ability to purchase food within the lounge.  There were two options: a self-service option where you get a pager (like at say, Panera) or a full-service option with a dedicated seating area.  Either way you are paying for the food, so I decided to try the full-service area.  There wasn’t an expansive menu, mostly salads and a few sandwiches and other things, but I figured I would give it a whirl.  On that note, I went for a Panini, which was delivered fairly quickly.  It wasn’t overly small, but I won’t lie that I probably could have grabbed something better from the terminal (there is a Shake Shack after all within the expansion area).  Perhaps the salads or other foods are better, but I guess it is an improvement over just snacks.

T4 Sky Club – Sandwich

T4 Sky Club – Self Service Dining Kiosk

Seating areas within the lounge are quite varied.  They made a good call in trying to split up the space with rooms or partial walls, which at least doesn’t make it feel like a massive cavern (like the KLM Crown Lounge in Amsterdam).  Plus it allows for some areas to be darker or more well lit or provide view outside, etc.  Overall, I have to say it was a good addition to the list of Sky Clubs, but I just wish that Delta hadn’t decided to cut back to only certain beers being free system-wide.  That part is a bit of a devaluation for me; all I know is that if I have to pay for the Stone IPA at the San Diego Sky Club, there’s going to be an irate member…

T4 Sky Club – Between tTe Sky Deck and Dining/Bar Area

I couldn’t stay for an extended period of time, as I needed to get back to Terminal 2 to catch my flight to Montreal.  After grabbing a commemorative luggage tag from an empty gate, I made my back to the bus to catch my flight.

Getting out of New York
Like I mentioned earlier, Terminal 2 is pretty much a horrible experience.  Since my flight wasn’t exactly ready to board, I made my way to the Terminal 2 Sky Club to kill the time.  One thing I noticed was just how dark it was in this one (I have never actually been in this Sky Club before), and probably for good reason too.  It was definitely on the worn side and is need of a face lift, or more like a complete gutting.  They definitely updated the bar area to give it that look of many of the Sky Clubs out there, but it only does so much.  And, when you enter, you catch the smell of fast food cooking.  Why you might ask? It’s right on top of a Wendy’s in the terminal.

Not only was the Sky Club a bit of a miss, but getting out and on the way to Montreal was a bit of a miss.  Turned out that several flights in the past 24 or so hours had been cancelled due to weather and it was still poor weather outside.  While we were initially delayed boarding, by the time I made my way through the strange maze of regional jet gates and got on the plane I was just as soon told to get off and go back to the gate.  That just meant more standing around in the gate area until eventually boarding recommenced.

Super Blurry Shot Of The Never Ending Corridor


One of the things about this flight is that Delta lists it as almost 2 hours in length, despite the fact that it covers only around 330 miles and is only about 45 minutes wheels-up to wheels-down.  Yep, you spend as long or longer taxiing around waiting to take off than you do in the air.  Reminds me why I try to never connect through JFK.  The flight itself was basic, but I will say it was a very bumpy ride for almost the entire way.  I’m sure it unnerved some people, but I just sat there with my drink and reading my book. No big deal.

Montreal Arrival
Thanks to the delays I was late arriving by almost an hour and a half.  Since I had no plans for that night, it wasn’t such a big deal.  All I had to do was make it through Canadian Immigration and Customs (they always seem suspicious about a single guy traveling to Canada and get the full run of questions), recharge my Opus card (public transit card) and catch the 747 Express Bus into town.  Luckily there wasn’t any delay and a bus was waiting right outside the terminal.

Late Night Arrival In Montreal

They Let Me In! The New Entry Stamp Looks Similar To US Ones Now…

For the first night in Montreal I booked an award stay at the Embassy Suites Montreal, where I had stayed at during my trip the previous year for New Years Eve.  I had a stay at the W Montreal for the second and third nights of my stay, but considering the rate at the W, and with my late arrival I didn’t feel quite like dropping a month’s rent like that.  Besides, the Embassy Suites in Montreal is actually pretty nice; every suite is pretty much a small apartment with a kitchen with full fridge, kitchen island, lot’s of storage, a very large bathroom with separate shower and bath, living room area and a bedroom.  As a Hilton Gold it appeared that they gave me an upgrade to a corner room, which seemed a bit larger than the standard room I had during my previous stay.

Embassy Suites Montreal – Corner Suite

Embassy Suites Montreal – Bedroom

Part 3 of my Montreal trip report coming soon!

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