I don't talk about Amsterdam in this one, but rather the First Class flight on the way there and back. However, there are pics at the bottom of this blog. BOOM.
On Delta Airlines, it's actually called Business Class, or 'Delta One'. Being an employee, they often graciously upgrade me to business class. Of my 4 international trips, I've been lucky enough to fly business 7/8 flights. Each of these individual flights would cost an average traveler around $5000, or nearly double round-trip. That is more than I'll ever afford, or certainly choose to spend on a single flight. I'll attempt to describe the experience as best I can, since I recently got back from Amsterdam and it's somewhat fresh in my memory. You know a flight is something special when it's one of the main highlights of your trip.
You've arrived at your gate. You've just trudged through security, and you're around an hour early for the flight. A couple hundred anxious travelers are seated in the gate area, and a few pace around as they await boarding. In business class, you are one of 20ish that board first, and you hop on the plane. The flight attendant at the door personally guides you to your seat and offers you a choice of champagne, orange juice, mimosa, or heineken from a platter she carries around. I always choose champagne, because a business upgrade is a celebration. On this flight, I really wasn't expecting the upgrade, because the flight looked fairly full. As you adjust in your seat, you notice a little bag filled with an assortment of goodies. Toothbrush and mouthwash, lotion and chapstick, eye-mask and earplugs. These are always fun, and they last me multiple trips. You pick up your delta issued noise canceling headphones, flip on some Frank Sinatra, and lie back in your glorified recliner. Another flight attendant comes by with the in-flight menu and offers you a choice of The Financial Times or USA Today. At this point, you unpackage the quilt and pillow they have set in front of you. Yes, an actual quilted blanket, not a cheap, thin knock-off, sorry excuse for a blanket. Someone comes to take your main course meal order, and you begin to taxi to the runway. Oh, I forgot. You get cashews, or some other assorted nuts to munch on. Champagne and cashews. Why not? This is all preflight.
There's always a bit of a break at this point, because you know, the plane needs to take off and reach cruise altitude. At this time, they come through and offer you some fancy wines. I usually choose the port. The wine is accompanied by some fishy food. Smoked salmon, tuna, or scallops. I despise nearly all the seafood I've ever eaten, but these dishes were amazing. They are brought out on nice plates with sauces tastefully drizzled on top. I'm not a foodie - I drink for quality, but this really blew me away. I wish I had written down all of the food I ate on the flight. There is a salad with every appetizer, and the combinations of sugary / salty are mixes I never would have thought possible. Like I said, I'm not an avid fancy food connoisseur, but I never would have thought to sprinkle cilantro on my cantaloupe. Most of the time, I didn't really know what I was eating, but my rule is to just eat it all. The head Delta chefs really know their stuff.
In between the apps and salads, the wine / liquor cart returns frequently. I usually switch to rum cokes eventually, since that's a standard when I don't have scotch or quality beer. The beef tenderloin for the actual 'dinner' portion was probably the best thing I've ever put in my mouth next to Macallan 18 Scotch. After dinner, they give you a choice of dessert selections, which I always choose the icecream sunday with chocolate drizzle, strawberry topping, and nuts. This is especially where I need a generous glass of port, which they always give me. One flight, apparently I was the only one drinking the port, so I consumed nearly the whole bottle, and the flight attendant offered to send the rest with me in my bag. SCORE.
After dessert is nap time. They still come by with the wine cart fairly often, but this is when most travelers get their rest. You press recline, and the seat shifts in to a lie-flat bed. Not just reclined, but entirely flat. I'm 6'3, and I can still stretch my legs to their extent while laying down. You choose a movie and let it play as you get in sleeping mode. On this trip, I watched 'The Big Short' , the Martian, Apollo 13, and Everest. I've already seen Everest on a plane when I went to Cancun, but it motivates my sense of adventure, as well as it giving me an emotional jolt (I cry when people die in movies when I'm on planes). After napping, you wake up to a roast beef sandwich, another salad, and more wine. It's probably one of the best things you can wake up to.
This is basically a business class flight. It's also extremely convenient, in that when you land, you're already rested and ready to travel further. Never would I ever pay for such a flight, but I'm very glad Delta is kind to their employees.
Fun side story: Occasionally there is a male flight attendant that observes me enjoying my wine / rum-coke. The flight attendants know we don't belong in business class, but they travel the same way we do, so they are usually are extra kind. On the way back from Amsterdam, I think I consumed 8 drinks, largely in part to the one flight attendant that kept bringing me rum. The first time walks over and says, "I know you didn't ask for another rum coke, but I figured, 'What the Hell." and sets another one down. He knows me. He proceeded to do this a couple more times, and eventually brought me two Bacardi shooters and a whole can of coke. I appreciate people like that. He even came back with one and said, "here's one to go."