Onboard Last Night’s Delta “Silent Disco” 737 Flight From JFK to JFK
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Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join Questlove and 100 or so Delta customers, music students, journalists, industry execs and airline employees for what's being billed as "the first ever in-flight silent disco." Let that sink in for a moment.
Now, I've been to some pretty crazy press events — including quite a few at 30,000 feet — but last night's was undoubtedly the wackiest. Delta hosted this "silent disco" on board N801DZ, a 737-900ER, to celebrate the launch of its new headphones from LSTN, which are now available in Delta One cabins on flights within the US and overseas (they'll soon be available in Premium Select, too).
The model Delta chose for its premium cabins, the Wired Troubadour, definitely represents a step up from the headsets you'll find in business class (and even first class) on most carriers. Personally, I prefer noise-canceling headphones from Bose, but these are much more affordable, retailing for $150. Additionally, LSTN uses part of the proceeds to help fund the Starkey Hearing Foundation's mission to bring hearing aids to people in need around the world — Delta will be supporting the organization as well.
Anyway, back to the event...
Airport, Lounge and Gate
The adventure began with a nearly two-hour bus ride from Manhattan to JFK Airport (ugh, traffic):
And continued with a trip to the Delta Sky Club — which I was able to access thanks to my Amex Platinum Card — including my first visit to the awesome SkyDeck:
Around 8:30pm, roughly four hours after I met up with the group at the South Street Seaport in NYC, it was time to head to the gate — some passengers were clearly dressed to impress.
After a short delay, we were able to board Delta flight 9770 to "Hartford" — even though our flight was scheduled from JFK to JFK, apparently Delta had to list another destination. And, since DL doesn't fly from New York to Hartford, Connecticut, the carrier likely picked that airport to avoid confusing passengers on other scheduled flights.
I walked down the jetway with Delta's surprise guest DJ for the night.
I was one of the last to board, coming on the plane just after Questlove.
Onboard Delta's 737-900ER
I was a bit surprised to learn of Delta's choice of aircraft. The 737-900ER was comfortable and modern, but with passengers dancing in the aisles, flight attendants serving snacks and drinks from carts and photographers weaving their way in and out of the rows, a wide-body plane (with two aisles) would have made much more sense.
Being the extended version of the 737, though, there was still room for passengers to spread out a bit.
I ended up with a seat near the front of Comfort+, just behind the DJ "cart."
There was a pair of headphones and a wireless receiver waiting at each seat. However, the receiver Delta provided was a similar model to those used on group tours — the sound was often distorted, so it was difficult to get a feel for the headphone quality. Fortunately, they sounded great when plugged into the in-flight entertainment system, which is how passengers will be using them, anyway.
After we pushed back, I fired up the Gogo 2Ku Wi-Fi, which I was pleasantly surprised to see working on the ground:
The Wi-Fi ending up being free with a special promo code for the flight, but I had already redeemed one of the 10 free passes that comes along with my Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Whoops!
At that point I noticed the gigantic departure queue — we were #25 in line for takeoff, resulting in a lengthy delay. Fortunately this plane was equipped with free seat-back entertainment, so I fired up Kong: Skull Island before quickly getting distracted by all the excitement on board.
After takeoff, flight attendants came through with individual bottles of Prosecco...
... along with snack boxes and other items available from the basket:
The Silent Disco
The Delta crew didn't waste any time setting up their gear, including this snazzy color light ball:
Then, it was time for glow sticks — the airline came prepared!
Questlove got to work shortly after we hit 10,000 feet, setting up shop on a catering cart at the front of the economy cabin.
While one passenger spent the entirely flight in a window seat watching movies (huh?), nearly everyone else made their way to the aisle at some point.
It was easy to lose track of time — we ended up flying west over Pennsylvania, New York and parts of Ontario, before making a 180-degree turn for JFK as we approached Detroit.
Everyone had to stay seated for landing, just as with any other trip, although the flight attendants were certainly friendlier and more patient with these passengers than I've witnessed on many other flights.
What an adventure! While the event ran way long — I ended up getting home three hours later than expected — it was certainly a unique opportunity. Questlove was super friendly and engaging, the 737 was fresh (and decently comfortable in economy) and the passengers — most of them, at least — seemed pretty excited to be onboard. I hope you have a chance to try out the airline's new LSTN headphones on a Delta One flight soon.