Flight: DL41, Los Angeles – Melbourne (27 April 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: Delta Skymiles/ Velocity Frequent Flyer
Duration: STD: 10:25pm (-7) ATD: 10.58pm (-7) Delayed 33 mins, STA: 6:35am (+10) ATA: 7:00am (+10) Delayed 25mins
Delta Airlines operates the 777-200LR between Sydney and Los Angeles. On this route the aircraft features the older Delta One product, which is unfortunately the first gen lie flat seat introduced by Delta in Business Class. The plane is laid out identically to the Delta 777-200ERs. It features 37 full flat seats in Delta One (aka Business Class), 36 Delta Comfort+ seats (think economy with an additional 4” of leg room and more recline) as well as 218 seats down the back in economy.
This particular seat is in a herringbone arrangement and is split into two cabins of 26 between the first two doors with an additional 11 seats behind door two, in front of Comfort+. I was sat located in the second cabin in 11A. Delta recently announced plans to refresh their 777 fleet which will see introduced to the planes the new Delta One Suites currently found on the A350.
Delta operates out of Terminal 3 and 2 from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The Sky Club in T2 used to be Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge in a previous life and with some minor updates by Delta after the great LAX move. That said it still feels relatively modern and fresh. Arriving from a connecting US domestic flight, I found the showers and freshened up before getting a small bite to eat and some tea prior to boarding the long journey home.
There was no wait for a shower and afterwards, plenty of available seating despite it being peak hour for flights. There were a variety of chairs grouped in 2 and 4, solo chairs and bench seating. Snacks, salads and a small selection of hot foods were available as well as self-pour wines and spirits. The selection was sadly not outstanding, but then again on US standards it was fairly good.
I had originally assigned myself 2A in the forward cabin, however my seat assignment didn’t stick and I was bumped out to 11A. Whilst it was not a big deal, I did prefer to be in the forward cabin as the location of the second cabin is directly in front of Comfort+ which can attract some noise. In all honesty though, the setup of a herringbone seat means you face inwards into the aisles and the sidewalls of the seats aren’t particularly high. This meant that whenever I turned my head slightly to the right, I could see at least 5-6 people in my line of sight. The light coming from Comfort+ would also shine into the Delta One cabin as their meal service timing differed from ours and could prove a problem for those who are light sensitive when sleeping.
Waiting at my seat were Westin Heavenly bedding a pillows, a Tumi amenity kit featuring Kiehls moisturises. Noise cancelling headphones were also found at my seat, but I used my own Beats Studios instead during the flight. During the boarding process, I ordered a glass of champagne. I was also provided menus and pyjamas shortly before push back.
As mentioned, the seat is quite exposed and while in the upright position, I am able to see a number of passengers (and vice versa). In bed mode though, it is quite comfortable owing to the fact that it is exposed. You can see most of the passenger across from the aisle, but others are limited by the shield around your seat. A combination of exhaustion and comfortable bedding ensured I slept well over 8 hours. Sadly there is no turn down service (unlike Qantas or Virgin Australia trans-pacific).
Being one of the oldest Delta One products out there, the age is really starting to show. The screen at my seat was slow, low resolution and small. Indeed, there was limited content found with roughly 20-30 movies and similar number of TV show episodes available. Music was even more limited, so I ended up listening to music from my iPhone. BYO entertainment if you don’t want to be bored during the 13+hour flights between SYD and LAX. I was not impressed and didn’t bother to show anything other than the moving maps as there was genuinely nothing that appealed to me or that I hadn’t watched.
Wifi streaming is available along with internet. As with all Delta flights, messaging is free on board (limited to certain apps and excludes pictures and videos), while doing anything else requires payment. From what I could ascertain, there were patches along the route where the internet would cut out or become incredibly slow (which makes sense as coverage along the pacific can be patchy).
The Bread and Butter (food and drink)
Once in the air, there was a short wait before the dinner service began. The late evening departure means that many passengers choose to sleep rather than eat. Whilst I had been up very early that morning (and on East Coast time too!), the flight allowed for plenty of time to sleep so I pushed through and had dinner. US airlines aren’t particularly well known for their service, but I have often found that while the flight attendants can be very casual and relaxed about the service, being nice and engaging them in conversation often does wonders in creating a positive experience. Indeed, chatting to the flight attendant working my aisle, she became very animated and ensured I had everything I needed throughout the flight. Top marks to her.
When the dinner/supper service did begin, it started with another glass of champagne and with some nuts as the table was set. Shortly after, my salad, appetiser and soup were all served on one tray. The only choice for dinner was the mains. I ended up going with the chicken (baked with a crust and served with asparagus). The salad and soup dish was taken away after I was done and the main dish replacing them on the same tray. As my appetiser dish and bread dish were left on the tray, general display of food looked tardy but I appreciate it was done so that the meal service could be completed earlier. The meal was finished with the option of cake, cheese or ice cream sundae. I went with the ice cream topped off with caramel sauce and nuts.
I had some chips and banana as a snack two hours prior to breakfast from the assorted snacks laid out in the galley, but did not order anything from the snack menu.
Just over an hour prior to landing, the breakfast service began. Options ranged from French toast and omelette to muesli and yoghurt. I went with the French toast which sounded much better on the menu that it looked. Whilst fine, I found the portion small and rather uninspired. It was served with some sad looking pieces of mandarin and grapefruit. Flight attendants came around with croissant, bread and carrot cake muffins. I went with the muffins and they were seriously delicious. Overall I found the food offerings rather small in serving and lacklustre in appearance/taste.
Delta has a reputation of being the best US based airline. Certainly there were lots of things that have brought it on par with its international competitors. However I couldn’t help but feel that everything was a decade behind. The seats had seen better days, the entertainment system a couple of generations old and the food and beverage service was hardly delightful.
I got a great sleep during the flight for about half the flight and for business class, that’s one factor you’re paying the privilege for. It’s a shame that the other half of the flight was completely unmemorable/ slightly disappointing.
I believe that once the new seat is installed, it would provide a welcome upgrade in terms of experience for the business class passenger. I can only hope that this flows onto their food and beverage service too. Combined, Delta will truly once and for all shake off that daggy American stereotype (as long as the competition hasn’t moved on again in the meantime).
About the writer
I’m a well travelled 30 something who blames it all on his father (though really, I’ve taken it to the next level). Travelling from a young age and continuing to do so independently from the end of high school, I am happy to step on a plane headed anywhere. Indeed my colleagues at work don’t ask me if I’m going away in holidays, but where I’ll be headed. They don’t even bat an eyelid when I pop down to Melbourne for the weeknight just to see some show that takes my fancy.
All of my travel is self funded. Through a mixture of great fares and frequent flyer points I’ve developed a penchant for sitting at the front of the plane. However let’s be honest; I’ll just about sit anywhere if it means I get to fly somewhere.