Hands down Delta’s second best business class product, after the flagship suites.
Hopping between Asia and the US, you’d think I wouldn’t hesitate to throw some points down for a tier 1 airline like Singapore’s A380 business class, ANA, JAL, Cathay, or even Korean, but sometimes you just don’t have the luxury of time (or points!) to make an extra stop on your way home, which is what happened to me this trip. But since Delta is my “daily driver” — the Volvo to the Ferrari, the Starbucks to the Kopi Luwak — I’m familiar with the experience, I don’t even need to look at the menu, and though I may not brag about it to friends, I’m rarely disappointed with Delta One.
In this post...
Reviewed in 30 seconds
How I Got Here
When flying home from an amazing Great Wall hike I had the option of either going directly back to Seattle in Delta One (business class), or pushing my tolerance for airtime and hopping down to HKG and flying Cathay business via SFO, which would require a night in HKG and a night in SFO…so I opted for the Delta A330 straight back to Seattle. This flight was 80k Membership Rewards points, which landed me in Delta One via an instant 1:1 transfer rate to my SkyMiles account. That’s a lot of miles for a one-way fare, but not when you consider the $ amount — which was over $6k — making this point/$ value a decent $0.075 per point, well above my $0.04-5 threshold.
How to Earn Points & Miles for Delta One business class
Earning Delta Skymiles means American Express all the way. If you also happen to be an SPG member, then this is actually a very good thing. Delta & SPG Crossover Rewards + Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express + the Delta cards from American Express + the SPG card = multiple opportunities for layered points earnings. The cards are:
Cards with no annual fee:
- Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express – new to the American Express card lineup in 2017, this card earns Delta miles with no annual fee, earning 2x on dining, 2x on in-flight purchases, and 2x on Delta flight purchases
Cards with an annual fee:
- The American Express® Gold Card – currently offering a 50,000 point welcome offer (after spending $2k in the first 3 months), and this card gets 4x on dining, 4x on groceries (up to $25k per year), and 3x on flights booked directly with airlines, all for a $250 annual fee.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express – my personal favorite card, 60,000 point welcome offer (after spending $5k in the first 3 months), plus 5x on travel, lounge access (Centurion, Delta, and Priority Pass), $200 Uber credit, and a $200 annual airline fee credit. The $550 annual fee is waived the first year.
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express – this card offers priority boarding, a free checked bag, 2x miles on Delta purchases, and currently has a 30,000 SkyMiles welcome offer after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months, making this a great card for Delta flyers.
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express – designed for business owners, this card offers the same perks as the consumer card listed above.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card – This one’s from Chase, with a 100,000 Bonvoy point welcome offer after spending $5k in the first 3 months. SPG points transfer to Delta at a 3:1 rate with an 8.3% bonus on up to 240,000 points transferred per day, so 260,000 Marriott points (bonus included) = 86,667 Delta SkyMiles.
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card – same as above, only for small businesses (that means business owners could conceivably have both cards).
This list was updated March. 18, 2018, and you can check out the latest offers right here.
Delta’s A330 offers a pretty standard reverse herringbone setup, which means everyone has direct aisle access (a must for any competitive business class product), and window seats are a great choice for solo travelers. The middle seats are not so awesome for solo travelers because unlike Air Canada’s business class, there isn’t really a divider between the seats, so you are pretty well staring at your neighbor’s screen and dining activity the whole flight. Thus, these seats are a natural choice for a couple traveling together – you can chat as desired, though you’ll have to lean forward a bit to do so.
In bed mode these seats are about average for reverse herringbone seats you find out there. The foot space/ottoman area is not super spacious, but you have enough space to roll over while sleeping.
Below are some more shots of the seat and its amenities. In keeping with the theme of this post, there’s nothing that stands out as either particularly good or bad; power ports are easily accessible, the reading light functions just fine (and doubles as a headphone holder!), and there really isn’t a lot of storage.
The Amenity Kit
Tumi with Malin + Goetz. If you fly Delta One often, you’re very familiar with these products by now. At least we’re getting a hard-sided Tumi case now, which is potentially useful for holding power cords etc. in the future.
The Food & Service
Again, totally adequate, as expected. Someday I will fly someone’s business class and it will stand out as a really good meal, but given the difficulties of preparing food on a plane for some 30+ people in a given business class cabin, I’m not holding my breath. However, it still feels luxurious to me to actually be served a three-course meal on real plates, so I’ll take whatever I can get!
The In-Flight Entertainment (IFE)
Smallish screen with ok resolution, decent selection of movies (unless you’re a frequent flyer in which case you’ve probably seen all of them…). One thing I continue to dislike about certain airlines and their IFE is the extent to which they edit out offensive language and content. I could see not wanting to display graphic portrayals of intimacy or violence, but do we really need to eliminate questionable language?? A topic for another post, perhaps…
The Bottom Line
Consistency, consistency, consistency. Or is it location, location, location? I forget. Either way, Delta is pretty darn consistent with their business class experience, at least when they remember to load amenity kits on board before the flight (more on that flight some other time!). Yes, the Delta 767 business class was cool 10 years ago and is in need of a serious refresh ASAP, but on their other widebody jets (aside from some 777s) you’ll end up in this reverse herringbone configuration, much like you see on tier 1 airlines such as Qatar, Cathay, Virgin Australia, Air France, and EVA. Delta One on the A330 is a great business class product for three main reasons:
- Whether it’s good or bad, you will have basically the same experience on every flight
- Everyone has aisle access
- Since you face away from the aisle your seat feels more private
Delta has a pretty solid business class product with this configuration, and as a Diamond with lots of SkyMiles and Amex points – which I can transfer over at 1:1 – I tend to fly them often and rarely have complaints. It won’t win any “best business class” awards, sure, but it’s a lot better than United (except for the new 777-300 Polaris) and some American configurations. I give it 4 stars, whereas an old United widebody might get 2 or 3…