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Delta One aboard the internationally configured 757 feels more like a transcontinental product, but its soft amenities are still nice. The Pros: Up-to-date in-flight entertainment systems, Wi-Fi and a good menu. The Cons: These seats belong on domestic routes.
I was looking for a good way to get from Europe to the US in August and back to Europe again in September when I came across a deal on Delta and its SkyTeam partners, Air France and KLM, that suited my dates and routing requirements. Best of all, I managed to book a business-class ticket on a mix of the carriers, all for the price of an economy fare in high season. Here’s what it was like to fly in Delta One aboard the Boeing 757-200 on the Stockholm to New York portion of my trip.
I had some flexibility as to where in Europe I could fly out of and back to. However, adding another level of complication, I needed to fly from Europe to Washington, DC on a specific date at the beginning of August and then return from Los Angeles to Europe the first week of September right around Labor Day. That meant most of the airfares I was finding in economy and business class were sky high — economy fares were well over $1,200 while business-class fares were in the $4,000 range for the dates I needed.
Luckily, I did spot a few good options on Google Flights, including one itinerary that suited my needs perfectly. I would fly Delta from Stockholm (ARN) to Washington National (DCA) via New York (JFK) in business class. The Stockholm-New York flight would also give me the chance to test out the airline’s Delta One product aboard the single-aisle 757-200 that’s used internationally instead of on transcontinental routes. This type of plane has a different type of business-class seat from the one Delta usually has on its other long-haul aircraft, like the A330 and the 767. (For the return, I’d be flying nonstop from Los Angeles to Amsterdam on KLM, then on to Stockholm).
The grand total came to $1,666, of which $277.96 was carrier surcharges and $104.30 was taxes. I used my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card to pay so I’d earn 3x points — or, in this case, about 4,998 Ultimate Rewards points — for my travel purchase.
I’m not going for elite status with Delta or SkyTeam in general, but decided to credit the outbound Delta flights to my Delta SkyMiles account and the return on KLM to Alaska Mileage Plan, where I do have top-tier status. My Delta earnings for the Stockholm–New York–Washington legs ended up being 6,882 MQMs, $1,055 MQDs and 5,274 SkyMiles since I don’t have elite status with the airline but my tickets were in the J and Z fare classes. Based on that earning, I’m actually thinking of switching my return legs, which are longer, back to Delta and seeing if I can strategize some of my travel in the remainder of the year to earn Silver Medallion status.
Check-In and Lounge
Since my flight would depart from Stockholm at 8:30am, I got to the airport at 6:30am so I’d have plenty of time. When I arrived at Terminal 2, there were very few people in line at the Delta counters, and no one in the Sky Priority line.
Before I could get to the counter, though, I was intercepted by an airline agent who checked my passport. The young man then explained that the airline was asking all passengers extra questions for security purposes and proceeded to ask me several seemingly random questions about where I was traveling and what I did for a living. His meandering line of questioning took more than three minutes, by the end of which I was ready just to ask him to call over a supervisor. At that point, he let me check in, though.
The agent at the desk double-checked my documents, handed over the boarding passes for my two flights and then explained where security and the lounge were located. Luckily, the security line was short, but it still took about 15 minutes for me to get through since there was just one person checking documents and the screeners only let one person at a time approach the X-ray machines.
Thanks to my business-class ticket, I had access to the Aurora Lounge, which is run by Menzies and is located upstairs from the main terminal concourse.
The lounge itself is nice and fairly large.
Just past reception is the buffet corner where cold cuts, veggies, yogurt, bread and cookies are offered in the morning.
There was also an espresso machine.
A fountain with sodas and beers on tap, as well as taps for still or sparkling water, were also available for lounge guests.
There were even red and white wine taps!
Seating was arranged in several distinct areas, including chairs and sofas around low tables.
There was a high-top next to a living wall of plants.
Behind that was a row of lounge chairs.
Then, more living room-style areas.
The back of the lounge was empty and comprised of more living room areas, including one with chandeliers made from wooden antlers. There were private unisex bathroom stalls back there as well.
I had a coffee and some water since I wanted to save my appetite for the flight.
I did have a chance to check the Wi-Fi, which was speedy.
After doing some work, I decided to head over to the gate, which was also up on this level. Boarding was due to start at 7:35am, but I wanted to get there early to see if I could be among the first on the plane so I could take pictures. I had to pass through an immigration checkpoint and the officer there joked about how beat up my passport was.
When I got to the gate, I found that most of the passengers already seemed to be there. No one was standing in line, though, so I took up a spot at the Sky Priority lane. Boarding began a few minutes later.
Cabin and Seat
I had just a few moments to snap some photos before other passengers arrived, but tried to make the most of it.
The business-class cabin aboard Delta’s 757-200 (denoted at 75S on the airline’s fleet page and on Seat Guru) consists of just 16 seats. These are laid out in four rows of four seats each, in a 2–2 configuration, much like you’d find in transcontinental business class on Delta as well as American Airlines’ A321Ts and United’s 757-200s.
The seats are angled slightly off the center axis so they’re not quite front-facing.
Each is 20.2 inches wide and reclines to a bed that’s 76 inches long. Passengers can raise or lower the non-middle armrest for another two inches of space. The aircraft also has 44 Delta Comfort+ seats and 108 in economy.
Business-class seats are upholstered in light blue leather with red accents, in line with the airline’s latest refurbishment on this type of aircraft, which began back in 2014.
There’s a frosted plastic privacy divider between the seats, as well as a wide armrest where the flight attendants can serve beverages.
Each seat is controlled by a set of buttons on the armrest that allows you to move individual components, like the back and leg rests, and recline to fully flat or upright positions.
The handheld remote for the entertainment system, which also has buttons for the overhead light and to call the flight attendants, stows in the armrest.
There is not much storage space with these seats, just a little slot next to the seat cushion for the safety guide and airline magazine. This is where I tucked my Macbook Air. Up and to the side of the seat back is a little shelf where you’ll find a universal power port, a USB port and the plug for the headphones. The USB port in my seat actually was missing a part, so I couldn’t use it to charge my phone (more on that later).
When you recline the seat to lie-flat mode, you’ll see a smaller LED reading light and buttons embedded on the shell so you can adjust the light and seat. As you can see, there’s a cubby where your feet go in lie-flat mode — it also functions as a footrest for the longer-legged among us. I found it to be constrictive though, and if my feet had been any bigger, I would not have been comfortable sleeping.
And now for a couple of other downsides: there’s just a single, dedicated lavatory for the business-class cabin, so there was usually a wait to use it. While there’s another lavatory behind the fourth row, there was always a line of economy passengers, so it wasn’t a great option.
The lavatories themselves feel outdated, but there are nice touches, like Malin + Goetz hand wash and lotion.
I also really liked the fact that both the toilet and the sink have sensors, so you don’t have to touch any germy surfaces. The crew did a really good job cleaning up between passengers, too, so it was tidy for the whole flight.
The business-class galley is at the front of the cabin, so it tended to be busy up there. Meanwhile, there’s an economy galley right behind the last row of business class, so that was noisy as well. My tip would be to select a seat in either row 2 or 3 for the quietest experience.
I had been assigned seat 2C on the right side of the plane. When I checked in, it looked like 2D would be empty, but a young woman boarded shortly after me and sat there. We exchanged pleasantries, then moments later, a woman who turned out to be her mother boarded and sat in 3B across the aisle from us. I asked if they would like to sit together, they said yes and thanked me and I moved to seat 3B.
That ended up being a good decision because 3A was empty and I had two seats to myself for the whole flight. I used the aisle seat for meals and working and the window seat for sleeping, away from any activity in the aisle.
Delta prides itself on the soft amenities it provides passengers thanks to partnerships with luxury brands like Tumi and Kiehl’s. When I arrived at the seat, I found a number of goodies waiting for me.
First, there was a large Westin Heavenly pillow and a fluffy duvet, both wrapped in plastic. I put mine in the overhead bin so they wouldn’t take up too much space when I was eating and working.
I think this is among the best business-class bedding I’ve experienced on an airline. The pillow is a good size and very comfortable.
Meanwhile, the duvet is lightweight enough to be comfortable, but warm enough for when the cabin gets cold and large enough to wrap around my whole body. While I think it would be great if Delta offered seat covers or mattress pads so you’re not lying directly on the surface where you and every passenger before you has sat, I do think these items are great as-is.
The amenity kits Delta offers are sleek little black fabric affairs from luxury luggage brand Tumi. Inside, you’ll find a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, tissues, mouthwash, a pen and striped socks. You’ll also find a Tumi-branded eye mask and two Kiehl’s products: Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 and Deluxe Hand & Body Lotion with aloe vera, oatmeal and grapefruit.
Delta offers Gogo Wi-Fi on international flights including this one, but domestic US subscriptions don’t work on it. An hour costs $6.95, while three hours of access is an exorbitant $18.95. A flight pass is $21.95 and the global all-day pass is $31.95. Because of the timing of the flight and the length, I decided to just go offline since I’d be landing around 10:30am on the East Coast anyway. If I had been on a longer flight or connecting to a longer flight in the US, I might have considered the all-day pass, though.
The entertainment systems on this aircraft are actually newer and larger than those on some of Delta’s other long-haul aircraft, like the 767 and 777.
The screens are 16 inches and feature the airline’s Delta Studio entertainment system, with more than 300 movies and 700 television shows, music, video games and interactive flight details. Passengers can also stream these to their own personal devices by using the in-flight Wi-Fi.
I thought the selection of movies was decent, with nearly a dozen new releases.
There were relatively recent titles listed among the various categories, too. I liked that HBO and Showtime titles were also offered in the television section.
The airline recently launched a partnership with LSTN to offer in-flight headphones for Delta One customers. They were waiting for me at my seat at boarding and I thought they were stylish with a faux-wood finish.
However, I didn’t find that they worked all that great. Not only did they not cancel out the ambient airplane noise — Bose is leaps and bounds ahead, by my estimation — they also didn’t pick up the IFE system sound well. I thought it might be an issue with my particular seat, but as I mentioned, I had two seats to myself and tried the headphones out at both, but had the same issue. I had to jam the prongs into the plug as hard as I could and hold them there to get good sound quality for the movies I watched.
Food and Beverage
Almost as soon as I’d settled into my seat, I was offered a choice of a glass of Lanson Black Label Brut Champagne or a mimosa. I suppose I could have asked for water, too, but I went with the Champagne. Then, the head Delta One flight attendant came over, introducing himself as Craig as he handed me a menu, and saying he’d be back to take my order for brunch in a couple of minutes.
The current Delta One menu for my flight was its Summer 2017 listing. When boarding was completed, another flight attendant hopped on the PA to lay out the flight schedule and said we’d be served a full meal shortly after takeoff, followed by a brief beverage service in the middle of the flight and a light snack 1.5–2 hours before arrival in New York.
The Delta One menu said the meal would start with a premium heated nut mix of cashews, pecans, almonds and pistachios, but that never materialized. Instead, meal service began with the simultaneous service of drinks and the first course, which consisted of a plate of maple-glazed salmon slices with citrus-carrot salad, mango and herb crostini; a plate of fresh fruit including watermelon, blueberries and orange; and a bowl of strawberry yogurt as well as a selection of fresh breads.
The salmon was good, but saltier than I wanted, so I only had a slice, while the accompanying salad was fresh and delicious. The fruit was surprisingly ripe and sweet considering it was being served on an airplane. I opted for just a baguette roll, which I ignored, and had a few spoonfuls of the yogurt.
There were five choices for the main course and the simplest was granola with milk. There was also the option of a chilled plate with bresaola, prosciutto, smoked salmon, gouda, Camembert, deviled eggs and grilled asparagus. On the breakfast side was a plate of cherry pancakes with crème fraîche and grilled smoked pork loin. The two heartier plates were beef tenderloin with asparagus and a frittata of goat cheese, corn and cherry tomatoes; or spinach-ricotta stuffed chicken breast with a tomato soufflé and sautéed summer vegetables.
I went for the steak and eggs. While the steak was delicious, if a tad overcooked for my taste, the frittata was disappointing. It had more of a spongy soufflé texture and about half of it was comprised of corn, so I only had a few bites.
For dessert, I chose the white and milk-chocolate mousse “gnocchi,” which were essentially two scoops of mousse that were light and delicious. The other choices were a vanilla ice cream sundae or a selection of cheeses.
Delta’s wine lists are put together by Napa-based Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, and the ones on this flight included Chalone Estate Chardonnay, a Baron du Puget rosé from the Côtes de Provence, Faustino V Rioja Reserva, Louis Latour Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir from Verdon, Noval 10 Year Tawny Port and Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui sweet wine from Piedmont. While I’m usually game to try the wines on a flight, I decided to switch things up this time and order a Bloody Mary. Craig mixed one up and garnished it with a lime wedge, though the first version he made was too strong, so I asked for a little more tomato juice.
The meal started 30 minutes into the flight and was completed in under an hour, which I really appreciated because it left more time for rest. I ended up going to sleep in the empty seat next to me for four hours. I did wake up in the middle of it to the smell of baking cookies, which one of the other flight attendants was handing out, but most people were sleeping like me.
Just around 75 minutes before landing — which I also appreciated, as it gave passengers extra time to rest — it was time for the second meal service, which the menu dubbed “Almost There.” There were just two choices: Warm udon noodles in a basil broth with roasted chicken and julienne peppers or an open-faced salmon tartine with horseradish cream. Both were served with a mixed green salad with tomato, cucumber and pepper. I selected the noodles, but didn’t eat very much. The chicken was tender, the noodles were delicate and the broth was savory and light. It was a warm, delicious way to end the flight. I also had a cup of coffee to perk me up before starting the day in the US.
Delta recently unveiled a new line of service-ware by design company Alessi for its domestic first class, international business class and for Delta Premium Select later this year. The line is comprised of 86 new items, including bone china, crystal glassware, stainless-steel flatware and service pieces, as well as metal napkin rings and polyhedron salt and pepper shakers.
Before this flight, I had actually gotten to use some of them at a Delta event a few months ago — the silverware items there were slender and had a high-gloss finish. By contrast, the ones on this flight were chunkier and looked like they’d already seen their best days. The plastic trays had a neat iceberg-like pattern on their undersides, though, and the plates and glasses had slim profiles and curved edges that seemed to make them easier for the crew to arrange on the plate and remove.
I would rate my overall experience on this flight highly, especially given the bargain I’d gotten on my airfare. While the Delta One seats aboard the 757-200 are more like transcontinental business class instead of more advanced ones you’d find on Delta’s partners like Air France (the new ones) or Virgin Australia, they’re still decent, and comparable to those aboard most of KLM’s long-haul planes or the non-Polaris seats still on most of United’s planes.
I think the fact that no one was sitting next to me made a huge difference. I had a ton of space to myself and loved being able to use one seat for sleeping and the other for when I was awake, eating or working. If there had been another passenger next to me, I think I definitely would have felt more constrained and conscious about whether they would need to climb over me to get to the bathroom. I would have preferred the seats aboard Delta’s 767s, or better yet, the reverse-herringbone ones on its A330s, but these were still comfortable.
I continue to rate Delta highly in terms of the soft amenities — I love that Westin Heavenly Bedding and the cute little Tumi kits. I thought the menu on my flight also offered a wide variety of choices both in terms of food and drink. Delta Studio has a large selection of entertainment options, and the screens on this aircraft are large and of good quality. I would just reevaluate the LSTN headphones if I were the airline.
Finally, I find Delta’s crew to be the friendliest and most professional of the US carriers based on the many flights I’ve taken over the years. The ones on this particular flight were cheerful and outgoing, and always ready with a joke and a smile — they were also efficient and professional and got meal service done quickly so passengers could maximize their downtime. All told, I had a pleasant experience in Delta One and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other travelers, especially for the price I paid. However, for future flights, I’ll try to avoid the 757 in favor of the airline’s larger aircraft, if possible.
Have you ever flown in Delta One aboard the 757-200? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos by the author.
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