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We recently examined all the premium seats on American Airlines, and while that airline may have the most diverse fleet of premium products, Delta has a large variety all its own. From one end of the spectrum to the other, here’s our guide to the best of the best, and the worst of the worst.
If you’re looking to ride in one of Delta’s finest seats while keeping the passport at home, be sure to check out our guide to flying Delta’s best business class seats domestically.
1. Delta One Suite
As of late 2017, there’s a new king when it comes to Delta seating: the Delta One Suite. The seats are set up in a 1-2-1 configuration, are exceptionally spacious, and are extremely private thanks to a sliding door. The Delta One suites will face stiff competition from Qatar Airways’ QSuite product. You can find our review of the Delta One Suite on the A350, the retrofitted 777 and the A330-900neo.
A350 routes and flight dates:
- Detroit (DTW)-Tokyo Narita (NRT) — since October 30, 2017
- Detroit (DTW)-Seoul (ICN) — since November 18, 2017
- Detroit (DTW)-Beijing (PEK) — since January 17, 2018
- Detroit (DTW)-Amsterdam (AMS) — since March 2018
- Atlanta (ATL)-Seoul (ICN) — since March 24, 2018
- Detroit (DTW)-Shanghai (PVG) — since April 19, 2018
- Los Angeles (LAX)-Shanghai (PVG) — since July 2, 2018
- Seattle (SEA)-Tokyo Narita (NRT) — since March 1, 2019
- Los Angeles (LAX)-Tokyo Haneda (HND) — since March 31, 2019
777 routes and flight dates:
- Minneapolis (MSP)-Tokyo Haneda (HND) — since November 16, 2018
- Atlanta (ATL)-Tokyo Narita (NRT) — since March 1, 2019
- Minneapolis (MSP)-Seoul (ICN) — since April 1, 2019
- Los Angeles (LAX)-Sydney (SYD) — since April 5, 2019
A330-900neo routes and flight dates:
- Seattle (SEA)-Shanghai (PVG) — since July 10, 2019
- Seattle (SEA)-Seoul (ICN) — starting Aug. 1, 2019
- Seattle (SEA)-Tokyo Narita (NRT) — starting Aug. 31, 2019
2. Delta One Flagship
While there’s no formal name for the Delta One seats onboard the airline’s newly refreshed Boeing 767-400ER, Delta did announce its intention to retrofit these cabins with new flagship interiors. Specifically, Delta claims that the updates will “bring [764 aircraft] up to flagship standards through the design, integration and production of thousands of parts, and configuring the aircraft with new lavatories, IFE and lighting systems.”
These seats are exclusively found on refurbished 767-400ER (764) jets (for now), and we shared our impressions on an early ride between New York and Los Angeles.
These Delta One seats are as close to a Delta One Suite as you can get, but Delta has chosen to omit the “suite” moniker due to the lack of a privacy slider. When you book a Delta One Suite, Delta wants you to know that you’re getting a fully enclosed experience.
Retrofitted 764s won’t be readily seen until late 2019. The easiest way to determine whether or not your flight will feature the new interior is to peer at the seat map. You’ll want to find 764 (as opposed to 76D) aircraft, and seat maps will show 34 Delta One seats as opposed to 40 on the old variant. The new 764s have a Premium Select cabin too, while the old version lacks that cabin entirely.
3. Reverse Herringbone
Aside from the Delta One Suite and the Delta One seat on the 767-400, the reverse herringbone seat is the best option Delta currently has in the sky. It’s private and offers a ton of personal space and ample storage. These seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. The one downside of this product is that the IFE screen is a little small and old, but that seems to be a common theme for all the current Delta seats.
Where to Find Them: With Delta’s 747-400s retired, you’ll need to find an A330-200 or A330-300. You can find this product by flying routes from Detroit or Seattle to Asia as well as on some transcontinental routes from Atlanta (ATL) to Los Angeles (LAX) — and occasionally on a rare hop from Atlanta to Detroit.
4. Thompson Vantage
The Delta Thompson Vantage seat is nearly identical to the American Airlines Thompson Vantage seat — Delta’s are set up in a 1-2-1 configuration. Just like its American counterpart, the Delta seat is not very private and when the bed is fully flat, you feel very close to the floor of the plane, however it does offer direct-aisle access for every passenger and there is a fair amount of storage space. The main difference between this seat and AA’s version is that Delta opted to put in a built-in IFE system.
Where to Find Them: Delta operates nearly 80 aircraft with these seats — all Boeing 767s that have not been refurbished with new Delta One seats — making it the most widely used product in its premium fleet. You can expect to see them on many routes to Europe and on transcontinental flights from Atlanta and New York JFK to San Francisco (SFO) and LAX.
5. Transcontinental 757
The Delta transcontinental 757 seat falls in line with the rest of the legacy airlines. Set up in a 2-2 configuration, the seat goes fully flat, and sports an in-flight entertainment screen, USB ports and power outlets. While the seats are not private in any way and there is limited storage, they are perfectly acceptable — and even deservedly coveted — on transcontinental routes. We still maintain that JetBlue’s Mint product is the best domestic business class out there, though.
Where to Find Them: On specific transcontinental routes, which can be found here. They have also been spotted on some international routes, such as Boston (BOS) to Paris (CDG) in the slower winter season.
The herringbone seat is the worst long-haul product Delta flies and is usually found on the longest-haul flights it has, such as Atlanta to Johannesburg (JNB). It’s an old product and the carrier has begun to replace it with the Delta One Suite. Every seat faces toward the aisle and is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration. They all lack any form of personal storage space, have small IFE screens and are so packed together you’ll feel like you’re sitting on the lap of the person next to you.
Where to Find Them: These seats are luckily only aboard the company’s not-yet-retrofitted 777. You can easily spot them during booking, as they will not offer Delta One Suites. Refreshed 777s are all equipped with suites.
7. Delta Premium Select
Along with the Delta One Suite, Delta announced a new cabin — premium economy, or as the carrier likes to call it, Premium Select. Each seat comes with its own footrest, power port, adjustable headrest and a large IFE screen. These seats are set up in a dense 2-4-2 configuration — to compare, the American Airlines 787 is set up in a 2-3-2 configuration and the A350 and 787 have an almost identical cabin width. One interesting thing to note: When you’re redeeming miles for a Premium Select seat, your domestic connection will be in first class rather than coach.
Where to Find Them: This product debuted in October 2017 with the arrival of the A350 in the fleet, and you can read our review here. The seats are also being fitted onto the 777, and we also reviewed it.
Since July 2019, Delta’s Airbus A330-900neo (A339) offers Premium Select as well, with its iteration adding memory foam seats and a water bottle holder. You can read our review between Shanghai and Seattle here.
Lastly, you’ll find Premium Select on refurbished Boeing 767-400ER (764) aircraft, which began trickling into Delta’s fleet in July 2019. You can read our impressions on the business class cabin here.
8. Delta Domestic First Class
While Delta’s domestic first class is nothing to write home about, it’s perfectly acceptable on short hops. Delta’s domestic fleet is sizable, with everything from Boeing 717s to the new Airbus A220. Throw in regional jets like the CRJ900, operated by Delta Connection partners, and you have a mind-boggling array of options.
The Boeing 757 alone has a handful of variants on Delta, making it tough to pin down which domestic first class seat is superior. Generally speaking, we’d advise looking at seat maps of different aircraft type (e.g. a Boeing 757 or an Airbus A320) if you’re able to take both to your destination. There, you’ll find things like seat width and pitch for your specific flight, and you can also see if your plane has seatback entertainment.
For the most part, all Delta domestic first class seats are within an inch or two of each other in terms of width and recline, though the overall age of the aircraft can vary widely.
When it comes to choosing a domestic plane, seats aren’t everything. For those seeking a complimentary upgrade, you’re better off choosing a plane with a higher ratio of first class seats.
Where to Find Them: On most routes within the US as well as some shorter international routes to Mexico, the Caribbean and Canada.
Delta’s hard products don’t all live up to the competition, but where it lacks, the carrier more than makes up for it in terms of onboard service. The food options are a step above what’s offered on American Airlines, and the Westin Heavenly bedding, though older, holds its own against AA’s Casper bedding and United’s Saks Fifth Avenue offering. The introduction of the Delta One Suite has certainly given the carrier a leg up on its US-based rivals.
How to Book
If you’re looking to book an award ticket on any of these routes, you’ve got options. While SkyMiles aren’t highly valued per TPG’s own valuations, you can boost your SkyMiles balance by adding a co-branded Delta Amex to your wallet.
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express
What we’d recommend instead, however, is booking through a partner in order to score seats for less. Delta seats can be found and booked via the Flying Blue search calendar, as well as the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club calendar. Both of these portals, while they have their quirks, generally price Delta award tickets out cheaper than Delta’s own booking engine.
Remember, you don’t need to have ever flown Virgin Atlantic to book Delta award tickets through its Flying Club program, and the same is true for Flying Blue. Once you find the flight that works for you, you can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards (instant transfer), Citi ThankYou Points (instant transfer), American Express Membership Rewards (instant transfer) and Marriott Bonvoy (1-day transfer). Here’s a sampling of credit cards you can use to earn points in these programs:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express for Membership Rewards
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for Ultimate Rewards
- Citi Premier Card for ThankYou Rewards
If you’re on the fence about which card will serve you best as a Delta flyer, we’ve assembled a guide to help out.
Do you disagree or agree with our rankings? Sound off, below.
Additional reporting by Darren Murph.
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