How to Fly Delta’s Best Business Class Seats Domestically
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Delta’s modernization of its fleet continues to mean good things for those seeking out premium experiences — even domestically. Typically, the carrier's best cabin interiors are reserved for its long-haul international routes. Those routes, of course, demand big bucks (and significant award miles) to fly. There's a secret, though: every so often, these cabins find themselves flying domestic routes.
Perhaps Delta just needs to reposition a plane in preparation for an international leg, perhaps it's flying a special load of cargo, or perhaps it's running a rescue mission. As is the case with its 757s featuring Delta One lie-flat seats, it's competing with other major carriers like United, American Airlines, and JetBlue on coast-to-coast routes popular among business travelers.
Whatever the reason, these routes (which are often one-time events) enable you to fly in Delta's fanciest cabins for far less than you'd spend to fly overseas. And, because it's domestic, the entire experience is easier: flights are shorter, there's no passport required, and there's no long immigration line on the other side.
While its Delta One Suites are currently installed only on the Airbus A350-900 and a few retrofitted Boeing 777s, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that these birds begin to make domestic jumps in addition to their current international jaunts. Meanwhile, you’re left looking for the coveted reverse herringbone seat found on Delta’s A330-200 and A330-300 aircraft (we’ll miss you, 747-400!) and the 180-degree flatbed Thompson Vantage seat found on select transcontinental routes.
Delta's flagship Delta One seat (which isn't quite a fully enclosed suite) is being installed on refreshed 767-400ERs, also known as the 764. While it's destined for international routes, you may find one sporadically used on domestic routes as an operational space, just as we did on a flight between New York and Los Angeles.
Delta regularly updates its global timetable, shifting aircraft and routes from time to time. So, we here at The Points Guy dig into it regularly to unveil where you can find these excellent seats. Our current list covers through September 15, 2019.
Whether you splurge on a business class award or paid ticket, choose to burn a Regional Upgrade Certificate, or score a complimentary upgrade as a Medallion member, we’re showcasing how to fly on Delta Air Lines’ best business class seats without having to bring your passport.
Retrofitted Boeing 777 (77L): Delta One Suites
Now that Delta's refurbished 777s are flying daily between Los Angeles and Sydney, that same bird makes a daily round-trip between Los Angeles and the airline's hometown of Atlanta. As of now, this is the only regularly scheduled domestic route to feature Delta One Suites.
If you're flying between Atlanta and Los Angeles, pay careful attention to the seat map when choosing your flight. If you spot a 777-200ER with four branded cabins — Delta One Suites, Premium Select, Comfort+ and Main Cabin — you'll know that's the once daily ATL-LAX flown on the refreshed jet.
Daily retrofitted 777 Routes
- Los Angeles (LAX) — Atlanta (ATL)
Retrofitted Boeing 767-400ER (764): 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 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.
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. Delta has yet to formally announce where these jets will fly. Until that changes, your best bet is to keep an eye out for operational swaps on transcontinental flights.
Daily retrofitted 764 Routes: None
Airbus A330-200 and A330-300: Delta One Reverse Herringbone
Delta Air Lines flies two variations of the Airbus A330: the A330-200 (332) and the A330-300 (333). While the latter will hold 59 more people, you'll be thrilled to know that both feature an identical quantity of Delta One seats (34).
Regardless of which A330 you end up on domestically, you'll wind up in a reverse herringbone 180-degree flatbed seat while in the front of the cabin. One layout quirk to be aware of — the A330-200 has its exit and galley between rows 6 and 7 in the Delta One cabin, while the A330-300 fits all nine rows of Delta One ahead of the exit/galley area. Here are the routes on which DL is using these aircraft within the 50 US states:
A330-200 Flights: None
Daily A330-300 Routes
- Los Angeles (LAX) — New York Kennedy (JFK)
Boeing 777: Delta One Herringbone
The Delta One cabin on its fleet of not-yet-retrofitted 777 aircraft is arranged in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout and each seat has direct aisle access — in other words, no one is going to have to jump over you if they want to get up and walk around or use the restroom while you're asleep. While Delta’s 777-200LR business class has started to feel outdated, it’s still a solid product, particularly when viewed against recliner-style domestic competition.
While just the flights below are officially slotted into Delta's upcoming global timetable, keep an eye out on routes between ATL and LAX, where the 777 tends to surface on occasion. We've also spotted the 777 routed between RDU and ATL.
Daily non-retrofitted 777 Routes: None
Boeing 767: Delta One Thompson Vantage
Delta has a gaggle of Boeing 767 variants, with effectively all of them featuring the Thompson Vantage flatbed seats that TPG reviewed on his flight between New York-JFK and Accra. When booking, make sure that the forward cabin shows the lie-flat icon, as well as one of the following aircraft type indicators:
- Boeing 767-400ER (76D or 764)
- Boeing 767-300ER (76W)
We've carefully combed through Delta's upcoming schedule of 767 flights, with the following routes scheduled to have flat beds onboard.
Daily 767 Routes
- Atlanta (ATL) — Honolulu (HNL)
- Boston (BOS) — Salt Lake City (SLC): Ends September 30, 2019
- Detroit (DTW) — Honolulu (HNL): service on Monday and Thursday — Sunday. Ends September 2, 2019
- Honolulu (HNL) — Atlanta (ATL)
- Honolulu (HNL) — Detroit (DTW): service on Monday and Thursday — Sunday. Ends September 2, 2019
- Honolulu (HNL) — Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP): Daily, except Tuesdays. Ends August 29, 2019
- Honolulu (HNL) — Los Angeles (LAX)
- New York (JFK) — Los Angeles (LAX)
- Los Angeles (LAX) — Honolulu (HNL)
- Los Angeles (LAX) — New York (JFK)
- Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP) — Honolulu (HNL): Daily, except Tuesdays. Ends August 30, 2019
- Salt Lake City (SCL) — Boston (BOS): Ends August 30, 2019
- Atlanta (ATL) — Detroit (DTW): DL8800 on August 12 departing at 1:45 p.m.
- Atlanta (ATL) — Los Angeles (LAX): DL0387 the week of September 8. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, departing at 8:37 a.m.
- Atlanta (ATL) — Detroit (DTW): DL0717 on September 9 departing at 12:59 p.m.
- Atlanta (ATL) — Los Angeles (LAX): DL1410 on September 13 departing at 7:25 a.m.
- Atlanta (ATL) — Boston (BOS): DL2792 on September 14 departing at 12:30 p.m.
- Boston (BOS) — Atlanta (ATL): DL1668 on September 14 departing at 4:10 p.m.
- Detroit (DTW) — Atlanta (ATL): DL8801 on September 3 departing at 8:15 a.m.
- Detroit (DTW) — Portland (PDX): DL0403 on August 15 departing at 8:27 a.m.
- New York (JFK) — San Francisco (SFO): DL0592 on August 17 and 24 departing at 8:10 a.m.
- Los Angeles (LAX) — Atlanta (ATL): DL1155 on September 3 departing at 6:35 a.m.
- Los Angeles (LAX) — Atlanta (ATL): DL0516 the week of September 8. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, departing at 11:30 a.m.
- Portland (PDX) — Atlanta (ATL): DL8800 on September 2 departing at 12:55 p.m.
- Seattle (SEA) — Atlanta (ATL): DL2580 on September 6 departing at 3:10 p.m.
- San Francisco (SFO) New York (JFK): DL0592 on August 17 and 24 departing at 1 p.m.
The Delta transcontinental 757 seat — which TPG Reviews Editor Nick Ellis flew between Seattle and New York — 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.
Be aware that while Delta has many 757 variants in its fleet, only one iteration is equipped with flat bed seating in a Delta One cabin. The rest have First Class recliner-style seats. Delta's own booking engine doesn't always reflect the proper seating at first glance, but SeatGuru provides a clearer picture of which is which. I recommend double (triple?) checking the seat selection map on Delta.com during the booking process to make sure you're booking a route with lie-flats in the forward cabin.
While Delta could retrofit any 757 in order to expand Delta One service within the United States, the following are the only regularly scheduled domestic 757 routes currently served with flat bed seats:
- New York (JFK) to/from Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), San Diego (SAN), Seattle (SEA), Salt Lake City (SLC) and Las Vegas (LAS)
- Washington D.C. (DCA) to/from Los Angeles (LAX)
- Boston (BOS) to/from Los Angeles (LAX)
- Atlanta (ATL) — Boston (BOS): DL2100 for the month of August, Saturday only, departing at 7:30 p.m.
- Boston (BOS) — ATL (ATL): DL0123 for the month of August, Saturday only, departing at 3:01 p.m.
It's worth reiterating that these routes are also served by non-Delta One 757s, so check the seating chart before you finalize a booking. The routes shown below are scheduled to fly with flat bed seats, but equipment swaps do happen from time to time.
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) and American Express Membership Rewards (instant transfer). Here’s a sampling of 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.
Additional reporting by J. Scott Clark.