During the past two years, many airlines scaled back their international flight schedules, and travelers missed the opportunity to experience the world’s flagship business class products. For those lucky enough to travel, service had generally been downscaled by pandemic restrictions.
Now that travel is rebounding, however, premium cabins are returning to a level of quality that had been put on hold. I recently flew from Amsterdam to Seattle and was able to try out Delta’s signature Delta One suite on a relatively new aircraft to join the fleet, the A330-900neo.
This aircraft isn’t as wide as the A350 that Delta also uses for intercontinental flights, and because of that, the product is a somewhat downsized version of its flagship, but it still features all the bells and whistles expected from state-of-the-art business class.
Delta Air Lines is a SkyTeam partner, allowing it to utilize its sister airline’s KLM Crown Lounge in Amsterdam. This is an impressive two-story space featuring plenty of areas to relax, dine or work. There are showers and even an outdoor terrace to get some fresh air, but when I flew, the signature Blue restaurant was closed. Still, the lounge was well catered with a range of cold and hot dishes and was the perfect place to enjoy time preflight. Boarding began an hour before departure and was organized and efficient, with business class passengers invited to use the SkyPriority lane at the gate.
The airline has done a decent branding job. The entryway is adorned with the Delta logo—the color palette fairly muted in a traditional red, white and blue scheme—and there was certainly a new-airplane feel, with the craft being just 11 months old. The 29 business class seats all have aisle access, in a staggered forward-facing layout. The even-numbered seats are arguably the best, as they are positioned slightly farther from the aisle, providing added privacy and great window views. All the seats are well appointed, spacious and certainly comfortable enough for a 10-hour flight. They also feature quite a lot of storage space, including a large side table, although there are no closed areas for valuables. The big win for Delta is the addition of a door to each seat, allowing a greater sense of personal space (JetBlue is the only other North American carrier to offer this). The television screen is ample in size and easy to control, though the number of movies and shows seemed a bit lacking.
While Delta’s approach to catering is usually of a very high standard, it is still not fully back to speed. There were no menus for the flight, with the crew listing my options as “beef, chicken or pasta.”
Also, pre-takeoff drinks were still served in plastic glasses, a tarnish on the otherwise impeccable Alessi tableware. After selecting the beef, I was given a pre-plated fillet with a potato cake and seasonal greens in a wonderfully rich sauce, accompanied by salad, bread, soup and ice cream for dessert. Still, for a 10-hour flight, I would have expected a little more ceremony surrounding the lunch service.
Approximately two hours before landing, a substantial second meal was served, and I opted for the burger, which was delicious, with a build- it-yourself approach to accompaniments. As for the wines and champagnes, they were of good quality, but with no menu it was hard to know what I was drinking.
On my flight Delta offered fairly standard Tumi amenity kits, although it is rolling out sustainable alternates in the near future. Having discontinued its use of Westin Heavenly bedding, Delta now offers soft and luxurious linens made from recycled plastic bottles.
Overall, the service was a little abrasive, with a very matter-of-fact approach. At that point there was still a heavy emphasis on masks, with FAA regulations broadcast throughout the cabin during boarding and the flight itself, although the crew was quick to refill empty glasses. There was Wi-Fi, featuring free messaging and other payment plans for more substantial access, but there were periods when it cut out.
When I landed, I quickly appreciated a great benefit to flying with Delta. Seattle is a major entry port into the United States, with no lines at immigration. This meant I was settled in the Delta Sky Club lounge ready for my connection in less than 10 minutes. Ultimately, Delta still is one of the best carriers in the United States, and once it shakes off its post-pandemic restrictions, it should return to its former glory.