The new Delta One Suites could be one of the best ways to fly across the country today and is bringing some serious competition to alternatives such as United Polaris, AA Flagship First, and JetBlue Mint.
Here's my recent AA Flagship First review:
Key Trip Info
- Flight #: Delta Airlines DL314
- Route: New York (JFK) - San Francisco (SFO)
- Departure (local time): 8:00pm
- Arrival (local time): 11:48pm
- Duration: 6hr 48min
- Aircraft Type: Boeing 767-400
- Seat: 2D (2B & 2C for my parents)
Each ticket was redeemed using 46k Delta SkyMiles + $5.60 in taxes. Since I was traveling with my parents, the total redemption cost for the 3 of us was 138k Delta SkyMiles + $16.8 in taxes.
Additionally, since my Delta credit card signup bonus had not yet posted, I ended up transferring the points required from my Amex Membership Rewards, which resulted in an additional $82.8 in excise tax offset fee.
This is one unfortunate area when transferring from Amex to US-based airline. This fee is not assessed when transferring to other airline partners like Aeroplan or LifeMiles. It's interesting that Chase Ultimate Rewards transfers to US-based United Airlines does not result in this fee.
So, was this a good redemption? I usually would not use my miles for this, however a number of reasons made it justifiable to use some miles in this case:
- My parents were traveling with me, and this was the easiest way to book 3 adjacent business class seats with points on short notice.
- I had an abundance of Amex MR points that I have no short term uses for, and hoarding points usually results in points value getting devalued over time.
- I found space on the 767-400 aircraft type, which features the new Delta One Suites. Interestingly, these "nicer" seats cost the same as the inferior Delta One awards.
- 46k is acceptable for an almost 7-hour transcontinental flight, especially since these same seats go for 110k each way!
Not all seats are created equal. Here is a comparison of the various "Delta One" seats you could be sitting in depending on which flight/plane you take:
Pro-tip: Look for Delta One flights operated by Airbus A350, Airbus A330-900neo as these have the Delta One Suites with doors, although these flights are rare on domestic US flights. For next best alternative, always pick Boeing 767-400 over the -300s, as the 400s also have the new Suites, just without the doors.
And sometimes inferior flights can cost even more
Overall, the cash price for these were $539 per ticket.
$539 * 3 = $1617
Award Redemption Cost:
(42k miles * 3) + $16.8 taxes + $82.8 excise fee
1517.4/(42,000*3) = $0.012
At 1.2 CPP, this definitely wasn't that great of a redemption, but still a solid one in my opinion (since even with the Schwab card now, you can only cash out at 1.1 CPP). I fully realize there are better opportunities to use the points, but based on the reasoning above, it made sense for me to use it and overall very happy with the redemption.
On the Boeing 767-400s, the seats are staggered, with odd window seats closer to the aisle and even seats closer to the window. For more privacy, opt for the even-row seats.
We ended up picking 3 adjacent seats towards the front of the plane, where my parents sat together in the center and I opted for one of the even-row seats.
I'll provide more details on the seats lower in the article.
The traffic from Manhattan to JFK was insane traffic that day, and our Lyft ride took almost 3 hours! Seriously thought we were going to miss our flight...
We finally made it to JFK Terminal 4. Thankfully, Delta One passengers can use the Door 1: Sky Priority entrance for priority check-in.
Once inside the terminal, we headed straight towards the Sky Priority check-in area.
Had to wait a bit...
Overall, check-in was smooth, and it was super nice that each passenger gets 2 free checked bags. However, customer service was not great - more on that in the next section.
Immediately past the check-in area is the TSA PreCheck + CLEAR entrance, super convenient if you have membership in those programs.
It was a pretty busy day at the airport...
...although nowhere near as bad compared when I traveled during the holidays:
For those that don't have CLEAR/TSA Pre, Delta One passengers are eligible to use the SKY PRIORITY security lane. Interestingly, when I inquired about priority security for Delta One passengers at the check-in counter (since my parents don't have TSA Pre/CLEAR), I was told there was no special lane for Delta One passengers 🤔.
To learn all about TSA PreCheck and CLEAR, check out my in-depth article here.
Since we had that major traffic jam on the way to JFK, and only had about 20 minutes before boarding, we decided to stop by the JFK Amex Centurion Lounge first.
As of 2022, Amex still allows 2 complimentary guests, so I was able to bring my parents in for free. Starting 2023, cardholders will have to spend $75k annually on the Platinum card to get free guests.
The Centurion Lounge was very empty, and we got in immediately. Sadly, for some reason showers were closed (we didn't have time anyways).
Since we were going to eat on the plane, we only grabbed light bites.
Time to head to the gate!
....or not quite. We got to the gate only to hear that the flight is delayed by at least an hour. My guess is this is due to the massive JFK traffic jam.
I really wished they had announced earlier, so we didn't have to leave the Centurion Lounge (which is quite a walk from the gate). Thankfully, Delta One passengers also have access to the Delta SkyClub nearby, so we went there to wait out the next hour.
Delta One passengers get priority boarding, so we got to be one of the first to get on!
For 767-400s out of JFK, boarding is through the second door. So for Delta One (equivalent to domestic first class / international business) passengers, we actually turn left after entering the plane.
I like this type of boarding since there is next to no foot traffic during boarding when you are seated at the front, since everyone is coming in from the "back" of the business class cabin.
Now to the most exciting part, the new Delta One Suites!
It looks even more amazing in person!
The mood lighting is so on point!
The cabin is gorgeous on the 767-400s, especially compared to other planes that typically operate this route, such as the 767-300s.
Here are controls to adjust the seat and lighting:
When in lie-flat mode, there is a secondary set of buttons to help adjust too:
There's ample legroom - I could actually stuff a lot of things including the bedding and my backpack underneath.
Pre-Departure & Take-Off
Pre-departure beverages were served before take-off. However, for some reason they are still in these disposable cups.
My parents getting settled in their center seats!
I was able to catch a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline on our descent.
Sadly, no TUMI amenity kits were provided on this flight. However, Delta has plans to bring these back and the kits should return on Delta One flights soon. I did inquire my flight attendant and he did help me look around, saying since the plane just came from London there may be some left. Unfortunately there weren't any :(.
Delta One passengers are provided noise-cancelling headsets for use during the flight. I found them to be pretty comfortable and did a decent job blocking out outside noise.
It was also really nice having the 18-inch IFE screen:
I did notice, however, that although the screen was big, it was not of high definition. Pixelation was very obvious when watching movies.
You can control the monitor using the remote included in the seat console area:
Delta recently switched bedding providers to COZ-Z-Z, as part of the airline's move to be more eco-friendly. According to Delta, the new bedding is made from over 100 recycled plastic bottles. I'm all for it since I didn't feel like I was sacrificing any comfort to save the environment!
Even though this was still a relatively short flight, it was getting late and was the perfect opportunity to try the lie-flat bed!
No physical menus were provided. We were asked to scan a QR code. I found this rather inconvenient, especially for my parents since they did not have internet access. Additionally, it made the experience feel less premium compared to my American Airlines Flagship First experience.
Good thing we already ordered the mains online, so that made the experience a bit easier.
My parents' meals:
Overall, it was solid for a domestic flight, especially since we already ate a little at the Centurion Lounge prior to boarding.
Delta One passengers can use the bathroom up front or at the rear of the cabin. Nothing too special, but they were clean.
Overall, service was really good, and I felt cared for throughout the flight. That being said, it was hard to top the insane over-the-top service I received from my AA Flagship First experience.
When we first boarded, the flight attendant offered to store our coats, so that was a nice touch. I also had fun chatting with one of the flight attendants about how nice the 767-400s were. I told him I specifically picked this over the 300s just for the interior, and he said I was very smart to do so!
Overall, this was a terrific flight. Not only was the hard product exactly as I had expected, but the service was also quite solid and the food above average for a domestic US flight.
I'm glad to have shared this journey with my parents, and introduced them to how credit card bonuses can turn into real experiences like this!
In my opinion, both cash and points were very reasonable given the quality of the product, so at the prices mentioned above, you really couldn't go wrong with either!
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