Review of Delta Air Lines flight Los Angeles Shanghai in Business

Airline Delta Air Lines
Flight DL89
Class Business
Seat 4B
Aircraft Airbus A350-900
Flight time 13:55
Take-off 16 Sep 18, 12:55
Arrival at 16 Sep 18, 17:50
DL   #65 out of 123 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 549 reviews
socalnow
By GOLD 1866
Published on 13th October 2018
Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. This is the remnants of a trip that was mangled by “Super Typhoon” Mangkhut, cancelled, and then resurrected on a whim. I'll spare you the details of my fretting and weather watching in the days leading up to departure but suffice it to say they were abundant.

The routing in peril was LAX-JFK-YVR-HKG-TPE in AA F and CX F. It was booked for 110,000 AA miles and is probably not even a legal routing, but it was booked and ticked. Making the call to cancel it was difficult as I doubt I'll ever be able to book it again. The typhoon cancelled my Monday morning HKG-TPE flight and the re-booking resulted in a 12 hour wait at HKG, of course all subject to further delay. The uncertainty of the situation and some other issues caused me to get a bad feeling so I called to cancel the morning of departure and AA was great about refunding my points and not charging a fee. I also called Alaska to cancel my return routing TPE-NRT-LAX and I fully expected to pay a cancel fee. I mentioned to the agent my disappointment about having to cancel the inbound trip to HKG due to the typhoon. She replied that she had heard about that and would waive the cancel fee on my segment. Gotta love AS and their human employees.

Normally a 12 hour layover in HKG is a gift but with a typhoon having just past I wasn't sure if i could even go into town and enjoy the day. I envisioned a city cleaning up storm damage, Possible public transit interruptions, an airport full of weary stranded travelers and lounges bursting with people that were stuck in transit. It was disappointing but life goes on. I enjoyed a lovely Saturday with the family and we went about our business. I unpacked my bag and put everything away. I'll live to fly another day.

Then I woke up Sunday with a heavy heart and a twinge of regret. I still had had time to go somewhere… I logged into the Delta site and saw the flighst to HND and AMS were basically full but the flight to PVG had a few seats, and, theoretically, I could make it on board. Specifically I was #3 in line for 4 seats. I pulled out my bag, threw in a change of clothes and a few necessitates and hopped into the car and drove up to LAX. There's really very little to lose. If I don't get on I can drive home and have spent a few bucks on gas and parking. I didn't bother figuring out a return until it got closer to departure and I felt confident I would have a seat.

Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:



Delta Air Lines, LAX-PVG, A350-900, Business, Delta Sky Club T2, NRSA (This report)
Japan Airlines, PVG-NRT, 787-8, Business, VIP Lounge, Alaska Mileage Plan
Japan Airlines, NRT-LAX, 777-300ER, First, JAL First Lounge (Plus bonus Qantas LAX F Lounge), Alaska Mileage Plan

LAX and the Delta T2 Skyclub



I don't fly NRSA that much any more and I miss it. Sort of. There is a real sense of adrenaline with the unknown and the watching and hoping. I was feeling this as I made the drive up the 405. No matter what the time of day traffic around the airport was heavy.

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I was unable to check in at the kiosk so I had to wait in line for an agent. She said it was because I didn't have a return segment on my ticket. I had a moment of panic that she would need return (or onward) trip details but all she wanted to know is when I'm coming back. OK, Tuesday? Yes, Tuesday.

Pre-check was very fast and I was at the Skyclub quickly. I hadn't visited this club before so I was excited for something new. I think it was an Air Canada MLL and/or an Air New Zealand lounge before the big terminal swaps last year.

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I was quickly checked in by virtue of my AMEX Platinum card. I was informed that the flight was leaving out of the Tom Bradley International Terminal and to allow 15 minutes to make the bus ride. This friendly agent also took a peek at the loads and gave me a wink and said it still looks good. This was a kind gesture as she had now way of knowing I was obsessively checking every few minutes!

The first impressions of the lounge are favorable. There is a great row of windows running the entire length of the lounge so exceptional ramp and runway views are possible as well as good natural light. The lounge was quite crowded as there were a few long haul flights experiencing significant delay. Specifically the LAX-HND flight that morning and the LAX-SYD flight from the night before. This made picture taking somewhat challenging.

Here's a look around the lounge seating.



I was able to secure a seat by the window with a good view of the ramp traffic. It was there I realized that Delta has grown LAX quite a lot. I read statistics that they are the number 2 carrier at LAX in terms of passengers and I can certainly see why. The gauge is huge. During my brief stay I saw 3 757-300s, 2 767-400ERs, 1 767-300ER, 3 777-200ER/LR, and 5 757-200s. There was also the A350-900 parked over at TBIT. I guess this is how up increase service to a gate constrained airport.



The food and beverage is probably a cut above what you would expect in a domestic US carrier lounge but at the same time it is below what you would expect in an International Business Class Lounge. With Delta they use the Sky Clubs to cover both sets of passengers unlike Flagship Lounges or Polaris lounges you can access at several US airports when flying American or United in Business class.



I enjoyed a Bloody Mary during my stay and watched the traffic out the window and the progress of sheck ins and seat assignments for DL89. At an hour before departure I was feeling confident enough to book a return. The two folks ahead of me on the list hadn't checked in so I was now #1for 4 seats. Of course this can change but if you're not checked in at T-1 perhaps you have changed your mind about traveling. I had been searching the AS website hoping the NRT-LAX seat I cancelled yesterday was still in award inventory. It was and the connection from PVG-NRT was there so I grabbed it, knowing I could cancel within 24 hours. I'll wait till the door is closed before booking a hotel.

I made my way downstairs to the bus gate. It appears that Delta runs two lines. One to T3 and one to TBIT. I got in line for TBIT and about 5 minutes later I was boarding a bus. The ride took about 8 minutes to TBIT.



The bus drops you at the holding area for bus gates so it's a bit of a walk up to the main terminal. The gate delta uses is one of the closest to this point. There is an opportunity to walk by the aircraft on the way to the gate.



DL89 LAX-PVG



Boarding was underway when I arrived but I had not been assigned a seat yet. After about five minutes of waiting and wondering if everything was OK my name was called and I went up to the counter to pick up my boarding pass. I guess I'm going! I proceeded on board directly.

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I was assigned seat 4B.



A look at the seat features.



The amenity kit and slippers were per-positioned at the seat.

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The IFE screen is very good considering the proximity to the seat.



The purser came around and introduced himself and passed out the menu for the flight. The LAX Delta One catering is in partnership with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Jon and Vinny's, Animal, Son of Gun, and other LA restaurants. I had forgotten about this and was quite excited to be reminded. I flew LAX-JFK shortly after the partnership started (FR coming some day) and the food was quite good.* (* = for airplane food)



The cabin was buttoned up and we were off the gate on time. The gate location on the NE side of TBIT made for a short taxi to 24L.



Service started about 25 minutes after takeoff with a warm towel.

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The bar cart followed and I requested the Delta Sunrise cocktail. It's a light drink reminiscent of a Cosmopolitan. The spiced pecans were warm and quite tasty. Drink refills were offered and accepted before the starters were presented. The female flight attendant on my aisle was a very warm and friendly woman who struck the right balance of chat and making sure no one was waiting too long.

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The next pass of the cart was the base tray with starter, salad, and soup poured from a thermal carafe. All of the flavors here were pretty spot on and bold enough to enjoy at altitude. The sliced beef with the salty Parmesan and capers with lemon was quite nice. I selected the focaccia from the bread basket that was passed.



Enjoying the starters over the Bay Area.

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The tray was cleared and the main dish was delivered by hand. Have you ever heard of the chef, restaurateur, and TV personality David Chang? Well he uses a phrase that describes many soulful ethnic dishes from around the world called "ugly delicious." This dish is ugly delicious. The meatballs were fantastically moist and tender and bursting with flavor. The charred garlic bread added a smoky crunch and the Gioia ricotta was rich and creamy. The tomato sauce and remaining ricotta was gleefully mopped up by another piece of the focaccia. I paired the Rioja Tempranillo with the dish.

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After the dinner plates were cleared the dessert cart made the rounds. When it's all there in front of you I have a hard time passing so i requested a bit of cheese and some ice cream. The cheese selection was a huge upgrade from my memory of Delta cheese plates. I did not receive the honey on the menu. I requested a glass of the Semillon with the cheese.

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Coffee and tea were offered during dessert and I opted to enjoy a coffee with the ice cream.

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Dessert off of the Oregon coast.

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My neighbor declined any meal service and closed the door shortly after takeoff.

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The lavatory on the A350 is pretty basic.



After the meal service the purser was on duty and was in the aisle frequently offering drinks and snacks to those who were awake with their doors open. I asked for a Macallan Double Cask on the rocks. I think he pours doubles but there were no complaints. We had a nice chat in the galley about the state of the airline, the new Airbus, and the glory days of the Narita operation. Both he and the other FA in our chart were both former Northwest flight attendants and had been based at DTW, JFK, and now LAX. They were both very good at their jobs and took very good care of their guests. The enjoyment of a flight, with many carriers, is so dependent on the "crew lottery" and i mark this one as a win.

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I settled into a documentary on Japanese Ramen called Ramen Heads. It was absolutely fascinating. Around this time the Purser came and offered me a bowl of noodles, LOL. How could I refuse! It was actually a nice soup for instant with great spice.



I told him I enjoyed it so he made up a to go package for me, very thoughtful gesture.

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The cabin was dark as most passengers enjoyed the IFE or dozed off. We were off the Alaska coast att his point.



I was not at all sleepy, perhaps high on the excitement of resurrecting the trip and making such a spontaneous voyage. I watched the film Deadpool 2, an unusual choice for me, and really enjoyed it. Now I understand all of the buzz around that franchise. As I enjoyed the move another beautiful Macallan was delivered.



At this point the mid flight snack service was offered to those who were conscious. The Italian sandwich sounded good to me so I opted in. I had a glass or two of the Lanson along side. The potato chips were out of this world. The sandwich contents were great but there was too much bread for me. I ended up just eating the meats and cheese. The pizza sounded good too.

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I finally forced myself to at least try and sleep. I shut the door and managed a few hour nap. I woke as we passed over Dalian making our way over the Yellow Sea down to the South China sea and into PVG.

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Many were awake already and service was well under way in economy. I took the opportunity to take a peak out of the window in door R2 and take a shot of the beautiful wing and wingtip feature.

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Breakfast service was offered and I requested the steak and eggs dish. The meat did not fare well on this long voyage and was quite tough. I only picked at the egg and mushroom mixture. Breakfast on the airplane rarely surprises and delights. The pumpkin scone with molasses butter was great as were the fresh berries.



The arrival from a middle seat is unannounced. I was able to peek out and notice we had parked at a remote stand. Horray!

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See more

Verdict

Delta Air Lines

8.3/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment8.0
Meal/catering8.0

Delta Air Lines Sky Club

7.4/10
Comfort7.5
Meal/catering7.5
Entertainment7.0
Services7.5

Los Angeles - LAX

7.5/10
Efficiency8.5
Access6.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness7.5

Shanghai - PVG

7.3/10
Efficiency7.0
Access8.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness7.0

Conclusion

The Ground Service: The agent I dealt with was smiling and friendly.

The Lounge: I liked the views and found the food and beverage OK for a domestic airline lounge. I do not think it is adequate for an International Business Class lounge.

The Cabin: The new Vantage XL "Suites" are great. I find ample space for storage and the privacy is unrivaled. I also find the finishes to be visually pleasing.

The Crew: The purser was an extraordinary host. The other crew I interacted with were all pleasant and quite dedicated to their jobs.

The Food and Beverage: Expectations color perceptions. Flying T-Pac on a US carrier in J I don't expect much so perhaps that is why I was so pleasantly surprised by the food (and to a lesser extent the beverages) on this flight. The Jon and Vinny catering translates very well in the air. The flavors are bold and interesting. Good use of fats and salts and acids.

Overall: I would not rank Delta at the same level as EVA in terms of overall T-Pac J offering but I would say they are closer than I would have guessed.

Thank you for reading and happy flying.

Related

4 Comments

  • Comment 469854 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4475 Comments

    Hey Socalnow! Awesome to see another report on DL's flagship A350 product--clearly the best J product of any US carrier. Man, I can't keep up with all the moves at LAX...didn't DL just move a few years ago and redo a Sky Club and Delta One checkins, etc then, and now they moved again?

    "The food and beverage is probably a cut above what you would expect in a domestic US carrier lounge but at the same time it is below what you would expect in an International Business Class Lounge."
    - So typical of US carriers

    Nice planespotting from the lounge! When it's sunny, there's always good light at LAX.

    Delta has historically been the best of US carriers for long-haul J catering and it seems they're keeping that up. The meals look tasty and are well presented.

    The A350 is a beautiful bird and your beautiful pictures do it justice.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 470221 by
    socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 737 Comments

    Greetings KevinDC and thanks for the always thoughtful comments.

    "Man, I can't keep up with all the moves at LAX...didn't DL just move a few years ago and redo a Sky Club and Delta One checkins, etc then, and now they moved again? "
    -Just one move from T5/6 to T2/3. It was odd though in that they had just finished a large upgrade to T5 (as you mentioned the Delta One check in and huge Skyclub) only to leave. I think they have their eyes on something larger at LAX that they would never achieve being stuck in between AA and UA on the South side. Moving their busy operation to the North side has probably improved taxi times and wait times for gates for everyone.

    "Delta has historically been the best of US carriers for long-haul J catering and it seems they're keeping that up."
    -The Jon and Vinny collaboration for flights ex. LAX is a winner. The catering ex. SEA and DTW (for example) is not as good.

    Thanks again for the note Kevin. When are you going to burn some skypesos on a DL A350 ride?!!

  • Comment 470290 by
    Rewardflying GOLD 401 Comments

    Hi Christian,

    How fantastic it is to have NSRA close to your home with new A350's to board. Awesome!

    >The routing in peril was LAX-JFK-YVR-HKG-TPE in AA F and CX F. It was booked for 110,000 AA miles and is probably not even a legal routing, but it was booked and ticked. Making the call to cancel it was difficult as I doubt I'll ever be able to book it again.
    -What a cool route. AA Transcon then CX FC circling back. And you're probably right, never again.

    >I could make it on board. Specifically I was #3 in line for 4 seats. I pulled out my bag, threw in a change of clothes and a few necessitates and hopped into the car and drove up to LAX. There's really very little to lose.
    -I don't know how you do this, wake up and lets go to China, How cool.

    >soulful ethnic dishes from around the world called "ugly delicious." This dish is ugly
    -I hope it was delicious cause it is ugly for sure.

    >The Cabin: The new Vantage XL "Suites" are great. I find ample space for storage and the privacy is unrivaled.
    -Did they change something? :)

    That's for the Delta A350 review. Maybe again for me someday.

    Look forward to the rest of the trip. Happy reward flying.

    • Comment 470378 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 737 Comments

      Hi Mark, thanks for the note.

      "How fantastic it is to have NSRA close to your home with new A350's to board. Awesome!"
      -It's an extremely fantastic privilege. I have to pay for the ticket but it's a greatly reduced rate and fully refundable.

      "What a cool route. AA Transcon then CX FC circling back. And you're probably right, never again."
      - I just tried to duplicate it yesterday and they want 132,000 for SFO-LAX-JFK-YVR-HKG. The SFO-LAX is domestic F, the LAX-JFK is transcon (A32T) J, and the CX if F. So, yea, it was a fluke.
      "Did they change something? :)"
      -Ha ha, no it's a good seat. I was in one with the extra storage compartment (aisle hugger as you coined it) and this is a nice feature. Otherwise with the door closed(or open for that matter) it's a very private seat.

      Thanks again for the note and happy flying.

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