Review of Delta Air Lines flight New York San Diego in Business

Airline Delta Air Lines
Flight DL2288
Class Business
Seat 4D
Aircraft Boeing 757-200
Flight time 06:00
Take-off 17 Sep 19, 08:05
Arrival at 17 Sep 19, 11:05
DL   #64 out of 138 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 654 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 1446
Published on 18th November 2019

introduction


Hello and welcome to the 4th and last post in this series of flight reviews.

Like every summer, we headed to France for a few weeks to visit family and friends. This time would be a little different than previous years as we would be flying from the West Coast and with a 7-month-old.

We'd bought our tickets earlier in the year, when we still lived in DC, and well before we knew we'd be moving to San Diego. We'd flown la Compagnie before, and wanted to try the brand new A321neo, which was due to be delivered later that spring.     

Now that we lived on the West Coast, we had to find transcontinental flights. We elected for Alaska on the outbound trip as it was a non-stop from San Diego to Newark. For the return, I looked for flights out of JFK as I had wanted to take the opportunity to stay at the recently opened TWA Hotel. 

Delta Air Lines turned out to be the best non-stop option between JFK and SAN as they operate long-haul configured 757-200s reserved for Transatlantic and premium Transcontinental flights. American Airlines, the competition on this route, operate 737-800s with a standard domestic First class cabin for the 6 hour flight. Priced similarly, Delta was a clear winner with a superior product, fully flat seats in Business class–the same model seat as La Compagnie, in fact, so it will be interesting to compare the two. 

Stick around for a JFK TWA Hotel bonus at the end of this report!


routing


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Booking & Pre-Flight


Booking was quick and easy on Delta.com, with the exception of the infant ticket. There was no way to add an infant during the booking process. Of the 5 airlines we've flown as a family since our son was born, 3 allow an infant-in-lap to be booked online (AS, BA, B0) and 2 do not (AA, DL), meaning that you have to call reservations to add an infant.

Luckily, there is a live chat feature on Delta.com, which is a much more convenient than having to call.  


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After a few minutes the infant showed in the reservation. 


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About 3 days before the flight, I received an e-mail from Delta encouraging me to pre-select a main dish on my upcoming flight. I'm glad that Delta has introduced this feature. Previously, I believe only American offered online meal pre-selection. 


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check-in & lounge


It was an early wake-up to make our 8:00AM flight, luckily we were still on French time to it wasn't too bad. It was also nice knowing that our destination was only a few AirTrain stops away. 

 The TWA Hotel is conveniently connected to Terminal 5, where we were able to catch the AirTran.


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Our flight was leaving from Terminal 2, just 2 stops away.


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The Terminal 2 AirTrain station is a bit far from the terminal. Terminal 2 isn't my favourite terminal at JFK–I find it dark and outdated. A sharp contrast to the Delta operations in the new concourse in Terminal 4. 


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T2 isn't really worthy of "New York's #1 Airline" but Delta have made some improvements in recent years, so it's not quite as bad as it used to be. 


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One thing I do really like about T2 is the large dedicated SkyPriority area and generally fast security compared to T4. 


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The SkyPriority counters were completely empty so we were checked in super quickly by two very friendly agents. 


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Security through the Pre-check lane was equally as empty and for once we made it through very quickly despite the usually checks of all the baby formula. 

After security, we still had about 45 minutes before boarding so we headed to the Sky Club. Passengers flying international and premium transcon business class branded as "Delta One" have lounge access, whereas domestic First class passengers do not.  

The Terminal 2 Sky Club is located on the mezzanine level and accessed by an elevator across from gate C67.


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Though the T2 Sky Club is not nearly as nice as the huge T4 club with the awesome Sky Deck, it has been renovated and looks much better than the last time I was here a few years ago. 


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The lounge wasn't busy at this early hour and some sections were totally empty. We were easily able to find a quiet area. 


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Food offerings were decent by US lounge standards, with some hot options like sausage links and scrambled eggs, in addition to the usual bagels, oatmeal, yogurt, and fruit. Like most US domestic lounges, the plates were paper and cutlery plastic, which didn't feel very premium. Nevertheless, it was nice to have hot food options, which only a few years ago didn't exist in US carrier lounges. 


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boarding


Although I love Delta and find them to be the most customer-focused of the big "US3" Legacy carriers, their new boarding process, introduced earlier in 2019, isn't particularly friendly or helpful to families travelling with infants. 

Notice that passengers with infants are not eligible for pre-boarding, but are the third group to board (fourth group on widebodies).


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In fact, it's obvious from the comparison of the previous and new boarding processes that families with infants were the only group singled out to be removed from pre-boarding. The worst part is that Delta seems to have completely forgotten customers travelling with infants in premium cabins…passengers like us.


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When we approached the podium for gate check tags and pre-boarding, the gate agent told us we couldn't board. "We have to board Delta One first," she advised, to which I replied "We are in Delta One."

The gate agent looked embarrassed and  apologised, taking our boarding passes to scan them. She then made an announcement that she was currently boarding passengers with infants in Delta One only. I appreciated how she tried to make up for the faux-pas.

Though I can't say I was happy with the fact that the gate agent assumed we weren't travelling in Business class because we had a baby, I couldn't really blame her since it's essentially Delta's policy to assume that First and Business class passengers don't travel with infants. 

The Delta One cabin on the "75S" Premium transcon/transatlantic 757 subfleet is comprised of 16 fully-flat seats in 2-2 configuration.


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The seats are the Collins Aerospace (formerly B/E Aerospace) Diamond model–a popular business class seat option for narrowbodies. This is the same seat model found on the La Compagnie A321neo on the previous flight.

As usual, I selected seats in the last row of the cabin for more privacy and proximity to the lavatories and galley  for the baby.


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The seats are nice and a big improvement over the deep-reclining cradle recliners that were on these birds prior to the retrofits. Click here to check out an old review I did on those seats for comparison

The finishes aren't quite as nice as the La Compagnie version–these are more plastic-y.  On these premium transcons, amenity kits and noise-cancelling headphones are provided, similar to international long-haul Business class. There is a USB port and universal power outlet located in that storage area.   


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The kid checking out his new digs


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The legroom is very good, but the foot space is more restricted than the same seat model on the La Compagnie A321neo reviewed on the previous flight. Due to the narrower cabin on the B757 vs A321, the ottoman is narrower on the 757 and pushed right up against the sidewall, whereas there was a gap on the 321.


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Seat controls and the IFE remote are located in the center console. 


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Tumi amenity kits are provided on these premium transcon flights. 


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A few minutes after settling in, a very friendly FA came through with pre-departure drinks–choices were orange juice or Prosecco. I was surprised they were in plastic cups, which is normally just domestic First protocol, whereas Delta One (Intl & premium transcon Business class) normally has pre-departure drinks in glasses. 


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Menus were distributed a short time later.


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Boarding was completed early and doors were closed a good 10 minutes before scheduled departure time. 


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The flight


We pushed back from the gate 5 minutes early.


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The safety video played on the monitors as we began to taxi.


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This safety video is more generic and not as funny or creative as past Delta safety videos. It seems that after several years of several airlines doing flashy safety videos, the trend in the industry is going back to more serious videos. 



The in-flight entertainment system, branded as Delta Studio, is available in 15 languages, which is quite impressive.


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There's a huge selection of films, series, and music.


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And even live TV.


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There's also some fun content for AvGeeks


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It was the usual conga line for takeoff at JFK that morning. All of the traffic ahead of us was Delta as well.


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Another 757-200 in the Intl/Transcon 75S configuration. 


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A beautiful bird, especially under the good morning lighting conditions.


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Delta 717-200


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Lining up for takeoff with a view of downtown. 


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Sad I never got the chance to fly the passenger version before it was retired. 


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And we're off on this beautiful clear day.


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We were treated to some amazing views of the city. 

Midtown. 


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Downtown.


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Both Downtown and Midtown


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One World Trade Center dominating the southern tip of Manhattan. 


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Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge


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meal service


Shortly after takeoff the cabin was bathed in mood lighting.


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About a half hour into the flight, the service began with drinks and warm nuts. I had a mimosa, my usual drink of choice for breakfast flights. 


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The flight attendant confirmed my pre-selected choice and delivered it a short time later. 

I was surprised to see that everything was served on one tray, which felt more like Domestic First or Intl Premium Economy, than Premium Transcon or Intl Business class. Nevertheless, the presentation and quality were better than Domestic First.
 
Starter:
Smoked salmon with herbs, dill cream sauce

Main:  
Smoked Gouda Frittata
Swiss chard, mushrooms, herbed potatoes
Brooklyn Cured's chicken-apple sausage  


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Breakfast is difficult to elevate while remaining appealing to the majority, but Delta did a reasonably good job. It was a bit more interesting than the usual bland omelettes often served in Domestic First. 

The rest of the flight was mostly uneventful and comprised of watching cartoons with my son, or more grown-up movies when he was napping.  The FAs made several passes through the cabin topping up drinks and offering items from the snack basket.  


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 We began making our descent over the California desert.  


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I believe the large lake is the Salton Sea. The desert southwest is always beautiful from the air.


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Shortly before landing, the lead FA came to thank each passenger in Business class and offered chocolates. That's always a nice gesture.


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San Miguel Mountain, which houses some radio and TV towers as the highest point near downtown San Diego.


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Sweetwater reservoir


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I usually pick seats on the left side of the aircraft when flying into San Diego to get the awesome downtown views, but wanted to see what the view would be like on this side, and I was not disappointed as there were some beautiful views of the San Diego zoo and Balboa Park.


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The beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture of the buildings lining El Prado at Balboa Park


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The San Diego Air & Space Museum.


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The airport's close proximity to downtown always makes for scenic landings.


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Over Bankers Hill and Little Italy neighbourhoods.


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Crossing I-5


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We landed early around 10:40 AM


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It was a short taxi time as this was one of the less busy times.


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We pulled in to the gate 10 minutes prior to the scheduled arrival time.


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A few more shots of the cabin upon deplaning.


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These seats were very comfortable for the 6h flight. 


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One last view of our good looking aircraft–I've always found 757s to be so elegant. 


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Once we arrived in the baggage claim area, our checked luggage came out almost immediately. This is also a big difference with my experiences on American Airlines, where bag delivery always seems to take forever. 


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Within minutes we were curbside waiting for the long-term parking shuttle.


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Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the JFK TWA Hotel below.


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TWA HOtel review


Bonus : Click here display
See more

Verdict

Delta Air Lines

8.8/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi9.0
Meal/catering8.0

Delta Air Lines Sky Club - 2

7.2/10
Comfort7.5
Meal/catering7.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Services7.0

New York - JFK

8.0/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness7.0

San Diego - SAN

8.5/10
Efficiency8.5
Access8.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

An excellent premium transcon experience with Delta. While the overall experience wasn't quite as nice as the La Compagnie A321 flights with similar seats, this was about as good as it gets for a domestic flight within the US. Delta beats the competition on this route as AA operate 737-800s with a domestic First class cabin. JetBlue come close; however, with their highly-rated Mint Business class product, though JetBlue don't offer a lounge product like Delta.

While I'd assumed the meal would be course, in a similar fashion to long-haul Business, that's difficult to do with breakfast. I often say that breakfast is rarely exciting in premium cabins, but I think Delta did a good job here.

In-flight entertainment was top notch with a good reactive system and tons of content. The only thing that would have gotten Delta a 10 here would have been free WiFi, which Delta plan to begin offering at some point.

The cabin crew were gracious and attentive, constantly checking in on us. Delta crews are consistently great--it is much less hit-or-miss than American, in my experience.

Thanks for reading.

Related

12 Comments

  • Comment 530581 by
    Travelxperiance 29 Comments

    Another great report!!! Much better US domestic business class product from Delta when compared with 737 or A320 from competitors.

  • Comment 530584 by
    757Fan 580 Comments

    Another great report, Kevin. Looks like a beautiful day for flying, and I love the 757 as well. Did Delta not serve a pre-arrival snack or meal at all? I am also surprised being that it's the Breakfast meal they didn't break up the service at all, especially as this was a Delta One flight, but as you said, often hard to execute this type of meal into something more than it is.

    Looking forward to your next report.

    Matthew

    • Comment 530588 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5100 Comments

      Thanks Matthew! It was definitely a beautiful day...clear from NYC all the way to SAN. No pre-arrival meal, just a few passes of the snack basket. The meal service reminded me more of my Delta Premium Economy flight from Iceland last year than what I would expect from Delta One, but yeah...hard to pull off breakfast in multiple courses, though Alaska Airlines did it, and quite well, in the first report in this series. Nevertheless, having been a frequent flyer on both Delta and American, this flight confirms for me that Delta is superior to AA.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 530676 by
    loukas SILVER 315 Comments

    Hi Kevin, This TWA hotel looks like a dream! And the fact you can observe the tarmac while lying in your bed.... WOW :) Delta looks surprisingly good on this flight but I can't believe they still use some MD-80s that I saw somewhere on your tarmac photos. Planes really have a long life in US. I saw the Baby studying the safety card :) - now I know why most of them are so damaged ;) Thanks for fantastic shots of NY!

    • Comment 530751 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5100 Comments

      Hi Loukas, yes I really loved the TWA Hotel and will definitely stay there again. I got lucky with the last tarmac view room available! Delta does have some old aircraft--they still operated DC-9s until just a few years ago. But honestly, they always do a good job with cabin refurbishments and old aircraft few new on the inside. The interiors of their MD-80s are much nice than AA's were, by comparison.

      I saw the Baby studying the safety card :) - now I know why most of them are so damaged ;)

      Hah, I took it away from him when he tried to stick it in his mouth (thinking of how many people have touched that card before!). He like the bright colours.

      Thanks for stopping by as always!

  • Comment 530758 by
    SKYTEAMCHC TEAM GOLD 8093 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this experience Kevin. Delta does a very good job and the meal was nice. living in Europe I wish we had this type of cabin on single aisle plane for longer European flights .

    • Comment 530759 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5100 Comments

      Thank you Christophe ! The closest thing I can think of in Europe would be the Ex-BMI BA « Mid-Haul » A321s with Club World cabins on LHR-TLV/AMM/BEY toutes of similar length to transcon North American routes.

  • Comment 531114 by
    Harry_He SILVER 59 Comments

    Brilliant report as always Kevin!
    Lovely flight! Delta in my opinion is best of the legacies. The approach into San Diego is always scenic indeed.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 532158 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5100 Comments

      Thanks Harry! Yes, for sure Delta is the best of the big US3 legacies. I always enjoyed flying DL and had status on them for several years, but they're no longer the most convenient for me. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 533909 by
    NewYorker SILVER 42 Comments

    Great report as always! I especially enjoyed the view of Lower Manhattan and the TWA Hotel review. Man, that place looks nice. I have to stop by some time! Delta seems to be quite good across the board, maybe I'll try them sometime in the near future. Thanks for sharing! :-)

    • Comment 537158 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5100 Comments

      Hey, sorry for the late reply, somehow I missed it. Yeah, Delta is pretty consistently good across the board compared to UA and especially AA, which is always a crapshoot IMO. TWA Hotel is great and definitely reasonably priced. Apparently they're rarely full so it's always nice and quiet. Thanks for your comments!

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