Flying Delta One on one of Delta’s Longest Flights, Sydney to Los Angeles

Pretty much all of my last ten posts on TravelUpdate are about the same error fare. That error fare is the infamous error fare between New Zealand and the United States originally offered in early November. After nearly a month, I’ve finally had the time to sit down and write about my 26 hours in Delta One, Delta’s international business class.

Though you would expect a phenomenal experience on a 12-14 hour flight on what is arguably considered one of the most premium routes in the world, I did not find this to be the case. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Delta One. However, I found the overall service and product to be somewhat underwhelming. Here’s why.

View from the wing at Sydney International Airport aboard a Delta 777-200LR

View from the wing at Sydney International Airport aboard a Delta 777-200LR


Delta One Sydney to Los Angeles Itinerary

  • Flight: Delta DL40
  • Departure City/Time: Sydney (SYD) / 12:20 PM – December 5th
  • Arrival City/Time: Los Angeles (LAX) / 6:29 AM – December 5th
  • Aircraft: Boeing 777-200LR / N705DN
  • Class of Service: Delta One (Business)
  • Seat: 12A
  • Service: Dinner, Snack, Breakfast

Delta One Sydney Ground Experience

My inbound flight from Auckland landed in Sydney a little before 10 AM which meant I had a little under two hours before my flight to Los Angeles was scheduled to board. After a quick shuttle ride to the terminal and a painless rescreening process, I was back airside. I was initially very excited to have the opportunity to visit a variety of lounges during my layover. However, due to security issues, I had to retrieve my boarding pass at the airport.

After having been denied entry into the American Express Lounge for not having a departing boarding pass, I made my way to the SkyTeam Business Class Lounge in hopes of getting a boarding pass at the lounge. When I saw that the lounge was operated by Plaza Premium Group, I realized that I probably wasn’t going to be able to get a boarding pass at the lounge. Instead, I was told to visit the gate for a boarding pass.

I made my way to the gate. However, the gate wasn’t open and wouldn’t open for another hour and a half. That left me with two options: leave security, pass through immigration and visit a ticket counter or just wait at the gate. Sydney was crawling with people to the point that I felt disoriented and tired so, I just decided to get a bottle of water and relax near the gate.

Overall, it was a very unpleasant ground experience. I ended up spending nearly an hour looking for Delta ground crew as I had really wanted to visit a lounge. Instead, I spent two hours eagerly awaiting the gate to open. When the agent printed my boarding pass, he said, “Oh, we do have a lounge down aways, and I guess you could walk there, but by the time you get there, you’ll have to walk back.” The agent chuckled, but I wasn’t amused. I missed out on a unique lounge hopping opportunity and was simply told to wait. It was one of the most underwhelming pre-departure experiences ever.

Boarding Delta Flight 40, Sydney to Los Angeles

Most of my ground experience was spent waiting outside the gate area. After the gate opened, I passed through secondary screening and retrieved my boarding pass, and I had to wait under thirty minutes before boarding commenced.

Delta boarding area at Sydney International Airport

Delta boarding area at Sydney International Airport

Delta One, Diamond Medallions, and SkyPriority were told to line up in the first two lines. A few minutes later, the rest of the aircraft was directed to their assigned boarding lanes. Passengers with special assistance began boarding. Soon after Delta One was welcomed onboard.

Pre-Flight Delta One, Sydney to Los Angeles

All amenities, with the exception of pajamas, were already at my seat. Amenities included a Tumi amenity kit, Westin Heavenly bedding, LSTN headphones, and slippers. This was the case for both the Sydney-Los Angeles flight and the return. However, I noticed more attention to detail on the Los Angeles-Sydney flight. That said, it didn’t seem as if the ground crew put much effort into making the cabin look very put together.

I stored my bags and retrieved the few items I would need before take off. I realized that I had to use the restroom, so I looked for the nearest lavatory. My first time on the Boeing 777-200LR, I legitimately had some trouble locating the nearest lavatory given the nonstop flow of passengers.

I caught the attention of a passing flight attendant who turned out to be the purser. I asked, “Where’s the nearest lavatory.” He looked at me and said, “Your’s is back there near the other galley, please stay in your cabin.” Caught off guard, I turned my back and started towards the economy section of the aircraft. I turned around and said, “Isn’t there one in business class?” The purser replied, “Oh, you’re in business class, what’s your seat.” I responded, “I’m in 12A.” He then apologized and directed me to another lavatory near the mid-section of Delta One.

I like to think it is because I was seated at the very back of business class, but part of me feels that particular crew member thought because of my age, I wasn’t seated up front. Regardless, I wasn’t too happy being told to use a lavatory in coach.

When I returned to my seat, a flight attendant came by with pre-departure beverages consisting of still water, champagne, and orange juice. I went with orange juice. Soon after, a crew member came by with a menu. She quickly went through the meal process and told passengers to save questions for later. Similarly, when I asked for pajamas I received a curt response of, “Just wait.”

Delta One pre-flight bottle water, Sydney to Los Angeles

Delta One pre-flight bottle water, Sydney to Los Angeles

As was the case for most of the flight, the crew seemed inconvenienced at every request and duty they had to perform before departure. I don’t think I received one genuine “Welcome Aboard” until we were airborne.

The pilot did, however, come out and welcome the entire aircraft onboard. Both crew members were excited and overjoyed to be flying. The captain even came over the PA and emotionally told passengers how he’d always wanted to fly the Boeing 777-200LR. As a hardcore avgeek, having pilots who really care about what they do makes a flight all that more special.

Delta One seat pre-flight, Los Angeles to Sydney

Delta One seat pre-flight, Los Angeles to Sydney

After a fairly quick boarding process, the flight crew closed the boarding door and began pre-departure announcements. To my surprise, the purser acknowledged the drinking age difference between Australia and the United States and said, “We’re not serving anyone under 21 on this flight. If you look young, you’ll have to show us your passport. There are no exceptions.” This was the first time I had ever had a flight attendant acknowledge the drinking age on an international flight.

A little after 12:20 PM, Delta flight 40 made its way down the runway and after a few bumps on the climb, we hit 10,000 feet, and in-flight service commenced.

Delta One In-Flight Service, Sydney to Los Angeles

On both flights, a fairly extensive menu was offered. On both flights, dinner, a snack, and finally breakfast was served. The meal service began with beverage service and warm nuts. At the same time, passengers requesting them received a pair of pajamas. During the beverage service, a flight attendant came by and welcomed passengers onboard as well as took entree and breakfast orders.

Delta One beverage service with nuts, Sydney to Los Angeles

Delta One beverage service with nuts, Sydney to Los Angeles

An almost identical menu was offered on both the Sydney to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Sydney flight. However, I found the LAX-SYD menu to be a little more appetizing. On this flight, all passengers received the same assortment of starters while a choice of an entree was offered.

The choices on the Sydney to Los Angeles flight were as follows: Seared Australian Beef Fillet, Red Thai Chicken Curry, Seared Barramundi, and Cannelloni. On the Los Angeles to Sydney leg, the options were as follows: Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin, Lacquered Roast Chicken Breast, Crab Cakes, and Penne Pasta.

I ordered the Australia Beef Fillet on this flight while on the return flight, I ordered the Roast Chicken Breast. I found my entree, as well as the entire meal service to be much more enjoyable and far tastier on the Los Angeles to Sydney leg compared to this flight.

Roughly forty-five minutes to an hour after takeoff, the crew came around with the starters. All courses were plated and presented well. However, the quality was underwhelming. Oddly enough, out of the entire starters course (consisting of chargrilled prawns, a salad, and roasted tomato soup), the salad was by far the best plate.

Soon after the starters course, the main course was served. As is always the case in-flight, the beef fillet was somewhat overcooked and dry. The vegetables were cooked quite well and pretty flavorful. I actually found the beef fillet on my recent flight from Atlanta to Mexico City to be not only much tastier but also much more filling. The main course was quite lite for a nearly 13-hour flight.

Delta One beef fillet, Sydney to Los Angeles

Delta One beef fillet, Sydney to Los Angeles

Dessert was served ten or so minutes after the main course. Quite a few options were available on both of my Delta One flights. On this flight, a vanilla ice cream sundae, mango ice cream, sticky date pudding, and fine Australian cheeses were offered. The addition of a (delicious) lava cake was offered on the flight from Los Angeles to Sydney. On this flight, I had an ice cream sundae with caramel and nuts.

Delta One dessert, Los Angeles to Sydney

Delta One dessert, Los Angeles to Sydney

Later in the flight, a snack was served. A choice between a Tandoori chicken sandwich and teriyaki salmon with noodles was offered. I went with the chicken sandwich which was served hot. Though tasty, it was by no means something that should be served in international business class. Both American and Delta seem to suffer from a lack of creativity and care when it comes to mid-flight snacks. While I did stay up for the snack on this flight, I slept right through the snack service on the flight from Los Angeles to Sydney.

Delta One mid-flight snack., Sydney to Los Angeles

Delta One mid-flight snack., Sydney to Los Angeles

Before I headed to bed, I nabbed a few snacks from the snack basket. I found the selection of snacks to be on par with what other airlines offer to business class passengers on routes of this duration. However, on both flight, the snack baskets were not stocked regularly, and fresh options were hard to come by.

Delta One snack basket, Sydney to Los Angeles

Delta One snack basket, Sydney to Los Angeles

Breakfast was served a little over an hour prior to landing. On this flight, breakfast plates include: a bubble and squeak egg cake, Belgian sugar waffles, and baked muesli. I went with the Belgian sugar waffles. They were served with butter, maple syrup, fresh fruit, and a croissant. Breakfast on this flight was very tasty, and I’d go as far to say it was the most enjoyable course. On the flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, similar options were offered though I went with the banana nut pancakes which were exceptionally dry and tasteless.

Delta One breakfast, Sydney to Los Angeles

Delta One breakfast, Sydney to Los Angeles

Overall, the meal service wasn’t fantastic but just average. I’d even say that, for such a long flight and a premium route, the meal service was underwhelming. I actually enjoyed the beef option on my flight from Auckland to Los Angeles in Premium Economy just as much as the beef filet on this flight. The crew weren’t especially welcoming and didn’t make it a point to be overly friendly.

Delta One Business Class Seat, Sydney to Los Angeles

Delta offers a very outdated and worn business class product on flights between Australia and the United States. Though Delta offers a fantastic business class product on their new Airbus a350 and even the Airbus a330, the product offered on their fleet of Boeing 777-200LRs needs a significant facelift.

Delta One on the Boeing 777-200LR consists of a herringbone-style lie-flat seat with seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. I choose seat 12A on both Trans-Pacific legs and found that seat to seem much more private and more spacious than other seats. A cabin divider and closet create a sort of privacy divider at seat 12A. Other seats in Delta’s 777-200LR cabin are very open and are among some of the least private seats in the industry.

Delta One Review - Sydney to Los Angeles

Delta One seat, Los Angeles to Sydney

The cabin on both of these flights was dated and stale. I find the color scheme on Delta’s aircraft to be very sterile. Of course, the seat is a completely lie-flat seat and is fairly comfortable when in both seat and bed mode. The seat seemed a little narrow though seat length and legroom were not a problem. Even for some taller folks, Delta’s business class product on the Boeing 777-200LR should be very comfortable.

The seat features a tiny and dated in-flight entertainment monitor that was nearly unresponsive on this flight. My monitor on this flight also wouldn’t stay retracted, and I ended up jamming some shrink wrap in a crevis to keep the monitor intact. An ancient remote was also found in the side of the seat. Both a USB port and AC outlet are available at each Delta One seat.

Luckily there was wi-fi onboard this flight was the in-flight entertainment content was very subpar. While the Gogo satellite wi-fi worked for the entirety of the flight, speeds varied from unusable to surprisingly fast. I was actually very pleased with the in-flight wi-fi and managed to stream some content from Netflix and YouTube throughout the flight. I even FaceTimed my friend on another flight from Sydney to Los Angeles operated by American Airlines.

Again, seat comfort, other than the narrowness, wasn’t an issue. Though the seat is very dated and pretty much every airline (with the exception of United) offers a better product on this route, it is very comfortable. A comfortable and generously-sized lie-flat bed combined with the Heavenly bedding made for an enjoyable night’s sleep on both legs between Australia and the United States. I managed to sleep for a solid seven hours on this flight to Los Angeles.

In addition to Westin Heavenly bedding–which might be the best in-flight bedding aside from American’s Casper bedding–, other amenities were provided. LSTN headphones, a Tumi amenity kit with Khiel products, slippers, and pajamas were all offered to Delta One passengers. I didn’t end up using the headphones as they appeared flimsy and I had brought my own as usual. I did wear the Delta One pajamas and slippers on both flights, both of which were quite comfortable. Finally, the Tumi amenity kit on this flight was a soft-shell kit. On my flight to Sydney, a hard-shell Tumi amenity kit was provided. The contents of both amenity kits were the same.

Overall, Delta One Sydney to Los Angeles

I shouldn’t really be complaining at all given the fact that I paid the price of an economy class ticket for the Delta One experience. However, the price of my ticket shouldn’t change the fact that Delta offers a very underwhelming and subpar product on one of the airline’s longest and arguably, most premium routes. The ground experience for passengers, especially at Los Angeles, is awful. Moreso, while onboard, Delta One passengers can expect a sour crew combined with an underwhelming meal service. Overall, I’d stick to Virgin Australia or American Airlines when you’re looking to cross the Pacific Ocean in business class.

What do you think of Delta’s business class service between the United States and Australia? Have you flown Delta One on this route?

a view of the sky from an airplane window

Sunset from Delta flight 40, Sydney to Los Angeles

More From The Unaccompanied Flyer