Review: Delta Air Lines A320 First Class

Filed Under: Airline Reviews, Delta

To kick off this trip I flew from Tampa to Boston. I was starting in Tampa because I was visiting my mom before the trip, and I was going to Boston because of the airline I was connecting to from there (you guys will just have to wait to find out what that is). 😉

Booking Delta Air Lines First Class

I completely reworked the outbound portion of my trip last minute due to my decision to avoid mainland China for now, so I ended up booking this flight from Tampa to Boston the day before departure.

As I often find to be the case, Delta had a reasonable fare in first class. I booked the last first class seat available for sale for $332.

As a point of comparison, economy cost $223, so paying an extra $110 for first class on a roughly three hour flight seemed worth it to me.

Delta Air Lines A320 First Class Review

I’ve done my fair share of Delta reviews lately, including of first class on their 737-800s, A321s, and CRJ-900s. I’ll keep this review relatively brief, and just hit on some of my key takeaways.

Delta A320 at Tampa Airport

I visited the SkyClub before my flight (which I won’t be reviewing since it was pretty crowded), and then headed down to gate E67 shortly before the 10:55AM scheduled boarding time.

Delta Air Lines 2136
Tampa (TPA) – Boston (BOS)
Friday, January 24
Depart: 11:35AM
Arrive: 2:30PM
Duration: 2hr55min
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 4D (First Class)

Delta’s A320 first class cabin consists of a total of 16 seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2 configuration.

While there’s some minor variance between Delta first class seats on A320 and 737 family aircraft, they mostly have the same core features — legroom isn’t amazing, but the cabins feel fresh, there are power outlets, there’s high speed wifi, and there are personal entertainment monitors. Note that on Delta will be introducing an all new first class seat on their upcoming A321neos.

Delta A320 first class seats


Delta A320 first class seat

I assigned myself seat 4D, the window seat on the right in the last row (which was also the last available seat when I booked).


Delta A320 first class seat

Delta doesn’t have a proper divider between first class and economy, so my seat basically reclined into the first row of Comfort+.

Delta Comfort+ seats A320

The plane had large overhead bins, and also had cool overhead consoles, which look like Roombas, or something.

Delta A320 overhead consoles

Here’s the crazy part, and what’s actually one of the key points I want to make with this review — this is a 29 year old plane. That’s old. But you wouldn’t know it based on the interior. That’s something Delta does masterfully.

As usual there were pillows, blankets, and bottles of water at each seat.

Delta first class pillow & blanket


Delta first class bottled water

Ironically on this flight the most impressive hospitality came from the captain. Once boarding finished up he stood at the front of the first class cabin and gave passengers a nice welcome aboard, informed us of the flight time of 2hr20min, said it should be a smooth flight, etc. What a nice touch!

The crew, by comparison, was not as great. I constantly rave about Delta employees, so while I wouldn’t at all say that the crew was bad, they didn’t have that touch that sets Delta apart.

Again, there was truly nothing bad about them, I just didn’t walk away from the flight thinking “wow, they like their jobs/take pride in their jobs.”

For what it’s worth, the crew was Boston based I believe (at least based on their accents — “prepaaah the cahhhbannn fo depatchaaaa and crosscheck”).

I spent most of the flight working, which was easy thanks to Delta’s Gogo 2Ku wifi (though I still prefer American’s Viasat wifi). I have a Gogo subscription, but otherwise the cost would have been $10 for a one hour pass, or $25 for a pass for the whole flight (though there are ways to get discounts by buying wifi in advance). Delta does offer free messaging to all passengers.

Delta wifi pricing


Delta wifi pricing

Service was slow to get started after takeoff — I was offered a warm towel about 30 minutes after takeoff, and then was served the meal about 60 minutes after takeoff.

Delta first class warm towel

Delta’s domestic first class catering is a weak point of the experience, in my opinion. On this flight there were two options, described as follows:

  • Chef salad with turkey — romaine lettuce, cheddar cheese, hard-boiled egg wedges, cherry tomatoes, and chives
  • Chicken club sandwich — roasted chicken, turkey bacon, and colby jack cheese with bistro sauce

I pre-ordered the salad, and it… wasn’t particularly good. The turkey tasted like it came from a Lunchables container (maybe it did?), but otherwise it was fine.

Delta first class lunch

Unlike American, Delta doesn’t offer warm mixed nuts before the meal, warm bread, or warm cookies for dessert. Rather they offer nothing with the first drink, they offer some sort of packaged flatbread or breadsticks, and then they offer a packaged dessert, usually a cookie.

Perhaps that’s for the better since that’s not as tempting and I don’t end up consuming an unnecessary number of calories out of boredom, as I might on American (usually the only decent thing about American’s meals are their mixed nuts, pretzel bread, and cookies).

Anyway, we arrived in Boston about 15 minutes ahead of schedule, and I was looking forward to continuing my journey to… well, you’ll find out soon enough.

Delta First Class Bottom Line

Reviewing domestic Delta flights sure is repetitive, because the airline is consistent. Sure, there are minor variances, but the core elements are the same:

  • Delta prices first class reasonably in many markets
  • While Delta’s first class seats aren’t the most spacious out there, they’re consistent, with power, entertainment, and fast wifi
  • Delta’s cabins are consistently well maintained, even on this 29 year old plane
  • Service is usually good/above average, though I’d say this was one of the less-great Delta crews I’ve had (but they still weren’t bad)
  • Food is a real weak point on Delta in domestic first class, but then again, American and United aren’t much better (or better at all)

That’s my takeaway, at least.

What do you make of the Delta domestic first class experience, and how do you think the “big three” US carriers compare when it comes to domestic catering on non-transcons?

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Comments
  1. My money is on KE 787 from BOS-ICN or JAL 787 to Narita given you used a shot of Tokyo for your week in review post the other day. 🙂

    Clues clues clues!

  2. So this person re-positioned to BOS on the way to Taipei. It could have been either across the Pacific or Atlantic out of Boston. I don’t think he made more than two stops from BOS, given time constraints.

    The flight landed around early afternoon at BOS, so it is more likely transatlantic out of BOS than transpacific. My money is on BOS-AMS-TPE, first leg KLM (333) and second leg China Airlines (359). He hasn’t reviewed China Airlines for quite some time so this is my bet.

  3. Looks totally underwhelming to be totally honest. That food is pathetic for a sub 3hr flight. It seems like one of the meals that would be served on a longer flight on a regional airline. While the cabin is modern, the seat pitch is tight(ish).

  4. Wow I never thought AA’s cold chicken fillet for the salads would be made to look good but that is a pretty stark tray for that flight length. I also didn’t know DL doesn’t offer warm nuts.

  5. He could be flying El Al BOS-TLV and then Cathay or Korean from there. The last time around, El Al new @ben was coming and made sure their head flight attendant was on the flight. Maybe this is a way of catching them off guard.

  6. How does one figure out the age of a plane? I’m guessing by tail number, but where does one find that? FlightRadar24 or FlightAware or another app?

  7. Minor quibble: Delta does *not* offer free texting, only free messaging via select platforms (iMessage, FB Messenger, etc., but not Slack). No actual SMS. It’s still a great perk, but you should be more precise in its description.

  8. That’s quite possibly one of the worst meals I have ever seen. It’s like they tossed everything laying around the kitchen into a salad. Turkey? Ranch dressing? Cheddar cheese? WTF. I flew Delta first-class between Atlanta and Denver Saturday and the meal choices were a sandwich or a plate of cold cuts and cheese. I pre-ordered a special meal (low fat) and received two slices of bread with a pickle. I kid you not.

  9. @Lucky, the other thing that Delta does in domestic first on these flights, that I haven’t experienced on AA (I refuse to fly UA) is a snack basked with 7-10 options including almonds, bananas, chips, brownie bites, etc. I’m GF and if I get upgraded close-in (Platinum and it happens about 25% of the time) I don’t get to pre-select a GF meal, so I appreciate the GF options in the basket and that the salads usually have the croutons, breadsticks, etc. packaged.

  10. @TravelinWilly Delta’s entertainment system tells you the tail number of the plane, under the flight tracking tab. Otherwise you really need to see the plane’s registration (it begins with N for US carriers) on the outside of the plane and google it.

  11. Hey Snob, can you order special meals in Delta first class? I believe you did a story once where on American you can. What do you expect from a domestic airline first class. Its not Emirates or Singapore airlines. Can you do a story why some airlines have gasper vents and some do

  12. One thing: After paying for first with actual money it’s an insult to be asked for another forty bucks to get into the lounge if I’m not one of Delta’s “valued” customers. That’s enough to make sure Delta will not be a “valued” carrier for me. (I know… First world problem).

  13. I really hate this trend of removing bulkheads between Economy and First. Big reduction in privacy in the F cabin, and can be pretty awkward during the meal service. Hope this trend reverses itself as for me it’s a major downgrade in the experience.

  14. @ Giles — That’s the case for all legacy US carriers on domestic itineraries. A charming relic of Jim Crow laws, the lounges are considered “private clubs,” not a feature of the ticket as such.

  15. Are you kidding? The service sounds great compared with my flight last week of comparable distance (Fort Lauderdale to Newark) on United in First. It was an evening flight, but still . . . pre-departure beverage offer of water (that’s it, just water). Food was an offer to take a packaged snack from the tray the FA held at my seat (I chose potato chips). Then an offer of a drink–once through the cabin. That was it.

  16. Delta’s First Class meals are disgraceful. No warm nuts, no warm bread, and most of the time a packaged cookie or brownie for dessert on top of the entrees not being that appetizing to begin with. I find Delta in general to be great but I struggle to understand why they have such an untalented supply chain team that can’t negotiate better catering contracts.

  17. @TravellinWilly: The Airbus have a liitle plaque inside the door frame that tells you the manufacturing date. It is on your left when you enter the cabin.

  18. Delta does in fact serve warm bread and plated desserts in domestic first class, but the offering depends on time of departure and flight length. Flights ranging from 900-1,399 miles, especially those serving lunch, are less likely to include these offerings. Flights 1,400 miles and longer include more substantial meals (i.e., salad, multiple hot entrée options, and plated dessert) as well as the snack basket.

  19. I don’t understand why one would skip a lounge review because it was crowded….isn’t that arguably the most important time to review it, considering that’s more than likely when people would be patronizing it? Unless the lounge is cheaper to get into when it’s crowded, I would like to know what the experience is like during peak times to help determine if it is worth the expense to purchase a pass/membership vs. gut out priority pass lounge or kill time in the terminal

  20. I travel on United frequently from MCO to DEN and back. For about three years, there was one captain who would come out during the flight and chat with the first class passengers. One time I fell asleep before he came out, and he left his card with a note on it. It was a class act and one of the reasons I’ve been suffering with United. I’m glad to know other airline captains do that. I wish all of them would make that effort.

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