Review: Delta First Class CRJ-900 San Jose To Los Angeles

Filed Under: Delta

Delta 4664
San Jose (SJC) to Los Angeles (LAX)
Wednesday, July 1
Depart: 12:30pm
Arrive: 1:55pm
Duration: 1hr25min
Aircraft: CRJ-900 (Regional Jet)
Seat: 2A

It has been a while since a non-transcon domestic flight has been reviewed on OMAAT, much less a hop on a regional jet, but I figured I’d do a quick review of my Delta flight from San Jose to Los Angeles (which was operated by Skywest) since it was the first leg of my journey.

Boarding was quick, and the plane was surprisingly full, especially considering that my morning flight from LAX to San Jose was practically empty, especially in the first class cabin.

Delta CRJ-900 first class seat
Delta CRJ-900 first class seat

My seat was relatively comfortable for a regional jet, and I was quickly offered a bottle of water from the cheerful flight attendant. I also asked for a Coke Zero.

Delta CRJ-900 first class seat
Delta CRJ-900 first class seat

We took off relatively quickly from San Jose, which is a small airport with considerably less traffic than LAX or JFK.

About ten minutes into the flight, the attendant returned with a basket of bananas, oranges, apples, and a variety of snacks. I chose a banana, though I’m typically always a sucker for a Biscoff.

San Jose to LAX is a short flight — it’s blocked at an hour and twenty-five minutes, but it’s really less than an hour in the air from takeoff to landing — and not a particularly eventful one, but I was impressed that my flight attendant was fairly attentive throughout, coming by a few times to see if I wanted refills on my Coke Zero, more water, or more snacks.

Upon landing, we taxied toward Terminal 5, where we pulled up to the gate. As the door opened, I heard a discussion between an official on the jetbridge and the first class flight attendant, and I also heard my full name being discussed between them. “He’s still on board,” the FA told the jetbridge attendant, “but I’ll pull him up to the front for you.”

What is going on? I was thinking. Being both anxious, wildly imaginative and mildly narcissistic, I wondered if I was going to be arrested for a crime I didn’t commit, or if there was someone on the jetbridge waiting to break bad news to me.

Instead, I was led off the plane and greeted by a nice gentleman holding an electronic tablet displaying my name. He explained that he knew I had a connection to a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class flight, and was escorting me through the terminal. (Mind you, my connection was far from a short one. I had hours before the Virgin flight was to depart.)


He asked me if I’d had a chance to visit the Delta ONE Lounge at LAX yet, and I replied that I hadn’t, though I was familiar with it. (I didn’t tell him that I actually wrote a post about it for OMAAT, since I was still a bit in awe over the fact that I was being led by a VIP escort through an airport terminal to begin with.)

“Well, let’s go see it then!” he cheerfully told me.  He led me just past the standard security lanes to a secured door, and suddenly it was a whole new world.

A private hallway. A private Sky Priority TSA security area (which, he explained, was not open just yet) with multiple lanes.

He led me down an elevator into the Delta ONE Lounge, showing me the new Sky Priority check-in area off to the side.

Delta ONE Lounge at LAX
Delta ONE Lounge at LAX

As this was going on — actually, since I was on the regional jet — I texted Ben. It’s worth reprinting here.


Ummmm should I be concerned that there is someone waiting for me at my plane?


Hmmmm in what context? odd!


Oh it’s a Delta escort
They’re showing me Delta One check in and driving me to Terminal 2!*


Damn!!! How’d you arrange that? Awesome!


I don’t know!!!!
One sec
Ok I’m in fancy bathroom now. Zomg zomg zomg
They are VIP’ing me!!!!
I guess because I’m VS upper class?


Is Delta PR behind this?


Highly doubt it!
OK nevermind no car I got ahead of myself
They walked me out of terminal and showed me the way to T2 lol
But still!!

*As you can see, I think I had assumed at one point that since I was being shown a VIP treatment on the way to my connecting flight, that there was a chance I’d be driven to Terminal 2 directly. As it so happens, I was getting way too ahead of myself.

In any event, though, the Delta ONE Lounge was peaceful, and beautiful, and brand spanking new. Another attendant came out to introduce herself to me, to wish me a pleasant flight on Virgin Atlantic, and I was welcomed to help myself to the display of snacks and beverages. In fact, I had a water.

Delta ONE Lounge at LAX, and my amazing Delta escort
Delta ONE Lounge at LAX, and my amazing Delta escort
Delta ONE Lounge at LAX
Delta ONE Lounge at LAX

The attendants also proudly showed off the new check in desk, which was built from an old aluminum plane wing and was very cool.

Check in table at Delta ONE Lounge at LAX, repurposed from an old airplane wing
Check in table at Delta ONE Lounge at LAX, repurposed from an old airplane wing

They offered to watch my bags behind the desk while I used the restrooms, which it’s worth pointing out are also pretty rad for airport bathrooms. The individual stalls were spacious, well lit, and had plenty of room to store belongings.

Anyway, as I headed out, I was told of the different ways I could get myself to Terminal 2 (from which Virgin Atlantic departs), none of which were especially integrated, because LAX. In the end, I walked across a relatively desolate path next to the parking garages and make it to Terminal 2 in a little less than five minutes. The inconvenient connection between terminals is far from ideal, but that’s really LAX’s fault, not Delta’s. 🙂

Inter-terminal transfers at LAX, sigh
Inter-terminal transfers at LAX, sigh

Bottom Line

My flight from San Jose to LAX was uneventful, pleasant, and perfectly comfortable for a regional jet, with attentive service and a decent enough first class seat for a CRJ-900.

I was stunned beyond belief to be greeted at the jetbridge by a VIP escort and shown the Delta ONE Lounge. It was an amazingly special moment. To be clear, unless Delta has a clairvoyant PR department, this was not an OMAAT perk, as they have no idea who I am. I’m convinced instead that this was a service being offered because I was connecting onto a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class flight, and Delta takes its partnership with Virgin quite seriously (with a 49% ownership stake, they certainly ought to!).

Color me impressed. Hugely impressed.

And the Delta ONE Lounge at LAX is really something very special indeed. It felt like an oasis from the generally hectic madness at LAX, and I could see this as being a game-changer for travelers booked in Delta One, especially considering United, American and JetBlue offer great transcon premium products but no comparable ground service. This is ground service redefined, at least for a domestic airline.

  1. I looooooooove that check-in desk. Sounds like I will have to head to the dessert and pick myself up a piece of future coffee table.

  2. So cool they gave you an escort! First time?

    The way you are writing makes it seem you traveled alone Nick?

    Where do we sign up to be able to text Ben? 😉

  3. I am surprised you’d be surprised that any flight is full these days. Do you pay attention to domestic load factors?

  4. I fly the CRJ-900 a bunch, out of LGA. It’s very comfy in First for shorter flights, and the service is usually good – with the drinks or snack basket.

    We’re all just so used to reading about AA domestically here that it’s hard to believe a US carrier has its act together with regional jets.

  5. Haha – well done Nick, glad the travel gods smiled down on you that day. While, when you cut to the chase, it didn’t make much of a substantive difference to the transfer at LAX itself, it nonetheless gave you a nice buzz and a little TLC (so it doesn’t matter that you still changed terminals using your own two legs). A little unexpected delight goes a long way 🙂

  6. Seriously?
    You are “surprised” that you get the VIP treatment?
    The airlines know who all the bloggers are, and treat them accordingly (except MatthewLAX!)

  7. my friend also got a VIP transfer at Seattle as a Platinum. Ive never gotten VIP transfers as diamond. Its very random outside of ATL porsche rides for DL 360.

  8. I have found that SkyWest operated flights in first are usually very professional with great service. SkyWest does a nice job.

    I think the escort is a nice “idea”, but the true benefit would have been an escort to terminal 2. I’m not sure I need someone to make small talk with on my way to the lounge… maybe I’m just grouchy on a Monday morning.

  9. I wonder if your escort was the same person who does the Porsche transfers? Since it was a Saturday afternoon it’s entirely possible they didn’t have too many top-tier connecting passengers and so were instead just doing things like you experienced. Too bad they weren’t able to use the Porsche to drive you around to T2 post-security though; that would have been a huge value.

  10. So you were in San Jose and did not go to Stan’s Donuts for a glazed donut?

    Shame, Shame, Shame, ding ding.

  11. @Neil S., to be fair I fly CRJs out of LGA on AA all the time and in F they’re pretty decent. DL is a little more diligent with the refills and snacks but for a 1-2 hour flight it doesn’t bother me.

  12. It’s seriously hard to believe that there’s not been some sort of effort on the part of LA World Airports or the airlines operating at LAX to address this whole inter-terminal transfer thing. It was all well and good to have these distinct terminals back in the 60s, when the current terminals were first built, as there weren’t all that many connections being made in LA (and even less interline connections), but even the very first, 1956, design for the modern LAX had the terminals connected via a central dome (which was never built, the “Theme Restaurant” being built in its place).

    Some sort of transfer provision behind security needs to happen, even if it’s busses. I’d actually really like to see a train running across the tops of the terminals in a loop with access airside.

  13. Delta Diamond here,

    This is customary practice when transferring to a different airline for their top tier customers still within the alliance/partnership.

    Had the same when I swapped to an Aeromexico flight.

    Delta does not offer up until few months ago at least car service in Los Angeles because it is prohibited by the airport. That is what I was told by the gentleman who greeted me.

  14. Don’t get why you flew LAX-SJC and then back to LAX. Assumed you are traveling on an award-was it some discounted J fare from SJC?

  15. “…but I was impressed that my flight attendant was fairly attentive throughout, coming by a few times to see if I wanted refills on my Coke Zero, more water, or more snacks.”

    Hilarious how the USA public is impressed when people do their jobs. On a 40 minute Bangkok Airways flight, you would get meal service AND refills — even in whY. Now THAT’S impressive. 😉

  16. @Louis: With due respect, this is how 45 minute regional jet flights have operated in the US for decades now. That’s fantastic that in Thailand you get a meal service, but my expectations are very different for such flights in the US and Canada, and Delta met and/or exceeded them. 😛

    I suspect you should likely lower your expectations quite downward if you plan on doing much domestic flying in the States, and then work within those expectations, because it’s unrealistic to expect (and unprofitable for the airlines to provide) such over-the-top levels of service and catering for very short-hop flights, particularly in a country where overzealous seat-belt sign enforcement means you have maybe 22 minutes to move up and about the cabin.

  17. I said nothing about “expectations.” You mentioned being “impressed.” I was addressing that.

    Unprofitable??? Have you SEEN the report on how much the airlines made off their ridiculous fees???

    Then again, I understand you may be too young to remember when we got beluga caviar on AA on a transcon…or movies on MANY flights around 3 hours in length. 😉

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