Review: Delta One 757 New York JFK to Los Angeles

Filed Under: Delta

Delta 427
New York (JFK) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Sunday, April 12
Depart: 9:05PM
Arrive: 12:49AM (+1 day)
Duration: 6hr44min

Aircraft: Boeing 757
Seat: 2C (Delta One)

We boarded a bit late, around 8:50pm, and I turned left at the boarding door to enter the “Delta One” cabin of the 757, formerly known as BusinessElite (or just business class). The 757 cabin is particularly intimate, with 16 seats in a 2×2 configuration. Roughly half the JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO flights by Delta are operated on widebodies with direct aisle access, and the remainder are on the 757 fleet with the slightly staggered 2×2 seating.

DeltaOne 757 seats
Delta One 757 seats

I took my seat, 2C (an aisle seat), on which was placed an enormous plastic-wrapped Westin Heavenly pillow as well as a considerably-sized Westin Heavenly comforter. Behind my headrest was a cubby with a power outlet and separate USB port, as well as a bottle of Dasani water and a set of noise-canceling headphones. The seat was quite comfortable (though not yet rebranded from “BusinessElite” to “Delta One”) and I appreciated the large, high-definition seatback screen in front of me.

Westin Heavenly pillow
Westin Heavenly pillow
Noise-canceling headphones
Noise-canceling headphones

On my armrest was a Tumi-branded amenity kit, which was filled with practical goodies, including eyeglass cleansing wipes, dental floss, Crest toothpaste, a full-sized pen, and Malin and Goetz-branded lotions.

DeltaOne Tumi amenity kit
Delta One Tumi amenity kit
Delta Tumi amenity kit contents
Delta Tumi amenity kit contents

Prior to pushback, one of the flight attendants came by to offer sparkling wine or orange juice and packages of mixed nuts.  I chose the sparkling wine, which was a cava from Spain.

Welcome glass of cava and packaged nuts
Welcome glass of cava and packaged nuts

As I settled in with the bubbly, the captain came out from the flight deck to personally introduce himself to each of the Delta One passengers. I thought it was a nice touch, and he was extremely friendly, chatty and personable with each and every one of us, asking us about our destinations, where we were from, what we did for a living, etc. The flight attendants were also warm and friendly, but it really cemented the “warm welcome” feeling to get a sincere hello from the pilot.

Settling in
Settling in

Menus featuring the new “Delta One” branding were passed out before pushoff.  They were printed on recycled card stock, and looked handsome and elegant.

DeltaOne menu
Delta One menu
Delta's chef-inspired meals
Delta’s chef-inspired meals
Dinner menu
Dinner menu

I thought the menu selection was impressive for a late night flight, especially considering that comparable airlines, such as American, don’t even serve dinner after 8pm in their first class cabins (much less business class).

Very shortly after takeoff, the flight attendant set my table and I requested a glass of the Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir, which is actually a wine I’d had before and quite liked. It’s a delicious red, and at $30 a bottle, a surprisingly premium selection for a domestic airline.

A minute or so later, he brought out an appetizer tray with a series of small plates, including a white parmesan spread with olive oil toast, a prosciutto and cheese roll-up, and a delicious walnut salad.  It was beautifully presented.


Following the first course, the flight attendant came by to take my dinner order. Although the beef tenderloin with garlic dijon crust sounded delicious, I wanted something a bit lighter, so I selected the cedar plank salmon.

Cedar plank salmon and Au Bon Climat pinot noir
Cedar plank salmon and Au Bon Climat pinot noir

The salmon was restaurant-quality, topped with a peppery arugula and a side of hearty shiitake mushrooms. It’s certainly the best looking dish I’d ever had on a domestic airplane before, and it tasted very, very good. (I find fish a little harder to pull of on planes than, say, red meat, but the cedar plank infused the salmon with a lot of flavor.)

Following the main course, I decided to watch a movie on the DeltaStudio inflight entertainment system, but I was hesitant to watch something new since I was exhausted and liable to fall asleep halfway through.

DeltaStudio has an extensive variety of TV and movie selections (including an Australian TV favorite, “Please Like Me,” I discovered from a Delta flight last year), covering all the genres.

The horror genre was well represented.

Avert your eyes. Oh, the humanity.
Avert your eyes. Oh, the humanity.

The thought of someone watching either, if not both, versions of Annie was nearly enough to make me sick to my stomach again, so I scrolled on through and decided to watch an old favorite, Erin Brockovich. I actually really enjoy watching older, seen-before movies inflight at night, because my attention can drift without me feeling guilty.

Almost immediately after the movie ended, I dozed off for a couple of hours, for nearly the remainder of our journey. My seatmate, too, was asleep for most of the flight. It should be noted that she got up a few times during the night to use the lavatory and I only noticed when I was awake, since the slight staggering of the seats meant that she could step over me without any disturbance on my part. It’s not as ideal as all-aisle access (which Delta One offers pretty much exclusively on international flights), but the staggering lessened the feeling and the inconveniences of having a neighbor.

Just prior to landing, the flight attendants came by with a tray of mints, which I thought was a nice touch. Headwinds were light, so we landed a bit early, and were taxiing by 12:30am.  At that point, I just wanted to get home as soon as possible, so I (and most everyone else) was grateful for the early arrival. Unfortunately, as we were towed in to the gate, we all got a firsthand glimpse at the supreme competence of LAX crew, as the jetway just sat there unattended for 20 minutes. I got to overhear some of the conversation between the ground crew and the flight deck, and it seemed like the jetway operator was either running late to work, or just wasn’t otherwise reachable. Eventually, a disheveled and disgruntled woman strolled up to the jetway around 12:55am, rolled her eyes, and moved the bridge toward the aircraft door. Great work, LAX!

While we were at the gate but stuck, the captain once again came out to chat to each of the Delta One passengers, ensure we had a good flight, wish us a safe journey or trip home, and so forth. It really helped ease the tension and lighten the mood in an otherwise annoying situation.

Delta One Bottom Line

Ben will say I’m just a “Delta apologist,” but my flight from JFK to LAX on Delta One exceeded every one of my already heightened expectations.

You could argue that the JetBlue Mint Suites or American’s A321 First Class offer more private seats, but with JetBlue your inflight entertainment, catering and overall service are a notch lower. American’s First Class doesn’t even offer dinner service after 8pm, and if you’re on a flight that does serve dinner, the food is underwhelming (not to mention, its First Class is a substantially higher-priced product that’s not officially a comparable class to Delta One).

United’s p.s. service, while undoubtedly the nicest domestic product United offers, has similar seats but inferior catering, bedding and generally inconsistent service, while Virgin America offers style, great service and a stellar IFE system but recliner seats and catering which are empirically not competitive.

I don’t think there’s any disputing that Delta offers the best food, drink, entertainment and bedding in the sky between New York and L.A. When you add the warm and personalized service and the little touches (the Tumi kit, welcome drinks served in glassware and not plastic, the packet of breath mints at the end), Delta One is pretty hard to beat. It certainly feels like a special service and light years beyond ordinary domestic first on any airline.

I’m going to say it:  when all is said and done, and you factor in hard product and soft product, there is simply no better way save for a private jet to get between Los Angeles and New York than Delta One.

Ben/Lucky here… my thoughts?


Stay tuned, I think it’s time Nick and I have a bit of a debate on this topic, after all this Delta/SkyTeam apologizing he has been doing. 😉

  1. I’m glad Nick is writing posts on this blog. A lot of Ben’s posts for the last few weeks have just been the same repetitive crap. At least nicks posts are interesting to read and aren’t just about credit cards the whole time

  2. @Bill: All travel points/miles bloggers have credit card associations in order to maintain their high jet-setting lifestyle. I especially hate it when they tout that their flight is free–NOT REALLY when you have to spend $3000 in the first month in order to get the points and whatever sign-up bonus and then pay taxes & fuel surcharges. Such a lie.

    @Nick: Delta is NOT a domestic airline. It’s a global airline. While I am not a big fan of Delta devaluating SkyMiles and taking away previous benefits, as a DL PM, I do find DL service and product to be above average, compared to the other two legacy airlines. Just go to UA and AA FB pages… Actually AA is still loved but UA… blah.

  3. Delta is the best airline for domestic travel, period….especially in J Probably the best (or at least a top 3) choice to any destination in Europe or Latin America.

  4. Nick, glad to see this trip report. And the biggest thing you touched on for Delta is certainly something that I appreciate – their crews are usually welcoming and friendly, and genuinely nice to fly with. Their service in terms of food and other soft products are also very good!

  5. @Luis: yes, though it’s admittedly tough to find at the lowest levels. You can always redeem SkyMiles for the Delta One service between JFK and LAX, but you may find the redemption levels very high – as high as 60,000 each way.

  6. While you compare this to AA F, you don’t compare it to AA J. Which is basically the same seat and IFE. No dobut the food is still worse than delta, but it’s worth noting that AA Executive Platinums can upgrade to the cabin for free, and lesser elites can try and use standard 500 mile upgrades. Delta and UA both require the use of limited/special certificates for ALL elites for upgrades.

  7. @Ryan: Actually, Diamonds are eligible for complimentary upgrades to Delta One between JFK-LAX and -SFO.

  8. This statement is just blatantly false: “especially considering that comparable airlines, such as American, don’t even serve dinner after 8pm in their first class cabins (much less business class).”

    On the comparable transcon routes, AA serves a full meal in every flight in F and J.

    Please stop repeating this falsehood.

  9. I’m booked on a 757 SFO-JFK in June and I was wondering what you’re thinking about 1C/D vs 2C/D. You have a photo of the legroom of both above, but having seen it in person, which one do you think you’d prefer wrt storage space, legroom, etc?

  10. @Mike: that info was straight from Lucky’s mouth. I tend to trust him on these matters, since he blindly cheers for AA more than he does for Taylor Swift.

  11. Looks like an excellent flight! However UA has similar seats, slightly more modern IFE, and similar quality food (actually in my experience, better — on this route). Internationally I also think UA and DL are comparable in terms of food quality in business class.
    I would rate both airlines above AA for this route.
    Unfortunately (for me since I fly mostly UA) most of UA’s domestic network, outside of the “premium service” flights from LAX and SFO to JFK, is a disaster, but luckily at least their international premium product is competitive with DL.

  12. It’s funny to see that they tried to make an italian menù and they ended up mixing things a little bit.
    If the first thing in the menù is an Antipasto than it’s not a Primo. And you can’t put pasta in the Secondo section. Pasta is a Primo! And then, in the end, cheese is definitely not a Dolce 🙂

  13. Thanks for a nice review!
    I agree that Delta is pretty nice to still serve a full three course dinner after 8pm. American and United need to take notes, especially on westbound flight to the West coast.
    However after flying all four, my number one choice is JetBlue “Mint” – a beautiful plane, very friendly staff, lovely Direct TV, free wifi, and excellent catering. If you get the Mint Suites, it makes the flight even better.

  14. Lucky is wrong, or he is thinking of normal domestic (non-transcon) service, which did indeed cut meals after 8pm. I would hope you would promptly correct your error, which appears two places in your post. You can go in and make a dummy booking for a post-8pm flight in J or F and look at the pre-order meal choices. I can send you a photo of the menu from my last redeye flight last month. Regardless, you are simply wrong on this point.

  15. Thanks for the report! It looks like it’s a lot nicer than the last time I did their premium transcon product. We disagree a couple of things though:
    – I think JetBlue Mint has the best food. Granted, I didn’t eat your meal, but JetBlue has a wider variety of things and their Saxon+Parole menu is the most bold and innovative food I’ve ever had in the sky.
    – That private suite with a door isn’t just “a little more private”, it’s an entirely different experience, IMHO.
    – I’ve also found their Mint FA’s to be the best in the domestic market – rivaling the experiences I’ve had on LH and BA International First
    – Also, the super-fast, free Wifi on JetBlue is fantastic and a game-changer in terms of what you can get done during a flight.

    But again, thank you! Now that JetBlue has driven the price of Mint’s competitors by over $1000, I might actually give Delta another try!

  16. Finally, reviews of Delta/Skyteam flights. Thanks Nick. And going back to one of your earlier posts, finally, a review of BEER on a flight. Either Lucky needs to get out of his bubble a bit more or have you write more reviews. Jus’ sayin.

  17. @Mike: it’s an abbreviated light meal service. I did what you suggested and the 9pm JFK departure meal options on American Airlines are “fruit and cheese plate” or “caesar salad.” Please don’t tell me that’s remotely competitive.

  18. @brianna hoffner: I actually flew Mint last year, and wasn’t as sold. The Saxon+Parole food was good, but Delta One is certainly a more elaborate multi-course service — I felt like on JetBlue they just brought out all the food at once, and there were some hits and misses. The Suite seat is very, very good, and the Wifi was excellent as well. The seatback entertainment, however, was a huge drawback – you get a small selection of satellite TV but no on-demand movies or shows. And I found the ground services to be poor.

    If you like the privacy of the Mint seat or if you like AA’s A321 First class seat, I’d suggest booking one of the 767 transcons in Delta One between JFK-LAX, where you can choose your own solo window seat with direct aisle access.

  19. Yeah, the lack of a lounge and general nastiness of the JetBlue terminal experience at LAX is, for me, the absolute worst part of the whole Mint experience.

    I flew American’s premium transcon last year and found the food on board to be disgusting. But dang their lounge-within-a-lounge at JFK is nice 🙂

  20. Nick: simply not true. There is always a chicken option, which is the same chicken entree served on any other flight. There are sometimes glitches with pre-order menus, but it is real, and was “Cranberry and Almond Crusted Chicken Breast” on my redeye menu from last month. (If eastbound redeyes have it, late westbound flights certainly will too.)

    And the 8pm westbound to SFO has full service and three normal entree choices, none of them salad-like.

  21. @Mike: if you’re going to fanboy for American, pick your battles. Food is definitely not the one to die on the vine for. Speaking of dying on the vine, that pretty much sums up their salad offerings. Hey-o!

    But for serious- let it go. AA’s catering is notoriously bad. If you’re trying to suggest one cranberry chicken breast offering at 8pm is competitive with Delta’s, you’re swinging and missing.

  22. @Giel – Don’t pick 1C/D – restricted space.

    And yes AA catering is an abomination. Delta wins hands down in that department on these flights.

    Unfortunately over the last year or so the crews have become less ‘special’ than they were. I actually prefer United PS crews now. And prefer the United version of the same seat, as it isn’t that cheap leatherette with no adjustable headrest.

    If only UA would get the catering up to snuff…they do a great job with the main courses but the app / no cheese course and dreadful AA quality wines are sore spots.

  23. @Nick- Looks great, I’m not sure I would give up the herringbone seating on AA though, would you say the service difference on Delta for a night flight is worth it? I’ve had some truly great experiences on both airlines. Personally its hard to argue with delta domestically, but internationally the One World options with AA and the new planes are difficult to leave.

  24. @Alexander: I think for a 5 hour transcon flight, the individual all-aisle-access seats in Delta One on the 767 are very competitive with AA’s A321 herringbone in F, and are quite private. The service, catering, and amenities that Delta provides definitely add a value above and beyond American, in my opinion. Great seats are important. So is service, food, wine, IFE, bedding, amenity kit, etc. on which Delta shines.

  25. No, the “one cranberry chicken breast offering” is a 10:45pm eastbound flight when almost everyone just sleeps instead of eating anything at all. Perfectly reasonable, I think.

    The 8pm westbound will have the normal three courses and choices like chicken, beef, or pasta.

    The catering may well be better on Delta, but at least be honest in your post. It still shows falsehoods that you haven’t corrected.

  26. @Kieran: Journalists with integrity make corrections when presented with evidence that they made mistakes.

  27. Prefer bloggers? Writers? They do too. At least to soften blanket statements that have been proven at least mostly false.

    I’ll stop now, but really, edits are long since warranted.

  28. @Mike – this isn’t the NYT, and this isn’t news. If you don’t trust or believe a post there is an easy way to verify facts, and most people aren’t going to care about a simple meal error.

    @Nick – Yes, I’ve flown the 767 about 7-8 times on delta now, good product.

  29. @Greg Thanks, switched to 3C/D. From the photo above it looks like 1 has good room too. I’ve been trying to find some definitive answer to this for some time and as yours is actually the first real recommendation I’ve found, I’ll go with it!

  30. Too bad SkyMiles is terrible. Americans product is good enough for now as long as they keep their FF program consistent

  31. Nick: how big is the cubby above the seat? I’m booked on this plane in December. Being a redeye, I’d like sleep most of the way. However, I use a CPAP machine. It looks like the power outlet I’d use to plug in the machine are on a shelf above the seat. Other than hogging the shared platform between the seats, I don’t see anywhere else I might be able to put my machine, which is about 10″ by 6″.

  32. Hi Lucky,

    I am travelling on a Delta flight from JFK to LAS. Its a codeshare with Virgin Atlantic VA4811. I hope the seats are not old! Theres no pictures on how those seats would look like. Do you know which config I might get? Thanks

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