Delta 757-300 first class isn’t perfect, but it’s still worth it IMHO

Delta 757-300 first class isn’t perfect, but it’s still worth it IMHO

I’m of the opinion that Delta 757-300 first class is one of the most unique domestic first class experiences in the US. It’s certainly not the best, but it is memorable (to say the least).

Turning left instead of right after walking through the main boarding door never gets old. Speaking of old, the yellowed wall paneling, square windows, and ancient lighting (and vent) controls on the ceiling of the 757-300 are a reminder of how old of an aircraft it really is.

And if you’ve been around long enough to remember when all this stuff was new, guess what? You’re old too.

San Diego, CA (SAN) – Atlanta, GA (ATL)
Sunday, March 12, 2023
Aircraft: 757-351
Registration: N588NW
Duration: 3 hours 15 minutes (that’s fast!)
Seat: 5A (First Class)

Delta Air Lines 757-300 side view
Delta Air Lines 757-300 (N588NW) side view illustration by
dal717 flight track
Our route from San Diego to Atlanta this morning as DAL717.

A full review of my Delta 757-300 first class experience from San Diego to Atlanta

The best way to describe what it’s like to fly in first class on these old Delta 757-300s is to say that it’s a perfect combination of old and new. The aircraft itself is definitely showing its age, but the seats (and the technology they contain) are very much in-line with modern times.

Arrival at Terminal 2 West at the San Diego International Airport

This flight to Atlanta was scheduled to depart at 6:30 AM. Making my arrival to the airport even more challenging was the fact that this was the very first day of daylight savings time. My watch was telling me it was 5:30. My brain, on the other hand, was telling me “screw this bro, it’s way too early to be at the stupid airport.”

SANspotter walking into terminal 2 west arrivals level San Diego airport
Stopping oncoming traffic with an evil glare takes practice, but after all these years of walking into busy airports, I think I’ve finally got it figured it out. 
SANspotter running into the San Diego airport
“Holy **** those cars are fast!”
Terminal 2 West Arrivals level SAN
Terminal 2 West arrivals level. And the person driving that silver SUV is an ***hole. Just sayin’.
Delta Air Lines check in counters T2 West San Diego airport
Here’s a “drive by” pic of the Delta check in area. There was no need for me to stop since I checked in online and already had my boarding pass.

Lounge access

Although the Delta Sky Club here at the San Diego Airport is really nice, having a domestic first class ticket isn’t enough to get you in. The most common ways to get into this lounge include: flying first class and connecting to an international destination, flying Delta One, or having baller status (such as being a Delta Diamond or SkyTeam Elite member).

The SkyClub at the San Diego International Airport
This pic of the SkyClub here at SAN is basically just a tease, since most Delta domestic first class passengers will be turned away at the door. 

If you don’t meet the requirements to get into this lounge, the only choice you’ll have is to hang out in the main terminal with the common folk. Which is exactly what I did.

What if you don’t have lounge access?

The nice thing about the San Diego Airport (especially Terminal 2 West) is that it’s a nice place to hang out before a flight. San Diego Airport food is pretty good, the people watching is excellent, and there’s lots of room to roam. Not having lounge access isn’t the end of the world.

T2 West San Diego airport
Who cares if I don’t have lounge access this morning? I’ve got everything I need out here in the main terminal.
Gate 47 terminal 2 west San Diego airport
To be honest, the only thing I really needed this morning was for this flight to be on time. My feelings about not having lounge access would’ve been much different if I was even the slightest bit hungry (I can promise you that).
Delta 757-300 San Diego airport
Here’s the 757-300 taking me to Atlanta this morning! According to my flight log, my last 757 flight out of San Diego was Delta 757-300 economy to (you guessed it) Atlanta. That was back in 2017.

The boarding process for flight number 717 to Atlanta

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but my arrival to the airport was timed so perfectly so that I didn’t have to wait long for the boarding of this flight. They started the boarding process just a few minutes late, but never once did I feel like they were taking forever to get things going.

Delta SAN-ATL first class boarding pass
What were you doing at 5:39am on March 12th, 2023? According to this pic, I was at the airport taking pics of my boarding pass (which I have no recollection of).

FYI, Delta boards by zones. Families traveling with small children (and those needing extra time to board) go first. Then it’s active duty military. Once that is complete they start with the individual zones. As you can probably guess, “FIRST” is first class. Clever, eh?

Pre boarding delta flight to Atlanta at San Diego Airport
While waiting for boarding to commence, all I could think about was that spray bottle in the side pocket of that guy’s backpack (on the right). He surely couldn’t have got through security with a bottle full of disinfectant, so…what’s in it? And what exactly is he so prepared to spray? I need to know these things!
Walking down jet bridge at San Diego airport for a Delta flight to Atlanta
Some things are better left unknown I guess. Let’s go to Atlanta.
Delta 757-300 main boarding door
I can remember a time when standing in line to board a 757 was about as exciting as boarding an A321 is today. I really miss these airplanes!
Delta 757-300 fuselage close up
The neatest thing about the 757-300 is that it’s so long that you probably wouldn’t even be able to see the end of it from here if it was the slightest big foggy.
Delta 757-300 main boarding door entrance
The second neatest thing is turning left instead of right if you’re flying first class. The only problem is remembering which way is which. “Righty tighy, lefty…huh?”
Boarding Delta 757-300 first class
It’s easy to figure out by simply following the scent of breakfast wafting from the ovens.

My first impressions of the Delta 757-300 first class seat

I was having flashbacks to my Delta 757-200 first class review the moment I stepped through the galley and into the first class cabin. It looks nearly identical.

There are six rows of first class seats on the Delta 757-300, with four seats in each row (two on each side). Doing the math, that’s 24 first class seats in total. Seems like a lot, doesn’t it? Consider this: there are 20 seats in Delta 737-900 first class (which is a much smaller aircraft). Bigger doesn’t always mean better I guess.

Delta 757-300 first class cabin
Now this is a decent sized domestic first class cabin!
Delta 757-300 first class seats
Seat 5A over there by the window is mine today. And can I just say that the fact that I made it here before 6am on the first day of daylight savings time is nothing short of miraculous?
Delta 757-300 first class leg room
Leg room is exactly what you’d expect for Delta domestic first class. One of these days they are going to surprise me, but today isn’t that day.
Delta 757-300 first class video screens
Yeah, these seats are nice and all, but I’m nowhere near as excited to be sitting here as those two people on the video screen are.
Delta 757-300 first class complimentary bottled water
How perfect is it that the complimentary bottled water is called “Pure Life?” I couldn’t have asked for anything better at 6:00am 5:00am.
Delta 757-300 first class power outlets
Yeah, the 757-300 may be getting on in years, but it’s not completely ancient. These electrical outlets were very much appreciated.
Delta 757-300 first class overhead bins
Overhead bin space is decent, but not great. Which, oddly enough, is how most people describe my blog.
Delta 757-300 first class passengers
This definitely isn’t the most spacious domestic US first class seat I’ve ever sat in (Virgin America A319 first class wins that prize), but I suppose it’s gonna have to do.
SANspotter in delta 757-300 first class
Thinking how I’d much rather be making do with the seats from Delta A321neo first class combined with the miles of legroom from Virgin America first class. Delta, if you need any help trying to figure out how to make your 757-300 first class product better, call me. I’ve got some ideas…

The departure out of San Diego

Thanks to the time change (and the unfortunate longitude of San Diego), it was still completely dark as we pushed off the gate at 6:40 AM. It took a while to make our way to the threshold of runway 27 though, and by the time we got there, the sun had started to rise.

Delta 757-300 pushing off gate 47 at SAN
Pushing a long 757-300 off the gate here in T2 at SAN has to be challenging for the ground crew. Especially in complete darkness.
Delta 757-300 window frame
Slight delay here. I couldn’t tell if they were either waiting for other planes to move, or they were just making sure we didn’t side swipe anything on our way out.
Foggy San Diego airport departure
No runway 9 departure this morning? I’m actually kind of surprised that we didn’t because of all the fog!
Runway 27 San Diego International Airport
Runway 27 it is then. Should I be worried that I can’t see the far end of it?
Taking off into the fog San Diego airport
Heck no! I know I make a lot of references to Top Gun in my airline reviews, but if ever there was the perfect “Danger Zone” moment, this has gotta be it.
Delta 757-300 sunrise departure San Diego airport
“Hiiiiighway tooo the danger zone!” (lol)
SANspotter looking out the window in delta 757-300 first class
Nope. These foggy sunrise departures out of SAN never get old. 
View of engine and wing from seat 5A delta 757-300
Once we break free of the clouds, the scenery is pretty much a big fat #chefskiss

In-flight entertainment

I feel like a broken record every time I write about the in-flight entertainment in any Delta Air Lines review that I create. And if I’m being honest, that’s a good thing.

Delta 757-300 in flight entertainment home screen
Remember what I said about the in flight entertainment in my Delta A321 first class review? I can’t either, but I’m nearly 100% certain that what I’m about to say is going to be just as positive.

Consistency is what makes an airline great, and Delta Studio (their in-flight entertainment product) is exactly that. It’s nearly exactly the same on all aircraft in all classes of service across the entire Delta Air Lines fleet. Bravo!

Delta 757-300 in flight entertainment menus
Live TV? Check. Recent Hollywood movies? Check. Spotify Audio? Check! Basically, everyone who wasn’t expecting YouTube and Netflix will be very pleased with the entertainment choices here on the 757-300.
Delta Studio on the 757-300 video screens
Nope. I still can’t find anything bad to say about Delta Studio (other than the fact that the absence of YouTube and Netflix sounds like an awfully big missed opportunity).
Delta 757-300 video screen inputs
If it’s connectivity you seek, you’ll be mostly satisfied. There’s a 2.5mm audio jack, a USB A port, and some sort of circular multi-pin video input that I have never (in over 1.5 million miles of flying) seen anyone plug into. I think it’s just there for show. Prove me wrong!
Complimentary ear buds Delta 757-300 first class
The top line on the complimentary headphones packet reads: “Explore rich high-end sound quality to enhance your acoustic adventures.” Wow! I can’t wait to see what the packaging on the toilet paper in the lavatory says…
SANspotter testing audio quality in delta 757-300 first class
The second line (“Experience ultimate comfort with improved fit and superior noise isolation”) is total bull**** BTW. The sound quality is mediocre at best.
Delta air lines in flight messaging and internet access
Those of you who would like to voice your displeasure about the ear buds to Delta have two options: you can either do it for free with the complimentary messaging, or you can pay $34 for full internet access (which will allow you to really let them know how you feel via the feedback form on their website).

The food

One week prior to departure, Delta sent me an email offering me the opportunity to pre-select my meal for this flight. My three choices were a bacon and cheese quiche, French toast, or a fruit and cheese platter. I went with the quiche (and hoped for the best).

Delta air lines first class breakfast San Diego to Atlanta
Breakfast is served! This doesn’t look half bad IMHO.
Delta first class quiche breakfast
I know exactly nothing about quiche, but I’m willing to bet that most quiche snobs (you know who you are) would approve of this.
Delta first class breakfast fruit bowl
The fruit offsets the bacon and cheese on the quiche, right?
Delta first class breakfast croissant
A croissant so delicious that it will make you hum the French national anthem as you eat it (and as you pick the flakes off your shirt afterwards as well). 
Delta first class breakfast quiche quality
This is healthy, right? Of course it is (the bowl of fruit makes it so). 
SANspotter eating breakfast in delta 757-300 first class
Healthy or not, it was delicious!

Seat comfort

I’m old enough to remember a time when the 757 was Delta’s go-to transcontinental aircraft. And let me tell you: the old Delta 757 first class seats were much nicer (though uglier) than the first class seats on this 757-300.

This isn’t a very comfortable seat for longer flights in my opinion, as there is absolutely zero lumbar support. You’re gonna have to bring your own.

Delta 757-300 first class seat recline
Seat recline isn’t all that great (at least if you compare it to the Comfort Plus seats here on the 757-300). The lack of lumbar support is even worse. My poor back!
Delta 757-300 first class seat pitch
Still no complaints about the leg room though. Even though my lower back is completely screwed, my legs couldn’t be happier!
Delta 757-300 first class crossed legs
Said “happy legs.”

The lavatory

It’s very rare that I’ll ever dedicate an entire section of an airline review to the lavatory, but this is totally justified. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but I will add that the first class lavatory on this 757-300 was horrifically bad.

Delta 757-300 first class lavatory
The sad (and scary) thing is that a supervisor likely had to sign off on that caulk job. Are there are no f***s left to give at Delta Tech Ops anymore?

Yeah, the lavatory was clean, but it looked like a bomb had gone off in there. And just for the record, it wasn’t me.

SANspotter selfie delta 757-300 first class lavatory

The arrival into Atlanta

As we began the descent into Atlanta, it was obvious that our arrival was going to be just as gloomy as our departure was back in San Diego. The captain was warning us of very rough air all the way in, but thankfully it wasn’t all that bad. I’ve had worse.

Delta 757-300 first class pre landing snack
A pre-landing snack to take my mind off what I just saw in the lavatory? Don’t mind if I do.
Delta 757-300 approach into ATL
The approach into ATL. And I’m still thinking about that caulk job.
Delta 757-300 arrival at ATL
Welcome to Atlanta! I’m not entirely sure the toilet is still attached to the wall after that sporty landing, but I’m just glad the rest of the plane seems to be in one piece.
Delta 757s at ATL
Holy 757s Batman! ATL seems to be overrun with these things (and it’s totally awesome).
Pulling up to gate A7 ATL airport
Not everyone is happy about it though. He looks disappointed to see yet another 757.
Gathering bags from overhead bins Delta 757-300 first class
Lol at everyone lining up at the forward boarding door. #IYKYK
Delta 757-300 first class underseat storage
This is my “grip it and rip it” stance – which is completely unnecessary since I don’t have a short layover in Atlanta today. It’s just instinct I guess.
Delta domestic first class seats
Fun fact: the only difference between this and Delta 737-800 first class (besides the total number of seats) are the armrests and center consoles. The yellowed plastic, squared off windows, and complete lack of lumbar support is exactly the same.
Walking off Delta 757-300 and onto jet bridge
Not surprisingly, nobody gave a crap about my stupid aviation trivia.

Pros and cons of Delta 757-300 first class

To be blunt, there are far nicer domestic first class seats on other aircraft in the Delta fleet (their new A321neo first class product is one such example). Essentially, you want to fly in first class on the 757-300 for nostalgia – not comfort. Here are all the specific pros and cons:


  • Although somewhat large, the first class cabin on the 757-300 is completely segregated from the rest of the aircraft. It’s a fairly private experience.
  • Despite how old these aircraft are, they still feature modern amenities like Wi-Fi and a killer video entertainment system.


  • A modern and luxurious experience it is not. The yellowed walls and ceilings of the 757-300 are an obvious reminder of how old (and nearly used up) these aircraft really are.
  • The lack of lumbar support in the seats is extremely annoying to me. I would imagine that even people with healthy lower backs end up feeling a bit sore after just a few hours of sitting in them.
  • The first class lavatory (especially on the plane that I was on) is terrible. It’s like Delta just threw their arms up in the air, surrendered, and yelled “f*** it” just to relieve themselves of any responsibility.

Comments (4)

  1. Peter

    March 28, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      March 28, 2023
  2. AvGeek

    May 18, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      May 19, 2023

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