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
Duration: 3 hours 15 minutes (that’s fast!)
Seat: 5A (First Class)
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.”
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).
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.
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.
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?
My first impressions of the Delta 757-300 first class seat
I was having flashbacks to my Delta 757-200 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. Which is kind of a lot for a domestically configured aircraft.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.