01. Air Canada Express (Jazz) CRJ-900 economy class San Diego to Vancouver
02. SkyTeam lounge, YVR
03. Philippine Airlines 777-300ER business class Vancouver to New York (JFK)
04. Delta Air Lines 757-200 premium business class (Delta One) New York (JFK) to San Diego
When it comes to premium airline products such as Delta One, timing is everything in order to appreciate it to its fullest. If I hadn’t arrived into New York at 11pm feeling like an absolute zombie the night before, chances are pretty good that this review would be overly positive and you’d be totally sick of me gushing about how amazingly good Delta is by the time you got to the end. As a matter of fact, it’s likely you wouldn’t have even made it halfway through because I’d be gushing so hard that it’d be disgusting and you wouldn’t be able to hold back a “**** this Delta fanboy” or two before hitting the back button on your browser.
Consider yourself lucky that getting through JFK customs took a long time, the Fairfield Inn I stayed at was a dump, and I had to wake up at 5:30am in order to catch this flight to San Diego. I should have been feeling really thankful for having a seat in Delta One for the 5 hour flight home, but I was so tired and worn out that I didn’t have it in me to feel gushy. At all.
New York, NY (JFK) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Sunday, September 16, 2018
Duration: 4 hours 53 minutes
Seat: 3D (Delta One / business class)
I couldn’t really appreciate having a seat in Delta One in the moment, but now that it’s been two months and I’m sitting comfortably at home feeling the itch to hit the road again, I think it’s important to mention how appreciative I am of the fact that Delta is finally offering the Delta One product in San Diego. It’s arguably one of the best business class products in the United States right now (not quite as good as the JetBlue Mint Suites though), and it’s so nice to be able to experience it locally without having to slog it up to LAX.
I’m especially thankful because I know that there’s a pretty good chance that Delta One at SAN never would have happened if jetBlue didn’t start Mint service from JFK last year (be sure to read my full JFK-SAN JetBlue Mint review). Delta saw that is a direct threat, and reacted appropriately by bringing their own premium business class product into San Diego to try and fend them off.
Luckily for us San Diegans, United Airlines wasn’t feeling very good about missing out on this premium traffic to the east coast either, so they jumped into this battle as well with their own daily lie flat business class service to EWR. American Airlines has yet to respond, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.
Getting through the security checkpoint here at terminal 4 this morning was really easy, and it took no longer than 10 minutes to make it through to the other side. Compare that to my recent JetBlue experience at JFK (and the monstrously long security line I hand to wrangle myself through), and right from the beginning I was enjoying the Delta One experience a whole lot more. But it’s not like I’m keeping score or anything. Or am I?
Making it through security so quickly and easily meant that I had plenty of time to spare before my flight to San Diego started boarding, but the Sky Club here in terminal 4 is one of the best in the world so that’s where I headed to see what I could scrounge up for breakfast.
After about an hour in the lounge, I went back out into the main terminal to do some walking and plane spotting. I highly recommend both at JFK – this is a huge airport with arguably the most diverse airline traffic in the world, so it’s never a dull moment wandering up and down the corridors here.
As I was standing in the gate area oogling at the waitlist on the overhead display, I noticed that the Delta One cabin was very lightly booked this morning and that most of the occupants were on cleared upgrades. Lucky for them, especially on a longer flight to the West Coast such as this. I guess if there’s anything to be learned from this, it’s that the 8:30 AM Sunday morning flight to San Diego is a good one for the possibility of an upgrade.
This particular flight to San Diego was the first time that I had ever been in a Delta One configured 757, though I have had the opportunity to try Delta One on the 747-400, A330-300, 767-400, and the 767-300 over the years. Of those three, the 747-400 was my favorite. And just so you know, anytime a 747 is involved in some sort of competition in my mind, the 747 is always going to win. Always.
Anyway, now it’s time to see what the Delta 757-200 with lie flat seats is like…
As much as I hate to admit it (if it isn’t obvious by now), my very first impression about the Delta One 757 seat was actually not about the seat at all. For the first 10 minutes or so, the only thing I could think about was how obnoxiously large and annoying the pillows and blankets were, and where I was going to put them so that they didn’t annoy the crap out of me. Now, don’t give me wrong – I’m a huge fan of full size blankets and pillows on long overnight flights, but are they really necessary for a short five hour flight out to the West Coast?
Breakfast menus were handed out while still at the gate, followed up just a few minutes later with the flight attendants coming through the aisles taking orders. And even though I pre-ordered a meal on the Delta website a few days prior, I still had the opportunity to choose anything I wanted – which was nice. For the record, I stuck with my original choice. Pics coming soon…
There was a very long queue of airplanes trying to get out of JFK this particular morning, and the bad news is that we were stuck right in the middle of it. The good news is that I had a pretty good view of the action on runway 31L, so it was a steady stream of aircraft coming in going right outside my window which was perfectly fine by me. 30(ish) minutes later, it was finally our turn.
It wasn’t until we were in the air with New York far behind us that I discovered that the USB port at my seat wasn’t working. Normally this wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but I still had my old iPhone 6s at that point (that wouldn’t hold a charge) so I had to be really careful about the number of pics that I took for this trip report.
Normally I’m snapping pictures of anything that moves (or looks like it’s going to move) for the entire flight, but I was going to have to be really strategic about how I handled this one. I mulled over my plan of attack while wiping my hands with a fresh hot towel.
The meal service started within 10 minutes of the flight attendants picking up the frigid remains of our hot towels, and once I finally saw my meal choice sitting in front of me I couldn’t help but to feel somewhat disappointed.
I am not a very big fan of eating sweet things for breakfast, but it seems like that was all that was on the menu this morning. Yes, there was an egg and meat option as well, but it looked awfully heavy and not something that I was in the mood for.
Several episodes of Will & Grace helped to make the meal service go by in a flash, but the lack of sleep over the past 48 hours had finally caught up with me and it wasn’t hard to put the seat in a lie flat position and konk out for the next three hours or so. A very good and deep sleep it was.
I woke up with one hour and seven minutes of flying time remaining, only because I had to use the bathroom really bad and there was no way I was going to be able to hold it all the way to San Diego. Unfortunately, the pilots were out of the cockpit at that exact moment and the flight attendants had the aisle blocked off with one of those big service carts.
Making this even more inconvenient was the fact that these particular Delta One seats are very low and the only way that I could see above them was to stand up slightly. I basically had to do the meerkat thing for 10 minutes or so, popping my head up and down over and over checking on the status of that cart blocking the aisle.
There was no hope of continued sleep by the time I got back to my seat, but the view out the window was starting to get really good and it had all of my attention all the way in. The approach into San Diego from out over the eastern desert of California is by far one of the most scenic flight paths in all of the United States in my opinion.
So now that we’ve reached the end, the only thing I can really say about this premium business class experience is that I wish I would have appreciated it more at the time. Delta One is a remarkably good business class product, and it was easily one of the best domestic US flights that I have ever had in my life. However, coming down off the high of Philippine Airlines 777-300ER business class from YVR to JFK the day prior, then followed very quickly buy an exhaustingly short layover at JFK, this particular Delta one experienced went by in a seemingly wasted blur.
The good news is that the premium business class market here in the US is flaring up big time, and chances are pretty good that we’re going to be seeing more Delta One flights added in and out of San Diego in the near future. That’s just my opinion of course, but I’m sticking to it because Delta is serious about being #1 and they have the resources to make it happen. They just keep getting better and better in every way possible, and it’s not so far-fetched to think that they will be getting a lot more of my business over the coming years.
And on that really gushy note, this trip report has come to an end.