This past weekend, I crossed two items off the AvGeek bucket list. I took my first flight on the Airbus A350, and my first trip in a business class with a door. Delta’s “Delta One” suite in the A350 from Amsterdam to Detroit helped me kill two birds with one stone. Delta certainly hypes up the suite, but did it meet expectations? I’ll have a full review up soon, but here are some initial impressions.
The A350 Cabin Is Sleek and Airy
The A350 cabin certainly is impressive. The lack of center overhead bins and mood lighting creates a clean, stylish look. Perhaps a little plain, but sleek nonetheless.
The lack of center bins always concerns me that carry-on space might run out. But that didn’t seem to be an issue on this flight, even with a full Delta One cabin.
The Enclosed Suites Are Nice, But Tight
Delta really, really likes to hype up their new suites, as a way to “redefine international business class travel”. Indeed, Delta, for now, remains the only domestic carrier to offer business class seats with doors. The new seats themselves certainly look nice.
And the doors do provide an excellent level of privacy when closed, especially in the “true” window seats (even rows).
But the suites do come with a notable design flaw, namely, a narrow footwell.
The entryway through the door is also rather narrow.
It all adds up to a seat that feels a little claustrophobic. More than that, the whole suite just feels a little underwhelming. I felt like I was sitting in a nice business class seat, but nothing groundbreaking. Is Delta’s seat really any better than, say, United’s new Polaris seat? Perhaps I’ll change my mind after thinking about it for a little longer. But overall, I went away thinking Delta put a door on a seat just for the sake of putting a door on a seat.
Service Was Hit or Miss…
I had high hopes for Delta’s business class service after my experience in transcontinental Delta One. Things started off well in that regard. A cheery flight attendant warmly welcomed me onboard. The purser offered a brief overview of the suite for all first-timers. And during breakfast service, the drinks flowed freely.
Things changed, however, after the main meal. All of the flight attendants basically disappeared until just before the pre-landing snack. During the snack service, everything felt rushed, with just a single drink run. That felt disappointing after a strong start.
…And So Was the Food
Our roughly 8-hour flight to Detroit included two meal services, breakfast and a pre-landing snack. I enjoyed the breakfast offering, featuring a smoked salmon appetizer, then a “chilled plate” of assorted meats, cheeses, asparagus, and more salmon. Nicely presented and tasty.
The pre-landing snack, though, was a different story. The hamburger wasn’t very good. It honestly tasted like the mystery meat burgers I used to get in the school cafeteria.
The Lounge Situation in Amsterdam and Detroit Needs Work
Delta One customers receive access to the KLM Crown Lounge “Number 52” in Amsterdam. The lounge is fine, but very, very crowded.
Meanwhile in Detroit, international Delta One customers can access the Sky Clubs, even if connecting to a domestic flight. The main lounge in the center of the A concourse was a complete zoo.
My connection to Dallas ended up delayed, so I checked out the other two SkyClubs at opposite ends of the A concourse. They were even more crowded, as if that’s possible.
More than the crowding, though, it feels like Delta has fallen behind the competition when it comes to lounges. American and United have the new Flagship and Polaris lounges, respectively. Delta’s main Detroit SkyClub, while a decent domestic lounge, doesn’t offer as good an experience. Delta demands a premium for their suites; they really should up their lounge game to match.
My opinion may well change after I’ve given it more thought, but I came away feeling…underwhelmed. The Delta One suite is nice enough, but felt mostly like a good business class seat with a door. The seat/service combo doesn’t seem particularly groundbreaking in relation to competitors. I’ll have a full review up in the near future.