A Bad Experience: Delta One, Los Angeles – New York JFK


In my previous article, I reviewed United Airlines’ transcontinental 777-200 service and found a step change improvement from the poor flight I had with the same airline the previous year. Delta are, arguably, the leading airline for passenger experience in the USA, and I was keen to try their transcontinental product, to see if they outpaced United.

Sadly, this will not be a positive review. I also made a video of the flight for my YouTube channel:

Delta’s transcontinental flights are marketed as Delta One, and fly from Terminal 2 at LAX; there is a dedicated check in area at the far end of the terminal.

I don’t really understand the point of this. It doesn’t come with a dedicated security channel (like the First Wing at Heathrow T5) and has a few chairs and a fridge with drinks. Why would you wait here for any length of time when there’s a good Sky Club just past security?

T2 is a building under change, as Delta seek to revamp the ground experience. Nonetheless, there’s little disruption to be seen and the Delta Sky Club is located on the first floor, opposite the Virgin Lounge.

This is a decent lounge, with ample food and seating options and plenty of natural light, with big windows overlooking the apron and northerly runways.


It almost seems a shame, in retrospect, as the lounge was good. With hard working staff (the buffet change at 10:30 was like a Formula One pit stop!) and free WiFi on top, there’s little to criticise Delta for here.

Delta operate a mixture of 767 and 757 aircraft on the LAX-JFK route. My flight was operated by a 767-400, featuring a 1-2-1 business class.

I had selected seat 1A, at the bulkhead. Odd numbered window seats are genuinely next to the window, whereas even numbered ones are closer to the aisle, and by all accounts are not private at all.


Takeoff was slightly delayed due to heavy air traffic, but we were soon on our way across the States.

Here’s where things take a nasty turn. The seat, its surrounds, and pretty much every nook and cranny on the aircraft were utterly, utterly filthy. This is the result not just of a single speedy turnaround but a shocking lack of care by Delta.

I have yet to see such ingrained filth anywhere on any world airline, let alone one which considers itself the pinnacle of the American airline industry. This dirt factor would, in my opinion, nullify any other positive aspects of the flight.


I had an OJ and a gin and tonic as my first drinks, and lunch was served shortly after.

Lunch was terrible.

Delta’s idea of a main course is laughable. On a transcontinental arriving at 9pm, this is my main meal of the day. Two meatballs, two half slices of bread and a tennis ball of ricotta don’t cut it. The quality was poor, the meatballs tasteless, the sauce congealed. A sad disappointment of a meal.

The prawns were almost frozen and barely edible.

After the shock of a bad meal on Delta, I chose the ice cream for dessert. After all, it’s impossible to get ice cream wrong, isn’t it?

Sadly, Delta did get it wrong. I can only assume it was frozen somewhere in Alaska at -40, because it was inedible thanks to being rock hard. It thawed after around an hour.

The seats in Delta One on the 767 are fundamentally flawed. One the one hand, there is no neighbour seat, which means free aisle access for all passengers. However, these seats are now very long in the tooth, and don’t stand up to contemporary standards.

The seats are narrow which means even an average sized person like me will find it uncomfortable to sleep in anything other than a side position. The Westin bedding however was good.

The entertainment screens are tiny and frustratingly out of reach when belted in, with no remote control to duplicate the touch screen. My touch screen was also temperamental with the far right hand side having no sensitivity, meaning I couldn’t scroll the entertainment options!

The screens are also annoyingly below natural eye level. I’m 5’8″ – around 173cm – not a tall man, yet my eye level was around a foot higher than the centre of the screen. Why is this the case?

WiFi was also completely non-operational for the length of the flight, so I decided to sleep. However, my seat was broken and would not respond to the controls. I visited the lavatory and told the crew lead, who half took apart the seat to find discarded rubbish (and I mean a LOT of it – papers, grease, fluff, food particles) in the seat mechanism. Once this was removed, I was able to recline finally!

On the plus side, Delta’s Tumi amenity kit is attractive and well-stocked. If I’m honest I don’t usually use the contents of these kits beyond the eyeshade, when I’m on day flights.

Thankfully, we landed without further event, with a soggy cookie served to mark the end of service.

Overall, a disgraceful business class experience. No WiFi, bad food, half-operational IFE, disgusting filth, a broken seat and a general feeling of no care or pride.

Delta offered $75 compensation. I haven’t had it yet!