Best Way To Cross The Atlantic: Delta One A330 Review

The transatlantic market is rife with competition. With plenty of airlines comes plenty of business class products. Delta offers a few different products on their aircraft ranging from Delta One Suites to herringbones to forward facing. However, Delta’s reverse herringbone on the A330 is arguably the best way to cross the Atlantic.

Delta One on an A330 is one of the best ways to cross the Atlantic. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Booking

Delta One can be very pricey. Since this leg was a continuation of my journey from Cape Town, I paid a total one-way cost of $3,400. If you’re flying direct between Amsterdam and Minneapolis, you’ll likely spend well over $6,000 on a one-way flight.

Delta Skymiles, Flying Blue, or Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club are some of your options if you want to fly one-way on miles. You might also be able to lower the cost of your trip (whether in miles or cash) by tacking on an extra flight or two on either direction.

Airport experience

Since my inbound from Cape Town was delayed, I sprinted through transit security and Schipol Airport to arrive at my gate just before boarding started. Delta One passengers have access to KLM’s Crown Lounge, although it is a bit of a hike from Delta’s departures from Amsterdam.

Do note that you’ll have to undergo a documentation and security check prior to boarding your flight to the U.S. out of Amsterdam. I have seen this process occur at the gate, or else at a centralized location (D1 or E1) prior to boarding.

At the gate, KLM agents were boarding this flight and expressed hearty confusion as to how the boarding process was supposed to work. They alternated between calling Comfort Plus and Delta One passengers. Eventually, Delta One passengers were invited onboard first.

Our Delta Air Lines A330-300 at Amsterdam Schiphol. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Onboard

Delta’s A330-300s feature 34 business class seats in a reverse herringbone configuration. This means that all passengers have direct aisle access. In addition, all 34 seats are located between doors one and two.

Seat 2J! Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

I arrived at my seat, 2J, and found a blanket, pillow, headphones, and amenity kit waiting for me. I appreciated how everything was wrapped in plastic. The wrapping helps everything feel clean. After all, we want to arrive at our destination well rested and free from any ailments.

I appreciated the TUMI amenity kit, which contained essentials for a long-haul flight and more.

Delta One TUMI Amenity Kit Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

The headphones were LSTN-branded and were identical to the ones I’ve received on previous flights. Though they were better than KLM and Vietnam Airlines’ headphones, they weren’t the best out there. That being said, I didn’t have a problem with audio quality and they were semi-decent at noise cancellation.

LSTN Headphones Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

There weren’t any special amenities in the lavatory. In fact, one lavatory had an inoperative sink.

The sink in one lavatory was inoperable for the flight. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Delta One seat

The seat itself was a standard reverse herringbone. Adjacent to the seat was a reading light and panel with power and a headphone jack.

Reading light, power, and headphone jack. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

In front of the seat, there was a monitor, remote control, and seat controls.

Seat control panel and IFE. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Though the panel showed its age, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly everything reacted. The monitor was easy to control when reclined, via the remote control. The seat changed position smoothly.

Overall, the seat lacked storage. Do note that due to the curvature of the aircraft, the overhead bin above 2J on the A330 is smaller than others. I couldn’t fit my normal carry-on in the bin, only a backpack. Also, aside from the literature pocket, there wasn’t any place to store things. There wasn’t even a shoe cubby!

In bed mode, there was enough room for my 5’8″ frame to stretch out. The seat was very comfortable. I got a solid four hours of sleep on this almost nine-hour flight.

In bed mode, the seat was long enough for me. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

With the armrest raised, I felt like there was enough privacy. This is one area where Delta’s A330 excels in comparison to other transatlantic products. Some of KLM’s aircraft are in a 2-2-2 configuration. Lufthansa’s 2-2-2 angle towards each other. British Airways offers an interesting layout in Club World. Some of United’s Dreamliners and 767s lack Polaris seats. A fair number of Delta’s transatlantic flights operate on A330s, so chances are, you’ll have a pretty decent hard product.

Inflight entertainment

Delta Studio had more than enough films and TV shows to keep me content. In my opinion, Delta Studio is one of the best inflight entertainment systems in the sky. They consistently offer a fair variety of new releases as well as a few old ones. I ended up watching Gone with the Wind on this flight.

Delta Studio offers a large variety of inflight entertainment. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Wifi was available on the flight. I used Delta’s free inflight messaging on certain apps to stay connected, and to update friends and family on my arrival status. Again, in comparison to every other transatlantic carrier, this is a huge bonus.

Meals

Soon after settling in, I was offered a pre-departure beverage of choice. The options were Heineken, sparkling wine or orange juice. I opted for the orange juice. I was also presented with a bottle of water at boarding.

Pre-departure orange juice and a water bottle. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

The menu and drink list for the flight was as follows:

About 50 minutes after takeoff, flight attendants came around for drink orders. I went with a Coke.

Coke and nut mix. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

About 20 minutes after, a friendly flight attendant offered me the appetizer.

Lunch appetizer in Delta One. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

The salmon and soup were fantastic. I normally don’t expect good food from outstations, however I’d expect with Amsterdam being a major gateway for Delta flights that they’d have a good catering program. Compared to other onboard fish meals I’ve had, the salmon was absolutely delectable. The soup was dished out from a cart and was warm. Surprisingly, the salmon and soup had different flavors that worked well together. In addition, the salad was crisp and fresh.

About 20 minutes after the appetizer was served, flight attendants came around with the main course. I received an email to pre-select my meal prior to departure. I chose the beef tenderloin.

Beef tenderloin lunch. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

The beef was slightly overcooked, but not so much to detract from the entire meal. The sauce and potatoes paired well. This was by far a fantastic meal for international business class.

After clearing the main course, flight attendants came around with a dessert cart. I went with an ice cream sundae.

Ice cream sundae with strawberry sauce and nuts. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

The entire meal service concluded about two hours after departure. I found the pace to be fine for a daytime transatlantic flight. I also appreciated how, in case you didn’t want the full service, you could request an express lunch instead.

Unfortunately I slept through the chocolate chip service. However, from past experience, Delta’s chocolate chip cookies are usually quite tasty.

Two hours from arrival, flight attendants served the “almost there”. I selected the chicken salad.

“Almost There” chicken salad. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Despite being a relatively simple salad, Delta went all out with flavor. The seasoning on the chicken paired well with the apricots. The fruit was nice and fresh. I also appreciated the garlic toast that came with it. Though the portion wasn’t particularly large, it was filling for a pre-arrival ‘snack’.

I also received a little chocolate at the end of the meal.

Delta One passengers received a chocolate after the “almost there” snack. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Delta’s meals are some of the best in the sky, and this was no exception. In fact, for a flight originating from a non-hub, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of both meals. The flight attendants took great care into making sure each meal was plated well. Delta’s main galley for business class on the A330s is at the second set of doors therefore service is conducted from back to front.

Cabin crew

What really sets Delta apart are their cabin crew. I have consistently received excellent service on every mainline Delta flight and this was no exception. The Minneapolis-based crew were engaging and they made conversation with every passenger. When I mentioned that I used to live in Minnesota, they went out of their way to welcome me home upon arrival.

The cabin crew working Delta One were attentive during meal services. They responded to the call button within seconds and always addressed me with a smile and “Hello Mr. Singh.” Every interaction with them was beyond fantastic.

Overall

Delta One on the A330 is one of the best ways to cross the Atlantic. With a solid hard product, fantastic onboard catering, and some of the best crew in the skies, you’re likely to have a wonderful experience onboard.

Delta also excels at the small stuff. When I boarded, this note was waiting for me:

Delta One welcome note. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

The one area where Delta could improve is with their LSTN headphones. Nevertheless, every other aspect of the experience made up for the shortcomings of headphones. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Delta One to anyone wanting to cross the Atlantic!

Have you flown Delta One? Do you prefer Delta One? Let us know in the comments!

12 comments
  1. Flew the A350 from NRT to DTW. This is a plane to avoid in Delta One if you run warm/hot. There is NO AIR CIRCULATION IN THE DELTA ONE PODS. I spent 13 hours in a sauna and the staff was powerless to do anything about it. I would avoid at all costs!

    1. I never thought about the ‘sauna’ effect; and have yet to fly an A350. Now I’m glad that up upcoming BCN and TXL flights will be on non-suite Delta One configurations. All along I thought the suite concept poor; viewing it akin to the isolation of passengers (which not everyone prefers); sort of like snooty uber-wealthy up-front on Emirates (which may be how they got the idea). To me ‘suites are containers’, and without flying one (so my opinion ‘may’ be premature), I’d say it’s like ‘shipping the passenger’ in a fairly fancy crate, aka: cargo 🙂 (I am an old Delta Flying Colonel and do wish to add that up-front service has really improved and is superb in recent years. Flew back from PVR just on an A321 First, and the personnel service was excellent.

    2. That is one reason why I found the A330 Delta One to be the best transatlantic product as of now. There is plenty of breathing room in the reverse herringbone configuration while still maintaining a sense of privacy.

  2. Hi Jay,

    Great trip report, however… the title and opening paragraph is misleading as this is a far cry from best J across the Atlantic – there are objectively far better J options in the TATL skies. It would help if there were a bit of context as to which products you’ve experienced so that the reader can have a proxy. Perhaps this is the best USA direct TATL J product?

    I urge you to try Air Canada 787 or 777 in J, namely via YYZ to take advantage of the Signature Suite – that in of itself deserves a write up.

    Best.

    1. I’d still say that Delta has the best transatlantic product in business. One of the main reasons is that Delta excels at quite a bit. Delta’s free messaging, pre-selection of meals, note cards welcoming passengers, crew friendliness, Delta Studio, the quantity of each meal etc. makes the experience one of the best in the sky. While everyone will have their preferences, obviously, it is easier for Canadian passengers to fly Air Canada or San Francisco-based passengers to fly United or Lufthansa. For most Americans who would need to connect, Delta is the best product you can find across the Atlantic.

  3. It’s not great that everything is wrapped in plastic, as stated in the article. It’s 2019, not 1980. There would be little to no difference if it was just placed on the seat and would create less needless plastic waste.

    1. Except people sometimes place their carry-on dragged through mud and rain on the seat while waiting to deplane. That seat is the same surface you sit and sleep on and people do sweat. People sometimes spill things on the seat. It’s purely for hygiene.

  4. We flew home in May, 2019, AMS-MSP in business class. I agree with your comments. We went to Europe in April from MSP to CDG in a 777. I like the Delta One seating on the Airbus. Since I was traveling with a companion, the barrier between seats on the 777 was not comfortable. Service on both airplanes was excellent. On the MSP-CDG flight before takeoff, the pilot made an announcement to the the entire plane thanking them for flying Delta, and then personally thanked each of the Business Class passengers and shook their hands.

  5. AMS is most definitely a DL hub. Daily DL seat capacity from AMS is around 5,000 with widebody departures to destinations all across North America thanks to the KLM alliance originally established by the NW/KL tie up in the early ’90s. Delta just added TPA as a non-stop destination from AMS. In addition to the usual suspects with multiple non-stops i.e. ATL, MSP and DTW, DL also flies nonstop from AMS to PDX, BOS, SLC, SEA, JFK and LAX.

  6. While I write this while on a Delta flight (Delta is my preferred domestic airline) – I still go out of my way for Lufthansa 1st in a 748 or A380. Last month I was on an A346 which was surprisingly nice too. All aspects of the flight from the in flight service, catering (satisfies my caviar cravings), aircraft etc… is exceptional. The seats are starting to feel a bit dated but are still comfortable for those of us over 6’. I’ve crossed the Atlantic close to 15 times with LH and never had anything less than a perfect experience.

    Delta’s best asset is their employees – and they are awesome.

  7. Delta is hands-down the best US carrier. Love them! However, US carriers still lag behind their European and Asian counterparts.

  8. Long time AA ExPlat flyer who suffered through their old fleet which is now almost completely replaced with new 777 and 787 which are wonderfully comfortable in Business. Started flying Delta this year as AA no longer does a direct NY – DUB flight, and have flown in Comfort + and Delta One – not as new as AA’s offering, but I couldn’t agree more with other comments that Delta employees are generally super friendly all round and for me that makes all the difference. I’ve just found AA can be hit or miss on that front (I’ve had some great trips in Econ and Biz and First but others where I’ve been in first/biz and almost completely ignored by the FAs- who want to feed you fast and then adjourn to the galley to chat. I even had one flight to LHR where they made the forward lav look occupied throughout the flight so you would not be cutting through the galley). On Other US carriers it seems to be a roll of the dice on whether you get a crew who is engaged and realizes where the revenue (and pay) ultimately comes from. Delta has been consistently great in terms of make no you feel welcome no matter where you sit on the plane. Today’s earnings and stock price vs their peers proves that from the top down Delta is building a great brand.

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