Business class has long been cherished by the wealthy and those travelling for work, but is the higher price tag really worth it? Katie Harris compares Delta Comfort+, and the airline’s business class, Delta One, on its new flight from Auckland to L.A.
Airline: Delta Air Lines
Flight: L.A. to Auckland.
Visa and requirements: If you don’t already have a US visitor’s visa, you will need to apply online for an ESTA. It only took a few hours for mine to be approved but it can take up to 72 hours so it’s wiser to sort it early.
Departure Airport Experience: Tranquil and simple are two words I usually wouldn’t associate with an international airport check-in. However, experiencing Delta One from L.A. to Auckland has changed all of that. Before I had even stepped out of our taxi at LAX an attendant from Delta had arrived and unloaded our luggage. At the private check-in space, a separate room accessible from outside of the airport, several staff members were waiting, offering drinks, canapes and hot towels while another attendant took passports and began processing our check-in.
I couldn’t quite believe this was where we were really checking in. I felt at some point they would lead us to the real check-in counter, but this was it. The security process was impossibly simple. Only my group was there at the time, so there were no lines. This was particularly pleasant because, as someone with ADHD, going through noisy airports with beeping, screaming and alarms, typically causes me serious sensory overload, which is never a good way to start or end a holiday.
Inside the Delta Sky Club, I indulged in tacos, a faux-chicken burrito, drinks from the bar, on-tap flavoured water and a hot pre-flight shower. The club featured an expansive outdoor sky deck complete with bar and had several pods available to make private business calls.
Instead of boarding the usual way, Delta organised two Porsches to take my travel companions and me right to the plane door. A service that is usually reserved for VIPs and celebrities.
Seat: I sat at the front of the business class section, right next to the loos. Some may say it’s a controversial pick, but easy access to the snack section and the bathroom is a big plus for me on a long-haul flight.
The generous 51cm-wide seating extends to a flatbed throughout the flight, which enabled me to get a good four or five hours of sleep during the flight. We were also given a fabric amenity kit, which included a bamboo toothbrush set, hand cream, lip balm, an eye mask and ear plugs.
Crew: Throughout the flight the crew were friendly and attentive, checking in frequently to make sure everything was to my liking.
Passengers: The cabin was full, there was a mix of nationalities and mostly middle-aged people. Only a couple of people wore masks.
Food and drink: Having more than indulged in the lounge, I didn’t think I’d be able to eat much for dinner. I was wrong. The lasagne I pre-booked arrived shortly after take-off, and although I forgot to order vegetarian sides, there was more than enough food to keep me sustained.
Breakfast was even better, crunchy muesli with fresh fruit, coffee and a mini croissant.
Entertainment: We had the same entertainment offerings as Comfort+, including a mix of new and old movies, but were given larger over-ear headphones and a wider screen.
Arrival airport experience: Being in Delta One meant we were the first to disembark the plane and had priority luggage, so our bags were there two minutes after we got to the carousel.
The best bit: Delta Sky Club.
The worst bit: Leaving.
Airline: Delta Air Lines
Flight: Auckland to L.A.
Departure airport experience: Check-in was light and breezy. There was a short line, which took about 20 minutes to get through but once I was at the counter the friendly staff swiftly whipped my luggage away and I was on my way. Security only took a few minutes and I was able to board the flight early due to my Comfort+ ticket.
Seat: As a seasoned economy passenger, the extra legroom and amenities kit provided with my Comfort+ ticket was already a luxury, but luck was going my way as I had the whole row to myself. The seat pitch was 38, and it was 46cm wide, but I was able to lie across the seats to sneak in a few hours of sleep. My seat also came with a pillow and blanket.
Crew: The cabin crew onboard were courteous and really took time to assist certain passengers who needed extra support.
Passengers: The flight was relatively empty, which meant most of us in Comfort+ and economy were able to enjoy a full row to ourselves. Passengers varied greatly in age and nationality and not many people were wearing masks.
Food and drink: My first dish was a chickpea curry with a bean salad side. The chickpea curry had a great flavour and consistency. Later in the flight, I was also given a small sandwich and a breakfast muffin. Wine, soda and a range of other beverages were offered throughout the flight.
Entertainment: Onboard entertainment was in no short supply, and I opted for two older films as Delta had a great catalogue of 1990s classics including Bring it On and A Few Good Men. Headphones were supplied and there was free Wi-Fi for messaging, however, this was patchy at times.
Arrival airport experience: Arriving in L.A. was by far the easiest overseas arrival I have experienced. Getting through immigration was swift and my suitcase appeared five minutes after I arrived at the baggage carousel.
Best bit: The service. The cabin crew seemed to really love what they do and went well above what was required to support passenger requests.
Worst bit: The Wi-Fi was patchy at the end.
Main Cabin (economy) from $1,630
Comfort+ from $2,560
Delta One from $8,992.53
These are year-round inclusive fares between Auckland and LAX and are subject to change.
Final verdict: If you have the cash, taking Delta One is worth it. Instead of dreading the 12-hour route, I was excited to fly and left the plane feeling rested and ready to enjoy the day. Comfort+ is a great alternative to a main cabin (economy) ticket if you want extra leg space and earlier boarding, if don’t mind paying for it.