Final thoughts: Will the Delta One Suites last & is the Premium Select “too good” or not good enough?

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Let’s get the obvious out of the way – the Delta One Suites (D1S) is a mistake and will not last 100% “as is” right now. They are cramped. They are not a “real” suite i.e. the doors are only half doors (think baby-gate). The aisle is ridiculously narrow for passengers and for crew. Even one of the Delta tech ops folks onboard my flight stated to me about the suites “The doors will either be gone or screwed [in the] open [position] in 6 months!“. Further, boarding was and will be impacted. I was told the reason for using the forward and middle door was to avoid luggage impacts on the suites. To me the herringbone seats on the A330’s is hands down the best seat Delta has ever chosen and it is sad Delta did not select this excellent seat design for the A350 as well as for the coming 777 mods next summer.

Premium Select (PS). This product and offering will be tweaked. Let me again say they are a real game changer for Delta. I told the A350 support folks onboard it really is almost too good (I may live to regret this honest evaluation). I state this because on a 6-8 hour daytime flight from Europe really there is no need for anything better than PS. True, the seats are not as big as other airlines premium economy seats but compared to coach it is a night and day better travel experience.

In addition to the nice seat, the service from the PS dedicated FAs is also tremendous and worth it almost for this perk alone. If the Delta folks servicing PS keep the “1st class feel” in their approach to PS, rather than treating it as a coach experience, that also will drive folks to book this cabin. But there could be problems on the way.

I was told that for the first 3 months of A350 service that A350 support staff will be onboard flights. That itself is stunning and shows how important it is to Delta corporate to get this new flagship jet right. Afterward the D1S cabin will have 4 FAs – that is, two serving meals and two prepping meals. In PS you will see 3, two serving meals and one preparing meals. One less FA for that many seats will be a real challenge. For my flights it barely worked with all the A350 support folks running around helping. Something will have to give and I doubt that Delta will add another FA to the mix. Likely something will be cut and cheapen the PS experience. I hope I am wrong here.

IFE control and other bits. The hand unit in the seat is pointless and I have no idea why it was installed. It is hard to get to and when the passenger in front of you reclines, the on-screen controls are only inches away from you (so simple to reach). I like most of the other controls but the leg rest is only good for shorter passengers. My biggest gripe is the dual prong audio as it makes it much harder for you to use your own headset without an adapter. The simple fix would have been to have a mini port next to the screen like in coach so you could go either way with the provided headsets from Delta or your own.

The LSTN headsets (same as in Delta One). I was told by a number of Delta folks these are on the way out. They are a mistake. The old ones were even better quality. For all the PR hype about these things, and the “thank you” sets sent out in the mail, they are really bad.

Global Upgrades to PS. Please just don’t – EVER! PS is nice but it is not ever going to be Global Upgrade worthy. Only request coach to D1S not ever “best available” upgrade.

The A350 feel. What an aircraft. It is so quiet it is almost scary. You can whisper and hear yourself. Oh and I do agree that your body does not feel as taxed compared to flying an older aircraft. I will always try to fly the A350 when I can.

Storage issues. Both in D1S and in PS Delta does not seem to get it. Storage, on ALL Delta jets, is always an issue. In PS the seat back storage is maybe a cell phone or tablet or a magazine. After that – nada. I wish someone would yell at Delta seat designers that we need some extra space to put stuff.

Lastly let’s talk about the role the A350 will fill. It is not a 747. I think not having the capacity of a 747 is a mistake that will cost Delta one day. Having a small fleet of 747-8s would be brilliant but clearly they did not ask me. Time will tell on this one. – René

 

 

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7 comments

  1. hahha and i still remember all those who claim D1S is now soooooo much better than the rest of the world just because of a door, regardless of personal space or aisle space.

  2. @Rene – I just got back from a run that started on the A350. An interesting tidbit from our longtime (former NWA) 747 FA is that they are required to fly something like 44 days (I forget the exact #) of automated landings (hands off the controls) when breaking in the plane on the new route (clock started Oct 30).

    This was kind of funny – she mentioned this as we had a bumpy landing in NRT: the veteran female 747 captain had to just sit there and cringe during the automated landing. Gotta be hard to do!

  3. *René — Totally agree with PS deficiencies but one has me puzzled: you said it’s hard to use your own headset. But HOW do you use your own headset without an adapter? And for that matter, where does one get an adapter — it’s not a standard old-style one? I hate their headsets!

  4. I just got back from ICN-DTW flight in Delta One A350 and I can say that I will never go out of my way to fly the new Delta One Suite. I am only 5’3″ and it was a very claustrophobic experience. The aisle is too narrow for the cart so service is slow and everyone has to do a dance in the aisle if you need to visit the toilet and someone or the cart is in the aisle-traffic jam. Storage is poor, equipment location is poor. I had to laugh when some of the doors got stuck and thought – oh great we can’t take off or land if the door isn’t open. Chair cushions are thin-so the comfort of seating is going to bad very early-really – can’t we spend money to get a good piece of foam to sit on so our hips don’t hurt or get out of alignment. 2 weeks ago I was on a China Airlines A350 with their new herringbone seating and it was one of the most relaxing trips I have ever flown. One side note-I asked a passenger what he thought and he mentioned that at 6′ 2″ he barely fit when the bed was reclined-so with the walls you can’t hang a leg out. The flight attendants while very professional were having a difficult time with service. Oh, also my screen would freeze every 10 minutes and the show would stop I had to tap the screen with my knuckle (for old timers-like hitting the side of a b&w tv to get the movie going again. Yes I could go on. I am disappointed that Delta did not test the seating design – with common sense. Please note-the crew worked very hard and I can’t fault them with the flight experience at all.

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