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Review: A330 Delta One Business Class Minneapolis to Honolulu Hawaii Experience 2020

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Disclaimer: This flight was in January of 2020, weeks before COVID exploded and changed travel as we know it. With that in mind – on to my review:

The above is me playing social ambassador for my “home town” airport, South Bend, Indiana (SBN). I have the ear to ear grin because it is January — and I am going to Hawaii for the better part of two weeks!

Not only that, I scored one of the most elusive, hard-to-find-perks by using my Medallion Choice Benefit perk of what is called a Regional Upgrade (or “RU”) certificate to upgrade my coach flight to Delta One on a 10-ish hour direct flight from the mainland to Hawaii.

Now, it was not easy. I originally booked the PERFECT flights to and from the islands from Detroit. But Delta ended up scaling back the DTW-HNL direct flights. And, in the end, stopped them altogether. 🙁

Delta tried to change me to the all domestic business class aka “first class” seats with connections on the West Coast. But I pushed — I mean really pushed — to have them keep me in the class of service I booked. After all – I could have paid WAY less and booked the much lower class “first class” and Delta would never, EVER, allow a non-Delta One booked flight to be flipped to a Delta One flight (i.e. the rules have to apply both ways).

My wife and I even ended up with an “upgrade” from South Bend to Minneapolis on a CRJ200 — by each getting two seats in the exit row. Thanks to COVID I do think, with poor air circulation and filtration, the days of this cursed bird are quickly coming to an end. (And the sooner the better!)

To make the direct flight out of Minneapolis to Honolulu, we had to leave home way too early for breakfast. Thankfully, thanks to my non-Delta Amex Platinum Card, the Escape Lounge in MSP provided both sustenance and a quiet area before our flight. Sadly, this lounge is no longer a Priority Pass club so you will need a Platinum card to get in.

The Airbus A330 Delta One seat design is hands down one of my favorites. I flew it for the first time on a trip to Hong Kong and have always tried to book it ever since. I like it much more than the Delta One Suites Delta now has as its Flagship product on the A350!


The middle seats are just about perfect if you are flying with someone. You have space and can chat but also, when leaning back, have a feeling of privacy.

And when flying alone, the window side seats are both comfortable and private. Delta really hit a home run on this business class design.

There is a neat space for the Delta One headphones on the reading lamp – but do me a favor and toss these worthless headphones up in the overhead and buy something quality like my NosieHush Bluetooth headphones.

Delta One menus were nicely positioned with a large bottle of water. I will get more into these and the dinner choices in a bit.

One of the things we all want is simple and REACHABLE access to power. Delta does this right in these seats. I tend to use a short USB power cord to plug into my Bluetooth transmitter and then into the sound jack just above it to have uninterrupted full power while I am watching moves. Perfect. On to the seat.

You should find a small, but useful, arm rest in a down position but there is an easy to use button to pop it up. FYI — you need to have it down for takeoff and landing, so save the FAs some time and make sure this is done.

Plenty of leg room? Check. Some may find the narrowing foot well a bit tight. I have never had an issue but that has been one of the few complaints about this seat configuration.

Controls could not be simpler and right at hand. Same goes for the hand control unit if you do not want to reach for the IFE screen for movies etc.

Speaking of movies – the fold out screen is bright, large and responsive. Delta has always had an ample selection of videos and entertainment to keep me occupied. Now, one more small complaint.

Do you see this cubby hole? That, my friends, is the extent of the storage space you have.

Well, you can toss out the safety card and magazines and have a tiny bit more, I guess. But I think you see my point. A major fail of ALL the different Delta One seats is total lack of storage. Moving on.

I really like this Delta One tray design. It pops out effortlessly and slides back and forth just as simply. I like that you can half-ish fold it and swing it out of the way as well. Just a brilliant design.

Since we were on our way to Hawaii, I would expect a Mai-tai but Delta has “enhanced” that to this fruity drink. Don’t get me wrong – it was good – but a downgrade nonetheless. Speaking of downgrades:

Time to step on my soapbox for a while about domestic Delta One vs. International Delta One. The menu had two wines to choose from. But…

We got neither and there was only one red to choose from. Delta plays this 10-ish hour flight up to be just like an international flight (that is often much shorter in duration) but then cuts lots of corners. Like what?

The nut service with wine is the same as a flight to far away but then on to dinner.

THIS is how it is presented. All on one plastic tray all at once. Here you are – dig in. Here is how, IMO, it should be presented:

What a difference just removing that sticky ugly tray makes – right? But compared to a true Delta One flight where you get first an appetizer, then the soup and salad course, followed by the main course really sets Delta One apart from plain old domestic “first class”.

Also, with the one dish service, the end result of the meal was also lacking compared to real Delta One service (btw yes you can have a simply amazing steak in Delta One)!

Even the dessert course, while provided and on its own, is just – less. Good – but less. That to me really sums up the scale of the faux Delta One vs. the real Delta one – just a bit less all around.

This was a flight that chased the sun and I always find it interesting who keeps their shades up and who keeps them down.

Before landing, a sandwich was provided — and appreciated. At least this part was much in line with what I would expect in Delta One.

Overall, it was a very good flight. The service was outstanding as I would expect from an MSP based flight. The food was OK but not remarkable. The seats I loved. Being able to use my RU certs was sweet and a treat — but I wish Delta would make them simpler to use for such a flight or upgrade the flight to real Delta One and then require a Global Upgrade to get the seat (from a coach ticket).

The final result was landing in Hawaii so all good, right? Well, we did have to next connect to a Hawaii Air flight and Delta did check my bags all the way to the Big Island at no charge. However, on the way back, that was not the case. Stand by for that review! – René

 

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

4 Comments

  1. Agree with your assessment 100%. Love the A330 Delta One seats MUCH better than the A350 Delta One Suites. On the ATL-HNL route they switch between an A330 and 767 all the time. You can book on an A330 and then end up on the much inferior 767 “Delta One.” There is no consistency in what DL labels Delta One. Possibly the only common factor is a flat bed seat. Everything else (food and service) is a variable. They used to call ATL-HNL in the front cabin on an A330, Domestic First Class. Then they changed the label to Delta One, and increased the price by $500. Same plane, same seat, same domestic First Class food, same service, but $500 more for calling it Delta One. I wrote to them twice about this and never got an answer.

  2. FNT Delta Diamond Reply

    Back in 2018, I flew Delta One from Atlanta and Minneapolis to Honolulu about 10 times for work. Best gig ever. I also had a half-dozen trips in first-class via Los Angeles or Seattle. Additionally, I had another dozen or so intra-Asia flights in Delta One until Narita was dropped. Unfortunately, Delta’s “regional” Delta One (domestic and one-off international flights) has been way below the standard of international Delta One for several years, despite all the marketing by Delta. This is most evident in the wine selection but also the meals. Not only is the meal served all at once but typically the choices are nearly as good as what you might find on say Detroit to Paris, which makes no sense because that’s a much shorter flight and quite late at night. Even Tokyo to Honolulu — a huge moneymaker pre-coronavirus — had this inferior service. The worst is the crappy Italian sparkling wine. I don’t understand why Delta doesn’t buy 100,000 bottles of Roederer California sparkling wine or Gruet New Mexico sparkling wine.

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