Flight Delta 41. Los Angeles to Sydney.
Airbus A350-900. Delta currently has 24 A350s in its fleet.
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Delta Sky Miles, part of the SkyTeam alliance – the great aspect to this loyalty scheme is that miles never expire.
Delta One (business class), seat 3A.
Fourteen hours and 44 minutes. We take off on time, and land 10 minutes early. Then the Australian Government make us wait to watch a video to tell us their COVID rules – why didn't they show it it during that near 15-hour flight?
Daily. Taking off from LA at 10.30pm and landing around 8.30am.
All passengers on international flights operated by Delta must be fully vaccinated (with some exceptions for children and medical exemptions). You'll need an International Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate, and to provide proof of a negative COVID test taken no more than three days before departure or a RAT test no more than 24 hours before departure. You'll also need to fill out a Digital Passenger Declaration form before take-off. Delta offer FlyReady, so you can upload all Covid-19 documents required.
Delta advises to arrive at least three hours early for your flight. Check in at Delta Domestic at Terminal Two at LAX, then a bus will take you to the international terminal.
The A350 has 32 Delta One Suites set in a 1-2-1 configuration – my suite is fully enclosed, this is currently the only carrier with this feature servicing the Australia-US route. Seats are 61 centimetres wide with a lie-flat 180 degree bed setting. The flat bed is one of the more comfortable beds on a plane I've slept on. There's plenty of room to toss and turn and the closed suite allows for more privacy when I turn the lights off so I feel like I'm in a hotel room. I sleep solidly for seven hours - a new record for me, although this eats into my movie watching time.
Delta One passengers on this leg can travel with two checked bags not exceeding 32 kilograms each. You're allowed two carry-on items not exceeding seven kilograms.
Each seat comes with a 46-centimetre full HD TV screen with 1000-plus hours of new release movies, TV box sets and games. You'll get noise-cancelling headphones and environmentally-friendly amenities kits. There's also an interactive fitness platform designed exclusively for Delta One flyers from Peloton called 'Classes In The Clouds'.
There's a handwritten note on my seat on arrival from the chief purser (thanks, Sandra) which epitomises how service goes for the next 14 hours-or-so. The crew on-board can't do enough for me. Pre-take-off drinks are served on arrival, and snacks are offered throughout. And there's smiles under those masks – I can tell from the eyes.
Delta has signed up two of LA's most acclaimed chefs (Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo) to rejig their menu and the results are impressive. I opt for Marinara Braised Meatballs with parsley, parmesan and whipped ricotta with a sweet potato five spice soup and a roasted beet Greek salad with feta and kalamata and it's delicious. Desert is a chocolate peppermint cake. If I was still hungry, I might've snacked on a roast pork shoulder sandwich, instead I wait for cheddar scrambled eggs with chicken sausage and hash-brown casserole.
ONE MORE THING
Australia: lift your game! Tourists are now allowed back in - so let's change the rhetoric. Don't threaten tourists using the scary voice-over guy from a B-grade horror movie. Let's lighten the mood, they're coming to visit, can't we at least try to be hospitable? And for heaven's sake, Sydney Airport, put some more staff on. It takes over three hours to get from the international terminal to my domestic connection.
You expect a lot in the pointy end of the plane, but it doesn't always feel worth the big spend. But service on this flight is a dream, the food is restaurant-worthy, and despite it seeming like an awfully long flight in the lead-up, I'm left not wanting it to end.
OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE
Craig Tansley travelled courtesy of Delta Airlines.