Airline review: Delta Airlines, Los Angeles to Sydney, economy class

THE PLANE

The Delta fleet includes 10 Boeing 777-200LRs, one of the world's longest-range passenger aircraft.

THE ROUTE

DL41, Los Angeles to Sydney

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

SkyMiles; members of codeshare partner Virgin Australia's Velocity program can also earn points and status credits when flying Delta.

CLASS

Economy, window seat 33A.

DURATION

15 hours, 10 minutes. The flight is an hour and 43 minutes late taking off but only 38 minutes late touching down in Sydney.

FREQUENCY

Delta flies Los Angeles to Sydney daily; codeshare partner Virgin Australia also flies this route, arriving into Sydney slightly later, at 8.30am. Looking for a flight that's less jet-lag-inducing? Consider Virgin's LA-Brisbane Saturday morning departure with a 6.15pm Sunday touchdown.

THE SEAT

The main cabin's 218 leather seats are in a 3-3-3 configuration. The economy seats are 18 inches (46 centimetres) wide with a four inch (10cm) recline and pitch of 31 to 32 inches (79 to 81cm).

BAGGAGE

Two bags weighing up to 23kg can be checked for free; carry-on is one personal item plus one bag with dimensions not exceeding 114cm in combined width, length and height. No carry-on weight restrictions apply, which is lucky, because I'm lugging 17kg of carry-on so I can skip the whole checked baggage rigmarole.

COMFORT

There's a blanket, pillow and basic sleep kit (eye mask and ear plugs). Bring along a neck pillow, swaddle yourself in that blanket, and you should be able to grab some sleep on this flight.

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FOOD

I'm in my favourite seat – by the window – praying for uninterrupted sleep. However, that's not great if you're hoping to stay awake for the dinner service that's rolling out well after midnight thanks to our delayed take-off. I can barely keep my eyes open after connecting to this flight from Orlando, Florida, on the country's east coast. My body thinks it's next week already and I don't even know I've fallen asleep until the clatter of my neighbours' dinner trays being collected jolts me awake. I speed-read the menu – do I order the seared rosemary chicken breast fillet, vegetarian pasta duet or chicken, spinach, beets, blue cheese and pecan salad? No, I'll hang out for the mid-flight snack (warm ham, egg and cheese sandwich) and the breakfast (scrambled eggs with cream cheese and chives, chicken apple sausage and potatoes or French toast with apple compote). The menu also features a boomerang symbol denoting Australian flavours and products. It gilds just one item: Pure Blonde beer. C'mon, Delta – it's not difficult to do better than this.

SERVICE

After rousing from my slumber, I'm parched - an attendant happily pours me a juice. Otherwise, service is unremarkable – hardly surprising when the cabin is dimmed to replicate "night" for most of the flight.

ENTERTAINMENT

I wake to discover we're still mid-Pacific. To while away the hours, I use my own noise-cancelling headphones and investigate entertainment options on the 22.8cm seatback screen. After watching Being George Clooney, a touching documentary about voice-over artists, I stumble upon Barry – an HBO series about a disillusioned hitman who wants to become an actor. It pains me to end the binge-fest upon touchdown.

ONE MORE THING

Investing in a Delta single-visit lounge pass ($US59, available at the Delta Sky Club check-in desk) can feel like the next best thing to actually flying up the pointy end. With hours to pass in Orlando before my long-haul flight back to Australia, I swan around the airline's clubby lounge where snacks and drinks are on tap. Unusually, circulating waiters take drink orders and engage in friendly chit-chat. As mentioned, I'm travelling with carry-on only. Upon touchdown, I whiz through Sydney airport faster than business travellers still waiting for their bags at the carousel. These two travel hacks have me feeling almost like a VIP.

THE VERDICT

Flying from Los Angeles to Sydney can feel like the longest night of your life, particularly in economy. Smart flyers will plan meal times so they sleep when necessary. It's also worth downloading the Delta app that features a "Track My Bags" function, plus a "Parking Reminder" that lets you upload a photo of where you parked the car, and saving its location.

Our rating out of five: ★★★1/2

The writer flew as a guest of Delta Air Lines.

See also: Airline review: Is Virgin's 'Economy X' class worth the extra $149?

See also: Why beer is so bad on a plane

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