Los Angeles - Sydney
- Solid seat and inflight entertainment
- Earn Velocity points and status credits
- Meal presentation could be improved
- A very comfortable seat, making for a 5.5-hour rest
Premium economy on Delta, branded as Delta Premium Select, sits two rungs above economy: trumping Main Cabin and Delta Comfort+, being the next-best thing to business class on the airline's transpacific flights.
- Frequent flyer program: Delta SkyMiles, SkyTeam. Partner programs include Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and others.
- Checked baggage allowance: Standard allowance of 2x32kg bags, or 3x32kg for all elite frequent flyers including Delta and Velocity Silver, SkyTeam Elite, and above. Members of the U.S. military can also check 3x32kg bags on personal travel, or 5x45kg when flying on military orders, regardless of status.
- Carry-on baggage allowance: 1x114cm bag (no maximum weight), plus a personal item such as a briefcase or handbag. In addition, any duty-free, retail or food purchases made at the airport, joined by jackets, umbrellas, and assistive items like crutches.
- Airport fast-track: Skip the airport queues with Sky Priority check-in, security, boarding (it's a tight squeeze at LAX, but boarding is still done by group), and baggage delivery. However, Express Path cards are not provided on arrival into Australia.
As with most premium economy experiences, Delta Premium Select doesn't include airport lounge access as part of the package: this is instead where your frequent flyer status comes in handy.
With a Delta Sky Club, Gold, Platinum or Diamond Medallion membership card, SkyTeam Elite Plus card, Velocity Gold or Platinum membership or other eligible status, Delta's LAX Sky Club awaits, offering a variety of seating zones and a selection of hot and cold food.
Alternatively, presenting an American Express Platinum Charge Card or Centurion Card at reception – including cards issued in Australia – also provides complimentary access. The same is true of a number of US-issued, Delta-branded cards.
Still not covered for the lounge? If you've just arrived into Los Angeles from Sydney and have an onward Delta flight from Terminal 2, a Priority Pass card unlocks the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse from 5am until 10:30am daily. This doesn't work when taking DL41 to Sydney, however, as the flight departs in the evenings.
Delta runs daily return flights between Los Angeles and Sydney, all of which offer Delta Premium Select, and flying from LAX, you're in for a journey time of approximately 15 hours.
Virgin Australia, Delta's strategic partner, also flies from Los Angeles to Sydney, as well as to Melbourne and Brisbane. These flights can be booked as a codeshare journey through Delta, and again, all offer premium economy.
Aboard the Boeing 777-200LRs Delta flies to Australia, Premium Select stretches for six rows in a 2-4-2 configuration, with 48 seats.
Each seat measures 19 inches (48cm) wide and with a 38-inch (96.5cm) pitch, which makes for ample legroom, without your knees coming close to the seat in front.
The primary storage area is the literature pocket in front, although it pulls back very tightly towards the seat, which makes it unsuitable for fragile items and many electronics.
Instead, these items are better accommodated in this separate storage area, where they won't be compressed:
Smaller items can also be kept underneath the arm rest, which tilts open to help with loading and unloading:
This continues to form a central cocktail table between the seats, below which, you'll find controls to recline, adjust the footrest and extend or retract the leg rest. The entertainment controller lives here too, but it's easily bumped and tricky to remove.
Your meal tray is housed inside the opposite arm rest, deployed by pulling on this lever:
A coat hook can be found next to your entertainment screen.
Below that, one AC and USB power outlet per person, although some larger AC chargers may obstruct the separate USB port:
When it's time to sleep, window seats are a choice pick as you'll not be woken up by another passenger – especially so in the back row as selected here, with nobody behind to bump your seat:
However, when all the windows are taken, another smart pick can be the C and F aisle seats. Although part of the centre quad, the middle D and E seats here are usually the last to be filled, so you're more likely to have a spare seat beside, as was the case for several lucky passengers above at boarding time.
The journey begins with a drink before take-off, with the crew's "welcome to Delta Premium Select" joined by a (plastic) cup of Prosecco:
The full bar opens after take-off, where an Argentinian red was selected. Delta doesn't offer a wine list in premium economy – describing this only as "red wine" on the menu – so for anything more detailed, check with the crew, or the label on the bottle.
Given the 10pm departure from Los Angeles, supper comes as a single-tray service with bread, a smoked salmon side, a chocolate dessert and a "garden of gem lettuce" with celery, cucumber and creamy dill dressing, joined by a choice of main course:
- Marinara braised meatballs with Bianco DiNapoli tomato, garlic bread and Giola ricotta
- Pan seared chicken thigh with arrabbiata sauce and Thao's Farm broccolini
- Three cheese lasagne with pomodoro (tomato) sauce
The meatballs were tasty, although the overall meal presentation was very 'economy', particularly the main course:
If you're peckish throughout the journey, egg and cheese croissants are available on request – otherwise, breakfast is served closer to landing in Sydney.
That starts with tea or filtered coffee, "with cream", as Americans would say.
Then comes fresh fruit, a croissant, and a choice of dish:
- Schaner Family Farm cheddar scrambled eggs with chorizo sausage patty, roasted button mushrooms and tomato salsa
- Coconut granola with Greek yoghurt
The second option sounded the lighter choice after a heavier dinner, and was a nice and fresh way to begin the day:
On the dining front in premium economy, Delta is a step behind its partner Virgin Australia across the Pacific, as Virgin's meals better-resemble business class fare.
Entertainment & Service
Each seat in Delta Premium Select provides a 13.3-inch HD touchscreen, in most cases, mounted to the seat in front and which can be tilted to suit.
In the front row only, the screen instead folds out from within the centre armrest.
Passengers can browse a selection of movies, TV shows (labelled "series" in the menu), music and games, as well as check on the progress of their flight:
Amenity kits are provided, along with a pillow, blanket and over-ear headphones, which are all waiting at the seat on boarding. While the headphones are better than offered on some airlines, travellers with their own noise-cancelling pair should still pack them.
Service from the crew is friendly and efficient, with call bells answered promptly, and cabin lights adjusted throughout the flight to reflect the various stages, including a 'sunrise' mode at breakfast time:
Across the Pacific, Delta's advantage in premium economy is clearly its seat: unlike Virgin Australia, Delta offers proper swing-up leg rests, and avoids the design of Qantas' Boeing 787 premium economy, where the legroom is tight.
Delta's meal service could be improved, however, to better-emphasise the 'premium' in Delta Premium Select.
Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of Delta Air Lines.