Delta ONE Business Class Suites on the A350 from Los Angeles to Shanghai

After leaving the lounge, I had to take a shuttle from Terminal 2 to the Tom Bradley International Terminal. That meant waiting for the shuttle bus area accessed from the left of gate 22.

Delta Airlines livery on the 737-800
Delta Airlines livery on the 737-800

The bus ride took about 10 minutes and I was dropped off at the end of Tom Bradley International Terminal, in an empty gate area (around gate 146) that had plenty of seating. From the drop off point it was another 5 minute walk to the gate, passing the plane I was due to take. Upon reaching the gate, they were already proceeding to board passengers in Economy class.

Waiting area at gate 146
Waiting area at gate 146
Delta Airbus A350
Delta Airbus A350

DL89 Los Angeles Tom Bradley International LAX – Shanghai Pudong PVG
STD-STA: 1320-1835 (+1)
Actual: 1341-1800
Airbus A350-900 N510DN
Gate 133 Seat 5D

I had taken this same exact route before when the 777 was still operating this journey. Thus the new Delta ONE suites on the A350 was definitely a marked upgrade with fresh new colours and a nice spacious overhead in the center section of the Business class cabin.

Staggered seating in Delta ONE
Staggered seating in Delta ONE

Cabin crew was offering champagne, beer or orange juice when I boarded so it was a hive of activity in all cabins as the Economy class section was boarding at the same time.

Welcome drinks and menu
Welcome drinks and menu

On the seat was the slippers, pillow, comforter and small pillow. There was a Tumi amenity kit and a pair of headphones in the side console.

Business class seating
Amenities on the Business class seat

A bottle of water is also placed in the holder while menu for the flight and a guide to the seat was already placed on the armrest by the seat. Since I covered most of the features of the new seat in my review of the outbound flight, I would not cover the seat features again. For flights departing out of United States, I got the rigid version of the Tumi amenity kit which is somewhat similar to the Rimowa kit. Contents of the amenity kit are similar.

Tumi amenity kit and pre-departure beverage
Tumi amenity kit and pre-departure beverage

Business class is not full with a couple of empty seats as we pulled back and queued for the run way. Along the way, the peak time for departure and arrivals meant it was a slow taxi to the runway. No matter though as the nice spring day meant sunshine and green fields greeted me as I gazed outside of my window seat.

View from my seat
View from my seat
Spring flowers on the field
Spring flowers on the field

Our route to the runway also shows the growth of Delta at Los Angeles as I spotted numerous A330s and A321s moving around or parked at the airport.

Delta Airbus A330
Delta Airbus A330 at LAX
Delta hub at LAX
Delta hub at LAX

While the plane-spotting out of the window occupied me for the slightly long qit for take-off, it was the view after take-off that was even nicer as we turned north once we head for the skies. Being seated on the starboard side of the plane, I had an unblocked view of Marina Del Rey, Venice and Santa Monica on our ascent.

Aerial view of Marina del Rey
Aerial view of Marina del Rey
Venice beach view
Venice beach view
Flying past Santa Monica
Flying past Santa Monica

Hot towels were distributed after reaching cruising altitude at around 2pm as we continued our flight along the California coastline.

Towel service
Towel service
Point Dume view
Point Dume

Meal orders were then taken, and the menu for the flight was as follow:

Spring 2019 menu
Spring 2019 menu
Western meal menu
Western meal menu
Chinese meal menu
Chinese meal menu
Dessert and snack menu
Dessert and snack menu
Wine and beverage menu
Wine and beverage menu

Unlike the outbound flight, the crew was not able to mix the Chinese appetizer with the western meal. This was a bit disappointing as I liked the Chinese appetizer but would like the main course from the Western menu.

Inflight movie
Inflight movie

Right after the meal orders were taken, drinks were served from the cart with seasoned almonds. I started to watch a Chinese comedy movie ‘Faces of my Genes’ while enjoying the snack.

Wines on the cart
Wines on the cart
Spiced almonds and cranberry drink
Spiced almonds and cranberry drink

Lunch was served starting with the appetizer at around 2:40pm. In terms of taste, the soup served with the appetizer was a bit too sour. While the salad was fresh and crunchy, the presentation was lacking.

Shrimp with creamy tarragon, lettuce and celery salad with creamy dill dressing and tomato basil soup
Shrimp with creamy tarragon, lettuce and celery salad with creamy dill dressing and tomato basil soup

Main course of bouillabaisse was pretty good for an inflight version and there was a large chunk of fish with a couple of prawns. There could have been a bit more broth though and a better presentation of the dish.

Bouillabaisse with fish, shrimp fennel and celery
Bouillabaisse with fish, shrimp fennel and celery

Dessert is always a highlight on the Delta flight and this is no different with a scoop of vanilla and chocolate covered strawberry ice cream topped with generous servings of chocolate sauce and cookie crumble.

Ice cream sundae for dessert
Ice cream sundae for dessert

Meal service ended at around 3:40pm (Pacific time) by which time I changed into sleepwear that I brought along since Delta no longer distributes them on the flight. I made my way to the lavatories which was more spacious than those on the 777 and the modern design helped made the space feel more pleasant. The crew at Delta did maintain the cleanliness of the lavatories throughout the flight, so thumbs up to them for the effort.

Inside the lavatory
Clean lavatories with Malin + Goetz amenities

Back on my seat, I made the seat into a bed for sleeping. The whole seat lowers down a notch for sleeping and this gave plenty of space in the foot cubicle. This was an improved version of a staggered Business Class setting as I was able to find a comfortable sleeping position on this seat. Though I have to note I am not big sized at all, and I have no problems in most staggered seating arrangement in Business class.

Seat turned to a bed
Seat turned to a bed

As I closed the suite doors, I noticed there was a small gap in the door. This door is inoperable during take off and landing and has to be on the open position.

Suite doors closed
Suite doors closed

I managed about 3 hours of sleep before waking up since it was a day flight. Feeling a bit hungry, I got some snacks from the galley and the crew seems to be distant from the passenger. There was a lack of friendliness or interaction from the crew so it was nice that the galley has a well stocked trolley filled with food and beverages for self-service.

Snacks in the galley
Snacks in the galley

For routings from the United States, the water stocked in the galley was bottled Dasani water. As a point of comparison, the outbound flight from Beijing to Detroit has Evian bottled water. Thus I do expect this to be whatever was supplied at the airport of origin. Bottled water is something I notice as I keep myself hydrated on these long haul flights, and the crew serves them to passengers after the meal service as well.

Dasani bottled water
Dasani bottled water

Returning to my seat, I went to watch ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’. After the movie I noticed the staff was offering the mid flight sandwiches which I was not interested in as I returned to sleep. This time I woke up about 4 hours remaining in the flight and I asked for the cup noodle from the galley which has a spicy sesame flavour and it was enough to satisfy me for a nice snack as I watched ‘Friends’ season 10. Classic TV shows never gets boring on long flights.

Instant noodle in between the flight
Instant noodle in between the flight
Inflight entertainment choices
Inflight entertainment choices

About one hour and 30 minutes before landing hot towels was distributed and a choice of beverage was served. I was asked what I wanted for my pre-arrival meal and it was served on a tray with a bowl of grapes. For drinks I had a glass of orange juice.

Hot towel service
Hot towel service before the pre-arrival meal

For the second meal service, I picked the Chinese option and the beef brisket noodle was great as the beef was tender and the noodle absorbed most of the curry broth giving it plenty of flavor.

Beef brisket with curry broth and noodles
Beef brisket with curry broth and noodles

Served along with the main course was a chocolate muffin of sorts with butter placed on the side plate. This was a delicious snack that really filled me up since it was evening as we descended into Shanghai and I would reach town past dinner time.

Chocolate muffin
Chocolate muffin

It was an enjoyable dinner as we descended into Shanghai fairly quickly after the meal tray was collected. There was no thank you from the purser or any chocolates passed around by them either. Throughout this flight the crew was below average as it seems to me that they found the passengers a bothersome bunch. The only exception was from the crew that helped me make my instant noodle though she was not serving my aisle for most of the meal.

Route map
Route map for the flight

The approach to Pudong was straightforward but it did mean a bit of a bumpy ride as we descended beneath the clouds. On an Airbus A350 the ride was stable and the cabin was very comfortable in the Business Class setting. I found the Airbus A350 provides for a much better ride compared to the Boeing 787 and good choice on Delta’s part for purchasing this plane for long haul Transpacific routes.

Descent into PVG
Descent into Shanghai Pudong

Upon landing there was a long taxi to Terminal 1 where we were parked in a remote stand. It slowed the disembarkation process as there was some light rain outside and the bus was a bit of a walk from the bottom of the stairs. This was definitely not a very cheery welcome and did mean the experience was not optimal for passengers in a premium cabin.

Rainy day at Shanghai Pudong
Rainy day at Shanghai Pudong
Disembarking from the flight
Disembarking from the flight

As a hobbyist photographer, this arrival did gave me an opportunity to take more photos of the plane, which I always enjoy. Though the cold and gloomy weather along with waiting for the bus to fill up meant a lot of standing up and being uncomfortable. Fortunately, the queue for immigrations was not that long and there was no problem during the luggage claim with little wait.

Remote stand disembarking
View of the fuselage from the door

Final Word

As a conclusion I found I loved Delta’s Business Class cabin and I would rate it the best Business Class seat of any airline, even compared to the premium airlines. However the service onboard this flight fell short even by Delta’s standards and that made this a flawed flight in itself. Taking into account the other flights I had with Delta, I can still safely recommend travellers to go for Delta ONE Business Class especially if the flight is operated by the newer Airbus A350s and the A330neos that would have this Delta ONE suites.

View of Delta's A350
Arrival view of Delta Airlines A350 at Shanghai Pudong

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