Review: Flying In The Lap Of Luxury With Delta One

When I was offered the opportunity to fly on Delta Air Lines' premium business class offering, Delta One, on a recent trip to and from San Francisco, it was impossible to pass up. Just about every airline has been upping their business class game recently, and Delta's is one of the most luxurious you'll encounter. It's available on long-haul international flights, as well as cross-country flights between New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport and Los Angeles or San Francisco. (It will also be available between Reagan and LAX and between Boston and San Francisco later this year.) From the minute we entered the airport to the moment we got off the plane, the experience was one to remember.

There's a dedicated check-in area at JFK, and that combined with SkyPriority boarding made the check-in and security process quick and painless. The flagship Delta Sky Club at JFK is massive and impressive, with a large selection of food (breakfast items in this case, including some surprising options like cheese blintzes, tortilla española, and coconut grits), plenty of comfortable seating, a full bar, ample space to work, and even an outdoor terrace overlooking the tarmac.

Priority boarding allowed us to board the plane first, giving us ample time to get settled and have a look around the business class section. Each seat has a Tumi amenity kit with Kiehl's products, a bottle of water, headphones, a big pillow, and a Westin Heavenly blanket. Seats are 21 inches wide, and yes, they fully recline. The seat was really comfortable, and there are lots of nice little perks, like a reading light, plenty of plugs, and ample storage space.

Flight attendants were friendly and professional, and offered Champagne and (of course) hot towels before takeoff, which was very nice. Breakfast service began shortly after takeoff, and as Delta has partnered with restaurateur Danny Meyer of Union Square Hospitality Group on its menus, the breakfast menu was designed by Jason Pfeiffer, executive chef at the USHG restaurant Maialino. (Delta also recently began offering complimentary meals in its main cabin on transcontinental flights.)

The meal started with smoked salmon, a small bagel, onion, capers, cream cheese, jam, butter, fresh fruit, yogurt, and cranberry pound cake. As for the main course, we had the option of coconut chia pudding with pomegranate and housemade granola, or a "Croque Signora": a focaccia sandwich with pecorino bechamel, Swiss cheese, ham, and egg, with a side of cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) grits. I opted for the latter; the sandwich was rich and hearty with high quality ingredients, and the cheesy, Italian-style grits were creative and addictive. An offering of carrot-orange-thyme juice was also a nice touch.

Flying back from San Francisco in the afternoon, we had the opportunity to try the dinner menu, which was also bountiful and tasty.

The meal started with two appetizers: a spinach and arugula salad with pears, spiced pecans, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, pomegranate seeds, and maple vinaigrette; and cold thick-sliced beef tenderloin with fresh lump crab and tomato remoulade to tie it all together. There were three main course options: pan seared beef tenderloin with savory Sriracha butter and roasted vegetables; olive oil-poached Alaskan halibut with roasted tomatoes, pearl onions, olives, and artichokes in lemon-tarragon beurre blanc; and black truffle and potato ravioli with honey-roasted forest mushrooms and a light Parmesan broth.

We went with the first two options; while the tenderloin was slightly overcooked (as to be expected) and I didn't get much of the Sriracha, both the beef and the halibut were full of flavor, nicely plated, and certainly restaurant-worthy. A cheese plate of Cypress Grove Midnight Moon, Kaltbach Gruyère, and Roth's Buttermilk Blue Affinee ended the meal on a very classy note. The wine selection, from master sommelier Andrea Robinson, was also worthy of note: Mito Brut prosecco was free-flowing, the white offering was Franciscan Estate's Equilibrium (a blend of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and muscat), and the red was Inception's pinot noir. Needless to say, after the meal I was ready to ease the seat into "full recline" mode and take a long nap.

Flying business class has always been a luxury, but now it's really truly luxurious thanks to offerings like Delta One. Instead of landing at your destination rumpled and hungry, you actually feel well-rested and ready to face the day. While it's not cheap, the experience itself is priceless.