Guide to Delta First Class and Delta One

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With the weather warming, COVID-19 vaccinations increasing and at least some flight deals still kicking around, it looks like travel is due for a comeback.

Business travel spending is expected to grow by 21 percent this year, according to the Global Business Travel Association’s annual report, and Tripadvisor’s 2021 Summer Travel Index found that 67 percent of Americans plan on taking vacations over the next few months.

Whether you’re a jetsetter with pent-up wanderlust or a business traveler itching to get back to the skies, read up on Delta’s premium cabin offerings—First Class and Delta One—before you book your next post-pandemic flight.

Delta First Class vs. Delta One: What’s the difference?

Although “first class” usually denotes the best an airline has to offer, that isn’t so with Delta Air Lines, which dubbed its top-of-the-line fare class “Delta One.”

Below, we break down the key differences between the two options.

Delta One overview

Originally unveiled as a rebranding of Delta’s BusinessElite class, Delta One cabin debuted in 2015 featuring lie-flat seats (a first among U.S.-based airlines), a refined “culinary experience” with seasonal and regionally inspired meal options, complimentary wine pairings selected by master sommelier Andrea Robinson, in-flight loungewear (on some flights) and various other improvements.

And the airline didn’t stop there.

Announced in 2016 as the “world’s first all-suite business class,” the introduction of Delta One suites further refined the Delta business-travel experience thanks to full-height doors that close (plus Do Not Disturb signs for travelers who really want to be left alone), memory foam-enhanced seat cushions, in-suite storage compartments for your shoes, carry-on and laptop, customizable ambient lighting, upgraded entertainment systems and a dedicated flight attendant. All Delta One seats have direct aisle access, and center-cabin suites also include sliding privacy dividers.

Delta One suites, which can be found on board the airline’s Airbus A350 and A330-900neo planes (with modified doorless versions in some of its older, refurbished aircraft), are available on select long-haul international flights (for example, Atlanta to Seoul and Boston to London) and domestic routes (like Minneapolis to Honolulu and New York to San Diego).

Delta One airport amenities

The perks of being a Delta One passenger kick in at the airport, beginning with access to Delta’s airport lounges (aka Delta Sky Clubs), where you can enjoy free food, drinks, Wi-Fi and satellite TV prior to boarding.

Select lounges even have showers with Malin+Goetz toiletries and plush towels to help you freshen up before takeoff. (Some locations and services are closed or suspended due to coronavirus restrictions; you can check Delta’s website for a current list of open Sky Clubs.)

Delta One ticket holders also benefit from the full lineup of SkyPriority benefits, including dedicated check-in areas, priority security lines (at some airports) and early boarding.

You can check up to two bags at no extra charge, too, and SkyPriority’s expedited baggage handling means your bags will be first on the carousel when you arrive at your destination.

Delta One flight amenities

Once you’ve boarded and found your suite, you’re greeted with an assortment of swag to help you travel in style: a Westin Heavenly pillow and blanket, pair of noise-canceling headphones and amenity kit featuring Le Labo lotion and lip balm, Tumi sleep mask, hand sanitizer, dental kit, socks and pen—all stuffed inside a Tumi-branded leather pouch.

Your suite also includes an 18-inch, high-resolution touchscreen monitor (and access to hundreds of TV shows, movies, podcasts and music through Delta Studio), fast and reliable Wi-Fi, universal outlets and high-powered USB ports to keep your devices fully charged during the flight.

Delta also offers free messaging through iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp on all Wi-Fi enabled flights.

Food and drink offerings

Delta has spent the last few years upgrading its onboard product offerings, including its food and beverage program.

Delta One passengers can now luxuriate in a “completely elevated” dining experience, including seasonal, chef-curated meals (your choice of entrée, bread and dessert) made with locally sourced ingredients and paired with wines, top-shelf spirits or assorted beers.

(Note that some food and beverage options, including hot meals, have been unavailable during the coronavirus pandemic, although the airline started reintroducing services in mid-April.)

Delta First Class overview

Delta’s next-best fare option, First Class (known as Premium Select on international flights), offers many of the same amenities as Delta One, though it’s missing some of the special touches that set Delta One suites apart.

Delta First Class airport amenities

Customers flying First Class on Delta Air Lines enjoy many of the same airport amenities as Delta One passengers, including SkyPriority services (accelerated check-in, security and baggage handling), priority boarding and two free checked bags weighing up to 70 pounds each. What First Class doesn’t come with, though, is day-of-departure Sky Club access.

Delta First Class flight amenities

Delta’s First Class cabin provides Delta business-travel perks similar to that of Delta One, with a dedicated flight attendant and chef-prepared meals.

While there are differences depending on the aircraft, seats in First Class offer an extra eight inches of legroom and can recline 50 percent farther compared with seats in the Main Cabin.

Many First-Class seats also feature seatback screens of up to 11 inches, albeit with fewer entertainment options than those in Delta One suites, and flyers who forget their headphones can get a free pair of ergonomic Billboard earbuds.

Other Delta First Class benefits include plenty of built-in outlets and fast Wi-Fi to help you stay productive in the air but the pillow and blanket waiting at your seat—while flimsier compared with Delta One’s Westin Heavenly bedding—may entice you to have a snooze so you can arrive at your destination rested and refreshed.

Food and drink offerings

Delta Airlines first-class food and drink offerings vary by mileage. Here’s what you can expect based on the length of your flight:

  • Less than 900 miles: Prepackaged snacks (one sweet and one savory, including the airline’s now-ubiquitous Biscoff cookies, Goldfish, potato chips and Clif bars); bottled water, tea and Starbucks coffee; complimentary beer and wine service as well as mini cans of Coke, juices and mixers
  • 900 to 1,499 miles: All of the above, plus an individual Flight Fuel box
  • 1,500+ miles: All of the above, plus full meal service (in place of the Flight Fuel box)

Flyers in First Class will see the return of fresh boxed meals starting in early July.

Best credit cards for scoring a seat on Delta Air Lines

An airline credit card could help you earn miles on everyday purchases and make your next Delta flight more affordable—or even free.

Some travel credit cards will even give you Delta business travel benefits like free checked bags, savings on in-flight purchases, free Sky Club access and more.

Which travel card you should apply for, Delta-branded or otherwise, depends on how often you fly and the specific perks you’re after.

Here are the best travel rewards credit cards for snagging a seat on Delta Air Lines.

American Express® Gold Card: Best for travel rewards on dining

  • Welcome bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in your first six months
  • Rewards: 4X Membership Rewards points on restaurants, 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1X points), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or via AmexTravel.com, 2X points on rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com and 1X points on everything else
  • Perks: Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash; up to $120 in annual dining credits, up to $100 in hotel credits, no foreign transaction fees, free ShopRunner membership, trip delay insurance, baggage insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, extended warranty coverage, purchase protection, Global Assist Hotline, Pay with Points, Pay It, Plan It® and optional Rose Gold design
  • Annual fee: $250

Read our full review of the American Express Gold Card.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card: Best for no annual fee

  • Welcome bonus: 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in your first three months
  • Rewards: 2X miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, 2X miles on purchases made directly with Delta and 1X miles on all other eligible purchases
  • Perks: 20 percent back on in-flight purchases, car rental loss and damage insurance, Global Assist Hotline, Pay with Miles and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $0

Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: Best for budget-minded travelers

  • Welcome bonus: Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 Bonus Miles after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Rewards: 2X miles at restaurants (including takeout and delivery), 2X miles at U.S. supermarkets, 2X miles on purchases made directly with Delta and 1X miles on everything else
  • Perks: $100 annual Delta flight credit after spending $10,000 in a calendar year, first checked bag free, early boarding, 20 percent back on in-flight purchases, car rental loss and damage insurance, Global Assist Hotline, Pay with Miles and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $99, a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year

Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Best for frequent-flyer perks

  • Welcome bonus: Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Rewards: 3X miles on Delta flights, Delta Vacations purchases and on transactions made directly with hotels; 2X miles at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants and 1X miles on all other purchases
  • Perks: Annual companion certificate, up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 in a calendar year (up to two times), Delta Sky Club access for $39 per person when traveling on a Delta flight, first checked bag free, early boarding, 20 percent back on in-flight purchases, trip delay insurance, baggage insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, Global Assist Hotline and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $250

Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Best for airport lounge access, elite status and Delta Medallion members

  • Welcome bonus: Limited Time Offer: Earn 80,000 Bonus Miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Rewards: 3X miles on eligible Delta flights and Delta Vacations and 1X miles on all other purchases
  • Perks: Annual companion certificate, up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 in a calendar year (up to four times), Medallion Qualification Dollar waiver, free Amex Centurion Lounge access and free Delta Sky Club access when traveling on a Delta flight, two one-time guest passes to Delta Sky Club every year, first checked bag free, early boarding, priority upgrades, 20 percent back on in-flight purchases, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay insurance, baggage insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, Global Assist Hotline and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $550

Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for international travel

  • Welcome bonus: 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first six months
  • Rewards: 10X points at eligible restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases during your first six months of card membership; 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (per calendar year), 2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel and 1X points on all other purchases
  • Perks: Up to $200 in Uber Cash annually and Uber VIP status, up to $200 in annual airline fee credits; up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, up to $179 in Clear credits, up to $100 in statement credits for Saks Fifth Avenue purchases annually, up to $200 in hotel credits, Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status, free Centurion Lounge access and Delta Sky Club access when traveling on a Delta flight, free Priority Pass Select membership, Amex Global Lounge Collection access, free ShopRunner membership, cellphone protection, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay insurance, baggage insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, extended warranty coverage, purchase protection, return protection, concierge services, Global Dining Access by Resy, Global Assist Hotline, Upgrade with Points, Pay with Points, Pay It Plan It and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $695

Read our full review of The Platinum Card from American Express.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card: Best for cost-effective perks

  • Welcome bonus: Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles, and a $50 statement credit after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. Offer Ends 11/10/2021.
  • Rewards: Unlimited 2X miles on Delta purchases, select U.S. advertising purchases, U.S. shipping purchases and restaurant purchases and 1X miles on everything else
  • Perks: $100 Delta flight voucher after spending $10,000 in a calendar year, first checked bag free, early boarding, 20 percent back on in-flight purchases, baggage insurance plan, car rental loss and damage insurance, extended warranty coverage, purchase protection, Global Assist Hotline, expense management tools and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $99, $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year

Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card: Best for airline-specific perks

  • Welcome bonus: Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles, 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $100 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Ends 11/10/21.
  • Rewards: 3X miles on Delta and hotel purchases, 1.5X miles on purchases over $5,000 (up to 50,000 additional miles per year) and 1X miles on everything else
  • Perks: Annual companion certificate, up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 in a calendar year (up to two times), Delta Sky Club access for $39 per person when traveling on a Delta flight, first checked bag free, early boarding, 20 percent back on in-flight purchases, trip delay insurance, baggage insurance plan, car rental loss and damage insurance, extended warranty, purchase protection, Global Assist Hotline, expense management tools and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $250

Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card: Best for business travelers who frequently fly Delta

  • Welcome bonus: Limited Time Offer: Earn 80,000 bonus miles, 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $200 statement credit after spending $5,000 on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Ends 11/10/21.
  • Rewards: 3X miles on Delta purchases and 1X miles on all other purchases; after spending $150,000 in one calendar year, earn 1.5X miles on each purchase for the rest of the year
  • Perks: Annual companion certificate, up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 in a calendar year (up to four times), Medallion Qualification Dollar waiver, free Centurion Lounge access and Delta Sky Club access when traveling on a Delta flight, two one-time guest passes to Delta Sky Club every year, access to complimentary upgrades and preferred seating, first checked bag free, early boarding, priority upgrades, 20 percent back on in-flight purchases, cell phone protection, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay insurance, baggage insurance plan, car rental loss and damage insurance, extended warranty, purchase protection, concierge services, Global Dining Collection, Global Assist Hotline, Pay with Miles, no foreign transaction fees and expense management tools
  • Annual fee: $550

Read our full review of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card.

How to use your Delta SkyMiles for a cabin upgrade

The number of Delta SkyMiles required for a cabin upgrade varies based on the flight, time of year and what kind of upgrade you want.

The fact that there’s no fixed award chart makes this more difficult, as Delta SkyMiles are dynamically priced (that said, The Points Guy pegs the value of Delta SkyMiles at around 1.2 cents apiece).

Luckily, using your Delta SkyMiles to book a cabin upgrade is a lot simpler. All you have to do is choose “Upgrade with Miles” in your Trip Summary on Delta.com prior to finalizing your purchase.

If you already booked your ticket, log in at Delta.com or the Fly Delta app, find your reservation in “My Trips,” pick an available seat and choose “Pay with Miles.” (You can also set your account preferences to automatically request an upgrade whenever you make a reservation with your SkyMiles number.)

If you don’t see an option to upgrade your seat online or in the app, you may be able to get help from a SkyMiles representative. Here’s how:

  1. Call Delta Reservations at 1-800-221-1212.
  2. Ask to book a mileage upgrade award.
  3. If an upgrade is available, your reservation is eligible and you have enough SkyMiles in your frequent flyer account, the representative can confirm your upgrade over the phone.

In addition, all Delta Medallion members (regardless of their tier) qualify for unlimited, complimentary upgrades to First Class—no miles required. (You could even get a day-of-departure upgrade to Delta One on U.S. flights, when available.)

Medallion members who have Diamond status can use a global upgrade certificate on both international and domestic Delta flights in addition to select flights with Delta Air Lines partners, such as Air France or Virgin Atlantic.

Diamond and Platinum members alike can trade in a regional upgrade certificate to move up to First Class or the domestic Delta One experience on the same routes that qualify for free upgrades.

Remember that Delta cabin upgrades are nonrefundable after purchase, which means you’ll lose your miles if you switch your flight, even on refundable fares.

Delta First Class and Delta One FAQs

What is Delta business class called?

Once known as BusinessElite, the Delta business travel program is now called Delta One—an enhanced business-class option the airline offers on longer international flights and select domestic routes.

Can I upgrade from Delta First Class to Delta One?

Unfortunately, there are no Delta flights that offer both fare classes, so upgrades from First Class to Delta One aren’t available.

Can I use the Delta lounge when flying business class?

While Delta One passengers have full access to Delta airport lounges, the same can’t be said for First-Class customers on domestic flights—unless they’re a SkyMiles member with Diamond, Platinum or Gold Medallion status (or hold a qualifying Delta credit card, such as the Delta SkyMiles Reserve or Reserve Business).

Travelers in First Class on international flights operated by Delta or a SkyTeam alliance partner get same-day access to both Delta Sky Clubs and SkyTeam lounges.

The bottom line

In the battle of Delta One vs. First Class, there’s no clear winner for all travelers. If you frequently fly internationally or take longer domestic flights, the Delta One suite could be worth the splurge, particularly if you have one of the aforementioned credit cards (or plan to apply for one soon).

While Delta’s First Class seats aren’t as spacious compared to the first-class offerings on some other airlines, the fares tend to be more affordable and the customer service superior enough to regularly place Delta near the top of J.D. Power’s North America Airline Satisfaction study for long and short-haul flights. Objectively, however, it’s pretty hard for First Class to compete with the added luxury of a Delta One suite.