Delta Air Lines domestic first class review – The Points Guy

Quick take: Delta Air Lines’ A321neo first class offers recliners with privacy shields, delicious food and generally friendly crew.


  • Delta’s latest first-class recliners have privacy wings around the headrests and shields between seats.
  • Enormous overhead bins manage to fit everyone’s bags on their side.
  • There are large, easy-to-navigate entertainment systems.


  • Many passengers didn’t get their first choice of meal since preordering wasn’t possible on this flight.
  • The legroom is restricted by the entertainment box.
  • Food menus, drink menus, pillows and blankets were not provided.

About a year and a half ago, Delta started flying the A321neo, which it outfitted with new creature comforts, like cocooned first-class recliners with enhanced privacy features, larger tray tables and more storage space than on its previous first-class seats. The airline will continue receiving deliveries of this plane through 2027, which will bring Delta’s total to an impressive 155 A321neos, solidifying the A321neo as the backbone of Delta’s short and medium-haul operations.

You’ll generally find Delta’s A321neo on transcontinental flights — except those between John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) or San Francisco International Airport (SFO) — and those to Hawaii. The Atlanta-based carrier also operates this plane on shorter hub-to-hub flights like mine from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

Here’s what it’s like to fly Delta Air Lines’ Airbus A321neo from Los Angeles to Seattle.

How much does first class cost to book on Delta Air Lines?


Delta typically operates between five and seven daily flights from Los Angeles to Seattle (and the same number in the opposite direction). Most of these flights are operated by Boeing 737s, although occasionally, you may find the Airbus A321neo. The airline provides various fare options, including basic economy, standard economy, Comfort+ seats with extra legroom and first-class seats. Delta utilizes dynamic award pricing, meaning that the miles required for an award ticket fluctuate and are somewhat related to the price of cash fares. Therefore, when airfares are high, you can anticipate needing more miles to redeem for a ticket.

Below is a breakdown of the typical costs for a nonstop flight from LAX to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in the upcoming year based on current prices.

Class Economy First class
Cash price (round-trip) $138-$633 $498-$958
Delta SkyMiles (round-trip) 7,000-73,000 miles (plus $11.20 in taxes and fees) 35,000-130,000 miles (plus $11.20 in taxes and fees)

All passengers can bring a personal item and a full-size cabin bag on board. Here’s what else is included (or not) with economy versus first-class tickets on this specific route.

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Class Change fees Checked bag fees Seat selection Boarding group
Economy $0 (no changes for basic economy) $30 for the first checked bag, $40 for the second checked bag $19.99 to $29.99 for a preferred location like a window or aisle near the front of the cabin, $0 for all other seats Main cabin boarding zones 6, 7 and 8 out of 9
First class $0 Two checked bags up to 50 pounds each included $0 First-class boarding zone 1 of 9

On this route, Delta provides complimentary upgrades for its Medallion elite members. I was surprised to see that all but six customers on the upgrade list cleared into first class.

I purchased my one-way ticket from LAX to SEA for $274. Some of the best credit cards for booking Delta tickets include:


Checking into and boarding first class on Delta Air Lines

You can check in for your flight 24 hours before departure on the Delta app to skip the airport check-in lines. As with the American and United apps, you can track the status of your inbound flight to stay apprised of potential delays.

Delta operates out of Terminals 2 and 3 at LAX. There’s a designated priority check-in area at Terminal 3. Lines for the self-service kiosks and customer service were short in this area.

Thanks to TSA PreCheck and Clear, the security process took only a few minutes the day I traveled. Delta also offers a SkyPriority security line; however, if you have TSA PreCheck and/or Clear, you can utilize separate lines for a (generally) faster experience.


Most domestic first-class Delta tickets don’t include access to a Delta Sky Club, but as a cardholder of The Platinum Card® from American Express, I could access the Sky Club with a boarding pass for a same-day operated Delta flight. Delta is cracking down on Sky Club lounge access and will only allow up to 10 annual visits per cardholder per calendar year for Amex Platinum cardmembers starting next year.

There were a lot of lounge visitors, but the space boasted an inviting open concept. It offered various cold and hot dishes at a buffet, including grilled chicken, chicken tikka masala and a taco bar. Despite the jet-fuel fumes outside, there was a welcoming outdoor terrace equipped with a bar and ample seating, resembling the trendy atmosphere of a Santa Monica bar. Additionally, the lounge provided some complimentary alcoholic beverages for guests to enjoy, such as wine and beer.

The gate area for my Seattle flight felt congested due to the narrow boarding lanes. However, plenty of seats were available since the plane was only approximately two-thirds full. The gate agents displayed exceptional professionalism and were calmly accommodating to passengers’ numerous questions. Although two flight attendants arrived at the gate slightly behind schedule, causing a minor delay in the boarding process, we still managed to depart on time.

The Airbus A321neo has generously sized overhead bins, reminiscent of those typically on wide-body aircraft. This allows passengers to place their standard roller bags on their sides, maximizing the space available and enabling more passengers to conveniently stow their bags.

Settling in, first-class passengers were treated to handwritten welcome notes from the cabin crew and Biscoff cookies. This unexpected gesture added a warm and personal touch to the flight.


There were also small plastic water bottles waiting at each seat. The flight attendants passed through the cabin and offered each passenger a predeparture beverage of their choice.


How comfortable was Delta Air Lines first class?


The aircraft for my three-hour flight to Seattle was a (nearly) brand-new, 2022-delivered Airbus A321neo with the following seat count and layout in first class.

Number of seats 20
Cabin layout Five rows of seats in 2-2 configuration
Seat pitch and recline 37 inches, 5 inches
Seat width 21 inches
Screen size 13 inches

The prominent feature of the new seats is a focus on privacy. With winged shields protruding from each seatback and a privacy divider between each set of two, the seats are designed to give passengers a sense of being in their own secluded space. This is unlike the traditional first-class recliners that offer comparatively less privacy.

An adjustable headrest can be raised or lowered, and the sides can be maneuvered to create a supportive cradle for the neck, contributing to a more comfortable sleeping experience on longer flights.

The footwell area doesn’t offer the same level of comfort. This is primarily due to an entertainment and power box occupying space in the seat-support column. Unfortunately, this results in a reduction of both under-seat storage capacity and room for feet.


The seats have 13-inch seatback monitors, providing passengers access to hundreds of movies (648 on my flight), including recent hits like “Blue Beetle,” “A Haunting in Venice” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3.” There were also TV shows, music and audio

A convenient feature is the ability to filter movies based on duration, allowing users to find films under 1 1/2, two or 2 1/2 hours in length. Additionally, the entertainment systems are compatible with Bluetooth headphones, allowing passengers to enjoy inflight entertainment with their own headsets rather than having to borrow them.

The seat control is a single metal button on the center armrest that allows you to recline your seat. While you can adjust your seat’s recline and headrest to enhance comfort, these seats lack a forward-cradling feature. As a result, when the passenger in front of you reclines their seat, it may limit your available space. It’s also worth noting that these seats don’t have leg or footrests, which limits their ergonomic comfort.

Toward the rear of the center armrest, you’ll find a universal power outlet and USB-A port, providing convenient charging options. A small cupholder is situated along the side for the small water bottles waiting at the seats. There’s also a tray between the seats for beverages you share with your neighbor.

Each seat has a foldable metal tray table extending from the window or aisle side, depending on your seat. Additionally, the table features a personal device stand that can conveniently pop up when the table is partially unfolded. When fully deployed, the tray table offers plenty of space for work or activities, accommodating even larger devices like a 16-inch MacBook Pro. However, I had to make a sudden adjustment to the location of my laptop when the passenger in front reclined their seat to prevent the seatback screen from potentially causing damage to my device.

There is a single lavatory just behind the cockpit reserved for first-class passengers. Delta provides Grown Alchemist soap and hand cream, adding an upscale touch to the bathroom.

Amenities in Delta Air Lines first class

Delta’s soft amenities were somewhat limited on my short flight, as no pillows, blankets, amenity kits or paper menus were provided. However, SkyMiles members can enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, allowing seamless internet session switching between laptops and phones without any noticeable delays. The internet speeds were adequate for tasks such as sending and receiving emails or using Slack, but downloading photos from the internet proved difficult.


During boarding, Delta provided basic earbuds for passengers. However, hearing the inflight entertainment system, even at the highest volume level, was challenging. Plan to bring your headphones, which can be wired or wirelessly connected via Bluetooth to the entertainment screen.

How was the food in Delta Air Lines’ first class?

Unlike American Airlines and United Airlines, Delta doesn’t let you preorder meals on some short and medium-haul domestic first-class seats. Shortly after we reached 10,000 feet, one of the two first-class flight attendants began by taking meal orders from the back of the cabin and made her way forward. Consequently, passengers in the first few rows mostly missed out on their top meal choices.

I observed a discontented passenger sitting across from me who was disappointed with their remaining lunch selection. To rectify the situation, the flight attendant utilized the inflight service recovery mobile device to compensate them with a choice of bonus miles or a future flight credit.

The lunch options on my flight were as follows:

  • Jon & Vinny’s braised meatballs: Bianco DiNapoli marinara, garlic bread, Gioia ricotta
  • Grilled chicken salad: mixed greens, goat cheese, cranberries, walnuts, tomato chili vinaigrette and fresh fruit
  • Cacio e pepe lasagna with bechamel sauce

About 20 minutes after takeoff, lunch began with a snack basket and drink.

About 20 minutes later, lunch was served. I went for the chicken, which was served on a single tray. The flight attendants also let me take photos of the other two lunch entrees.

The chicken salad surpassed my expectations with its freshness, and the combination of cranberries, walnuts and goat cheese created a delightful blend of flavors. The portion size was satisfying, and the fruit plate consisted of ripe selections.

Complimentary beverages — including beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks — were readily available. Some of the options included Bacardi Superior rum, Buffalo Trace Distillery bourbon, Bombay Sapphire gin and Miller Lite. Additionally, passengers could choose between a cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay or sparkling wine. A QR code was conveniently displayed on the monitors to access the full menu, allowing passengers connected to Delta Wi-Fi to scan and explore the complete range of refreshments.

The prepackaged Bell’s triple chocolate chunk cookie, a renowned Seattle brand, was a delightful indulgence. It satisfied my sweet tooth with its soft consistency and the delightful touch of sea salt, making it an ideal post-lunch treat.


The flight attendants mostly left the passengers to themselves after the meal service, but they remained available for drink requests.

Would you recommend Delta first class?

I enjoyed my flight on Delta and am convinced it’s a leg up from the competition. Delta provides SkyMiles members with fast and complimentary Wi-Fi, seats designed to enhance privacy and an extensive selection of more than 600 movies. Moreover, all of my interactions with the crew were exceptional. They warmly greeted passengers with smiles, and the lead flight attendant displayed total respect and compassion toward her team.

Although there was a slight reduction in legroom compared to comparable flights offered by American and United and the absence of amenities like hot towels or preordered meals, my overall flight experience was excellent. If Delta operated flights to the cities I frequently travel to, and the requirements for Medallion elite status were more attainable, I’d be a convert to the airline.


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