Delta Airlines: Guide to International One Suite Cabin

Delta made global headlines in August 2016 as the first airline in the world to announce it would be introducing an all-suites business-class cabin on its forthcoming order of Airbus A350s, where each seat would have its own closing door.

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Delta was ultimately scooped by Qatar Airways, which announced its own all-suites business class in March 2017 and debuted the first QSuites in flight a few months later, in June. However, Delta put its new Delta One Suites into service in October of that year and has been steadily rolling out new routes from its hubs in Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW) and Los Angeles (LAX) ever since.

Though these new Delta One Suites are still only available on a limited number of routes, as the airline takes delivery of more A350s and retrofits its 777s, we should start seeing more and more flying every day.Flight Review: Delta One Suites on the Airbus A350Volume 90%

Plus, Delta confirmed that each of its A330-900neo aircraft will boast Delta One Suites up front once deliveries begin later in 2019, while the rest of its 777s and 767-400s are refreshed with “flagship interiors” in mid-2019.

For now, here’s where you will find the new Delta One Suites, which of Delta’s aircraft they’re on, and how you can use miles to book them.

Aircraft

Delta One Suites can be found on board both the Airbus A350 and one Boeing 777-200 (so far). According to Delta’s own fleet information page, the airline has eight A350s currently in service. Given the routes it operates, though, it seems likely that the Wikipedia page is more current. That would suggest the airline already has possession of 12 out of its order of 25 jets (some of which it has deferred for a few additional years), with 13 expected by the end of 2019.

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Amex can help you earn elite status.
The Delta A350.

The airline has 18 777-200s (both ERs and LRs), though it has so far retrofitted just one of them, which it is using to fly from Detroit to Beijing at the moment.

The A350 has 32 Delta One Suites, while the retrofitted 777 has just 28 seats (compared to the 37 Delta One Suites the unaltered planes have).

Delta 777s will also feature the new Suites.

Routes

At time of writing, here’s the list of the routes Delta is already flying or has announced it will fly with the new Delta One Suites aboard.

Aerial view of Lujiazui Financial District at dusk, Pudong, Shanghai, China. (Photo by Fei Yang / Getty Images)
Fly the new Suites to Shanghai, among other destinations. (Photo by Fei Yang / Getty Images)

A350: The airline’s main Airbus A350 hub is Detroit, though you can also find it on routes from other cities, including the following.

  • Detroit (DTW)-Tokyo Narita (NRT): started October 30, 2017
  • Detroit (DTW)-Seoul (ICN): started November 18, 2017
  • Detroit (DTW)-Beijing (PEK): started January 17, 2018
  • Detroit (DTW)-Amsterdam (AMS): started March 31, 2018
  • Detroit (DTW)-Shanghai (PVG): started April 19, 2018
  • Atlanta (ATL)-Seoul (ICN): started March 24, 2018
  • Los Angeles (LAX)-Shanghai (PVG): started July 2, 2018
  • Los Angeles (LAX)-Tokyo Haneda (HND): starting March 31, 2019
  • Seattle (SEA)-Tokyo Narita (NRT): starting March 1, 2019
  • Minneapolis (MSP)-Shanghai (PVG): starting June 2020 (proposed)
A look at Sydney Harbour and the legendary Sydney Opera House.
Sydney will be one of the next destinations for Delta One Suites.

Beoing 777: Retrofitted Boeing 777-200 routes include the following.

  • Detroit (DTW)-Beijing (PEK): operated on alternating days with an A350 and 777 as of July 2, 2018.
  • Minneapolis (MSP)-Tokyo Haneda (HND): started November 16, 2018
  • Atlanta (ATL)-Paris (CDG): from December 13, 2018 to March 29, 2019
  • Minneapolis (MSP)-Paris (CDG): from December 13, 2018 to March 30, 2019
  • Atlanta (ATL)-Tokyo Narita (NRT): starting March 1, 2019
  • Minneapolis (MSP)-Seoul (ICN): starting April 1, 2019
  • Los Angeles (LAX)-Sydney (SYD): starting April 19, 2019

As always, launch dates are subject to change as airlines alter their plans. Keep up to date with TPG posts on the topic, especially if you plan to fly a 777 with the Suites aboard.

The Suites

Beside closing doors, just what makes the Delta One Suites so special? Each is 21 inches wide and up to 81 inches long on the A350. They are 22-24 inches wide and up to 79 inches long on the 777. All recline to fully lie-flat beds with memory foam cushions.

The Suites are arranged in a staggered 1 – 2 – 1 configuration. Their footprint is basically the same as the Delta One business-class seats you’ll find on the rest of the fleet. The Suites toward the edges of the cabin alternate being closer to the aisle and closer to the window. The Suites in the center of the cabin shift either right or left of the preceding row to maximize seat pitch.

Passengers can illuminate Do Not Disturb indicators, adjust their own personal lighting settings and take advantage of five personal stowage areas.

The Suites have 18-inch high-resolution touchscreens, 2Ku Wi-Fi (for a fee), high-powered USB ports and universal power outlets.

Business class passengers can enjoy hallmark Delta soft amenities including TUMI kits with Kiehl’s skincare products, LSTN headphones and Westin Heavenly In-Flight Bedding. Menus created by celebrity chefs like Linton Hopkins and wines chosen by the airline’s sommelier are all presented with the airline’s Alessi serviceware.

Searching for Awards

Though we have found incredible award deals on flights featuring the new Delta One Suites, even on long-haul routes, finding low-level awards can be a bit of a rigmarole. All the more so since Delta stopped publishing award charts a while back.

Luckily, Delta.com does have a few useful award search tools that make the process easier. Be sure to use the flexible dates calendar to look for awards five weeks at a time. And if you’re just searching routes where you know an A350 or 777 with the new Suites is in service, select the option for nonstop flights so you can narrow down your search quickly.

Now for some good news/bad news. It’s not hard to tell when low-level award availability exists. For the most part, Delta is pricing flights in its new Suites at exorbitant levels ranging from 280,000 to 465,000 miles each way. However, there are dates when you’ll see noticeably less-expensive awards. Those are your low-level ones, and ones that should (mostly) be bookable using partner currencies like Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles.

Speaking of which…

Using Miles (and Points)

If you want to use miles to book Delta One Suites, you’ve got a few choices.

Delta SkyMiles

First, you could use Delta’s own SkyMiles. The program is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards if you have a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card.

Miles needed: 75,000 – 300,000 miles each way, depending on destination and saver-level availability.

Flying Blue

Your next option is Air France/KLM Flying Blue. This program is a transfer partner of all three major credit-card transferable points programs: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards (if you have a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card), and Citi ThankYou Rewards (if you have a card like the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier℠ Card). Three caveats: First, you’ll only be able to use these miles to book saver-level awards on Delta, so expect extremely limited availability. Second, you will be paying more miles and more taxes/surcharges on these tickets than using Delta SkyMiles. Finally, Delta flights appear to still be unavailable on Flying Blue’s website, though you should be able to book them through the Air France and KLM apps.

Miles needed: Again, this varies by route, but ranges between 109,000 – 115,000 based on the awards I found from both Asia and Europe.

Take advantage of transfer bonuses so you
Take advantage of transfer bonuses so you’ll need even fewer points than normal.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Finally, and this might just be your best choice, Delta partners with Virgin Atlantic, so you can use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to book awards on Delta. The good news is that redemption levels are relatively low compared to SkyMiles and Flying Blue, as are taxes and fees. The bad news is, based on all my searches, award availability does not match up, and the program has a wonky search engine that can make finding awards hard. Check out this post for guidance, though.

On the positive side of things, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you have a lot of opportunities to use points to build up your account. Not only that, but both Amex and Citi offer occasional transfer bonuses, meaning you’ll need even fewer points than normal to book awards.

Miles needed: 50,000 – 60,000 each way.

Sample Awards

Now for the fun part: finding awards. I looked at a cross section of flights with Delta One Suites aboard for now through the end of the year, and this is what I found.

Low-level awards are extremely scarce. I’m hoping that this might change as more A350s and 777s with the Suites come online, but I’m not holding my breath. Because of this, most Suite awards will require a jaw-dropping number of SkyMiles to book them. However, saver-level awards do exist around the holidays on Delta’s site. And if you want to use Flying Blue or Virgin Atlantic miles, try searching on their sites as well since they seem to pull in some different award availability. In the meantime, here are some sample awards and what you can expect to pay.

As an example, here are flight options from Shanghai (PVG) to Los Angeles (LAX). Increasingly, saver level award space is becoming harder to find. You could part ways with 85,000 SkyMiles plus fees to fly on SkyTeam partner China Eastern’s 777, but if you want the Delta One Suites experience on the A350, that’ll set you back a staggering 240,000 SkyMiles plus fees for the one-way journey.

If 240,000 SkyMiles feels a little light to you, why not spend 300,000 SkyMiles to make the trip via Detroit (DTW)?

And from Los Angeles to Shanghai a few months later (fall 2019) for 150,000 SkyMiles plus fees.

The good news is, the Shanghai-Los Angeles saver-level award was also bookable via Virgin Atlantic for just 60,000 miles plus 204 RMB ($30).

Detroit (DTW) to Beijing (PEK) on several dates in summer/fall 2019 was 100,000 SkyMiles plus $5.60.

The return Beijing-Detroit route was available for 100,000 SkyMiles plus 242 RMB ($30) for quite a few dates.

I was also able to find it for 60,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and 204 RMB ($30).

The award availability on Flying Blue did not quite match up, but here was one similar Beijing-Detroit award. Now that Flying Blue has moved to a dynamic award calendar, you’d be wise to check the other two avenues (Delta as well as Virgin Atlantic) to compare.

Through Delta.com, most Detroit-Beijing days cost 100,000 SkyMiles plus fees.

Atlanta (ATL) to Seoul (ICN) was also 100,000 miles plus $5.60 for many dates in summer/fall.

And the same is true of the route from Detroit (DTW) to Seoul (ICN).

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club’s online search engine does not register Seoul or South Korea as destinations, but here’s what Flying Blue would charge you from Atlanta to Seoul.

The only Detroit (DTW) to Amsterdam (AMS) awards I could find were 280,000 SkyMiles each way.

Though you can find some non-Suite business-class awards for as little as 86,000 miles.

Delta plans to launch Delta One Suites on its Los Angeles (LAX)-Sydney (SYD) flight on April 18, 2019, which will be operated on a refurbished Boeing 777-200LR. If you’re willing traveling over the US summer, I’m seeing seats as low as 205,000 SkyMiles plus fees one-way.

Bottom Line

Delta changed the game with its all-suites business class. Closing doors, up-to-the-minute tech and signature soft amenities all ensure a comfortable and memorable flight aboard the A350s and 777s that will sport them.

However, the insane award pricing of many flights with these new Suites means they’re out of reach for most flyers looking to redeem miles to book them at all but the most inconvenient of times. Hopefully Delta will begin releasing more saver-level and partner award availability as additional Suites go into service so that more Delta flyers can experience the next evolution in business class.

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