Flight test: Delta economy class
A warm welcome from the flight crew sets the tone for the trip - we felt looked after.
THE ROUTE Sydney to Los Angeles.
THE PLANE Boeing 777-200LR.
THE LOYALTY SCHEME SkyMiles (no alliance membership, but points can be earned and spent with Virgin Australia and several other carriers).
UP THE BACK OR POINTY END Economy class, seat 47D.
TIME IN THE AIR 13 hours, 30 minutes, assisted by the usual Pacific tail wind.
THE SEAT STUFF A 3-3-3 layout in economy class. Seat pitch is 78.7 centimetres in front, 81cm behind (on the lower side for economy-class seats); 47cm wide (more generous).
BAGGAGE You are allowed two checked bags, weighing up to 23 kilograms each and not exceeding 157 centimetres (length plus width plus height).
After miscalculating our loads, our Delta check-in person was patient as we shuffled goods around, and let us through with a couple of extra kilograms. He also got us five seats in a row. One carry-on item is allowed, not exceeding 114cm (length plus width plus height).
COMFORT FACTOR The seats are narrow enough to touch elbows with the next passenger but there is ample legroom for a medium build. I have an aisle seat, allowing some room to stretch. The cushion is firm but comfortable.
Our three children are happy enough to cuddle up with the provided blanket and pillow, and rest for some of the night flight. However, my cup of water tipped over from the drink holder of the tray when the person in front released their seat back.
THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT Flying to the US with a young family requires an in-flight entertainment system that can suit (and distract) each person, and Delta kept my 10, eight and four-year-old occupied with a healthy selection of games and movies. Delta boasts up to 200 films, 100 hours of HBO on demand, more than 4000 MP3s, 16 music videos and dozens of games.
SERVICE Despite being the last to board, we receive a warm welcome from the flight crew and freshen-up towels shortly after takeoff, and that sets the tone for the trip - we feel looked-after. The affable captain comes over the intercom to play tourist guide as we gain height over Sydney.
FEEDING TIME "I can assure you the choc mousse will make up for it if we run out of your choice of meals," the captain promises at dinner and he is right; it is a treat after I polish off my warm but dry chicken (served in red sauce with delicious potato wedges, wet but tasty broccoli and crisp carrots).
Pure Blonde and Miller Lite is on offer alongside Coca-Cola products; spirits cost $7. Lunch is more modest - a small chicken roll, mini Mars bar and an apple. Breakfast is served one hour and 40 minutes before landing. Baby meals, gluten-free, kosher and other special meals can be pre-ordered at delta.com.
ONE MORE THING For an extra fee or points you can upgrade to economy comfort (36 seats), which offers up to 10cm more legroom, up to 50 per cent more recline and early boarding. Prices vary but can be can be up to twice as much as the economy ticket.
THE VERDICT Although there were faults, for the price of the economy tickets we were happy with the Delta staff and service. My checked-in guitar and two saxes arrived in the US safely, which was a test in itself.
FREQUENCY Delta flies one service daily between Sydney and LA.
Tested by Dan Fallon, who flew at his own expense.