Delta One vs. Air Canada 787 Business Class

I recently got back from not only an amazing trip in Europe with my family, but also my first opportunity to try international business class! I’ve spoken a little about the booking process, where I needed to be and when, and what made me decide to fly what I did. But in this post I wanted to briefly put the two products head to head.

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Wine and vineyard tour in Beaune, France.

While these aren’t products that are typically put up head to head, why the hell not. Interested to hear the responses, as I’m hoping that to maybe bring this in as a recurring installment. Let’s first review:

Delta One – Airbus A330-200, JFK-ZRH

Booked through Delta for 70,000 SkyMiles and $5.60

Air Canada Business Class – Boeing 787-900 MXP-YYZ

Booked through United for 70,000 United miles, transferred from Chase, and ~$80.

Pre-flight

I’m not sure if this is something that I will regularly use in these “match-ups,” but there were some pretty glaring things about the Air Canada process that irked me — which also may be more of a product of the airport.

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Delta

While the plane was delayed about 15 mins getting to our gate, it was a pretty smooth process once it arrived. Despite the mass crowd gathered in front of the check-in counter, I was able to sift my way to the front.

Once I stepped onto the aircraft I was very politely greeted by a German flight attendant who pointed me to my seat in the far row of the forward cabin. First time I was properly greeted on an airplane, and first time I was able to take a left on a wide-body — the excitement!

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The true warmth on this flight came at my seat. Not only was there a hand-written note from Jasemin waiting at my seat, but she greeted me with the warmest “hello, how are you this evening Mr. Burks.” She even offered to take my picture in my seat as she noticed I was snapping some photos myself — advising that I wait for the champagne obviously.

She then came through the cabin and offered a choice of champagne, orange juice, or Heineken (?). I think there were other beers, this is just what was on the tray. The champagne was Gardet Brut Premier Cru.

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I didn’t want to make any bold claims on my first flight, but this will stand as one of the warmest welcomes I’ve received on any flight!

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Air Canada

From the moment I walked up to the gate I should have known how unorganized this entire process was. Unfortunately, for Air Canada’s sake, I think this is more of a product of the overall operation at Milan-Malpensa airport. While everyone I interacted with was very nice, and helpful, their entire operation was just slow.

Besides being the first person waiting at check-in (which meant I didn’t have to wait) I felt like the crew on the ground was trying to figure out what was going on. The plane was originally scheduled to take off at 12:10 pm, but when I got to the airport the flight was delayed until 1:25 pm — not a huge deal!

But I arrived to the gate area at 12:40 pm, the new scheduled boarding time, and it was a mess. While there was a sign for Priority Boarding, there was no semblance of a line or delineation one way or the other.

While I usually don’t care about this, as I know I’ll skip most of these people anyways, we were boarding right next to the bathroom serving 10+ other gates. This obviously creates a huge mess with people waiting and people weaving trying to get to the bathroom.

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As mentioned earlier, this is more at the fault of the airport staff, and not as much my in-flight experience. Unfortunately the lack of organization continued, though.

While I was greeted by a lovely flight attendant at the door who directed me to my seat, it seemed like they were running behind in prepping the cabin. As I was walking to my seat there were other FAs running up and down the cabin, carrying all sorts of supplies. While my seat was stocked with a pillow, comforter, seat cover, amenity kit, headphones and water, I couldn’t help but notice the chaos that was going on in the cabin.

Unlike my Delta flight where I was immediately greeted by my FA, it took a while for anyone to greet me on this seat. I was eventually served a choice of champagne or sparkling water, though — and the champagne was definitely a bit better — Laurent Perrier!

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Overall, I think there were a lot of other factors going into the pre-flight experience, but Delta definitely took the cake.

Winner: Delta

The seat

Both of these products are very similar. They both feature reverse herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. I obviously selected a single seat on both flights, and felt like I had a ton of privacy on both.

Instead of going into depth on each product I will point out what I found to be some key distinguishing factors:

  • In Delta One the TVs are folded back to give you what seems like more space in front of you, but in reality this is just wasted space. Whereas in the Air Canada’s design, the TVs are stuck in the forward position, giving you more storage/counter space off your shoulder– which I found to be a much better use of space. (hopefully the pictures explain a bit better — Delta on the left, Air Canada on the right)
  • On a similar note, the remote on Air Canada was just a little easier to use, and obviously a bit more updated. Not to say that Delta had any major issues, but the plane I was flying on with Air Canada was obviously newer, which means the amenities are a bit newer. So slight edge to Air Canada.
  • The tray tables in Air Canada’s business class were a bit bigger — while I don’t think I would usually be a stickler for this, I really noticed the disparity when my tray in Delta One was basically overflowing on the table.
  • I really like both of these seats. I have always been a fan of the blue leather from Delta, and Air Canada’s entire branding is just very sleek. In terms of aesthetics, I wouldn’t give either product an edge.
  • This goes the same for the overall comfort — I wouldn’t give either product a substantial edge. I would say the Westin Heavenly bedding on Delta is more comfortable, but the seat is a bit softer on Air Canada (and there is a mattress pad!)

Overall, these seats are very similar, and both very good. I can’t say anything bad about either one, but I do think that the Air Canada seat has the slight edge. I find it to be a bit more spacious, and I do have to admit I enjoy the design just a bit more.

Winner: Air Canada

Service

I will keep this separate of the food and drinks — here I wanted to focus on the service I received in-flight. As I mentioned previously, the warmth on my Delta flight was kicked off with one of the warmest welcomes, and continued throughout the flight.

While I ended up growing on the crew with Air Canada, I just always felt like they were simply doing their job. Which I have to definitely give credit to, but on the other side of things, the crew with Delta (and specifically my FA, Jasemin) gave the impression that they truly cared about my experience.

I am not necessarily knocking Air Canada for this, but my experience was definitely amplified by the service with Delta.

Winner: Delta

Dining

Delta

On my Delta flight I was served a dinner and breakfast — with the dinner having a dine-on-demand option. I won’t go through the whole dining experience, but here are some highlights:

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Delta One signature cocktail and warmed nuts.
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Delta One appetizer — kale salad, english pea tartare, and potato and garlic soup.
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Delta One dinner — Thai Braised Beef with toasted eggplant and garlic rice.
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Delta One breakfast — mixed berry chia pudding with Greek yogurt.
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Delta One desert — pistachio ice cream sundae with cinnamon and blueberry glaze.

I was extremely pleased with the dining experience on Delta One. While I intended on trying the egg frittata for breakfast, by the time I woke up from a short rest I had very little appetite.

The beef was very good, and while the appetizer wasn’t anything to write home about, the potato and garlic soup was fantastic.

Air Canada

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Air Canada signature cocktail with warmed nuts
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Air Canada appetizer — smoked duck breast, mango salsa, and radish salad.
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Air Canada lunch — chicken piccata, risotto, and zuchinni
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Air Canada — three flavored ice cream
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Air Canada light meal — meat charcuterie and potato salad

Overall, I really enjoyed both meal services. Getting a dinner and a breakfast allowed me to see a bit more on the Delta flight, but that was a matter of the flight timing — not one product versus the other.

With all this in mind, I slightly enjoyed the Delta product a bit more. Like mentioned in the previous section, I think the quality of food was affected by the involvement of the crew. While there was only so much the crew could do, I think the slightest amount more work was done on the food in Delta. Little touches like that really go a long way.

Winner: Delta

Final Tally

While I thoroughly enjoyed both experiences, there was a clear winner. Delta did not disappoint.

As a consistent believer in Delta, I was impressed that their product translated to the international flight. They weren’t revolutionary in any sense of the imagination, but the way that everything was delivered, from walking on-board to walking off, I could sense the warmth. And this makes all the difference.

If we talked only about the in-flight product, entertainment system, etc. I think the clear winner would be Air Canada. This probably also has to do with the fact that we were flying on the brand new 787-900 Dreamliner — I wonderful ride!

 

Tucker is an avid points and miles enthusiast. Being fully involved in the world of credit cards and frequent flying for only a few years now, he brings a very fresh and unique perspective to the world of travel.

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