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Delta Airlines touts 2 philosophies when it comes to their food. They strive to provide a great dining experience, and to create more wholesome meal options to fit any dietary preference or need.
Since 2017 the company has been in the middle of a multi-billion investment aimed at upgrading their customer experience, and food is a huge part of that. They believe that by providing an elevated dining experience, more passengers will flock to fly Delta, and they’ll enjoy memorable experiences that keeps them coming back for more.
I would have to say I agree.
Having flown most of the major US carriers, Delta Airlines consistently serves up some of the best tasting food across the entire industry. Other domestic airlines have a tough time keeping up.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not the absolute best, especially compared to some airlines based in the Middle East and Asia.
But what I appreciate about Delta Airlines is that while most domestic airlines seem to always be cutting back service offerings to save money, Delta continuously upgrades their services, and to great results. With recent announcements of elevated dining in both delta one and economy that provides welcome drinks and real plates of food, Delta is really setting itself apart in their meal offerings, and customers are starting to take notice.
When it comes to food, Delta Airlines also provides a dedicated section of their website that goes over their selections. They regularly update customers with news of new meal offerings and have added menus to their in flight selection via their news hub.
Here is everything you need to know about what to expect when it comes to the food and beverage offerings on Delta Airlines:
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Delta has taken a gamble that passengers place a high value on receiving good tasting, fresh food in the air. They’re betting that this experience will help make customers more loyal to the airline when considering future flights. They are one of several US based airlines investing heavily in overhauling how they prepare and present meals, especially for their higher spending passengers on business and first class flights.
While the company doesn’t post menus for specific flights aside from the Flight Fuel snack list, they do post information about culinary partners they work with, what to expect onboard, and how they curate their menu selection each season. It’s pretty cool, and very expansive.
Delta has partnered with renowned design company Alessi to create a unique and special line of dinnerware. Consisting of plates and drinkware that can be found in all Delta Sky Clubs and aboard flights around the world, these products are pretty sharp looking, and have a clean and modern aesthetic.
Delta Airlines, like many airlines nowadays, is really trying to implement a seasonal theme to their menu to feature fresh ingredients at their peak flavor. They work closely with a team of culinary experts to identify, craft, and serve authentic dishes onboard flights and in their lounges.
Delta’s goal is to give you an authentic experience tailored around your destination, before you even arrive.
The airline partners with a number of well known chefs based around each location, and leaves it up to the experts to do what they do best; decide the best ingredients and food to serve.
Delta works closely with critically acclaimed chefs to craft impressive menus. Many of these chefs own multiple restaurants. Some have earned James Beard Awards, and others are Michelin Star holders! It’s super impressive, and a great way to stand out from the competition.
Delta strives to create restaurant quality food for customers, and to serve it mid air to boot. It’s an ambitious undertaking aimed at serving the best tasting dishes possible. And they’re really onto something big.
Creators of some of New York’s most beloved restaurants, cafes, and bars, Union Square Hospitality was founded by Danny Meyer in 1985 and they’ve been blowing away taste buds ever since. Besides opening Union Square Cafe, the company is also behind iconic New York City hotspots like Shake Shack, Gramery Tavern, The Modern, and are the former owners of Eleven Madison Park. With over 28 James Beard awards and 3 Michelin stars, it’s easy to say that Union Square Hospitality is a powerhouse in the New York culinary world. The company tailors an Italian-influenced fare for all Delta flights operating from New York to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Atlanta based restaurateur and owner of many eateries such as Restaurant Eugene, H&F Burger, and Hop’s Chicken, is the man behind Delta’s culinary offering out of their largest hub airport. This menu is inspired by artisan foods of the American South like Carolina Gold rice and grits, local charcuterie and pork, mountain trout and seasonal fruits and vegetables. The food is also featured on all Delta operated flights from Atlanta to Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Munich, Paris, Rome or Stuttgart. It’s an impressive and tasty experience.
Los Angeles based chef’s and partners that are well-known for existing restaurants Animal, Petit Trois, and Jon & Vinny’s, these guys curated a menu that specializes in dishes that feature farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients from some of L.A.’s most beloved farmers and food purveyors. Their restaurants always strive to challenge the pallet, and these two have become notorious around the food scene. Their culinary creations are featured on Delta operated flights from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, Boston, New York – JFK, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Washington D.C. It’s a treat to enjoy their inspirational meals in the airport or mid-air.
Specifically working with Delta, Jon and Vinny specialize in classic Italian fare. Their creations have become hugely popular in Los Angeles, and now they’ve taken their talents to the skies. Certainly a treat to have at any altitude, Jon and Vinny is a must try.
A Hong Kong based chef that is best known for blending modern Chinese cuisines with classical Chinese provincial food. He has developed menus featuring highlights such as Shanghai style steamed sole fish, oven-baked sesame dumplings with preserve mustard, dim sum and shaanxi biang biang noodles, for service out of Chinese markets.
Delta travelers coming in and out of Asia will soon be able to experience Chef Ueno’s detailed and respected approach to prepared dishes. Inspired favorites like marinated rockfish and saimaki shrimp with special egg yolk vinegar, and kuro-buta pork served with steamed rice, Japanese pickles and miso soup on flights from Japan to the U.S. It’s a unique and satisfying bevvy of options that challenge the notion of “boring” in flight meal offerings.
Formerly Luvo Foods, Performance Kitchen is a small business that focuses on creating nutritious prepared meals. The company has partnered with Delta Airlines to offer meals with a perfect balance of protein, fiber, and vegetables, so you can feel better and more energized during and after your flight. Some of the fan favorites include Cashew Ranch Chicken Wrap and the Casablanca Veggie Wrap (Vegan). These meals are exclusively crafted for Delta, and can be found on select North American flights.
Pre Departure Selection
Delta Airlines offers customers that fly in their premium cabins like Delta One and First Class the option to pre-select meals in advance in order to guarantee their preferences will be available during the flight.
The process typically includes the customer(s) getting an email in advance (usually 3 days) of the flight. This e-mail links to a website that shows all of the per-meal ordering options.
Note: some customers have reported inconsistencies in receiving these emails or not receiving them at all. If you dont see an email from Delta, you’ll unfortunately have to call them up in order to make your selection. We’re told that you can also use the chat feature via the Delta Mobile App.
After choosing the meal, you’ll also receive an email confirmation that confirms the selection.
Also note that pre-selected meals need to be ordered at least 24 hours in advance, and can also be changed up during that same timeframe.
For folks that get upgraded into a premium cabin, the meal selection is usually available shortly after – so long as the upgrade clears 24 hours in advance of flight time.
Delta Sky Club Lounge
Delta Airlines have been renovating many of their Sky Clubs as part of the broader effort to improve customer experiences. They recently unveiled new Sky Clubs in Atlanta, New York Laguardia, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, and Seattle-Tacoma. Following a renovation in Los Angeles, and a soon to be completed one for New York’s JFK lounge, the Delta Sky Club has rapidly become a big bonus of the entire flying experience. When it comes to food, Delta is investing heavily in additional healthy selections and unique flavors to keep customers satisfied with a ton of options.
Starting off with breakfast, you can now enjoy a yogurt bar that features options of strawberry, plain and cottage cheese, plus a lot of toppings. There’s also a huge selection of cereals, oatmeal, bagels, and healthy snacks like fresh fruit and hard-boiled eggs.
“Sky bowls” have become a customer favorites. They give you the option to pick and choose options down a line of buffet style dishes. You could start with a base of jasmine rice pilaf, penne pasta with diced tomato, bulgar wheat pilaf or salad greens; and top it off with a choice of grilled chicken strips tossed in cilantro, or black beans and red peppers. It’s pretty impressive. Some finishing touches for the bowl can include corn salsa, baja cabbage and red radish slaw, edamame and massaged kale.
Delta Sky Clubs are also stocked with plenty of snacks, soups, and salads. Choose from a selection of white chicken chili, chipotle sweet potatoes, split peas with ham, tomato and garden vegetable, chicken noodle or minestrone soups. If you’re looking for a smaller snack, you can grab a fresh salad or bar snacks that include popcorn with signature spiced salts, fresh veggies, pita chips, classic hummus, olive tapenade, garlic & herb spread, creamy ranch dip or peppercorn parmesan spread.
The bar has wine list specially curated by Delta’s Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson. It includes a full list of artfully designed cocktails, regional craft beers, fresh brewed Starbucks® coffee, and fresh squeezed orange juice.
Enjoying a meal onboard a Delta Airlines flight is a fun experience. There are a ton of factors that help determine what the food experience will be, like the route flown and class level of the ticket. Delta has continuously upgraded their food offerings across their entire network, but there is still a huge difference when flying a short haul main cabin versus a Delta One international long haul.
Domestic Economy Cabin
Delta typically doesn’t include full meal service for domestic main cabin seats. Instead, they make their flight fuel menu available for purchase. While it depends on the route flown and time of day of the flight, the flight fuel menu contains a mix of sandwiches, cheese plates, wraps, snacks, drinks, and candy. All are available at a cost except for a select list of complimentary snacks that include Lotus Biscoff Cookies, Whole Grain Cheez-It, Almonds, Kind Dark Chocolate Chunk Bar.
The menu also offers a list of beer, wine, and spirits to purchase with complimentary drinks like soft drinks, juice, water, and coffee.
There are some exceptions. The company recently announced that they would being offering free meals in the Main Cabin on some of the longer domestic flight routes. As of early 2020, Delta offers complimentary main cabin meals between 12 routes that include:
Boston and San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle
Washington-Reagan and Los Angeles
New York-JFK and San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Oregon, and Los Angeles
Seattle and Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Raleigh-Durham
Some complimentary items to choose from include a Honey Maple Breakfast Sandwich, Luvo Breakfast Medley or fruit and cheese plate. During daytime flights, customers can be select between a Mesquite-Smoked Turkey Combo, Luvo Mediterranean Whole Grain Veggie Wrap, or fruit and cheese plate. For overnight or red eye flights, customers will also be offered a breakfast bar during the pre-arrival beverage service.
Domestic First Class
Delta treats their first class customers very well on all flights regardless of the distance traveled. Their service offerings include a pre-departure drink, snack, and complimentary coffee, wine, beer and spirits.
While there is no meal service on short range flights under 900 miles, for the ones above Delta serves a full breakfast, lunch, or dinner option depending on the time of the day. For long range flights Delta also makes a full meal service available with the added bonus of multiple entrees to select from that come with an appetizer and dessert.
In the reverse direction I had the chance to try out the breakfast. Overall the food was decent enough. The sausage and eggs were just OK, while the strawberries were very fresh. The meat and cheese offering wasn’t anything special, and frankly not really needed so early in the morning.
Delta Airlines is also known to always have at least one vegetarian option available. It’s typically a pasta dish of sorts. However, these do tend to contain cheese and are not vegan friendly. We still applaud them for the accommodation, especially for those that forget to set their special meal and are worried that there won’t be options for them. There are.
International Main Cabin
Typically all airlines invest more heavily in their international service and longer flight routes, and Delta is no exception. Over the past year the company has upgraded the Main Cabin experience on flights that are 6.5 hours or longer to include a complimentary welcome cocktail, upgraded meal options, and service on upgraded silverware.
We found this handy chart that shows the company’s investment in their international experience since 2006.
The Main Cabin food and beverage offering is the best that it’s ever been, and here is what you can expect on your next flight.
It all starts with a per-departure cocktail, usually the signature of the flight. While this can depend on location, we’ve tried out their takes on Moscow mules and whisky drinks. They’re quite good! The welcome drink is a nice touch, but it tends to delay the meal service by about 20 minutes, which can be crucial on red eyes when you want to go right to sleep.
After the drinks comes a printed menu, something new to the main cabin experience.
After making a meal selection and receiving your food is where the difference really gets noticed. Delta has begun to serve all main cabin entrees on sleek black plates, which gives the meal a fancier touch.
The container the food comes in feels a bit out of place on this plates so nice. While we can understand that it would be a lot of work to actually plate the meal (even though that would make the experience feel 100x better), the black plate should be used as a replacement for a cheap looking tray.
It ends up feeling like your getting less food when its served this way. Delta used to provide a salad with all meals, but not anymore. They probably realized not everyone ate it, so it’s been discontinued.
Regardless the service and food is a big upgrade from previous Delta flights, and it shows that the airline is trying to cater to a specific crowd.
International Delta One
Of course you can expect that Delta’s highest flight class has the best food and service that the airline has to offer.
The main difference between flying Delta One and the Main Cabin is the sheer amount of food provided. Aside from a pre-departure and take off drink, an appetizer precedes the main course. On a recent flight the app included a salad, soup, and roast beef dish served cold. It’s really a lot of food!
The appetizers were pretty tasty, especially the soup. The salad had delicious shaved parmesian served on top, which helped create an upgraded touch. The beef was served cold, but was well seasoned and tasted great. This was a good amount of food, especially for an appetizer.
On the same flight the entree that was served was a tender piece of sirloin steak, paired with a bernaise sauce and potato au gratin. It was excellent. While the veggies were a bit forgettable, the rest of the dish was surprisingly great. For more on this meal, read our full food review of Delta A330 Business Class from Paris to New York.
All in all, Delta’s new international one meal offerings are a huge improvement, but still not quite the best in the sky. While the airline offers few options to choose from, United Polaris tended to provide better serving options in both the lounge and on board.
Delta still takes the crown for most improved meal service among US airlines. The continued investment and desire to tweak their offerings makes us think that bigger and better things are still to come.
Delta’s wine selection is selectively chosen by Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson. She’s one of only 33 female Master Sommeliers in the entire world, and has been working with Delta since 2007. Pretty cool. She’s responsible for overseeing all of the wine served in Delta Sky Clubs and on Flights around the world. She even supposedly tests each wine offered in-flight to ensure the taste is just as good when enjoyed at 30,000 feet in the air as it tastes on the ground. A really nice touch that deserves some major kudos.
Here is the current list of wine available on Delta flights though vary by route and location:
Erath Pinot Noir Resplendent (USA 2016): A light bodied wine with subtle potpourri-like layers with cherry fruit.
Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon (USA 2016): A full bodied wine with blackberry, cedar, and velvet classic.
Catena La Consulta Malbec (Argentina 2017): A full bodied wine that has spice notes with dark computed blueberry fruit.
Broken Earth Viognier (USA 2017): A full bodied wine that has tropical mango with floral notes and lush juciness.
Zuccardi Chardonnay Viognier (Argentina 2018): A medium bodied wine that has a fruit cornucopia with floral exoticism.
Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand 2018): A light bodied wine that has bright, tangy acidity with passionfruit and grapefruit notes.
Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay (USA): A full bodied wine with ripe toasty, nutty and baked apple notes.
DeLille Cellars Chaleur Blanc (USA 2017): A medium bodied wine with tangy green apply and juicy melon with vanilla notes.
Champagne & Sparkling Wine
Champagne Canard-Duchêne Brut Cuvée Léonie (France): Crispy and ripe pear fruit enhanced by notes of brioche.
Delta Master Cuvée by Mionetto (Italy): Floral notes of acacia, clover, Fuji apples and pear.
Quinto De Noval 10-year-old Tawny Porto (Portugal): Candied pecans and toffee with a long, nutty finish.
Gluten-free? Kosher? Diabetic? Not a problem. Delta accommodates 17 different special meals on all of their flights that include complimentary meal service. Just make sure to plan ahead with their 24 hours advanced ordering.
Asian Vegetarian Meal: This is a non-strict vegetarian meal, typically prepared Indian style, with limited use of dairy products. This meal won’t contain meat, seafood, or egg.
Vegetarian Vegan Meal: Typically cooked in a Western style, this meal doesn’t contain meat, seafood, eggs, or dairy products.
Vegetarian Lacto-Ovo Meal: Prepared in a Western style, this is a non‐strict vegetarian meal which can include eggs and dairy products, but eliminates all meats and seafood.
Hindu Meal: This vegetarian meal is typically prepared Indian style, with limited use of dairy products. This is a totally meat free meal. Preparation and cooking style may vary.
Muslim Meal: All Muslim meals are Halal certified and do not contain pork or its by‐products, and won’t have any alcohol. Preparation and cooking style may vary.
Kosher Meal: Kosher meals are prepared by kosher caterers under rabbinical supervision. They may incorporate fresh fruit or sealed items, like individually packaged bagels that meet kosher laws. Special Kosher for Passover meals are supplied during Passover.
Bland Meal: Menu items that could potentially cause gastric irritation will not be used in the preparation of these meals. Examples of foods that are excluded include hot mustard, hot spices, pickles, garlic, fried and fatty foods.
Diabetic Meal: Meals suitable or those who need to manage blood sugar levels. Ingredients excluded are high in sugars, like syrups, jams, cakes and chocolate, unless specifically designed for diabetics.
Gluten Intolerant Meal: Meals exclude gluten containing foods and ingredients sourced from wheat, barley and rye.
Low Fat / Cholesterol / Calorie Meal: This meal is prepared with a reduced amount of fat, sugar, low fat dairy products, and lean meat.
Low Sodium Meal: Use of salt, processed foods (MSG and baking soda/powder) are either eliminated or restricted in preparation of these meals. Herbs and spices are used to flavor the meal.
Baby Meal: Suitable for infants less than one year old. Baby food is usually provisioned in jars. (Food may contain strained fruit, vegetables, meats, desserts, milk & juices.)
Toddler/Child Meal: Suitable for children from 2 to 12 years of age, and includes food offerings appealing to children. The meals planned follow Recommended Dietary Allowances for children.
Chinese Meal: Components include soup, salad and entrée and feature regional flavors on flights departing China. Available only to Delta One customers flying between the USA and China.
Jain Meal: Jain meals are Asian vegetarian style meal that additionally don’t contain any root vegetables (onion, garlic, etc.). Please note that Jain meals are not currently not available to be reserved via an agency.
Japanese Meal: Traditional Multi Course Kaiseki Style Japanese Meal accompanied by steamed rice, miso soup, Japanese pickles and green tea. Available only to Delta One customers flying on direct flights to/from the U.S. and Japan.
Korean Meal: Korean style Bibimbap with steamed rice, gochujang sauce and sesame oil accompanied by with soup, salad and banchan. Available only to Delta One customers flying between the USA and Korea.
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