Christmas in Germany: Detroit to Seattle in Delta First Class

Filed Under: Awards, Delta

Given that I was stuck (involuntarily) connecting in Detroit again, I faced the same issue that I did on my outbound layover. As a result, I headed to my departure gate, which was A31. Fortunately this layover was much shorter than on the outbound.

The flight was packed though no volunteers were needed. Boarding started about 30 minutes before departure. Little did I know that my whole domestic flying life was about to change. šŸ˜‰

Detroit terminal

Departure gate

Seattle bound B737-800

Departure gate

Delta 2949, DTW-SEA, 737-800
Saturday, December 25
Depart: 3:30PM
Arrive: 5:25PM
Duration: 4hr55min
Seat: 4B (First Class)

Once onboard I was greeted by the lovely “red dress” flight attendant at the door. I settled into 4B and chugged my mini bottle of Dasani water. My first reaction was that the first class seats were quite uncomfortable, given the lack of a headrest. Sadly (for me as a United flyer), that’s where the negatives end.

Seats 4A & 4B

First class cabin

Coach cabin



Boarding was calm enough, and I was soon offered a pre-departure beverage of choice. I asked for a Diet Coke with lime, though they only had lemon. Boo!

Diet Coke with lemon… it just isn’t the same

The rest of the boarding process was uneventful enough. As departure time rolled around the Captain made his welcome aboard announcement, advising us that we would be waiting 10 or so minutes for some late arriving passengers, which seemed like a wise move. With our flight time of 4hr11min, he was still anticipating an early arrival.

As promised, we pushed back after 10 minutes for a quick taxi to runway 4R.

As we passed through 10,000 feet I realized just how screwed for life I was. This was one of Delta’s “pimped out” 737s, featuring personal televisions with audio and video on demand and live TV, power ports, and Wi-Fi. Holy crap, what am I supposed to do with myself? Watch another episode of “The Big Bang Theory?” Browse the web? Listen to music from the entertainment system? Eat? So many choices, my little brain just couldn’t handle it. I started sweating profusely, trying to figure out what to do with myself.

Cabin after takeoff

Not being able to make a decision, I did the obvious (since my seatmate wasn’t using her powerport). I plugged my iPhone into her power port to charge, plugged my laptop into my power port and started browsing the web (which was complimentary thanks to Google), watched an episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” and attempted to eat, all at the same time. I’m pretty sure there were more wires around my seat than in the cockpit. This proved to be a brilliant setup, until my seatmate decided she needed to use the bathroom, at which point my five minute untangling exercise began.

Once we leveled off, service started with hot towels, beverages, and snacks from the snack basket (which included Twix, Biscoffs, pretzels, and peanuts).

Diet Coke with lime and snack basket goodies

I was way too ADD to care about the food, though by the time they got to my row, there was no choice left. It was the nasty, gooey cheese pizza or nothing. “Dining” with Delta domestically made me appreciate just how (relatively) healthy United’s lunch options are. This was a nasty, cheesy, gooey pizza, salad with creamy dressing, and pie. Talk about comfort food! I far prefer United’s turkey salad with balsamic vinaigrette and minestrone soup, but that’s for the next installment.


I’ve always resisted change when it comes to Wi-Fi on planes, since I’ve enjoyed being able to “disconnect” on planes. And to clarify, for me “disconnecting” means staring blankly at the overhead monitor to watch the same show for the umpteenth time in a given month. And while it is nice on one hand, there’s always the stress of landing and wondering just how many emails will be in my inbox.

My Delta flight was the exact opposite. I was able to get so much work done, so that when I landed, I could simply relax and unwind.

So I did a good job staying occupied throughout the flight. I watched a couple of sitcoms, though for the most part just worked with the “airshow” on, so that I could monitor the progress of the flight. While I ultimately prefer United’s Channel 9 (air traffic control communications), it is really nice to have a moving map on a domestic flight.

The service on the flight was decent enough. The “red dress” flight attendant seemed very nice, though she was working coach. The purser, while not rude, certainly wasn’t going above and beyond. She passed through the cabin maybe once every 45 minutes to see if anyone needed anything.

About an hour before arrival the purser once again passed through the cabin with the snack basket, which I passed on.

As promised, we landed a few minutes early.

United and Continental, you’ve gotta hop onto the Wi-Fi bandwagon! And power ports would be nice too, please! I hate to say it, but at least domestically, Delta is the airline of the “business traveler.”

  1. I’ll let you get away with saying “Delta is the airline of the ‘business traveler'” since Virgin America doesn’t have a large network of destinations … ;D

  2. well in all fairness to UACO, Continental does have in-seat power and directv on most of its planes. They need to work on the WiFi though…

  3. Welcome to the dark side… šŸ™‚

    If you can forget about the value of SkyPesos for a moment, the in-flight experience for domestic business travelers is top-notch. The live TV is also great depending on what time of day you’re flying.

    I also like channel 9 but find that the airshow is a decent substitute. And I don’t miss the frequent high pitched whine while listening to channel 9.

  4. It’s important to keep in mind that these “pimped out” 738s are a *very* rare treat on Delta (same with the AVOD-equipped 752s). I suppose the anticipation of having AVOD keeps you hoping and makes it special. As you have said throughout this trip report series, when you’re too spoiled you stop appreciating the nice stuff as much.

  5. Excuse my ignorance, but does United not have powerports in F on most/all of their planes? I know wifi and AVOD is not standard but I assumed that powerports would be.

    I’m an AA flier and while wifi is still somewhat hit or miss, I always have a powerport to plug my stuff into. Just curious if the same is not true on UA.

  6. @Chris: Nope. Only select UA planes have regular 110volt electrical outlets (such as p.s. planes). Many have empower ports. And many have nothing at all.

  7. Ben, I have to disagree on Delta, their stand-by policy makes business travel with them really dicey because if you miss a connection you have to do a same-day confirm (at a cost) and its pretty ugly. I missed an LAX-ATL-JFK flight once very early on a Saturday morning and wasn’t able to get out till 4p the NEXT day due to no stand-by (plenty of seats to ATL, nothing confirmable to NY) and I had to pay $300 to make up the difference. I will avoid Delta, and not just because I’m a United loyalist now.

  8. @Seth you can now tell whether your aircraft is planned to have the nice entertainment on’s booking screens. But on the longer domestic flights (where it’s more important IMHO) it’s pretty common in my experience.

    And wi-fi is fleet-wide now on DL so that’s always an option. They’re even going to add wi-fi to some of the CRJ-700’s and 900’s IIRC

  9. Despite your pretentious comments in the beginning of the post (no lime, first class uncomfortable), glad you liked DL’s entertainment options. They have converted me from being a pretty loyal CO guy.

  10. @Ra – I find the United same day travel changes to be much inferior to Delta. On Delta, it’s $50 (compared to $75 on UA) and free for Golds and up (not just 1Ks). It gets you a confirmed seat and you do not have to keep your original routing as is the case with United (meaning I could do something like TPA-LAX-SFO instead of TPA-DTW-SFO if I wanted). Only downside is if the flight is sold out, then a non-elite (or Silver) cannot do standby (Golds and up can).

    In your case, were there no seats on the nonstop flight, or on one of the many other connecting options such as CVG, DTW, MSP, MEM, SFO, LAS or SLC? With Delta’s rules, you can change to any of those, unlike United, which had this been them, it would have been the nonstop or ATL connect only.

  11. @ mark — I’ve gotta ask, how is it pretentious to point out that Delta’s first class seat isn’t as comfortable as those I’ve experienced on virtually every other US airline due to the lack of a headrest?

  12. I’m really disappointed in you, Lucky … you passed on the snack basket and didn’t take a picture of your snack options for us. šŸ˜‰ Try not to let it happen again …

  13. @Lucky – because you are in first class!! LOL. Most of the plane would love to have your problem. And, the lemon/lime comment was pretentious, no? You admitted yourself a month or so in a post that you are probably not in touch with reality when it comes to flying, right? I love your blog, but much of your commentary is very pretentious.

  14. Mark, When someone pays for first class, the expectation of a certain level of service doesn’t mean its pretentious. Comparing what is available in first class vs. what you assume other passengers may desire is a pretty weak argument.

    This is a paid Business Elite ticket (paid with miles) which includes first class seating on domestic legs.

    Domestic first class on Delta has nice features to be sure, as Lucky has shown. I think he does a good job balancing the good with the bad. I think the lemon/lime thing is minor, but having experienced Delta 737 first class seats myself, the lack of a adjustable headrest does take away from the comfort.

  15. @Mark – it’s not pretentious to note that they don’t have lime. Also, I don’t know if you’ve ever flown Delta in F, but the seats are more uncomfortable compared to other airlines due to the lack of a headrest.

    Is he not allowed to compare products? If his reports all said that everything was so great blah blah blah first class is amazing, then his writing would be as pointless as the trip reports on He is comparing products from his experience, to let you know what to expect, without a report filled with (excited) emotion like a first-time flyer. Just because it’s first class doesn’t mean it’s wonderful.

  16. I have flown Delta F. I hold elite status on AA, CO and DL. I have also flown UA first. I am not an airline apologist/work for an airline or anything like that. When I get a free upgrade to first class, I appreciate it and don’t really complain about not having a headrest. YMMV. I am just appreciate to be up front. I can’t honestly stay that I have been in an uncomfortable first class seat….probably because I am used to coach.

  17. At first I thought the lemon/lime thing was a joke. Reading the comments suggests otherwise. You mean you’re actually serious about that as a criticism???

  18. @ AS — I thought it was quite obvious I was being tongue in cheek, given my obsession with lime and hot nuts.

  19. @mark – You must not be tall. If you don’t mind the lack of a headrest, your whole head probably doesn’t sit above the seat. šŸ˜‰

  20. @lucky – that makes sense, it’s what I thought first time. I’m not sure that came across in the discussion between you and mark which is why I asked.

  21. I’m sure glad you captured that pizza on film. Delta should be ashamed to serve such an item to paying customers.

    I do have to admit that last year I was a low level elite on Delta and United. On United, domestic upgrades were nonexistent. On Delta, I was upgraded nearly every flight. For a budget minded domestic traveler I feel their program gets a bad rap.

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