An Early Departure On an Aircraft with the New Delta Interior (Trip Report)

Delta, Trip Reports

It was a busy but fun 10 days in Indiana, and I was exhausted. What better way to end a sleepless trip than with a pre-7a flight home, right? It was a rough wake up call, but the trip itself went well.

The price was great at $180.10 per person. Sure it was early, but the early arrival meant we’d have more time to recover in LA after we landed. As you can imagine, I was having a hard time deciding when to get to the airport. Remember, this was not just Memorial Day, but it was also the day after the Indy 500 which had about 350,000 attendees, half wearing American flag outfits. I was tempted to just sleep in the airport. (Ok, not really, but the thought did cross my mind.)

Indy 500

We checked in the night before and paid $25 per bag for 3 bags. suggested arriving 75 minutes before departure and that seemed like we’d be cutting it too close. So we decided to get up early and arrive 2 hours before departure. That meant a 455a arrival. Ouch.

Of course, once we showed up, the lines to drop bags were short. The counter agent said they were really busy, but then in the same breath she said they were 85 percent full out of Indy that day. That didn’t seem that high. After dropping the bags, we headed over to the Pre Check line where it took maybe 5 minutes to get through. Go figure.

With plenty of time to kill, we went to the gate and watched the sun rise. The kids were far too awake, eagerly awaiting the inbound to come in from LA on the redeye. Once it did, the agents turned it around, and boarding began. We boarded early since we had the kids.

Delta Sunrise

May 30, 2016
Delta 2844 Lv Indianapolis 655a Arr Los Angeles 825a
Indianapolis (IND): Gate A11, Runway 23R, Depart 1m Early
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 53B, Runway 24R, Arrive 20m Early
N802DN, Boeing 737-932ER, Standard Delta Colors, 95% Full
Seat 23B, Coach
Flight Time 3h51m

This was my first time on a fancy new Delta 737-900ER and it looked really good. The seats were attractive with the Boeing Sky Interior’s giant bins and mood-lighting adding to the experience.

I sat down in my middle seat, buckled my daughter in next to me, and got ready for departure. The big screens in the seatback were a nice addition, and I started playing around the system once it activated.

Delta Seatback 737-900ER

The pilots came on, said we’d have a smooth flight, and then got us on our way. Once in the air, we ended up bouncing around, and the pilots came on to update us and say it would be rough for the first hour or so. The seatbelt sign stayed on but fortunately my daughter wasn’t fidgety. With Frozen on the iPad and Alvin and the Chipmunks on the seatback screen, she was blissfully zombie-fied.

I’m not sure if it was just the position of our seats on the wing or if it was the 737-900, but the turbulence created a low level vibration that sounded like a change in pitch in engine noise. It’s hard to describe it, but it was annoying.

The flight attendants came through and offered drinks and snacks. I may not know anything about fashion, but the Delta uniforms still look good. (One of the flight attendants had that famous red dress on.) My son had been waiting for this moment for weeks. When we told him we were flying Delta, he had only a one-word response: “cookies!” Despite the early hour, he IMG_20160530_083336downed those Biscoffs like there was no tomorrow.

In the meantime, I watched some movies while my daughter alternated between sleep and the iPad.

Once the seatbelt sign came off, I jumped up to use the lav. This airplane has those new space-saving lavs on them, and holy crap are they tight, as you can see at right. The sink is tiny, and the basin can barely hold any water.

A big group of us from Long Beach who were at the wedding were all flying home together on this flight. And one of us was celebrating her birthday. After hearing about what I did to Leslie on the way out, her husband asked if I could talk to the crew to mess with his wife a little too. I told him I’d try.

They were sitting in First Class, so I asked our flight attendant in the back if she could have some champagne brought to her as her husband’s way of saying happy birthday. She said they didn’t have champagne. I told her that didn’t really matter – it could be wine, whatever. The flight attendant said that since she was in First, she would already get all the alcohol she wanted. Right, but… *sigh*. I gave up. Then she said she’d say something on the PA when we landed. That was better than nothing.

Delta 737-900ER Movie

I went back to my seat and enjoyed the view out the window while watching more movies on the screen. Delta’s map setup is awesome. It’s really easy to toggle back and forth from a movie to the map, and yes, you can do picture-in-picture.

Delta 737-900ER Map

The flight attendants came through about an hour out of LA to do one more service. Then we started descending soon after. There was a nice and thick marine layer topping out around 4,000 feet. I love cutting through that marine layer and ending up in a seemingly completely different world on the other side. We landed on the north runways, surprisingly, but we had a relatively quick taxi to our gate.

We were 20 minutes early but our gate was open. I was shocked and happy to get off, but I was bummed when the flight attendants failed to say anything about our friend’s birthday. I told her that I tried at her husband’s request, so he’d still get points for trying.

On the way off the airplane, both pilots were greeting passengers. I asked if they had any wings, and sure enough they did. My son was ecstatic to get one, and he made us instantly pin it to his shirt.

Down in baggage claim, the scene was strange. First Class bags had come off pretty quickly on carousel 2 but then we just sat and waited for awhile for the next round. At one point, an agent announced we were going to be moved to carousel 3. Then a few minutes later, she came back on and said we were actually back on carousel 2. The bags did eventually show up, but not within the 20 minute guarantee window.

Later that day, I submitted the request for 2,500 miles under the Delta guarantee, and sure enough, they were awarded within 24 hours. Kudos to Delta for following through on that so quickly.

Overall, Delta did a really nice job. It wasn’t nearly as fun as my flight out to Indy, but then again, nobody wants a “fun” flight that departs before 7a.

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20 comments on “An Early Departure On an Aircraft with the New Delta Interior (Trip Report)

  1. I quite enjoy the new DL 737-900ER’s. As you mentioned the interiors are very nice and Delta does a good job with their IFE. The biggest complaint I have about the -900 and A321 replacing the venerable 757 is that neither can do the mid-cabin jetway link like the 757. Boarding everyone from the front in those long airplanes takes time. That and the hideously long takeoff roll for both planes make me long for the 757’s, but Delta at least makes up for it with a nice cabin.

    1. I took off on a 739 at SLC last month and while it was cool and rainy, it seemed to take about 8,000′ of runway before we were airborne. Granted the runway was 12,000′, it’s still feels like a long roll. I wonder how it will be on a hot day up there. How many days will the 739 flights be weight restricted?

      1. The more likely explanation for the long roll was a decision to use a de-rated takeoff. If the aircraft isn’t especially heavy, and there is plenty of runway, you can save wear and tear on the engines by operating at less than maximum power. My recollection is that even at MGTOW on a +25 day, the maximum runway requirement is about 11,000 feet with B26 engines (if you are really concerned you can pay the extra money for B27 engines). On a 12000 foot runway with a 737 you are likely to bump up against the tire limits before you run out of runway.

        1. It was a full load of passengers (don’t know about cargo) on a 1900 mile flight (SLC – DCA). I also know that airplanes need more runway when there is more elevation due to thinner air causing less lift, so more runway is needed at SLC and DEN than at sea level airports. It does not look like a good hot and high performer though. I’m going to miss the 757’s ability to get airborne quickly compare to the 739.

  2. Cranky, I just missed you in Indy! I was one of those 350,000+ at the race, sans the American flag outfit. I left late morning, and the crowds were surprisingly light. I don’t know if everyone made a mad dash to leave around 9:00a, but by 10:30, it wasn’t bad at all. I had the equal 5 minute trek through Pre-Check.

    I haven’t had a chance to check out those new Delta 739s, but they seem to get a bad rap on places like Besides that ridiculous bathroom, how were things? The biggest complaint seems to be seating pitch, but that seems pretty standard these days, so I’m not sure how it’s any worse than their other 737s. Also, nice to see Delta follow through with extra miles for late bags. Thought that was a nice gesture when Alaska first started doing it, but have never had a chance to see how good they are about following through with it.

    1. Ben in DC – The pitch didn’t bother me at all. It was fine, the cabin looked nice, and the bins were great. Also, I found the seats to be comfy for 4 hours, so that was all good.

  3. Brett,
    I have heard that low-level humming / change of pitch noise during turbulence on the CRJ-700 and -900 as well. I think it’s the hydraulics adjusting the wing flight control surfaces to mitigate the effects of turbulence… And yes, annoying. Nice report!

  4. We also had an issue with checked bags at LAX. We arrived in the T6 rotunda on a Compass flight from AUS. The jetway died, and after 10 minutes they got it fixed. Meanwhile we could hear them unloading the bags as we waited. As everyone else on the plane was connecting, and our 2 kids were asleep, we were the last off the plane. It must have been 30 minutes or so by the time we got to T5 bag claim via the tunnel. The sign still said bags expected. After waiting another 30 minutes and no bag, we went to the counter and got the mileage. After another 10 minutes with no bags, and the flight taken off of the monitor, they sent someone to search for the bags. It turns out that as we were the only people with bags terminating at LAX, they brought them directly to the bag storage area, but neglected to tell anyone.

  5. I’m not really a fan of DL’s 737-900. First, the lav is the only bathroom I’ve been in where I can elbow both walls while just doing what one guy needs to do in a lav. I’m not that wide either. I really don’t like the lack of any counter space either because of the way the sink just sticks out by the door without anything around it. There seems to be less galley space on this plane than most others. The pitch in F feels tighter than most other DL planes and there are only 8 good exit row seats on this plane. DL seemed to go with packing people in like sardines when they configured this plane.

    Finally, I have yet to find a flight attendant who likes working this plane.

  6. Flew on DL 737-900 Atlanta to San Diego last December. Sky interior, big overhead luggage bins, big tv screens with all the games, shows, movies and moving map were all so cool but as a 6 footer the economy seats were more than a bit tight pitch wise. Shorter folks sitting around me seemed fairly comfortable but my knees were up against the back of the seat in front of me. Unfortunately I think all the airlines are going with this 30-31 inch seat pitch on new planes although it looks like on DL’s new A-321 the seat will be a tad wider.

  7. The Delta 739 are far better than what you would get from the other Legacy carriers. I think Delta did a great job and they are comparable to JetBlue’s despite the seat pitch. More than enough content on the AVOD, honestly, I prefer it over live TV.
    How does Delta monitor the claims that the bags don’t come out on time? I feel like anyone can take advantage of that after any flight.

    1. Ben – I have to assume they scan the bags when they go on to the carousel.
      They scan them everywhere else. So it shouldn’t be hard to track.

    2. The bags are scanned. If you have the delta app they have a “track your bag” function which allows you to see the exact time your bag was scanned into check in, the time it was scanned by the bag loaders onto the plane, as its removed from the plane, and when its scanned being loaded onto the carousel. Pretty neat, and super reassuring if you have a checked bag and a tight connection!

  8. Great report, as usual. Thanks.

    There are a couple of us, maybe only a handful, who still find looking out an aircraft’s windows a gift of God. DC to the West, they could put a heavy window-viewing surcharge on my ticket and I’d gladly pay.

    I fear the days of the aircraft window may be numbered. I know, who needs them when we can see everything we want to on YouTube or whatever. But, to see the real stuff with your own eyes…heaven!

    And, the Indy 500. For years, the-600 plus miles to my west was as far as I could imagine life would take me, at least until, who knew!

    Just about every 500 I saw involved a horrific crash, gasoline burning everything, including…don’t ask! But a trip from PIT to IND and back always offered the most wonderful routings, DL/NW/UA regulation-era, joint fares, with stops and plane-changes everywhere–Youngstown, Akron/Canton, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, Ft. Wayne–and all types of aircraft whose reliability was, well, best not to know, and weather, you just went through it, and hoped! But there were those big, wonderful windows through which you could see below, like gazing down on Ft. Wayne’s wonderful runway configuration.

    Please don’t tell me the airliner window is on its last legs! I can’t take it!

    Living in the past, I remain!

    1. I don’t think windows are going anywhere. The trend is for them to get bigger, like on the 787. It’s also a safety issue: In an incident, windows are needed to provide situational awareness of what’s outside the aircraft before making a decision about evacuating, and which doors to use.

  9. Cranky,
    I’m surprised you (1) expected DL to provision ‘champagne’ on a non-premium domestic route [been gone since shortly after 9/11, although AA and fairly recently UA have sparkling wine or prosecco-splits on AA and one bottle provisioned on UA] and (2) you expected the F/A to provide Y pax F-cabin amenities.

    1. Josh G – I don’t fly domestic F often enough to know or honestly really care if champagne is on there or not, but if United and American both have sparkling wine of some sort, then why are you surprised that I’d think Delta might have it? Seems like a pretty simple ask and when they said no, it didn’t really matter all that much. Any wine could have done the trick.

      To your second point, that is not what I was asking. The person who had the birthday was in First Class. We were simply asking the flight attendant to bring her a glass and say happy birthday from her husband.
      She could have ordered it herself, but that wasn’t the point.

    By the way,

    Is American Airlines improving their goodwill and customer service. It seems so based on this transaction I had with them.

    American Airlines refunded in full my money for two roundtrip transatlantic coach tickets on a flight from MIA TO PARIS that I cancelled with less than seven days in advance…and AFTER 24 hours from booking them.
    I cancelled the trip due to the extended state of emergency in France.
    I was surprised AA refunded the total amount…but they did.

    1. Most carriers have refund policies after terrorist events.

      @CF I agree it was the thought that counted regarding your request for acknowledgement of the BD and the FAs certainly could have played along.

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