Trip Report: SEA-SJC, First Class on Delta CRJ-700


Lately, I’ve gotten myself into reading a lot of “trip reports”. I love traveling, but I don’t (yet?) have the ability to do so much. Well-written trip reports out there really have an ability to make a reader feel like they’re part of the experience. I vaguely remember trying to write one for my trip to San Francisco a few years ago. I’ve only taken maybe 2 long-haul flights in my life before then, and I was so excited to capture that experience and to share it with others. But alas, I left it somewhere in a draft folder that I can’t seem to find anymore, and never published it.

My work as a software engineer has me going from Seattle (where I’m based in) to the Bay Area quite often. Normally, I would have been taking advantage of the Elevate Gold status that I got from transferring points from my AmEx cards, and fly SEA-SFO in Virgin America (and I’ll be constantly comparing this trip with my previous trips on Virgin in this post). However, seeing that SPG was running a promotion with the Crossover Rewards program (where you can earn SPG points for flying with Delta) and offering 500 extra SPG points for trips with Delta, I was very tempted to give Delta a try. I love the purple mood lighting and all, but getting on a tiny regional jet could be interesting, too.

And so I decided to take the the flight DL 4766, which leaves Seattle at 4:15pm and arrives at San Jose at 6:24pm. In my opinion, the timing works a little bit better compared to VX 755, leaving SEA at 5:10pm and arriving at SFO at 7:10pm. The traffic is so much worse an hour later in the day in Seattle, and not being able to get to dinner at a reasonable time in the Bay Area is also a problem.

Picture taken from SJC during daybreak, on my return journey.

I arrived at the airport about an hour before. SEA, being one of my favorite airports in the States, was fairly empty. After getting through security, I started heading towards the Centurion Studio. My flight was leaving from gate B7, which is across the corridor from the Studio. I guess I could have checked out the Delta Sky Club, but that’s all the way in the satellite S building, and I decided that it’s probably not worth it.

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I’ve been to only a few lounges in my life; and while this isn’t anywhere as luxurious like the Cathay Pacific Pier in Hong Kong, the Studio still makes a great place to relax and wait for a flight. The staff is friendly, and the snacks selection is… adequate. Really there isn’t much more I would be asking for before a regional flight.

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Pre-departure

I started to head for the gate 30 minutes before the departure time. The boarding process began promptly and I started making my way onto this tiny regional jet.

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As a lone traveler onboard this 1-2 configuration first class cabin, I took seat 1A, one of the 3 single seats. Even as one of the first passengers to board, I had troubles finding a space in the overhead bins to put my duffle bag and backpack. Fortunately, the flight attendant offered to put my bag in one of the closets. There was a small bottle of water placed on every seat before we boarded, which is a nice touch.

The plane is an aged one – there’s no denying. The lack of in-flight entertainment is a little bit annoying, though I shouldn’t be complaining for such a short flight (That said, last time I flew to the Bay Area I was able to rewatch almost half of of Silicon Valley season 2 – what a great way to pass the time). The seat itself feels very wide – perhaps wider than Virgin’s first class product, but the legroom is a little limited for a first class seat. My legs could rest comfortably, but there was no room to stretch them out.

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Shortly after all the first class passengers boarded, the attendant started offering welcome drinks. “Anything to drink?” Without any greetings like a “good evening”, or even a “hello”, she went straight to the important questions. “Um… ginger ale please,” I replied. I didn’t have a chance to confirm that she acknowledged my request before she already turned her back repeating the same questions to the passengers near me. Maybe she’s just swamped with pre-departure processes, or maybe the much-more-frequent business flyers on this route prefer the no-BS attitude. Meh, I thought.

Service & Food

The flight took off on time, and the in-flight services began promptly. The flight attendant started walking down the aisle asking for beverage choices, and whether you’d like a chicken wrap for dinner or not. Took me by a little surprise – I didn’t think a 4pm departure on a short flight would warrant a full meal. (Virgin America, if I recall correctly, doesn’t offer meal service on this route) “I’ll take it”, I answered, “with a Diet Coke please.”

Shortly after taking everybody’s orders, she started serving drinks, and brought me a tray with the chicken wrap. Along with the chicken wrap was a few celery and carrot sticks with a small bowl of hummus. Sadly, there isn’t an oven equipped on this tiny jet; otherwise, I’d have preferred a hot meal. (To be fair, neither does American offer a hot meal on a flight like this even when flying a 737).

 

My first impression was: what a beautiful tray it is! The plate is placed neatly on top (alongside with way too many advertisement for the catering company, but I can overlook that), and it has a premium-but-not-over-the-top feel to it. I really do appreciate the design. The wrap was surprisingly good, I have to say; I was half-expecting a dry and plain sandwich wrap, but it turned out to be fairly juicy and flavorful. I’ll take this over American’s half-effort chicken salad any day.

Service was overall attentive, with the attendant offering to refill drinks constantly. The attendant does seem to be in a better mood after the takeoff, and was a little more friendly to the passengers. I guess the earlier perceived rudeness was in fact just due to a busy pre-departure schedule.

We landed in SJC on time. The skies were clear (a welcome sight coming from Seattle in the winter); even from several thousand feet in the air, you can almost spot where all the tech giants’ campuses are.

Final thoughts

The tiny jet turned out to be a pleasure to fly in. The 1-2 configuration can be a tough contender to Virgin’s superior First Class seat, and having a hearty meal just might be able to put Delta on top.

(Wow, this trip report took almost a year and a half to finish. I intend to be have a much quicker turnaround with my future trip reports, I promise!)