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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)