Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) – Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG)
STD: 9:45 AM ATD: 10:06 AM GMT-4
STA: 12:10 PM ATA: 12:34 PM GMT-5
Flight Number: DL 989
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800, N376DA
Flight Date: August 16, 2017
Class of Service: First Class
Seat Type: Recliner
Seat Pitch: 38 inches
Seat Width: 21 inches
Meals: Lunch after takeoff, snack service before landing. Alcohol is complimentary in all cabins.
In-Seat Outlets: Yes
WiFi: Yes, Gogo Wifi
IFE: Yes, Personal TVs at every seat.
Cartagena has long been on my to-visit list, and why not? Seaside town, historic city center, plus year-round summer-like temperatures. I convinced some girlfriends to head down with me for a long weekend and (of course) opted to fly Delta on our way over. To get to Cartagena from New York, we had a quick layover in Atlanta before making our way down to our final destination.
After a quick hour-long connection at through Atlanta, we were on our way to a weekend of sun and seafood. Our flight departed from gate E7, at started boarding just after 9 AM. Our boarding was delayed by a few minutes, but the process was orderly thanks to Delta’s new logical boarding system, where each zone is lined up in separate lines rather than grouping everyone into Sky Priority and… not Sky Priority. (Seriously, why hasn’t this been the boarding process this whole time?)
The First Class cabin on the 737-800 is set up in a 2-2 configuration, with a total of 16 seats. I’ve mostly flown this cabin on domestic routes, so this is my first time on an international class in First class. The Delta Comfort and Main Cabin have a slightly less roomy 3-3 configuration.
We were seated in seats 3A and 3B. I was pleasantly surprised to find amenity kits at our seats when we arrived – even though this was an international flight, I had pretty low expectations. On most flights with the First Class cabine, it’s a treat to be served hot food, food, so amenity kits are never handed out. We received the hard shell blue Tumi kits, the typical amenity packs given on flights heading outbound from hubs.
The seats were the standard Delta recliner seats. As I mentioned, you’ll mostly see these on domestic US flights, and while 4 hours is easily in the range of a domestic flight, for some reason, these just felt more uncomfortable than I had hoped. (Maybe it was the whole international flight mindset.)
Most domestic first class cabins I’ve flown don’t have TVs, so I was thrilled to find we had a personal TV at our seat. As with other PTVs, this one came with a USB port to plug electronics into for charging. Behind the forward arm console were international power ports, as to be expected with First Class Delta cabins.
As we sat down, we found two bottles of water waiting for us on our glass holders.
As we buckled down for the flight, a Flight Attendant came by, offering sparkling wine, mimosas, or orange juice, which we gladly accepted.
Our estimated flight times was expected to be just under 4 hours, so this called for a hot lunch in the air. Our orders were taken as prior to take off, so I quickly perused the menu. I was interested in trying the Beef Tenderloin, which sounded fantastic, but was less keen on the polenta it was served with, so I opted for the Chimichurri Chicken instead.
Shortly after push back, we sat on the tarmac for about 10 minutes before the captain came on the intercom to let us know we were forth for takeoff. The cabin lights were dimmed and some fun neon lights came on as we awaited our turn in line. We didn’t take off until 10:06 – about 20 minutes later than scheduled.
Once we were up in the air, the FAs quickly began the meal service, though the lights remained dimmed the entire time. A little odd, given that this was a daytime flight, but I guess some people were still waking up (or didn’t want to).
The meal service started at about 10:30 AM with warm towels, followed by the beverage cart.
Our starters were served shortly after – Roasted Shrimp with Watermelon and an Arugula Bread Crumb Salad served with a red wine vinaigrette. The salad was pretty underwhelming – mostly bland and in dire need of salt for taste. The shrimp dish however, was a pleasant surprise. It was bursting with spicy and tangy flavor and a great contrast to the sweet watermelon.
I was unnecessarily carb-hungry at this point, so I was pretty excited when our main course was served. While I generally avoid ordering chicken (the tofu of the meat world!), I actually loved this dish. The meat was well-spiced and perfectly moist, and it paired delightfully with the saffron rice. The spinach however, left something to be desired, what with its bland flavor profile.
The service was a little oddly slow on this flight, and dessert was served at 11:45 AM – a full 45 minutes after the main course had been served. The sundae was very evidently melted, though if you can stomach semi-soft serve ice cream, it was still pretty tasty.
Slowness aside, I found our FAs to be pretty great. There were three tending to the main cabin, and all of them were friendly and eager to assist us in any way possible.
After our dishes were cleared, I went through the entertainment on the flight. The movies were comparable to those on my recent JFK-BRU route, so I won’t go into detail with those here. The TV shows were a little different though – they still have the Flash (if you’re looking to catch up), but more importantly, they had Law & Order: SVU on this flight! I watched all two episodes and was pleased to report that I hadn’t seen one of the two already.
I tried to catch up on sleep on this flight, but with little success – the recliner chairs don’t (well) recline very much, so there wasn’t much relaxing to be done on the rest of this flight unfortunately.
By 1:12 PM Eastern time, (12:12 PM local time), the pilot announced that we were 100 miles away from our destination and were beginning our initial descent into Cartagena. We flew past the high rise hotels as we landed, making for an exciting welcome and great start to our vacation! There were plenty of clouds in the sky, but fortunately no rain, so landing was fairly smooth and painless. A few minutes after boarding, we taxied over to our gate, and deplaned via mobile stairway.
I found the flight to be a typical Delta First Class flight. It’s only 4 hours long, so Delta doesn’t use their larger planes with flatbed seats on this route, but it’s a win for those Delta Medallions out there since this route is eligible for free upgrades, availability permitting. If you’re coming from New York City, JetBlue does run a nonstop route to Cartagena, which would certainly be more convenient. However, as a frequent Delta flyer, I was in it for MQMs so this trip, so the layover in Atlanta wasn’t terribly inconvenient.
Check in & Boarding: 9/10 – Slightly delayed, but overall pretty painless.
Food: 8/10 – Food was pretty good, though the melted ice cream Sunday was disappointing.
Seat: 6/10 – I hope never to find myself on a red eye in this.
Crew: 9/10– Top knotch service!
Flight Experience: 8/10 – The seat was a real downer in the overall flight experience, but otherwise it was fairly positive.
Overall: 40/50 (80%) ★★★★★