Ramon is the creator of Travelling Companion. He focuses on flight review, hotel reviews, and helping stretch your travel dollars, miles, and points further.
This non-stop Delta flight from the Washington D.C. area which has now moved from IAD to BWI provided a comfortable and convenient ride to Cancun, Mexico.
Pros-Non-Stop Service to Cancun, Newly Upholstered and Comfortable Seat, Friendly Crew
Cons-Slow Boarding Process, Old IFE System, Limited IFE Selection, No USB Power
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After a visit to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse my traveling companions and I took a long walk from the lounge down to our departure gate B78 at the far end of the B terminal. As we walked I was happy to be traveling with two friends even though it was strange to be traveling without Christina. We were traveling during the federal government shutdown and there had been reports of long lines at security around the country but all of us made it quickly through security. On the way to our gate I ran into an alumnus of my college who was headed with her family to vacation in the Cancun area. It was nice to randomly run into someone I knew at the airport.
At check-in the flight was full in economy but ended up having two empty First Class seats even after all upgrades were processed. This was not surprising because neither Dulles or Cancun are Delta hubs and Cancun is primarily a leisure destination making this a rare non-hub to hub flight for Delta. Since I flew this flight in the winter of 2019 Delta moved the flight from IAD to Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) which makes sense since BWI is a more leisure focused airport. I was annoyed that I did not have Delta status since I could have easily ended up with a First Class upgrade.
Because of the empty First Class cabin I was offered a $169 First Class upgrade at check-in which I would have gladly accepted if I was flying with Christina. However, I declined it since I was flying without her and my friends were flying in economy. Despite the 7:50 am boarding time boarding did not begin until 8:10 am because of large number of passport checks and gate-checked bags. Despite the late start boarding was completed in 25 minutes and economy ended up going out with empty seats which I assumed was due to passengers missing the flight.
Plane and Seats
On this flight I was flying a Boeing 737-800 arranged in a standard 3-3 economy configuration with approximately 17 inches of width and 31 inches of pitch. As I headed to my seat 20C, a standard economy aisle seat on the left hand side, I noticed the fresh and stylish blue upholstery on the economy seats. Delta clearly had recently replaced the upholstery and I appreciated the updated look. The seat was nicely padded and comfortable but did not have a headrest which would be annoying on a late night or early morning flight when a passenger is trying to rest.
Once passengers completed boarding the captain announced that we could not depart because of a maintenance issue. Once the issue was fixed we still didn't move because we needed a driver to move us back from the gate since there was a ton of ice and snow on the ground. We ended up departing at 9:05 am about 20 minutes late for our approximately 3-and-a-half-hour flight. As we took off we saw the ice and snow and I was very happy to be escaping the Washington D.C. winter for Cancun, Mexico.
Amenities and In-Flight Entertainment
After boarding was completed the flight attendants came through the economy cabin with complimentary headphones. This is a staple on Delta's international flights. The headphones Delta offers are cheap headphones so I always bring my own noise cancelling headphones, but they are still better than nothing in the era of cost cutting and fees. The area where Delta was really weak on this flight was in-flight entertainment (IFE). This 737-800 featured an old Delta IFE system with a small screen and poor resolution. The IFE also did not have USB power and economy passengers had to rely on the two shared AC power outlets for every three seats. Finally, the IFE selection on this flight was not strong and it had relatively few new releases. I ended up watching Mission Impossible Fallout.
Food and Drinks
The start of the flight was quite bumpy and the captain asked that the flight attendants and passengers remained seated. This delayed the start of the flight food and drink service. Despite the turbulence passengers continued to walk about the cabin and flight attendants continually asked passengers to remain seated for their safety. After about 30 minutes food and drink service commenced. There was no complimentary food served in economy on this flight. However, there was a buy on board menu which included a choice between a Protein Box and a Turkey Maple Sandwich. Since I had already eaten in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and I was headed to an all-inclusive resort I decided to pass on buying a meal. However, the flight did include Delta's standard complementary snacks including Biscoff cookies, Kind bars, snack mix, and peanuts.
Service on this flight overall was friendly. There were a total of four flight attendants working economy. The flight attendants were firm but not mean making sure that passengers sat down during turbulence. When they came by for snack service the flight attendants offered two snacks and chatted in a friendly manner with passengers. The flight attendants made several announcements to keep passengers informed and were friendly each time. While the cabin was kept dark for most of the time during this morning flight the flight attendants did come by with a water service with about 20 minutes left in the flight.
My flight on Delta's 737-800 non-stop from Washington Dulles to Cancun provided a newly upholstered and comfortable seat coupled with friendly service. However, the boarding process was slow, the IFE system needed to be refreshed, there was no USB power, and the IFE selection was limited. Despite several drawbacks including the age of the plane I would choose to take this flight because of the convience of taking a non-stop versus a connecting flight.