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I found my first Delta CRJ-900 First Class experience to be average.
Pros-Friendly Gate Agents, Well Placed Power Plugs, Impressive Amenities, Fast Baggage Service
Cons-Limited Storage, Poor Sparkling Wine, Weak Snack Selection, Subpar JFK Arrival Experience
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We left the SkyClub DCA in high spirits and with a great impression of Delta which we hoped would continue once we were onboard. We got to the gate early and it was empty. When boarding started it was 3 minutes after the scheduled boarding time and since we were sitting in First Class we were among the first people to board. I loved being able to board first and settle into my seat. However, in the COVID-19 era I imagine I would also appreciate the option to board last and hang out in the lounge. As we boarded the plane the check-in agents were very friendly something that was not always the case on American Airlines.
Plane and Seats
This flight was on a CRJ-900 regional jet, operated by Delta affiliate Endeavor, with 12 First Class seats arraigned in a 1-2 configuration. We were seated together in the bulkhead seats 1 C and 1 D on the right side of the plane. These seats had approximately 37 inches of pitch and 20 inches of width. Since we were in the bulkhead there was more limited legroom than the other First Class seats but I thought the legroom on this plane was still sufficient. One of the downsides to First Class in the CRJ-900 is that the bathrooms are too small for me stand up straight. This is an annoying feature on many regional jets but wasn't as a big of a deal on this approximately 50 minute flight. Another annoying part of the First Class experience on this plane was the lack of storage space. There wasn't enough storage space to store both the bottle of water at my seat and my noise cancelling headphones. As we took off we waived goodbye to our home city Washington D.C. which we wouldn't see for three weeks.
Amenities and In-Flight Entertainment
Upon boarding we were greeted by several amenities at our seats. These included a blanket and a pillow. This was the first time I had ever seen a pillow on a domestic First Class flight. Also waiting at our seats were small plastic bottles of water. I was very impressed by the amenities provided by Delta especially considering that this was a sub-one hour flight. These amenities blew away the CRJ-900 First Class flight I had on American Airlines were there weren't even blankets in First Class on a three hour flight.
Another downside to the CRJ-900 regional planes is that unlike Delta's mainline planes this plane had no seat back in-flight entertainment (IFE). Delta did offer in-seat power and streaming IFE on this flight. We were so excited about our trip that we didn't even bother watching the streaming IFE. A really good feature of the seat was two 110 volt power plugs. We ended up using these plugs to charge our devices and I loved the placement which I found to be much better than the awkward below seat placement on many planes.
Food and Drinks
The food and drink service started shortly after we sat down with a pre-departure beverage. I chose the sparkling wine so I could compare the difference in taste between the other sparkling wine and champagne offerings available later in the day. Christina passed and said she was waiting for the good stuff at our next stop. She was smart to wait as the sparkling wine was really bad. Shortly after takeoff the flight attendant came around with the snack basket. I found the snack selection to be weak with just a handful more snacks that economy. The snack selection was so weak that I ended up selecting Biscoff Cookies the same snack I would have received in economy. I can say this is one area where American Airlines did better pre-COVID-19 since they had much larger variety of snacks on short flights. One interesting thing I noticed about Delta's service is that every drink they served was handed over on a tray. I liked this tray service and think it made the experience feel more refined.
While I have been very impressed by Delta's in-flight service in the past there wasn't much to note about the service on this flight. I appreciated the pre-departure beverage but I had come to expect that on Delta. Generally the service on this flight wasn't bad just unremarkable.
Arrival at JFK
We arrived about 20 minutes ahead of the scheduled arrival and upon landing we got the first glimpse of our ride to Singapore. Out of the window we could see the Singapore A380 parked next to a Virgin Atlantic plane. Our excitement grew immensely as we saw the giant plane which was going to be our ride for almost 24 hours.
After deplaning we had to take a shuttle bus to the terminal. Generally, I don't like having to a take a shuttle especially if I have a tight connection and I hope this is part of the experience Delta eliminates in future JFK renovations. However, the big upside of doing so today was we got a chance to see many of the big planes at JFK up close. This included a Qatar Airways plane which was taxing during our shuttle ride. I really enjoyed this as a travel lover. We headed to the baggage claim to retrieve our bags since we were booked on separate reservation for our next flight on Singapore Airlines and impressively our bags were out in five minutes. I really love how fast bags are available after a Delta flight.
I found my first flight in Delta's CRJ-900 First Class to be average. I thought the boarding experience was smooth, the gate agents were friendly, liked the placement and availability of power plugs, the baggage service was very fast, and I was very impressed by the amenities provided by Delta on such a short flight. However, Delta could improve the CRJ-900 flight experience by adding additional storage, improving the sparkling wine, improving the weak snack selection, and improving the arrival experience by not requiring a shuttle.