Airline: Delta Air Lines | Aircraft: 717-200 | Class: First Class (Domestic) | Flight: DL2593 (JFK-TPA)
I recently travelled to Florida for a work trip and I travelled on Delta Air Lines' First Class (Domestic) for the first time between New York and Tampa. Since I was connecting at JFK from an international flight from Dubai on Emirates, I was unable to take advantage of any interline agreements which meant that I had to recheck my luggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Despite having a two hour connection (which I thought was pretty tight), connecting between terminals was not as tough or as lengthy as I thought it would be.
Domestic flights operated by Delta Air Lines depart from Terminal 2 and even though the AirTrain will take you there, there is a short walk (outdoors) that you will have to get through. Not a problem except I was not prepared to walk through 1 degree Celsius weather in my t-shirt and jeans. Getting through security in the US is always slightly trickier especially if it is your first time. The flight that I was booked on was supposed to depart at 11:25AM but it was delayed for 90 minutes - actual departure time was 12:55PM. There is not much in Terminal 2 but if you are looking for decent espresso-based coffee, Croque Madame which is located between gates 62 and 63 serves a pretty good one.
Boarding began approximately twenty minutes prior to the new departure time and as you would expect, premium passengers were amongst the first to be invited for boarding. Delta Air Lines operates a three-class cabin on the 717-200 - Economy, Delta Comfort+ and First Class. There are 12 First Class recliner seats on the flight and the seats feature 37" of seat pitch (19% more than Economy) and 19.6" (8% more than Economy) of seat width. To put things into perspective for Singapore travellers, this is fairly similar to what you would expect in Premium Economy on Singapore Airlines. What is more important to take note however is that First Class comes with two complimentary checked luggage (32kg each) as well as two cabin bags.
The photos that I have taken on this flight were all taken with my iPhone and therefore it may not be as wide as the other photos that I have taken on previous trip reports (Delta Air Lines does have a policy on using cameras on the flight and professional cameras are not allowed so I did not want to get into trouble - I was also tired from my flight in from JFK). The First Class cabin was configured in a 2-2 layout (typical for a narrow body aircraft) and I was seated in Seat 2A by the window. Unlike other planes that I was used to, the bulkhead seats on this plane are actually not recommended since it has restricted legroom and it is also the closest to the galley and lavatories. There is a small pocket located at the back of the seat in front of me where I could leave my passport and small personal belongings inside but other than that, there really isn't a place where you can store larger personal items.
First Class passengers will also get a Westin Heavenly In-Flight blanket that they can use on the flight. Since JFK-TPA is approximately 1,000 miles, it is categorised as a Medium flight and therefore, you will get to enjoy a full chef-curated meal service. First Class passengers traveling in flights under 900 miles will get to enjoy a selection of beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) as well as a variety of snacks.
Flying domestically within the US is quite an interesting experience - window shades need not be drawn up, hot coffee was served to a passenger prior to take-off (and he actually held on to it during take-off which was a bit of a shocker to me) and things are typically a little less rigid. I was offered a drink of my choice prior to take-off while the rest of the passengers were boarding the plane and I opted for a gin and tonic.
Shortly after take-off, I was offered either a hot or cold meal - I opted for the beef sliders and they were actually quite delicious. It also came with a small potato salad as well as three chocolate cookies on the side. I opted for a bag of chips which the flight attendant took from Economy (because apparently these are not catered for First Class passengers) and the flight experience was actually quite decent.
There is no in-flight entertainment (IFE) system on the flight that I was on but it is definitely worth noting that complimentary WiFi for messaging is provided on the flight for everyone (even in Economy!). This means to say that you remain connected via WhatsApp, Messenger and iMessage without having to pay anything extra. If you do wish to send and receive images or videos, you will have to purchase one of the WiFi passes for greater access. In any case, the view from the window isn't too bad and you will be able to get the flight path (including the remaining flight time) as well as flight status from your mobile phone anyway.
My first experience on Delta Air Lines' domestic First Class is really not as bad as I have imagined - I have heard so many horror stories on domestic flights in the US and I most certainly did not experience any of that. Due to the delay in take-off, the plane actually landed in Tampa International Airport (TPA) at 3:33PM which is almost an hour late - the scheduled arrival time was 2:30PM. Thankfully, that was the last leg of my flight and thus I did not actually miss any flights due to the delay. I chose to credit this flight to my SkyMiles account and this flight alone earned me 1,775 miles with a 50% MQM Bonus.