Sun Country 737-700 first class San Diego to Minneapolis

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01. Introduction: San Diego to Minneapolis on Sun Country and Delta Airlines
02. Sun Country 737-700 first class San Diego to Minneapolis
03. Delta Airlines 737-800 first class Minneapolis to Salt Lake City
04. Delta Airlines 737-800 first class Salt Lake City to San Diego

Sun Country is one of those airlines that have been on my “to fly” list for a long time now, especially since they serve a destination out of SAN that I travel to at least once a year (MSP). The problem is that I used to be quite attached to Delta SkyMiles and it always killed me to to pass up an opportunity to add more to my pile. But now that Delta and nearly every other airline has devalued loyalty points for lowly casual flyers like me, I consider myself a “free agent” and I’m using the opportunity to fly whatever airline I want. It feels great not to be tied to a single program!

To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect before I purchased this ticket. I knew very little about Sun Country and how they fit in with all the other airlines here in the US. Do they consider themselves a low cost carrier? Full fare? I knew they had a dedicated first class cabin, which to me, made me think that they are trying to compete with Delta, American, and United. But their route network is abysmal compared to those other airlines, so the only way to find out what they are truly about is to cowboy-up give them a try. Here we go!

san diego airport curbside

Curbside at SAN under the canopy. Time for another adventure! Yes, I do consider flying to Minnesota in late December to be an adventure…

sun country check in san diego

Sun Country Airlines check in to the left

sun country baggage drop san diego airport

Sun Country check in counter and baggage drop here at SAN

We arrived at the gate with about 20 minutes to go before they started boarding, and things didn’t look good right off the bat. The inbound flight from MSP hadn’t arrived yet, so I thought there would be no way we would be leaving on time. Luckily, just as I was pondering how delayed we might be, I saw that bright blue and orange 737-700 round the corner at the end of terminal 2 east and zip right into the gate. The gate agents were still insisting on an on-time departure so I was really interested to see how they were going to pull this off…

SY402
San Diego, CA (SAN) – Minneapolis, MN (MSP)
Aircraft: 737-700
Seat: 3F (first class)

sun country 737 side view

Sun Country Airlines 737-700 (N711SY) side view illustration by Norebbo.com

san diego to Minneapolis route map

Our route to MSP today: POGGI5 JLI TRM J236 EED KL36O KD42Q HBU J128 FQF SSWAN TORGY2 – looks like a pretty nasty weather system on the other end!

N711SY san diego airport

N711SY soaking up as much sun as she can here in San Diego before turning around and heading home to Minnesota

san diego airport gate 34

Looks like it’s gonna be a full flight today

To my amazement, they deplaned that little -700 in record time and started boarding our flight within minutes of when they said they would. Nice! The gate area was a bit crowded this morning and we were seated a bit far away, so we held back for a few minutes as they called for the first class cabin to board the plane. By the time we got onboard, there was an older gentleman sitting in my seat who had sat there thinking it was 3A. It’s always a bit weird to walk onboard an airplane and see someone sitting in your seat, isn’t it? I usually can’t help but to think that I’ll end up in a middle seat in the last row (next to the lavatory) because there was a scheduling error or something. But it all worked out well this time, so no worries.

sun country airlines first class

My first look at the first class seats of Sun Country Airlines. Looks pretty good so far!

sun country airlines first class seat

As you can see, this is pretty much standard-issue domestic US first class here. Nothing special, but better than I was expecting.

Once I was settled in, there were two things that stood out to me right away about this first class cabin. First, the leg room (seat pitch) seemed a bit tight – tighter than what I’ve experienced recently in Delta and United domestic first class. Second, there weren’t any coat closets. That seemed odd to me considering this airplane does nothing but fly in and out of MSP (a very cold place, especially this time of year). But then again, Sun Country leases all of it’s aircraft, so its not like they have the ability to customize the interiors all that much.

sun country first class leg room

Sorry for what may appear to be a bit of a crotch shot, but here I am trying to demonstrate the leg room up here in first class

sun county first class cabin

No personal video screens to be found

sun country first class seat recline

In all my years of flying I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lever like this for seat recline. On a side note, the seat number here on the arm rest says “7F” – but my seat number was officially 3F (according to my reservation and the label on the overhead bins).

sun country first class seat detail

Center console between the seats

swing-out drink tray

This little swing-out drink tray was a neat detail

sun country airlines first class cabin

The woman up in 1E doing her best to keep things classy – we haven’t even pushed back from the gate yet but the feet are on the bulkhead!

Drinks, pillows, and thick blankets were offered as we sat waiting for pushback, which was delayed for about 15 minutes due to flow control into MSP. That didn’t sound good, especially since I could overhear other passengers talking about all the snow that was due to hit the Minneapolis area that evening. We had a two hour drive ahead of once once we landed, so that was the last thing I needed to hear! Oh well…that’s to be expected for Minnesota in late December I guess.

first class seat back pocket

Since we are sitting here at the gate with nothing to do, let’s have a look and see what’s in the seat-back pocket…

sun country in flight menu

First up is the in-flight menu

sun country in flight menu

As you can see, there are a lot of food and drink items available for purchase

sun country digital entertainment device

Digital media players are available for a fee as well (but complimentary for first class passengers)

in flight menu back cover

As long as I’m being thorough, here’s the back cover

sun country 737-700 flight safety card

I don’t normally post pics of the safety cards, but there was nothing else to do while we waited out the delay

sun country 737-700 flight safety card

Study well – there might be a test!

After sitting at the gate for a bit, we pushed back and s l o w l y made our way out to runway 27 for departure. It was obvious they were trying to kill time since the airport wasn’t especially busy at the moment.

san diego airport

Finally pushing back from the gate

taxiing at SAN

Turned around and heading out to the active taxiway

Since I had a lot of time to prepare, I thought it would be fun to mount my GoPro camera to the window to record a video of the departure:

I also took pics:

san diego airport departure

Starting our take off roll over the piano keys on runway 27

marine recruit depot san diego

Sorry for the blurry pic (the window was gross), but this is a pretty good look and the Marine recruit depot located adjacent to the airport. Not a bad place for Marine boot camp!

Mission Bay san diego

Overflying Mission Bay on our way out of SAN

sun country airlines in flight

Almost at cruising altitude as we head northeast towards MSP

san diego mountains

Crossing over the mountains on the eastern edge of San Diego county

Complimentary Android-based media players and Sun Country-branded earphones where distributed, but there were no hot towels or menus to be seen yet. Still, I was rather impressed with Sun Country first class at this point. Service felt very “down home” and personal – kind of like I was visiting someone’s house instead of being treated like just another body in a seat.

sun country digital media players

Complimentary digital media players – this is the main menu

sun country personal media player

Movie and television show selections were pretty good. Not stellar, but I found some good stuff. The bigger question, however, was what I was going to do with this bulky device. There was nowhere to put it!

sun country airlines earphones

Complimentary earphones where distributed along with the digital media players

sun country airlines earphones

The earbuds even had Sun Country Airlines logos on them. How cool is that?

Another drink service followed the distribution of the digital media players, followed by a tasty snack consisting of hummus and pita chips. This was a really nice treat – much better than a tiny back of pretzels or peanuts. Take that Delta / United / American!

sun country first class snack

Pita chips and hummus – unexpected but very tasty!

sun country airlines first class drink glasses

Sun Country drink glasses with a frosted logo on it. Nice!

Dinner was a curry chicken plate, followed by hot apple pie for dessert. The chicken was pretty good – not anything better than what you could find at a shopping mall food court, but it was certainly edible (I ate all of it). The apple pie, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. The pie itself was a bit bland and barely warm, but the plate it was served on was as hot as molten lava. On top of that, the fork that came with it was sticky. I’m not a food snob by any means, but this may have been the only time in my life that I’ve ever been disappointed with a piece of apple pie.

sun country airlines first class food

Chicken curry plate – a lot more than I was expecting for a first class meal on Sun Country!

sun country airlines first class dessert

Warm apple pie

sun country digital media player

During the meal service I discovered that there was a hook on the back of the digital media player that was perfect for hanging on the seat pocket in front of me

flying across america

The landscape was still a bit rugged out there after the meal service was complete, so we still had a way to go yet

snowy colorado mountains from the air

Looks to be Colorado down there…

flying during sunset

The trouble with flying east is that the sun sets way too fast

The rest of the flight was good. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t dim the cabin lights until 45 minutes before landing (I prefer the dark), but the flight attendants were generally awesome and came around frequently with offers to refill drinks. A snack basket made an appearance toward the latter stages of the flight, and hot towels were distributed on our decent into MSP. We were well taken care of on this flight for sure.

snack basket brownie brittle

Booty from the snack basket

The northern plains

The northern plains – getting closer to MSP now!

I could see that it was snowing rather heavily as we descended into MSP, which started to fill me with a bit of anxiety considering that we had two hours of driving to do yet this evening. My fingers were tightly crossed in hopes of scoring an all wheel drive SUV at the rental car counter!

descending into MSP at night

This pic doesn’t show it very well, but we were flying through some really heavy pockets of snow on or descent into MSP

Minneapolis st paul airport

Pulling up to the gate moments after arrival

MSP Humphrey terminal

I’ve flown in and out of MSP a million times (give or take), and this was the first time I’ve ever been in the Humphrey terminal. Looks nice, but the Lindbergh terminal is much more spacious.

Humphrey terminal baggage claim

Humphrey terminal baggage claim D

Despite the weather delays, we landed at MSP just a few minutes behind schedule. And the only thing that took my mind off all that snow flying around outside was the fact that I still didn’t know where Sun Country Airlines fit in with all the rest. Up here in first class, I thought they were just as good as any of the legacy carriers. The food (and seat pitch) might have not been up to snuff, but the attention we received from the flight attendants was on par with what I recently experienced on my Delta One business class flight from JFK to LAX. Maybe things are different back in economy class? I don’t know. But all I do know is that if the schedule is convenient, I’d choose Sun Country again in an instant over Delta the next time I need to go to MSP out of SAN.

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    1. Scott Tarr May 1, 2016
      • SANspotter May 1, 2016

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