Delta 737-800 economy review (yes, it’s as dull as you think it is)

SANspotter looking out window delta 737-800 economy

Can you believe it? I’m writing a Delta 737-800 economy review. Worse yet, you’re actually reading it. What’s wrong with you?

In my defense, I wasn’t even planning on doing a review of this flight. However, in the days leading up to it, I realized that I’ve never posted a review of Delta Air Lines 737-800 economy class.

What’s the point of being an airline reviewer if I’m not posting my opinions on all of the different airline products that I try? Let’s just get this over with so I can check it off my list…

DL1406
New York, NY (JFK) – Tampa, FL (TPA)
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Aircraft: 737-832
Registration: N3733Z
Duration: 2 hours 34 minutes
Seat: 27F (economy)

Delta 737-800 side view
Delta 737-800 side view illustration by Norebbo.com
dl1406 flight track
Our route from New York to Tampa today as DL1406

A full review of Delta 737-800 economy class from New York (JFK) to Tampa

According to my flight log, I’ve flown on a Delta 737-800 exactly 5 times in my life so far. I’ve already reviewed the first class experience, but I’ve never had the opportunity to post anything about economy class. Or, maybe I just didn’t want to. I can’t remember.

Anyway, after trying the all new JetBlue Mint Suites from LAX to JFK, I needed to fly down to Tampa to catch a Breeze Airways flight to Oklahoma City. The most convenient option was Delta Air Lines.

Curbside terminal 4 JFK airport
Curbside Terminal 4 at JFK. I would have been mortified if anyone asked me why I was taking a picture of this. Saying “I need it for my Delta 737-800 trip report!” would have sounded really nerdy.
Delta air lines check in terminal 4 JFK
Thankfully nobody asked, so I kept taking pictures. This is the Delta check in area here in T4.
Delta air lines check in terminal 4 departures hall JFK
Since nobody seems to care, how about a pic of the action while standing in line at the security checkpoint? This ought to raise some eyebrows…

Hanging out in Terminal 4 at JFK before the flight

As you read in my Delta 767-400 economy review, Terminal 4 at JFK is nice. It’s also extremely massive. You’re going to need a good pair of walking shoes if your gate happens to be located at the far end of the terminal.

Terminal 4 central mall JFK airport
So begins the long walk to my gate after clearing security. I’ll try and spare you the details, but…
Terminal 4 moving walkway JFK airport
…I need to post at least one pic of the walk. And why is nobody choosing to use the moving walkway this morning?
Gate B38 jfk airport
Gate B38. I made it!
Delta 737-800 jfk airport
This my ride to Tampa (I told you this was going to be boring).
SANspotter selfie delta 767
Oh! There’s this cool mural of a Delta 767 on one of the walls of the customer service center downstairs (at the far end of the terminal). Consider this a desperate attempt to bring some excitement back into this review.

The boarding process for flight 1406 to Tampa

Hovering around the gate area in the moments leading up to the boarding process, I could tell that it was going to be a fairly light load this morning.

It’s always hard to guess how full or empty a flight is going to be just by looking around the gate area, but I was feeling optimistic about having an empty seat next to me on the plane. After all, I did write an article about increasing the chances of having an empty seat next to you on a plane. I can sense these things.

Gate b38 jfk terminal 4
Does this look like enough people to fill a 737-800?
Delta economy mobile boarding pass
I can’t math so here’s a pic of my boarding pass instead.
JFK glass jet bridge delta air lines
An awfully fancy jet bridge for an awfully mediocre airplane.
Delta jet bridge posters JFK
That’s more like it!
Delta 737-800 boarding door
Dang it! I should have worn my Delta colors today too. And just so you know, I’m not mocking this guy at all. I’m actually a bit jealous!

My first impressions of the Delta 737-800 economy class seat

I’ll admit it. I was expecting the worst as I was walking down the jet bridge and onto the plane.

The last Delta 737-800 that I was on hadn’t been updated in years, and I was told by others afterwards that the 737-800‘s are the most neglected in the Delta fleet. Imagine my surprise when I stepped onboard and saw brand new seats with large video screens.

Delta 737-800 main cabin
Wait a sec. Since when did Delta 737-800’s get refurbished interiors?
Boarding delta 737-800
Holding my head in shame thinking about all the negative things I’ve said about these airplanes over the years.
Delta 737-800 economy class interior
I’ve already done a lot of walking today, so a long walk to the back of this plane ain’t nothin’ but a thing. #snoopdogreference
Delta 737-800 economy seats row 27
There we go. This is the view from row 27.
Delta 737-800 economy seats leg room
Leg room in these seats isn’t so bad actually!
Delta 737-800 economy video screen
She doesn’t need to tell me what’s available on today’s flight. I can clearly see that high-quality video entertainment is one of the options.
Delta 737-800 economy electrical outlets
There are full size electrical outlets as well. Kind of of topic, but I’ll never forget sticking a fork in an electrical outlet when I was 4 years old. Perhaps it’s the mental trauma of that experience which helps to explain why I’m such a weirdo today…
Delta 737-800 economy USB port and headphone jack
More holes to stick your forks and fingers into? Nope – it’s just the USB and headphone jack located beneath the video screen.
Delta 737-800 interior
All loaded up and ready to go. I wonder if there’s anyone else on this plane who’s as excited about the video screens as I am?

The departure sequence out of JFK

Departing out of JFK can be both exciting and frustrating. It’s exciting because it there’s always lots to see both on the ground and in the air. It’s frustrating because it’s an extremely busy airport and the wait times can be horrendous during rush hour.

It was a bit flip-flopped this morning though. We didn’t have to wait all that long to takeoff, but it was on runway 22R, which points away from the city. There wasn’t much to see just after liftoff.

Delta 737-800 wing JFK airport
We’re pushing back from the gate now, and…I’m just really glad I’m not on that CR7 sitting next to us. My last Delta CRJ-700 experience wasn’t all that great.
Delta 737-800 takeoff from JFK airport
Here are some pics of the departure sequence. You can watch the video  below to see (and hear) this in action!

Are there video screens in Delta 737-800 economy class?

Yes, there are video screens in Delta 737-800 economy. And they’re pretty good actually! As I said earlier, I was pleasantly surprised to see the most modern and up-to-date Delta economy product on this plane. These seats featured large and vibrant video screens – nearly identical to what I recently experienced in Delta A220-300 economy class.

Video screens in delta 737-800 economy cabin
Of all the things I was expecting on this flight, large video screens at every seat was not one of them.
Delta Studio video screens 737-800
If you’re familiar with Delta Studio, you already know that there are tons of good movie and TV options to choose from. If you’re not familiar with it…there are tons of good movie and TV options to choose from.

What kind of food did they serve on this flight?

If pretzels and water consists of food, that’s the food we got. Of course Biscoff Cookies were an option as well (as they are on all Delta flights), but I was in no mood for a sweet snack this particular morning.

Delta air lines economy snack
If you were expecting more than this on a 2.5 hour flight down to Tampa, you clicked on the wrong review.
SANspotter eating snacks delta 737-800
“Why in the world did I ever think it was a good idea to put so much time and effort into a Delta 737-800 economy review?”
Delta air lines pretzels
For as much as I’m complaining about Delta Air Lines economy, the truth is that I’m perfectly at home (and happy) here. I love pretzels. Only popcorn is better!
Delta economy snack service
Come to think of it – why don’t airlines serve popcorn as an in flight snack?

It should be noted that there were no buy on board meal options on today’s flight. Perhaps it was because of Covid restrictions still being in place or something. I don’t know.

How good (or bad) are Delta 737-800 economy seats on long flights?

Total flying time down to Tampa this morning was 2 hours and 34 minutes. While far from being the longest 737-800 segment that I’ve ever been on, I was decently comfortable for the entire flight. Except when my seatmate (an attractive Latino woman in her 30s) ripped a huge fart near the halfway point. I knew it was her. I felt the vibration in my seat.

Delta 737-800 economy seat and tray table
Don’t tell anyone, but I think I’m actually enjoying this.
Delta 737-800 seat comfort
I don’t want to speak for these people, but I’d like to assume that they are enjoying it was well.
SANspotter looking out window delta 737-800 economy
Maybe I assume too much.

My final thoughts on the Delta 737-800 economy experience

In my opinion, Delta’s economy class product has been the best in the US for the last 10 years or so. This 737-800 economy experience was just as good as Delta 757-300 economy (and even Delta A321 economy). It’s far from being luxurious, as you would expect, but it’s a solid alternative to JetBlue (the only other airline flying JFK to Tampa at the moment).

Now, let’s wrap this review up with the descent and landing into Tampa:

Delta 737-800 wing and winglet
Starting the descent into Tampa. No signs of palm trees yet.
Landing at TPA airport
For anyone who’s never been to Tampa before, it’s not as tropical as you might think!
737-800 winglet
Not much to see as we taxi into the gate. Except for a big honkin’ 737-800 winglet, of course.
Delta 737-800 economy interior from rear
Ding! You may now retrieve your carryon bag as fast as you can.
Delta 737-800 full cabin
Wait! Here’s one last look at the economy cabin as I make my way off the plane. FYI, the seats with the red tops are the fancy-pants Extra Comfort seats.
SANspotter carryon bag
Why do I hold my carryon bag like it’s a dirty diaper?
Delta 3 carryon bags
Props to this guy. I can’t say that I’ve ever been tempted to bring 3 full bags onto a plane with me before.
Arriving at TPA airport
Welcome to Tampa! Now where’s those palm trees I’ve been hearing about?

Pros and cons of Delta 737-800 economy class

Despite what others have told me about Delta being slow to update their 737-800s with the newest interiors, I was lucky on this particular morning. The seats on this plane were pretty good. Everything else was on par with what I would expect for a bare-bones economy product.

Pros:

  • If you’re lucky enough to be on a plane that has them, I’d like to think that you’d agree with me the fact that the new seats are both stylish and comfortable. I could still feel my toes after the 2.5 hour flight down to Tampa, which was a major plus.
  • The video screens are just as good as you would find on any other Delta aircraft with the newest interior.
  • Seat pitch (legroom) is pretty good. Easily comparable with other US airlines such as JetBlue and Southwest. Speaking of which, it probably behooves you to read my Delta vs Southwest and JetBlue vs Delta comparisons before booking your next domestic flight.

Cons:

  • The 737-800 is one of the oldest aircraft types in the Delta fleet. This means scratched windows, scuffed walls, and other blemishes you would expect to find on such an old bird.
  • It’s loud. The majority of the economy class seats on a Delta 737-800 are behind the wing. The area behind the wing is by far the loudest place to sit on one of these planes.

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