Delta 737-800 first class review (fantastic food in ordinary seats)

Delta 737-800 first class review (fantastic food in ordinary seats)

In the moments leading up to writing this Delta 737-800 first class review, I realized that it may be one of the most important airline reviews that I’ve written in a good long while. There are over 75 737-800’s in the Delta fleet, and a lot of people fly on these things every day. This needs to be thorough.

First class seats on the Delta 737-800 are decent. The in-flight entertainment is good. The onboard service (which includes meals) is fantastic. It’s not the best domestic first class product, but if you can get it at a decent price, it’s not all that bad.

If you’re gonna need more info than that, keep reading. You came here looking for a thorough review of a very common domestic first class experience, and gosh darn it, that’s exactly what you’re going to get.

San Diego, CA (SAN) – Seattle, WA (SEA)
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Aircraft: 737-832
Registration: N3731T
Duration: 2 hours 59 minutes
Seat: 4A (First Class)

delta 737-800 side view n3731T
Delta 737-800 side view illustration by
DL1485 flight track
Our route from San Diego to Seattle this morning as DL1485.

A comprehensive review of Delta 737-800 first class from San Diego to Seattle

If you recall from my review of Delta 737-800 first class from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City back in 2015, you’ll know that I’ve always been a pretty big fan of this product. It’s not a totally luxurious experience, but it’s a fine seat (with good service) given what they usually charge for it.

The good news is that the seats have been updated since 2015. This is a very different review from my last one – especially since this one includes proper food.

My arrival at the airport

Delta Air Lines uses Terminal 2 West at the San Diego International Airport (SAN). I consider them to be the best airline to fly out of San Diego if you’re in a rush, since their ticketing counters are located adjacent to the main entrance.

Not only that, their gates are the ones you reach first after clearing the security checkpoint. This is the airline to fly out of San Diego if you’re habitually late for everything!

San Diego airport terminal 2 west arrivals level
Would you look at that? Seems as if there are 4 other people in this world as paranoid as I am about arriving at the airport early.
SANspotter selfie San Diego airport Uber pick up area
Speaking of paranoid…this is where Uber pics up at the San Diego Airport, and if I’m not careful, this trip report is going to end just as quickly as it began.
San Diego airport terminal 2 entrance
Disaster averted. Unless I have an aneurism while walking through this entrance, you’re going to get the Delta 737-800 review you came here for.
Delta check in counters San Diego airport
FYI, Delta easily has the nicest looking check in area at the San Diego Airport. I’m just passing by this morning though, since I’ve already checked in online.

Do you get lounge access with a domestic first class ticket on Delta Air Lines?

No, you will not get lounge access when flying domestic first class on Delta. Note that this is typical of all US airlines, so it’s not like Delta is being overly-stingy or anything. However, the Delta Sky Club at the San Diego Airport is fantastic, so it’ll understandably sting a little knowing what you’re missing out on.

Busy terminal 2 west San Diego airport
Terminal 2 is busy this morning! Do you think less of me for not even caring that I don’t have lounge access today? I’m not afraid to admit that I actually enjoy the ambiance of a busy airport.
Delta 737-800 parked at gate 36 San Diego airport
Besides, I wouldn’t be able to get up close and personal with my ride up to Seattle if I was shoveling scrambled eggs into my face up in the lounge. Mingling with the masses has its benefits!

The boarding process for flight number 1485 to Seattle

Our departure gate this morning was from gate 36, which aligns perfectly with what I said about the location of Delta‘s gates here at the San Diego Airport. It was literally a 45 second walk from the security checkpoint.

Gate 36 San Diego airport
Gate 36 is where this flight to Seattle is departing from. It’s located just a hop and a skip away from the security checkpoint, so it’ll be really convenient for anyone feeling disheveled after a thorough body cavity search.

They initiated the boarding process right on time, and things moved smoothly. Which is exactly what you want at 6:30 in the morning, right?

Delta Sky priority mobile boarding pass
Sky Priority coming through…
Delta air lines jet bridge San Diego airport
According to the way that Delta boards their aircraft these days, these people are either families with small children, active military personnel, Delta Diamond Medallions, or regular ‘ol first class passengers such as myself. It’s anyone’s guess.
Delta 737-800 close up
One of these days I’m going to get body slammed by security personnel for taking pics like this during the boarding process, but (thankfully) today is not that day.
Delta 737-800 boarding door
Fun facts: According to my flight log, this will be the 63rd 737-800 that I’ve ever flown on. And the 201st time that I’ve flown Delta. 

A closer look at Delta’s 737-800 first class seats

For as common as these Delta 737-800s are, I’m surprised that it’s taken me so long to do an updated review of one of these things. I’m a bit of a procrastinator, OK?

Fun fact: if you have flown first class on a Delta 757-300 lately, the seats on the 737-800 will look (and feel) exactly the same. I’ve always praised Delta for being extremely consistent with their product offerings from one aircraft to the next, and this was no exception.

Delta 737-800 first class cabin
Here you go! This is the Delta 737-800 first class cabin in all it’s blue and red diamond-stitched glory. For anyone curious what lies beyond, be sure to check out my Delta 737-800 economy review
Delta 737-800 first class seats
Seats 4A and 4B. RIP to the solid walls that used to separate the different cabins I guess.
Delta 737-800 first class leg room
Legroom is decent in these seats. And it seems as if Delta and I are on the same page when it comes to shades of blue.
Delta 737-800 seat back video screen
It’s true. All of life’s riddles are solved in seatback video screen marketing messages.
Delta 737-800 first class power outlets
There are plenty of power outlets in these seats (as their darn well should be considering that Delta 737-900 first class is power-port equipped as well). I appreciate the consistency from aircraft to aircraft, Delta!
Delta 737-800 first class old interiors
Keep in mind that these Delta 737s are getting on in age, so prepare yourselves for lots of yellowed plastic. This is essentially Delta 757-200 first class in a smaller package IMHO.

I think the best way to summarize how good (or bad) these seats are is to compare it to Delta A321neo first class. Once you see what that is like, it makes the 737-800 seats look old.

The departure out of San Diego

There seemed to be a minor delay pushing off the gate, but thankfully they got everything sorted and it wasn’t long before we were on our way.

Once in motion, it was a relatively quick taxi out to the threshold of runway 27 – thanks in large part to the fact that all of the early morning departures had already cleared out. There was absolutely no waiting to take off.

Gate 36 jet bridge San Diego airport
‘Later dudes!
Delta 737-800 first class interior
Looks like I’m “that guy” this morning with the only open window shade. Does nobody enjoy flying anymore?
Delta 737-800 runway taxi San Diego airport
Some pics of the action (that apparently everyone else in first class missed). Check up out the video embedded below if you dare to be as nerdy as I am…

What is in-flight entertainment like in first class on the Delta 737-800?

Would it surprise you to learn that in-flight entertainment on Delta 737-800 is almost the same as it is in Delta One on the 767-400? It’s true. You’ll get the same selection of movies and TV shows along with a bright and responsive video screen to consume it on.

That said, the video screen on the 737-800 is much smaller. They also don’t provide noise canceling headphones, so the audio experience will be far inferior. And admittedly slightly infuriating.

Delta Studio 737-800 first class
Just because the 737-800 is a boring airplane doesn’t mean that the in-flight entertainment suffers. Delta Studio always delivers.
Delta air lines ear buds
Headphones? Or condoms? “PLUG IN TUNE OUT” works either way.
Delta air lines white ear buds
Don’t worry. It’s just earbuds.
SANspotter trying on delta earbuds
This obligatory “trying it on” pic could have been downright nasty if these weren’t earbuds! They fit nicely by the way.
Delta 737-800 first class audio jack and USB port
Before I dig a hole too deep to weasel myself out of, the last thing worth mentioning about the in-flight entertainment is that I really do appreciate the audio jack and USB port under the video screen.

Delta first class food is getting really good (again)

After nearly 2 years of complaining about how terrible the food in Delta first class is (thanks to cutbacks caused by the Covid pandemic), I’m happy to report that real food has returned to Delta Air Lines. And it’s good.

There were three breakfast options on our flight from San Diego to Seattle this morning. I was seated in the last row in first class, and by the time that the flight attendant took my order, all three options were still available. Hallelujah!

Delta first class fruit and cheese plate
Imagine my surprise when I asked for the “fruit and cheese plate” and got this. It was a lot more substantial than I was expecting!
Delta first class fruit and cheese platter
I’d like to think that the flight attendant took the time to slice the apple and egg into individual pieces just for me, but it’s probably safe to assume that this was done in a factory somewhere next to a wastewater treatment plant.
Real food in delta first class
Words cannot express how thrilled I am that real food has returned to Delta first class. The Covid pandemic was a mother****** in more ways than one.
SANspotter delta first class food
Now that real food has returned, watch me catch Covid and die within a week. Now that’d be a real mother******.

How comfortable are Delta’s first class seats on the 737-800?

Meh. They’re all right. Of all the US airlines, I consider Delta to have some of the most comfortable first class seats (you can read more about this in my ranking of the best domestic first class). They’re a bit older than what some of the other airlines are using, which means that they are slightly thicker. And we all know that when it comes to seat comfort, thicker is usually better.

Seat recline is decent, and I felt as if just a few degrees more would have been perfect. It wasn’t bad though.

Delta 737-800 first class seat recline
Here’s a pretty good example of the seat recline here in first class. I know it’s kind of hard to see, but…I guess that’s the point I’m trying to illustrate. 
Delta 737-800 first class seat comfort
Maybe the best way to sum up my feelings about the comfort of these seats is to say that it was fine for a 2.5 hour flight to Seattle like this. But you can bet your bananas that I’d be looking at alternatives for a 5+ hour redeye transcon.
Delta domestic first class snacks and drinks
The never ending flow of snacks and drinks certainly helped raise the comfort score in this review. The cabin crew was on point!
Oregon crater
On a completely unrelated note, there’s a giant hole in the ground in central Oregon. Just thought you might like to see that.

The arrival into Seattle

After many years of obnoxiously good luck when flying into Seattle, I finally got a taste of what it’s really like. The clouds and fog were thick as we made the descent, and I didn’t even see the ground until just a few moments prior to landing. So much for a sunny and clear arrival into Seattle. My luck had to run out at some point I guess.

Delta 737-800 wing and winglet
Enjoy the blue sky while it lasts, because…
Landing at Seattle airport in the fog
…well…it’s wintertime in the Pacific Northwest.
Landing at Seattle airport in cloudy overcast conditions
It’s not the prettiest of weather conditions, but at least we survived the landing (just trying to stay positive). 
Seattle airport terminal
Welcome to Seattle!
Alaska airlines E175 at Seattle airport
A not-so-subtle reminder that we have entered enemy territory.
Gate B5 jet bridge Seattle airport
Dang it. If we would have arrived at gate B4 instead, I probably could have thought of a lot of fun captions for this pic (ones with clever uses the word “before”). Oh well.
Delta domestic first class passengers
And that’s pretty much it. This guy seems really anxious to get off this plane, but he’s got nothing to worry about. Layovers of an hour or less are more than enough time in Seattle. It’s an easy airport to navigate!
Under seat storage delta 737-800 first class
Would I fly in first class on the Delta 737-800 again? Absolutely. It’s a decent domestic first class product – especially now that they are serving real food again.
Delta 737-800 first class seat backs
To be perfectly honest though, on shorter (or mid-length) flights such as this, opting for Comfort Plus instead of first class isn’t that much of a downgrade. You’ll get nearly the same amount of legroom, but snacks instead of real food.
Seattle airport jet bridge inside
Leave it to me to end an airline review by tripping over a pop-up caution sign in the middle of the jet bridge…

Pros and cons of Delta Air Lines 737-800 first class

Look. Nobody flies Delta domestic first class because it’s leaps and bounds better than what any other airline is offering. It’s usually either because they have status on Delta that they’re trying to maintain, or it was just the cheapest first class option available. Don’t give me wrong – it’s certainly a good first class experience, and I highly recommend it if the cost doesn’t make your nose wrinkle. Here are some pros and cons to help you determine if it’s right for you:


  • First class on the 737-800 is nearly identical to domestic first class on any other Delta aircraft (for proof of that, be sure to check out my Delta A321 first class review). Frankly, I love the consistency – it feels good when I know exactly what to expect.
  • As always, Delta keeps the interiors of their aircraft extremely clean. This flight from San Diego to Seattle was no exception.
  • Delta Studio (the in-flight entertainment product) is awesome. You’ll never run out of things to watch.
  • Being served real food (which is available on flights over 2.5 hours) makes the 737-800 first class experience all the more special.


  • They don’t provide noise canceling headphones the way that they do on widebody aircraft such as the 767 and A330.
  • Seat recline was a bit too shallow for my liking. It wasn’t bad, but I definitely could’ve used a few more degrees of recline.
  • The seat back video screens are starting to feel a bit small by today’s standards.
  • Legroom is a little tight by domestic first class standards (meaning that it’s going to be a very tight squeeze to get by your seatmate if you’re seated at the window and you need to get out).

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