Delta A321 first class review: is it really worth the extra cost?

Delta A321 first class review: is it really worth the extra cost?

I first flew Delta A321 first class six years ago, and back then, I thought it was a really great product. Not only did it look great, the seats were fairly comfortable and the cabin crew was fantastic.

I’m happy to report that six years later, not much has changed. On the other hand, not much has changed.

As a matter of fact, this review is completely replacing the review that I wrote for that flight (which was very thin and not very descriptive). I don’t normally delete my old airline reviews, but in this case, it’s worth it because this one is going to be a much more comprehensive review of nearly the exact same experience. It’s basically a big fat do-over.

DL2958
West Palm Beach, FL (PBI) – Atlanta, GA (ATL)
Thursday, December 30, 2021
Aircraft: A321
Registration: N392DN
Duration: 1 hour 56 minutes
Seat: 5D (First Class)

Delta Air Lines A321 side view N392DN
Delta Air Lines A321 side view illustration by Norebbo.com
dl2958 flight track
Our route from West Palm Beach to Atlanta today as DL2958.

My full review of Delta A321 first class from West Palm Beach to Atlanta

Normally I’m the kind of person who likes to show up to the airport obnoxiously early. However, thanks to the rental car return process taking a little bit longer than expected, I felt like a normal traveler this morning.

By the time that I arrived at the Delta check-in area in terminal B at PBI, I had just over an hour to go before boarding was scheduled to begin. That’s cutting it close for me!

PBI terminal A B and C departures
Welcome to the main terminal at PBI. The small crossover SUV capital of the world apparently.
Delta Sky priority check in PBI airport
I get to use the Sky Priority lane this morning, which will allow me to check my bags and proceed to the security checkpoint in the blink of an eye.
SANspotter selfie delta first class check in west palm beach airport
Theoretically, anyway.
Delta air lines check in queue PBI airport
FYI, all of the airline check in counters at PBI are located together in one long corridor. Delta is the closest to the C concourse security checkpoint.

What’s new in terminal C at the West Palm Beach Airport?

I used to fly in and out of West Palm Beach several times a year. My parents lived nearby, but have since moved a bit north (closer to Orlando). I figured I’d give West Palm Beach a try for this trip, just for old times sake. In hindsight, I’m glad I did, because a lot has changed since my last visit. Terminal C (where the Delta gates are) is growing up!

C gates PBI airport
At first glance, the C gates look exactly as they did the first time I visited here in the early 2000s. But if you keep walking…
PBI concourse C expansion
…you’ll see progress! Certain parts of PBI are starting to look like a modern airport now.
Delta A321 gate C4 PBI
Since I’m not special enough to have lounge access this morning, a picture of the airplane taking me up to Atlanta is what’s next.
Delta A321 gate C4 west palm beach airport
If Sky Club access was included with a domestic first class ticket (it’s not), this picture of the A321 taking me up to ATL would probably be a pic of me stuffing my face with cheese cubes instead. You got lucky.

The boarding process for flight number 2958 to Atlanta

The nice thing about flying Delta out of West Palm Beach is that the Delta Sky Club is located in very close proximity to all of the Delta Air Lines gates. No, I didn’t have Sky Club access this morning (a first class ticket alone isn’t going to get you in), but I’m just saying that for those of you who are inevitably going to ask that question.

Pink delta first class mobile boarding pass
I’m not sure how it was decided that pink would be the color for Delta’s premium class boarding passes, but I have to say that I like it.
Gate C4 PBI airport
Gate C4 is our departure gate this morning. I think I watched too much A-Team as a child, because to this day, I all I can think of is fireballs and explosions whenever I see (or hear) “C4”.
Walking down jet bridge PBI airport
“If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them…maybe you can hire…the A-Team.”
Airbus A321 boarding door frame
If I would have told my 8 year old self that I’d be having A-Team flashbacks for the rest of my life…I would have thought that it was gonna be totally awesome.

My first impressions of the first class seats on the Delta A321

Considering that I wrote my first review of Delta A31 first class six years ago, I already knew what to expect. Especially since I had to walk right on past the first class cabin a week ago on my A321 flight from Atlanta to West Palm Beach. It’s hard to believe that these seats (and this aircraft) are six years old already, but the good news is that it still looks and feels brand new.

Delta A321 first class cabin
Delta A321 first class. We meet again, old friend (the seats, not the guy in 4C).
Delta A321 first class seats
Delta A321 first class seat 5D (the one by the window). It’s exactly the same seat I had in my original Delta A321 first class review, so this is very familiar territory for me.
Delta A321 first class seats row 5
It’s amazing to think that these seats are 6 years old. They look brand new still!
Delta A321 first class leg room
Leg room (seat pitch) is pretty good. Not good enough to get this included into my best domestic first class list, but still decent.
Complimentary water bottles delta first class
Complimentary water at every seat. Yeah, it’s probably just tap water from a warehouse in rural Atlanta somewhere, but it’s a nice gesture nonetheless.
Delta a321 first class power outlets
Power outlets are located down beneath (and between) the seats. I didn’t try these, but I’d like to assume they were functional.
Video screens delta a321 first class
Of course there are video screens. I mean, come on, this isn’t United! #shotsfired
Delta a321 first class audio and usb inputs
And yes, there are powered USB ports (and an audio input) under the video screen. And no, I’m not going to take another swing at United. They know they suck.

How are the first class seats different from the Comfort + seats on the Delta A321?

Honestly, there’s not all that much of a difference between the first class seats and the Comfort Plus seats located just behind them. Yes, the first class seats are a bit wider with maybe an inch or two more of legroom, but in all honesty, they’re about the same comfort-wise.

Delta a321 first class seat review
Leg room in first class is a little better than what you’d get in Comfort Plus, and the seats are a little wider, but…for short flights it may not be worth it.

For a short flight such as West Palm Beach to Atlanta, you may be better off just choosing a Comfort Plus seat instead. You’ll get more legroom than economy, and exactly the same snacks and drinks that you’ll get in first class.

SANspotter selfie delta a321 first class
Who am I kidding? Flying first class is way more fun than economy (even fancy economy). Do as I say, not as I do!

The departure out of West Palm Beach

Flying out of the West Palm Beach airport is always a treat for AvGeeks. There isn’t all that much of a variety of airline traffic, but business jet traffic here is on another level.

And if you’re lucky (like we were today), you’ll get to takeoff towards east. An easterly departure will send you right over the beach and out over the ocean.

Delta a321 engine and wing west palm beach airport
Boarding complete! Nothing is on fire, and everything looks attached, so let’s do this.
Delta a321 safety video
It’s scary thinking about all the valuable information I’m missing out on when I’m more focused on taking pics than I am on watching the safety video. However, in my defense, there’s no safety video in the world that will prevent me from dying after a 600mph nose dive into the ocean. Just sayin’.
Delta a321 taxi and takeoff PBI airport
And on that happy thought, let’s go flying!
taking off over west palm beach
You just know that there was at least one person down there on the beach who saw us fly overhead and said something like “oh, it’s just a Delta A321” and kept on doing whatever it was that they were doing. Exciting airplanes these are not.
Flying over east coast of Florida
Turning inland on our way north towards Atlanta. So long Florida!

What kind of in-flight entertainment do you get in first class on the Delta A321?

In-flight entertainment is pretty good in first class on Delta‘s A321. The video screens are slightly larger than the ones back in economy class, although it’s the same Delta Studio product. That’s not a bad thing of course, especially since I’ve always considered Delta Studio to be one of the best in-flight entertainment products of all the US airlines.

Delta A321 first class movies and tv
Lots of movies and live TV to choose from here on the seat back video screens, but…
Delta A321 flight information screens
…I’m far more interested in the dorky AvGeek stuff. I may not be cool and sexy, but I am well-informed about the details of todays flight!
Delta a321 first class complimentary headphones
FYI, you might want to bring your own headphones, because the ones Delta provides (the white wrinkle-cord things you see in this pic) are not that great.

What kind of food is Delta serving in first class on shorter flights these days?

Our scheduled flying time up to Atlanta this morning was about 1 and 25 minutes, so I wasn’t expecting all that much in terms of food and drinks. Which was a good thing, since we didn’t get anything more than what everyone back in economy class got.

Alcoholic drinks are complementary of course, but all you’re going to get on shorter flights such as this one are a couple little bags of snacks. If you want to see what they serve on flights longer than 2.5 hours, do be sure to check out my Delta 737-800 first class review.

Delta first class snack short flight
As long as you don’t think about the fact that airlines used to serve full meals between south Florida and Atlanta 30 years ago, a bag of greasy potato chips and a semi-flat Diet Coke doesn’t seem all that bad.
SANspotter selfie delta a321 first class
Feeling totally jealous of my frequent flyer forefathers.
Free drinks in delta first class
At least the drinks (even the alcoholic kind) are still complimentary and unlimited here in first class. That’s one thing they haven’t taken away from us.
SANspotter selfie drink service delta a321 first class
I wonder how long it’ll be until they stop serving drinks completely?

How comfortable are Delta A321 first class seats?

They’re not bad. I will say that they look a lot better than they feel, since they seem a bit thinly padded to me. Either that, or I’m not padded enough. I don’t know.

That being said, the seats do recline a decent amount. And since 5 hours is about the longest segment you’ll ever get on a Delta A321, chances are pretty good that your back won’t be totally tweaked by the time you reach your destination. I felt perfectly fine on this hour and a half flight up to Atlanta.

Delta a321 first class knee room
Yes, even though this feels like the same amount of legroom I experienced in Delta A220-300 economy, the wider seats do make a difference. And I still don’t know what body part of mine photobombed this pic. What is that??
Shoes on armrest delta a321 first class
Speaking of getting comfortable. C’mon man!

The landing into Atlanta (was a mother******)

Even before we departed West Palm Beach, the pilot made sure to let us know that our descent and landing into Atlanta was going to be nothing short of gnarly. There was a fairly significant storm system passing through the area, and we were scheduled to land right at its worst. How is that for timing things perfectly?

A321 engine and wing
Things looked good for most of the flight, but…
Flying through storm clouds
…it got bumpy on the descent. If you’re a nervous first time flyer, I’d recommend clicking the back button on your browser now. 
Landing a321 in the rain
It didn’t look so bad underneath the clouds, but I can assure you that I was holding onto the arm rests for dear life by this point.
SANspotter looking out the window delta a321 first class
Of all the airplanes to die on, please don’t let it be a Delta A321!
Delta a321 landing at ATL in the rain
Thankfully, today wasn’t my day to go. Now watch me get run over by a courtesy cart inside the terminal…
Rainy ATL airport
Welcome to Atlanta! Feels good to finally unclench.
ATL ground crew
I couldn’t think of a caption for this pic, so I counted all the Delta logos instead. There are 12.
Delta a321 cabin seatbelt sign turned off
I think everyone is still in a state of shock from all the jostling around we did on the final approach. The seatbelt sign turned off 20 seconds ago, but nobody seems to be in a hurry to stand up.
Delta a321 first class seat backs
Don’t mind the lady in seat 3B puking her guts out…it’s total understandable considering how bumpy that approach was.
Walking through delta a321 boarding door
And that wraps up this Delta A321 first class review. It didn’t end quite like I thought it would, but otherwise, it was a pretty nice experience.
SANspotter ATL airport jet bridge
I think I’m gonna puke.

Pros and cons of Delta A321 first class

Six years ago, I raved about how awesome the Delta A321 first class experience was. Six years later, I’m still enthusiastic about it, although the competition has had time to catch up. For example, Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 first class is probably better than this.

Pros

  • As with all of Delta‘s newest aircraft, the first class cabin on the A321 looks fantastic.
  • For being nearly 6 years old, it still looks and feels brand new. This is especially notable since Delta 767-300 first class (an internationally-configureed aircraft) is nowhere near as nice.
  • The seats have a decent amount of recline in them, which will definitely come in handy on longer flights.
  • The video screens are slightly larger than what you would get back in economy class.

Cons

  • Delta is being extremely stingy with food lately, so don’t expect a full meal in your next 5-hour A321 first class flight.
  • If I’m being honest, if they aren’t serving any extra food in first class, you might be better off choosing a Comfort Plus seat instead. You’ll get a seat with extra legroom, and you’ll save a lot of money.

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