Delta Air Lines MD-88 Comfort + (premium economy) West Palm Beach to Atlanta

Delta Air Lines MD-88 Comfort + (premium economy) West Palm Beach to Atlanta

It’s extremely rare that I show up to the airport these days and have absolutely no clue what type of aircraft I will be flying on, but today was the day. Things had been so hectic with work and the holidays over the past few weeks that somehow I completely forgot what kind of aircraft would be operating this short segment up to ATL this morning. Delta operates a pretty diverse fleet here in West Palm Beach, and they’ve put me on everything from L-1011’s to MD-88’s on the ATL run over the years so there was no telling what we were going to get.

I decided to make a game of it (if you can call it that) by not checking until we walked up to the gate. That’s old-school traveling right there! I remember flying with my family as a boy in the 80’s, and back then, not knowing the aircraft type ahead of time was pretty much how it worked. Especially when you are 10 years old and your mom isn’t willing to make a few extra phone calls to find out for you.

Unfortunately this little game of mine wasn’t as exciting as I remembered it to be from the 80’s. We took our time going through security, walking right past the gate on our way to Starbucks, and then finally plopping down in the gate area just a few minutes before boarding started. It was then that I finally looked out the window to see what it was going to be. Hrmph. An MD-88. Alrighty then. Now where’s my breakfast?

West Palm Beach, FL (PBI) – Atlanta, GA (ATL)
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Aircraft: MD-88
Registration: N920DE
Duration: 1 hour 51 minutes
Seat: 14E (Comfort + / premium economy)

delta air lines md88 side view rendering
Delta Air Lines MD-88 (N920DE) side view illustration by
PBI to ATL air route
Our route from PBI up to ATL this morning: TBIRD2 SHEDS ORL J81 CHESN LAIRI HOWRR SMOOV1

I also forgot that we had premium economy seats for this flight. We were standing there at the gate, waiting patiently to board when I first noticed the “Sky Priority” stamp on our boarding passes. Well isn’t that something? For some reason or another I thought that our only premium economy segment on this trip was going to be the ATL-SAN segment coming up next, but apparently I forgot that we’d get it for this flight as well. Premium economy (Comfort +, as Delta brands it) on little domestic airplanes like the MD-88 isn’t very much to get excited about, but it does feel a bit nice to be a “premium” passenger. Even if it was by total accident.

delta air lines check in PBI west palm beach
Let’s back up a minute before I start with the boarding pics. This is the Delta check in desk here at PBI. Not all that interesting, but the pic is a necessity for a complete trip report!
PBI west palm beach airport main terminal
PBI is one of those airports that I think could be really stunning if they put some money into the design. It’s kind of dull as is. This is the main terminal (before passing through security).
gate C2 west palm beach international
Gate C2 is our departure point for this quick flight up to ATL.
delta airlines md88 N920DE
It was pretty much impossible to get a clean pic without all the reflection in the glass, but you get the idea. This is our steed to ATL this morning.

One interesting thing to note about the boarding process was the fact that the gate agents were being sticklers for getting everyone in each zone boarded before moving onto the the next. “We have 15 more passengers in zone 1 that haven’t boarded yet, so please come forward now if that is your zone number”. Never mind that there were a lot of people in other zones hovering around the gate door anxious to board – the agents weren’t letting any of them on until zone 1 was completely onboard.

delta md88 jet bridge
Completely clear jet bridge this morning. Nice!
delta airlines md88 N920DE PBI
Hard to believe that it’ll only be a few years before all these MD-88’s are gone from the DL fleet.
Delta Air Lines MD-88 main cabin
Delta Air Lines MD-88 main cabin.
Delta Air Lines MD-88 premium economy seats
Delta Air Lines MD-88 Comfort Plus seats. They look a lot like the Comfort Plus seats on the Delta 767-300 as well, which isn’t saying much. 
Delta Air Lines MD-88 premium economy seat pitch
Delta Air Lines MD-88 Comfort + (premium economy) seat pitch.
delta comfort plus branding
Subtle Comfort + branding on the seat pockets just in case you forgot…
Delta Air Lines MD-88 premium economy
These MD-88 interiors are starting to look a little dated but it’s still really fun to fly the classics.
delta air lines md-88 arm rest
Sorry, but it’s time to get a little AvGeeky here. Just as I do with all soon-to-be-retired aircraft types that I fly, I like to get pics of the details. Here’s the arm rest.
delta md88 tray table latch
“Fasten Seat Belt While Seated”. This is the tray table latch. Laugh all you want, but someday someone is going to thank me for these detail pics! (I hope…)
Delta Air Lines MD-88 safety card cover
Delta Air Lines MD-88 safety card cover.
Delta Air Lines MD-88 safety card inner cover
Delta Air Lines MD-88 safety card inner cover.
Delta Air Lines MD-88 safety card interior
Delta Air Lines MD-88 safety card interior.
delta air lines PBI gates
Loading up the last few bags…
Delta Air Lines MD-88 main cabin
Twiddling our thumbs as we wait to push back.

This flight up to ATL was about 75% full by the looks of it, which made things seem a bit more casual and relaxed. It was a fairly lazy boarding process, pushback, and taxi out to the runway – just the way I like to travel actually. The less stress and rushing around the better.

delta air lines PBI gates
Pushing off the gate and on our way out.
jetBlue A320 west palm beach
Giving way to a jetBlue A320.

We departed to the east this morning off runway 10L, which offered some really spectacular views of the southern Florida coastline as we made our way out of town. The sun was a bit too high to get really good pics, but hey – pictures of white sandy beaches (no matter what the sun angle is) are always good in my opinion.

delta md88 takeoff west palm beach
Here we go! The MD-80 series of aircraft are eerily quiet on takeoff if you’re sitting towards the front like we are this morning.
delta md88 takeoff west palm beach
So typically Florida with those rain clouds in the distance!
delta md88 takeoff west palm beach
So long Florida – I’ll be back soon enough!
Intercoastal PBI west palm beach
Crossing over the Intercoastal.
delta md88 takeoff west palm beach
That’s what I’m talkin’ about. I loves me some turquoise water, white sand, and sunshine!
delta md88 takeoff west palm beach
Dodging the clouds on our way on up to cruising altitude.

The in-flight service began about 10 minutes after departure, offering the usual assortment of drinks with the choice of Biscoff cookies or pretzels as a snack. They did offer Starbucks coffee though, which made my wife really happy.

delta md88 tray table
Waiting our turn to be served.
delta economy class snack
Doesn’t get any more Delta economy class than this, right? My snack for this flight.
Delta Air Lines MD-88 main cabin
Not exactly a first class snacking environment, but it’ll do.
delta air lines plastic cup
delta md88 window shade
The sun was blasting into our windows pretty good, so the window shade had to remain (mostly) closed for the duration of the flight.
delta md88 wing
I did manage to get a few good pics along the way though. I’ll bet it’s downright gloomy under that blanket of clouds.
delta md88 premium economy
Delta Air Lines MD-88 Comfort + section mid-flight.

Overall the Comfort + experience seemed pretty much like regular economy class. Even the seat pitch felt tight. The only difference was the fact that the first class flight attendant came back after the end of the service and personally asked everyone seated in Comfort + if there was anything else they needed. I’m not sure if that was a Comfort + thing or just the flight attendant being friendly, but I thought it was a really nice gesture.

delta md88 wing
Well into the descent now, and about to leave these beautiful blue skies behind for a while.
descending into ATL
Isn’t technology amazing? Hard to believe it’s possible to find the airport in this stuff.
descending into ATL
Very Hawaii-like with the whispy clouds and green terrain below! Those housing tracts are pure Atlanta though.
ATL approach
Just a little bit more…
ATL approach
Welcome to Atlanta!
taxiing ATL runway 27L
This is a really busy airport, so patience is the name of the game when taxiing to the gate.

This flight went by in a flash, and we even arrived at ATL 10 minutes early. I’ve never been a big fan of arriving ahead of schedule though, because it usually means sitting out on the taxiway for a bit as we wait for a gate to open up. Today was no exception. We arrived 10 minutes early, but we ended up sitting for 10 minutes waiting for our slot to open. So much for over achieving!

delta a330 ATL
Nice close up view of a Delta A330-300 rolling past as we wait for our gate to open up.
delta md88 ATL
Pulling up to the gate under the gloomiest skies I’ve seen in a long time.
delta md88 premium economy cabin
Overview pic of the Delta MD-88 Comfort + (premium economy) cabin on our way off the aircraft.
delta md88 first class cabin
First class on the Delta MD-88 isn’t all that much better IMHO!

Now it was a matter of trying to kill 3 and a half hours before our connecting flight to SAN…

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