As badly as I want to start off this review on a sad note, I just can’t. You see, I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that this may have been my last Delta Air Lines MD-88 ever, and it only feels natural to me to write a sappy farewell post to the old gal. However, I’ve learned my lesson with the gradual disappearance of Virgin America over the past few years. It ain’t over until it’s really over, and I’ve lost count of how many “farewell” trip reports I’ve written for the VX brand since 2016. It was a messy goodbye that went on for far too long.
Due to be completely retired from the Delta fleet in less than two years, there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll never get a ride on the MD-88 again. But as confusing as it is, there’s also a really good chance that I might. I have absolutely no idea how it’s going to happen, but I am going to hold off on a potentially premature (and embarrassing) farewell post. For now.
As far as I’m concerned, this is just a regular ‘ol trip report about a regular ‘ol Delta Air Lines MD-88.
West Palm Beach, FL (PBI) – Atlanta, GA (ATL)
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Duration: 1 hour 27 minutes
Seat: 31E (economy class)
PBI is the airport I think of when I hear somebody say “Delta MD-88”
Of all the amazing airports on this planet, I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for little ‘ol PBI. It’s essentially my second home airport considering that my parents live in fairly close proximity to it and I’m there at least once a year. It’s pretty much as perfect as airports get, minus the fact that it doesn’t get the kind of interesting international traffic that MCO and TPA does.
PBI is still a very interesting place to do some plane spotting though, and as a traveler I appreciate it’s compact size and ease of access (in and out). The rental car center is a total cluster **** of course, but for the most part, it’s a friendly airport that I enjoy traveling through.
I’ve flown in and out of West Palm Beach on a countless number of Delta MD-88s over the years (the last time was in 2016). It all started way back in early 2000‘s when my parents first moved to Florida, and they are still the most common aircraft type that I have to wade through whenever I make reservations to fly into this place. Maybe it’s because I live on the West Coast (where Delta MD-88s don’t exist), but I think they’re pretty rad and I try to get a ride on one as often as I can. This quick flight up to Atlanta this morning was no different.
There’s quite a lot to like about the Delta MD-88
The McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series of aircraft is highly underrated in my opinion. In an age where all the commercial aircraft manufacturers can’t spit out anything other than twin-engine copycats of each other’s airplanes, the MD-80 is a refreshing departure from the norm.
The thing that I like best about this aircraft is the fact that it’s a 2-3 layout in the main cabin. This is especially nice if you’re traveling with one other person. I mean really – how awkward is it to have a private conversation about the severity of the rash on your junk with a complete stranger sitting next to you in the third seat?
Another nice thing about the MD-88 is the fact that it’s an extremely quiet aircraft – if you’re sitting towards the nose of the plane that is. With the engines located all the way in the back, it’s whisper-quiet up front and all you’ll hear is wind noise. I know – it’s completely horrific if you are a hard-core AvGeek who thinks that jet engine noise is the best thing ever, but for 99.99% of the traveling public, it’s a really nice characteristic of this old bird.
There’s not much to say about the service on such a short flight up to Atlanta
As I sat there looking out the window secretly wishing that the cabin crew would do something fun and exciting to make this trip report more interesting, it occurred to me how good (as a whole) Delta Air Lines has become over the past 5 to 10 years. It’s really incredible to think about how much money they’ve reinvested into their products and services, and it seems as if they’ve been listening very closely to passenger requests and demands lately. What other US airline is doing that right now?
Even though the economy class service on this 1-hour flight up to Atlanta wasn’t very innovative or exciting, I do give Delta a ton of credit for being extremely consistent. Every flight that I’ve taken on this airline over the past five years has been remarkably repetitive and predictable. That’s exactly what you want in high-stress activities such as air travel, and I’ll admit that it feels pretty good knowing what to expect before any Delta flight that I take. Bring on the Biscoff cookies!
Cabin crews are extremely consistent between flights as well. And even if nobody else is saying it, I will: super-friendly flight attendants (both male and female) with thick southern drawls makes for much more enjoyable flight experiences. Just sayin’.
What if this was my last Delta Air Lines MD-88 flight ever?
As I wrap up this trip report, I can’t help but to wonder if I missed a huge opportunity to say goodbye to one of Delta’s hardest-working aircraft in it’s history. It’s an extremely unique aircraft compared with today’s overabundance of 737s and A32Xs, and I really believe that she deserves a proper farewell – just as big as the one they did for the 747.
Anyway, I refuse to say goodbye to the MD-88 right now. Because if I do, it means that I am inadvertently going to find myself on six more of these airplanes between now and the time that they are retired – and you’ll be really sick and tired of every “farewell” post I write leading up to the grand finale. That’s exactly what happened with my last three Virgin America posts (which you can read here, here, here, and here) and I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that I jinxed myself for saying goodbye so early to that airline.
I have a really good backup plan this time though. I actually shot a ton of really good video footage of this entire flight experience, and I’m saving it for the Delta MD-88 retirement day (which is scheduled to be sometime next year). If I never do get another ride on one of these things between now and then, I’ll feel good knowing that at least I have all of that fresh footage to edit and upload to YouTube.
But now I’m starting to think that I jinxed myself for even mentioning that I have secret footage to publish for the retirement event. And I can’t wait to find out how completely derailed that plan is going end up…