See? Sun Country 737-700 economy is better than you think it is.

See? Sun Country 737-700 economy is better than you think it is.

Note: this is a vintage airline review! Sun Country has switched to an ultra low-cost business model since I published this, so I’d recommend reading my Sun Country 737-800 Standard seat review to see what the basic economy experience is like today.

The following is an in-depth review of Sun Country 737-700 economy class from San Diego to Minneapolis (and back). As you’re about to read, it’s actually a fairly decent basic economy product – so don’t go wrinkling your nose at it quite yet.

Segment 1: San Diego to Minneapolis

Today was one of those days. You know, the kind that just flows by minute-by-minute and hour-to-hour as smooth as hot melted chocolate and you just can’t help but to feel good inside.

I haven’t had a travel day that went this smoothly in a long time, and it was so nice to travel with absolutely no pressure (and nary a hiccup) the entire way. Seriously – everything went great, and I wish that it could always be like this. Let me tell you all about it…

San Diego, CA (SAN) – Minneapolis, MN (MSP)
Sunday, July 2, 2017
Aircraft: 737-752
Registration: N715SY
Duration: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Seat: 22A (economy class)

Sun country 737-700 side view
Sun Country 737-700 (N715SY) side view illustration by
san diego to minneapolis route map
Our route from SAN to MSP this afternoon: ZZOOO1 IPL J18 PXR J44 RSK KD54W ONL SSWAN TORGY3

Here’s the video I created to document this flight:

This flight to Minneapolis wasn’t scheduled to depart until 12:55pm, which gave me ample time to be lazy a bit in the morning. I say “a bit” since my idea of being lazy usually involves exercise of some kind (bike rides or running), but I did sleep in a little so I guess that qualifies as proper laziness!

Anyway, being able to start a busy travel day with some exercise usually puts me in a pretty good mood so I was already feeling like the king of the hill even before I got to the airport.

SAN terminal 2 entrance
If you’ve read any of my prior trip reports, this view of the entrance to terminal 2 west here at SAN should look familiar. Perhaps I should write the airport authority a note to see if they wouldn’t mind making some changes that would add some variety to my trip reports…
San Diego airport arrivals level
Yup. This looks the same as well.
Sun country Airlines check in San Diego
The Sun Country check in counters are at the far (west) end of terminal 2 west.

The goodness continued in very large doses once I arrived. The security line took all of 5 minutes to get through, and there wasn’t even a line at my favorite food spot here at SAN. I swear Camden Food Co. isn’t paying me to say this, but starting any trip with a Heathwhich panini swimming around in my belly is the perfect amount of fuel I need to keep me going throughout the day. Well, for a few hours at least.

SANspotter airport selfie SAN
Breakfast has been devoured. Now what?

I had a bit of extra time to kill after breakfast, but doing a lot of plane spotting all over Terminal 2 West is a great way to stay busy. I remember back in my aviation photography days spending all day here walking the entire terminal back and forth taking pics of anything that moved, and I specifically remember thinking that the time just flew by.

I guess that means that you can put an airplane in front of my face and I’ll be mesmerized for hours. Or something like that…

Sun country gate San Diego airport
Everything looking good and on time. So far so good!
N715sy sun country San Diego airport
The subject of today’s trip report: N715SY sporting what I consider to be one of the best airline liveries – ever.
Sun country Airlines San Diego airport
Looks like it’s gonna be a full flight this afternoon.
Sun country Airlines gate terminal 2 west SAN
If it were January, this scene would look entirely different. You don’t dress this lightly flying to Minnesota in the dead of winter!

Boarding was called right on time, which was completely expected based on how my day had been going so far. It seemed as if nothing could go wrong today, and I didn’t want to jinx it, but I just knew that the rest of the day was going to be just as good. Let’s not get ahead of myself though. Here are some pics of the boarding process.

Boarding sun country flight San Diego airport
I know I’ve used “mmoooo!” as a caption for this kind of boarding pic before, so I’ll refrain from doing it again. But it’s just so appropriate…
San Diego airport terminal 2 jet bridge
Keep your eye on the guy in orange. You’ll see him a lot from here on out (we ended up being in the same row).
Sun country 737 livery
That livery!
Sun country 737 boarding door
By now I was thinking that perhaps I should have worn a Sun Country orange shirt to match the livery as well.

The interior of these Sun Country 737-700s isn’t much to rave about, but it did hurt me a little inside as I walked past the first class seats and shuffled my way back to the bowels of economy.

Sun Country 737-700 economy class
Sun Country 737-700 cabin showing the first two rows of first class, and then economy. There are no dividers separating the two sections.
Sun Country 737-700 economy class seats
Sun Country 737-700 economy class seats.
Sun Country 737-700 leg room
Sun Country 737-700 seat pitch. Not that bad actually.
Boarding process sun country 737-700
I had a pretty good view of the boarding process from way back here.

It was completely full load today, but luckily there were no screaming kids or annoying seatmates anywhere to be found. At least in my row. Pushback and take off was as beautiful as ever as it is here in San Diego.

Sun country 737-700 safety card
Hold on a sec. Before we get out of here, we need to peruse the safety card.
Sun country 737-700 safety card back
This is the back side. Got it? Ok then, it’s time to fly!
Sun country pushback San Diego airport
Pushback. That Air Canada Rouge A321 will play a minor role in my next trip report
taxiing to runway 27 at SAN
The typical scenery when taxiing to runway 27 at SAN.
Sun country takeoff SAN
Actually, this is more typical of the ground scenery here at SAN. Southwest dominates this place! Starting our takeoff roll now…
Departing San Diego airport
One, two, three, fou….hey, wait! I didn’t get a chance to count them all!
Flying over Point Loma San Diego
If you’re looking for a “must see” thing to do on your next trip to San Diego, Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of Point Loma is it.
San Diego airport departure
A nice look back as we make the big left hand turn towards the east.
San Diego from the air
So long San Diego – I’ll see you again later in the week!
 Flying over Salton Sea
Passing just south of the Salton Sea on our way out of Southern California.

Cabin service started roughly 20 minutes after departure, but with me being all the way back here in row 22, it was a bit of a wait before the flight attendants reached our row with that snack and beverage cart.

But I was perfectly content to wait – after all, I still had that awesome Healthwhich churning inside of me keeping me happy and feeling not at all anxious for a cup of water and a cheap economy class snack.

 Sun country flight attendants
Anxiously watching the flight attendants make their way to us way back here.
 Sun country airlines in-flight menu
While I’m waiting, I might as well check out the in-flight menu. That sandwich does not look appetizing at all.
Sun country airlines drink menu
The drinks menu on the left, and the movie listing on the right (for those who rented the portable movie players / tablets).
Sun country airlines snack service
Ok, well, that’ll do. No fancy in-flight dining for me today!
 Flying over western US Sun country airlines
Enjoying a nice view with my cup of water.
 Sleeping airline passengers
My seatmates were a bit less enthusiastic about that view, however.
SANspotter airplane selfie Sun country airlines
They don’t know what they were missing. It sure was pretty down there!

The flyover states rolled beneath us one by one as we pushed east, but there was a bit of weather out there which blocked much of the view along the way. No worries though. I mean, how often do we get to look down on clouds, right?

I find it kind of sad that flying is the equivalent of an annoying bus ride to most people, and somewhere along the way the miracle of flight has been lost. What the heck happened? Not too many passengers seem interested in looking out the window these days. Weird I tell ya.

Fly over states Jason Aldean
I’m not a country music fan at all, but I always get the urge to listen to Fly Over States whenever flying over…fly over states.
 Sun country 737-700 interior
The view from 22A.
 Flying over clouds Sun country winglet
Although it was cloudy for much of the way across the country, I still thought it looked pretty amazing out there.
 Flying around storms
Dodging some gnarly storms.

It had been a very long time since I was last in Minnesota during the summer, and I completely forgot how green and beautiful it can be way up here. And those lakes! They weren’t kidding when they said that Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and I could almost hear the buzzing of mosquitoes flying about as we made our approach into to MSP.

Make no mistake about it folks – this is mosquito country, and you don’t dare going outside unprotected this time of year.

 Minnesota land of 10,000 lakes
Go ahead and try to count all those lakes. I dare you!
 Minnesota green summer
For a San Diegan like me, greenery like this is a sight to see. Reminds me of my time growing up in Michigan!
Flying over MSP airport
Nice view of MSP down there as we make our downwind approach.
 Landing at MSP airport
I wonder how many mosquitoes we sucked up and cooked during this approach?
 Touchdown at MSP airport
Welcome to Minneapolis St. Paul!

It was a beautifully hot and sunny summer afternoon here at MSP when we touched down, and as we were taxiing into the terminal I turned on my phone and I saw that my mother had texted me a photo of my grandfather enjoying a drink on the flight from Atlanta to Minneapolis.

They were about an hour behind me, and all along I was curious as to how he was doing on the trip so far. I wasn’t worried though. This guy plays golf and bowls twice a week, so a two and a half hour plane ride should’ve been easy for him. And it was.

 Sun country airlines MSP airport
Such a beautiful afternoon here at MSP!

Apparently we were the first plane to arrive for this early evening bank of flights, because the terminal was completely empty when we docked – but one by one the rest of those gates filled with other bright blue and orange Sun Country 737s coming in from all over the place.

They run a pretty good operation here at MSP, and their terminal almost feels like a small regional airport rather than the huge monstrosity that it is over on the Delta side. It’s kind of refreshing actually.

 Sun country airlines 737-800
Yup. That Sun Country livery is definitely one of the best.
 Sun country 737-700 economy interior
Sun country 737-700 full interior
Making a break for it!

Segment 2: Minneapolis to San Diego

The trip to Minnesota ended up being really nice. It was really fun to hang out with grandpa again, together with the entire family at my sister’s house enjoying beautiful midwestern US summer weather. I’d like to point out that although he may be 90 years old, he wore me out.

We golfed, we cut down trees, and we played billiards and ping-pong. The entire time. Where the hell does this guy get so much energy? As I said before, if I have half the amount of strength and energy that he does when I’m that age (if I make it that long), I’d be thrilled. The guy is a machine.

Now completely worn out and exhausted, it was time to head back home to San Diego…

Minneapolis, MN (MSP) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Aircraft: 737-7Q8
Registration: N713SY
Duration: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Seat: 6F (economy class)

sun country new livery 737-700
Sun Country 737-700 (N713SY) side view illustration by
MSP to SAN flight path
Our route from Minneapolis to San Diego this morning: ORSKY9 OVR LNK J60 HCT J128 TBC PKE LUCKI1

Although my flight wasn’t scheduled to depart until 10 AM from MSP, I still had to get up at the crack of dawn to make the hour and a half drive from my sister’s house. Yeah, she lives out in the sticks. Well, technically there are more corn fields than forests where she lives, but you know what I mean.

There was a rumble of thunder in the distance as I rolled out of bed and into my rental car, but otherwise the mood was calm and still. It’s been along time since I’ve experienced a stormy midwest summer morning like that, and I was totally having flashbacks to my boyhood in Michigan.

can’t we ever get storms like that in San Diego? I love being in Southern California more than anything else, but a little variety in the weather would be nice from time to time!

Remember how I said that the Humphrey terminal (terminal 2) at MSP feels like a small regional facility? I was getting that vibe tenfold this morning after dropping off the rental car and walking through the front door.

Terminal 2 is nothing like terminal 1 (Delta’s home) and it feels like a completely different airport. As a matter fact, if you would’ve dropped me there blindfolded and asked me to tell you where I was standing, all I would’ve been able to mutter would have been something like, “uuuuhhhhh…”

Humphrey terminal MSP
The Humphrey Terminal here at MSP. Is this place a ghost town, or what?
Humphrey terminal entrance MSP
Let’s go inside and check it out…
Sun country Airlines check in MSP
This is the first time I’ve seen the ticketing counters here and I must say that I’m impressed. Looks nice!

I’m not at all complaining about this feeling like a regional airport though. As a matter fact, I quite like the Humphrey terminal and I think that it fits the spirit of Sun Country Airlines perfectly. It’s hard to explain exactly, but Sun Country feels like a down-home / modest regional airline to me, and I get the sense that they like to stay low-key. The Humphrey terminal matches this feeling spot on.

This “small town” feel is also why having a short layover in Minneapolis is ok (as long as you’re flying out of terminal 2 at least).

It’s an older facility, and you can tell that it’s been there a while, but it was still clean and simple, and it was very easy to navigate through. There are no fancy shops or restaurants here like there is over in terminal one, and that’s not a bad thing. Just a clean simple airport without the fluff.

Humphrey terminal departures
A quick check of the departures board. I was a bit surprised to see such a large Southwest Airlines presence here!
Humphrey terminal Minneapolis airport
Before heading to the gate, I’ve gotta find breakfast. To be honest it’s slim pickings in this terminal.
Humphrey terminal MSP food
This was the best I could come up with. It served its purpose, so I guess I can’t complain.
Gate 5 Humphrey terminal MSP airport
Gate H5 is the place to be this morning. If you’re going to San Diego that is…
Sun country Airlines 737-700 MSP
No way! When was the last time you saw a 737-700 without winglets? This is my ride to San Diego this morning, sporting the new and not-as-exciting exciting livery.

The gate agents were offering first class upgrades on this flight for $199, and while it did sound tempting, I wasn’t really sure it would’ve been worth it. I had already eaten breakfast, and I wasn’t feeling any burning desire to sit in a slightly bigger seat for a few hours.

Not for $200 at least. Those upgrades didn’t last long, however. There were plenty of other people with burning desires of their own who scooped them up right quick.

Humphrey terminal MSP gates
View of the action here at H5.
SANspotter backpack
Waiting to pounce.
Sun country Airlines mobile boarding pass
Sun Country doesn’t currently have a mobile app, but I highly appreciated being able to view my boarding pass from a web browser.
MSP airport Humphrey terminal jet bridge
Stepping into an empty jet bridge is a rarity when flying economy class!
Sun country Airlines 737-700 boarding door
So nice to see an airline that actually paints their planes in something other than white.
Sun Country Airlines 737-700 main cabin
Sun Country Airlines 737-700 main cabin.
Sun country Airlines first class bulkhead
If you’re curious, this is what the first row of economy class looks like. Decent leg room without a wall – not bad!
Sun country Airlines seat fabric
Yup. This interior is a bit dated.
Sun country 737 interior
At least I was near the front today, and I would be able to smell the first class meal.
Sun country Airlines 737-700 seat pitch
I won’t be partaking in that first class meal unfortunately, so I might as well look at my feet. Decent seat pitch here.

The weather was still a bit gray and gloomy as we pushed back and taxied around the airport for a bit, and I was quite looking forward to getting above that cloud layer and seeing a bit of sunshine. It was a bit of a wait though, as there seemed to be a lot of congestion around the airport this morning and all we were doing was moving ahead 20 feet and then stopping for several minutes. Over and over again.

737-700 no winglets
Seeing a 737-700 without winglets like this is so weird! Welcome to 2004.
MSP airport ground markings
I have no idea what all these ground markings mean but they sure look cool.
MSP airport departure
Turning onto the active runway. Let’s go!
Takeoff from MSP
There was a time in my life where this was the scariest moment of flight, but all I’m usually thinking about these days is the theme song from Top Gun (yeah, the Kenny Loggins one – lol).
Flying through clouds 737-700
Cutting our way through the hard dec…I mean…cloud deck.
Flying over northern plains
There we go. Out of the clouds and soaring over the northern plains. Hopefully we were leaving a nice vapor trail behind for all the AvGeeks below to see.

We eventually got out of MSP and climbed above the clouds, and that’s where this turned into one of my least-eventful flights in a long time. The first thing I did was stuff my earbuds into my ears and tried to start catching up on some podcasts.

I say “tried” because I fell asleep within 20 minutes of departure and it was all a blur from there. Economy class sleep sucks, as I can never stay asleep longer than five minutes due to my head falling straight down into my lap. I’ve tried neck pillows in the past, but they don’t help. I actually find them to be more uncomfortable then having my face fall into my lap every five minutes, and to this day I’ve yet to find a comfortable way to sleep in economy.

SANspotter airplane selfie sun country Airlines
Every now and then I opened my eyes to get a look at the scenery.
Denver international airport from 35000ft
I was lucky enough to wake up just as we were passing over Denver International Airport.
Flying over Rocky Mountains
Not much snow in the Colorado Rocky Mountains this time of year!
Sun country Airlines 737-700 forward cabin
There’s a scent of hot chocolate chip cookies coming from first class…

Also making sleep difficult was the fact that the Podcasts we’re still playing, and they were causing me to have some really trippy dreams between head bobs. You have no idea how bad I was yearning for Asiana A380 business class right about then…

Flying over red rock Utah
The head bobs ended up being a blessing in disguise – I would have totally missed this if I were comfortably asleep!

I eventually gave up on trying to sleep just as we were crossing the Grand Canyon, which was actually a good thing because the weather was clear and I got it awesome look at the entire thing.

I’ve flown over the Grand Canyon many times in the past (too many times to count) but this was the first time since my family trip to Arizona last spring. It was pretty awesome to look down on the Grand Canyon this time and be able to recognize all the roads that we drove on and all the spots we stopped at during that trip!

Flying over Grand Canyon
Nice to see you again, Grand Canyon! The view was spectacular flying over the south rim today.
Colorado river from 35000ft
That’s the Colorado River – which is also the border between Arizona and California.
Flying through clouds Southern California
Uh oh. Another overcast approach into San Diego today?

San Diego rolled out the red carpet for us with a beautiful clear and bright morning with awesome views of the entire region during the approach. I’ve had some pretty bad luck this year flying into San Diego in gray and gloomy conditions, but not today. They don’t call it Sun Diego for nothing!

Flying over east San Diego county
Whew! Thankfully the clouds dispersed quickly and the sun was out in force over San Diego county.
San Diego airport approach
Just a couple mountains to dodge and we’ll be there…
Balboa park San Diego approach
Balboa Park…
Little Italy San Diego approach
Little Italy…
Arriving at San Diego airport
And finally the airport!
San Diego airport jetblue gate
Parked at the gate and another flight complete.
Sun country Airlines 737-700 first class cabin
Walking through the first class cabin on the way off the plane.
San Diego airport jet bridge
I’ve totally lost count of the number of different styles of jet bridges there are here are SAN.
N713SY San Diego airport
One last look at N713SY. Someone needs to put winglets on that poor bird ASAP.

It was right about lunchtime when we arrived, so instead of going home right away I opted to grab a quick (and obnoxiously expensive) lunch from the food court.

It was either that or struggling to create something edible with stale bread at home. It’s hard to justify the cost of such an expensive lunch sometimes, especially when there is food at home, but it had been a long trip and I was tired…so what the heck. Special occasion, right?

San Diego,airport food court
Ever wonder what $18 worth of food from the food court at SAN looks like? It was totally worth it though.
Delta 767-300 San Diego airport
Sitting right next to me outside the window while I was eating was this Delta 767-300 in domestic configuration. With only but a few left in the fleet, it’s nice to see them deem SAN worthy of domestic widebody service when that aircraft could surely be used elsewhere in their vast network. Perhaps we’ll see some A330’s here occasionally once these 767’s are gone?
Ride share services pick up San Diego airport
Patiently waiting for my Uber to arrive, already thinking of my next trip coming up very shortly. It’s gonna be a fun one!

I walked out of the airport that afternoon feeling like I finally had a pretty good understanding of what Sun Country is all about. I already tried Sun Country first class back in December 2016, and with these two economy class segments on this trip, I can confidently say that they run a pretty good operation.

Now let’s just hope that the new CEO doesn’t screw things up with his plan to switch to a low-cost business model. It would be a real shame to see such a good airline join the others in the race to the bottom.

Final thoughts

Remember when I said Sun Country first class is better than Delta first class? Well, I can almost say the same for economy. I found a flight attendants to be generally happier (subjective I know), but the seats and the snacks were exactly the same. The only real advantage that Delta has over Sun Country in economy is the in-flight entertainment product.

With Delta, you get a big video screen in the seat back in front of you, and most content is free. If you want to watch a video on Sun Country, you have to pay to rent a digital video player. That’s not a big deal to me, but it may be for some. I’d still choose sun country over Delta when flying to Minneapolis – in any class.

Comments (4)

  1. Albert

    June 16, 2019
    • SANspotter

      June 17, 2019
  2. Marc

    January 15, 2020
    • SANspotter

      January 15, 2020

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