Delta First Class Flight 1523 Detroit to Chicago O’Hare – Review

By Jonathan Spira on 16 February 2013
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PreCheck at Delta's terminal in Detroit

PreCheck at Delta’s terminal in Detroit

Flying through Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is something I always look forward to.  It isn’t the new building or the Delta SkyClub,  rather, it’s the dedicated TSA PreCheck lane with never more than a 30-second wait and where I never have to take off my coat or shoes, or remove any baggies filled with 100 ml bottles from my luggage.

That was a good start but I didn’t know how much better my flight was going to get.   I was with two colleagues, Dan Collins and Christian Stampfer.  My flight was scheduled for 12:15 p.m., roughly the same time as Dan’s but I had found out en route to the airport that it had been delayed until 1:50 p.m.  Christian’s flight to Amsterdam wasn’t for hours so we had some time to relax in the SkyClub before I had to go.


Delta first-class seat

Delta first-class seat

Boarding had started when I left the SkyClub and made my way to the gate.  I was the last passenger to board and was immediately greeted by one of the flight attendants, Paulette Baca.  She immediately pointed out a convenient spot in the overhead bin for one of my bags (even in first the bins were pretty full) and found a spot in the back of the cabin for my  roll-aboard.


Delta’s McDonnell Douglas DC-9 -50 aircraft, one of 33 in its fleet, is the largest DC-9.  It has an 8 ft 2 in (2.49 m) fuselage stretch and, in Delta’s configuration, seats 125 passengers.

Seating in the first-class cabin is in a 2-2 configuration with standard, domestic first-class seats.  Each seat is 19.5 inches wide and pitched at 34 inches.  Seats in the main cabin, in a 2-3 configuration, are 17 inches wide and pitch is in the 30 to 31 inch range.

My seat, 1C, was a bulkhead seat (my preference) and had ample legroom.  It was more than comfortable enough for the 74-minute trip.


Before we left the gate, Paulette and her colleagues offered everyone a pre-departure beverage and hung everyone’s coat up.  The departure delay was acknowledged both by the flight deck and Paulette in several announcements, with sincere apologies.

Flight attendant Baca's note

Flight attendant Baca’s note

Although we were in the air for only 50 minutes, the flight attendants were in the aisle, offering drinks and snacks ensuring everyone was having a comfortable – albeit brief – flight.

The flight was so short that my Gogo Wi-Fi session cost only $3.  I was able to test the glass bottom jet feature on the newly-updated Delta iPad app and “see” what was below the plane as we flew.  I was also able to catch up with some work and chat with Dan while he was on his (somewhat longer) flight.


“The sound you hear is the sound of landing” the voice on the PA system said.  It was Paulette, about to tell passengers to stow their electronic devices in preparation for arrival.  The flight was over already?  Not quite.  I hadn’t yet received my commemorative napkin.  What’s that, you say?  At the end of the flight, Paulette distributed a short thank you note (mine said, “Mr. Spira. Have the best day!”) to each first-class passenger.  Each note (I looked at my neighbor’s) was different.  It put a smile on every single passenger’s face.


There’s no one I’d rather be up in the air with than Paulette Baca.  As I left the aircraft, I thanked her and said that the flight had been all too short.  Longer flights and more modern aircraft have all sorts of amenities, but it was my napkin that I was telling people about after the flight, not the six-course meal or the lie-flat bed/suite from my flights earlier in the week.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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