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The Hawaiian island of Maui is roughly 2,640 miles from Seattle, so a seat in first class can help ease the pain of the long journey. After having flown Delta’s economy class from JFK-LAX en route to Maui, TPG Intern Danielle Truglio moved up to Delta’s front cabin for the five-hour return leg from Kahului Airport (OGG) to Seattle’s SEA-TAC. Here’s her review of the experience.
Booking the Flight
The total cost of my round-trip ticket between New York (JFK) and Maui (OGG) was $1,576.48. Most of my itinerary was in economy (including the leg from JFK-LAX), but my return flights were all in first class. Delta economy fares for OGG-SEA flights are usually about $250 each way (if booked in advance), and Delta charges approximately $350 for a first-class upgrade, at least in the example above.
Here’s the breakdown of my particular round-trip fare between New York-JFK and OGG:
Round-trip tickets: $1,468.38
Taxes and fees: $108.10
If you want to redeem miles for an award ticket, a one-way nonstop from OGG-SEA in first class will require 55,000 SkyMiles + $5.60 in taxes and fees.
I chose to pack the light for this trip and didn’t check any bags, but know that when flying within the US, first-class passengers on Delta are allowed two checked bags free of charge. Note, however, that Delta also has a number of American Express cards that allow cardholders to avoid checked-bag fees, such as the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, which allows cardholders and up to eight companions on the same reservation to check a bag for free.
Kahului Airport (OGG) and Check-In
Kahului Airport (OGG) is a small airport, and I only had a short wait at both security lines. The first security checkpoint is a standard look at you and your luggage, while the second checkpoint allows US Department of Agriculture agents to make sure you’re not bringing unregulated fruits or vegetables from Hawaii home with you to the US mainland. If you do want to bring produce home, know that there are post-security vendors that sell pineapples and other fruits. My fast trip through both lines gave me time to explore the airport, and I was happy to find a Pinkberry for some pre-flight frozen yogurt.
Cabin and Seat
I boarded this Delta 757-200 about an hour after arriving at the gate, but was seated quickly once the boarding process had begun. Immediately upon taking my window seat, 6D, I was offered a beverage and I happily chose orange juice. That was just about the high point of the trip.
The first-class seats on the 757-200 are pretty standard — there are no lie-flat international pods here. The 24 recliner seats in the first-class cabin are arranged in a 2-2 configuration, each 21 inches wide with roughly 38 inches of pitch.
Compared with the first-class products I often see The Points Guy going out of his way to fly, this flight had very basic amenities for premium-cabin passengers. Each seat was equipped with a pillow, blanket, headphone set and water bottle, but there were no amenity kits, USB ports, power outlets or seatback touchscreen entertainment systems. The 757-200 includes standard overhead screens — the kind that drop down from the ceiling.
However, this product does offer plenty of space, both in terms of the overhead bins and the legroom/storage space underneath the seat. While I was seated, at least I was able to spread out and get comfy.
Food — or Lack Thereof
The flying time from Maui to Seattle is 5 hours and 30 minutes, but Delta doesn’t serve any meals on this flight. Instead, first-class passengers are offered snacks and drinks of their choice (alcoholic beverages included). Missing out on a meal is really unfortunate — especially considering that some carriers serve meals in economy between LAX and OGG (tip of the hat to you, Hawaiian Airlines). My flight crew was nice, but seemed a bit rushed and weren’t as welcoming as the staff on my other flights during this trip — which were all in economy.
Since there wasn’t a meal to enjoy, I reclined my seat as far back as it would go and did my best to sleep the majority of the flight, but found that I had to employ my own neck pillow in order to get comfortable enough to truly rest. Upon landing in Seattle, I felt pretty exhausted and ill-prepared for my three-hour layover at SEA-TAC. Having splurged on a seat in first, I was hoping for a more comfortable kick-off to my trip home to New York, but Delta failed me in this regard.
Don’t expect to be impressed with Delta’s first-class product on this route. Aside from the additional legroom, there wasn’t much of a difference between first and Delta Comfort+. If you’re looking for a luxury first-class experience, I’d encourage looking into other carriers for this route. That said, if you can look past the subpar seat and lack of meal service, Delta could be a perfectly acceptable option.
Know before you go.
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