This flight was the first in my four-month, round-the-world endeavor. My plan was to catch an early flight out to Atlanta from San Antonio, Texas and meet up with a friend during the day before taking an evening flight to Los Angeles. Delta fit the bill.
As a Gold Medallion member flying to Atlanta, Delta was my first choice to redeem miles. Luckily, the award availability was incredible.
Usually, the flight time ends up being under two hours for the hop between San Antonio and Atlanta. On Delta’s A321, my favorite seats are actually in the economy section. Seats 27A and 26F are window seats with tons of legroom because they’re in the emergency exit row. However, when I went to book the flight, both seats showed up as occupied.
Since I wanted a comfortable flight for the long day ahead of me, I went ahead and redeemed 16,000 SkyMiles for a one-way first class ticket from SAT to ATL.
Generally, SkyMiles can be redeemed for close to 1 US cent per mile. That means this one-way ticket cost me about $160 worth of SkyMiles. Not a bad deal!
I checked in online using my mobile app. The process was easy since it was a domestic flight. I just added the number of bags I was checking and acknowledged some TSA information before I received a mobile boarding pass.
At the airport, I dropped off my bags and zipped my way through security. Despite the government shutdown, there were still plenty of TSA agents who reported for work and I was through security within a matter of minutes. All the lines were incredibly short.
There is no lounge for Delta passengers to access at the San Antonio airport so I waited in the gate area before boarding commenced. Delta boards by zone. First comes pre-boarding and active military service members, followed by first class and Diamond Medallions, SkyPriority, and Economy zones. The moment boarding was announced, a massive hoard of people crowded around the gate and the agent turned away many people who attempted to board with first class but were not in the first class cabin. This boarding process was much better than a previous Delta flight I was on.
Delta is notorious for providing consistent experiences across cabin classes for narrowbody jets. The A321 is a relatively new aircraft for Delta and the cabin felt fresh and well-maintained.
First class on this aircraft had 36 inches of pitch with 21-inch wide, recliner seats.
I was seated in 2D. There was enough legroom to make the 2-hour flight enjoyable.
One thing to note on Delta’s A321 is that row 1 does not have much overhead bin space due to equipment storage. Given that row 1 is also a bulkhead that doesn’t allow for floor storage, the overhead bins in first class tend to fill up pretty quickly. You’ll want to board earlier rather than later to secure some overhead storage for your carry-on luggage.
Waiting at my seat was a water bottle (pictured above), and a blanket and pillow.
The pillow was just fine for the short flight and the blanket was a bit light. US airlines tend to keep their cabins a bit cooler, so I wished the blanket was a bit thicker.
Cheap Billboard-branded headphones were offered to passengers who needed them. I’ve had lukewarm experiences with them so I declined the package.
Delta offered seatback entertainment screens that were large, crisp, and easy to use.
There were power outlets between the seats. One for each passenger. In addition, there was a USB charging outlet underneath the seatback screen.
On-board meal service
This flight isn’t long enough to provide a full meal service in First Class. Instead, premium beverage service and snack service are conducted shortly after takeoff and throughout the flight.
I asked for tea which was delivered in a mug and some salty snacks that mimicked some brand-label snacks.
Being based out of San Antonio does not give me many options to choose from. Consistently, Delta tends to work the best with my schedule and pricing. This was no exception.
I got an excellent SkyMiles redemption for First Class and the on-board experience was exactly what Delta promised I would get.
Ultimately, on a short-haul flight operated by an A321 where meals aren’t provided in First Class, you could get a better cash or miles redemption in an exit row seat (Row 26) or extra-legroom seat 27A due to an absent seat 26A. The service isn’t much of a difference between classes on short flights, but the exit row legroom is substantial enough to give you a comfortable flight in economy.
Have you flown Delta’s First Class on an A321? Do you want to fly Delta’s First Class on an A321? Let us know in the comments!