Trip Report: Flying Delta Connection On A CRJ-900 During COVID-19

Delta Air Lines has brought back a small meal service in first class, which was a pleasant surprise on the flight. I flew the CRJ-900 on a two hour and 36-minute flight from San Antonio International Airport (SAT) to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW).

Delta Connection CRJ900
I flew the CRJ900 between San Antonio and Detroit. Photo: Delta Air Lines

The aircraft

Late last year, I wrote about how the CRJ900 is not all that bad. It is a popular regional jet on plenty of Delta’s routes in the United States. The CRJ900 does regularly fly between San Antonio and Detroit.

The aircraft I flew was outfitted with 76 seats. There are 12 seats in first class. This is in a 1-2 configuration. In Comfort+, there are 20 seats in a 2-2 configuration. This class is an extra-legroom economy product. And, finally, in the Main Cabin, there are 44 seats also in a 2-2 configuration.

The CRJ900 has smaller overhead bins compared to mainline Airbus or Boeing aircraft in Delta’s fleet. Depending on the size of your bag, you may have to gate-check your carry-on luggage free of charge. In this case, a Delta representative will tag your bag for planeside valet. You will drop your bag off in the jetbridge and, after your flight lands, you will collect your gate-checked bag in the jetbridge before heading off to your connecting flight or departing the airport. In some cases, planeside valet-tagged bags may be returned to you at the baggage claim for the flight.

Overhead Bin Space
Overhead bin space on the CRJ900 is a bit tight compared to other aircraft. Photo: Jay Singh – Simple Flying

Onboard the aircraft

Delta Air Lines is blocking middle seats on mainline aircraft and limiting the number of people onboard. On regional jets, the airline is blocking seats next to you once you’ve selected your seat on the reservation portal. For example, with coach in 2-2, unless you are traveling with someone, you will get the pair of seats (aisle and window) to yourself.

Delta Connection CRJ900
First class is in a 1-2 configuration while coach is in a 2-2. Photo: Jay Singh – Simple Flying

In first class, since it is in a 1-2 configuration, I recommend going for a seat in the pair of two while Delta is blocking seats since you can get two seats to yourself. Capacity in first class is limited to 50%.

Solo Seat in DeltaCRJ
While the single seats are great for solo travelers, while Delta is blocking seats, getting a set of two seats for yourself is a great deal. Photo: Simple Flying

The inflight experience

With no seatback entertainment monitors on the CRJ900s or any other Delta Connection plane for that matter, flight attendants conduct the safety briefing manually. After the safety briefing, the crew made further announcements on staying safe inflight, similar to what Delta’s highlighting on its mainline flights.

After takeoff, flight attendants made a pass through the entire aircraft with snack baggies. In the bags are a small water bottle, two snacks depending on availability, a napkin, and either hand sanitizer or a sanitizing wipe. This was similar to what I received back on my first flights during the pandemic with Delta back in June. Alcohol is available in first class.

About an hour after distributing the snack baggie, a flight attendant came around with several different snack box options. These Flight Fuel boxes are snack boxes that are traditionally available for sale in coach.

I selected the “CRAVE Snack Box” that comes with crackers, salami, a cheese spread, cookies, candies, and mints. But, for some reason, there was no salami in mine, although this was printed on top of the box.

Trip Report: Flying Delta Connection On A CRJ-900 During COVID-19
The snack box I selected. There were three options available. Photo: Jay Singh – Simple Flying

The box itself is not really a full meal, but it was better than nothing. However, Delta does have other snack boxes with more substantial food offerings they previously sold in economy pre-crisis. It would be nice to see some of those, like a turkey combo or chicken wrap, on offer for a more substantial food offering.

The contents of my box, which interestingly had no salami. Photo: Jay Singh – Simple Flying

The nice part about the snack box is that the trash can be contained within the box, and flight attendants are not dealing with a tray system that increases passenger contact and offers more touchpoints that could lead to viral transmission. Before, on Delta Connection, flight attendants would offer a col meal service on a tray with silverware and actual plates.

As far as a travel experience goes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the experience is pretty good. It is nice to see an airline add some more meal service back onboard aircraft, but there is room for improvement.

Have you flown Delta Connection during the pandemic? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments!