The airline with the best average rating is Delta Air Lines with 7.3/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 46 minutes.More information
First off, absolutely I must extend all my gratitude to all the airlines for doing whatever they can to help keep passengers safe during these unprecedented times. It truly is amazing how safe it feels to fly, even though its not something essential that needs to be done, so despite these new safety measures, I definitely discourage frequent flying right now to help limit your own exposure and keep you and other safe!
Now, onto the good stuff. The hunt for the Delta A350 continues! The 717 and the A350 are two of my most "want-to-fly" planes in the Delta fleet at the moment and I managed to score a really really good deal to fly both in the same trip for only $89 one-way, booked about 2 and a half weeks in advance of flight time. Taking us from Midway to Atlanta today would be Delta's 717-200, this was their second day of service back at Midway since suspension of services in March, so it was a welcome surprise to see them operating th
Having just come in from O'Hare airport early in the morning, since I obviously didn't want to get caught in city-bound rush hour, I took the "L" to Midway from O'Hare. Costing only $5 for trips from O'Hare and $2.50 from anywhere else in the system, I definitely recommend you take the train to Midway instead of driving.
After arriving on the train, head up to the Mezzanine & Entrance level and just follow the signs. The walkway from the "L" to the terminal is relatively new and connects through the parking garage. It's self-explanatory so you definitely can't miss it. Elevators are available from the platform to the mezzanine and up to the walkway for those who can't navigate the stairs or escalators, so nice touch there.
Chicago-Midway, or simply just Midway, is the minor airport in Chicago, being shadowed by O'Hare by a long shot. A major hub for Southwest, almost all of the flights here are operated by Southwest. Delta and Volaris are the only other full time carriers here, with Allegiant flying various seasonal routes to I don't even know where. Thus, Delta has a relatively small check-in area here at Midway, the entire south half of the hall is for Southwest, while Delta, Allegiant and Volaris share the north half.
Getting all checked in for both flights at MDW was super easy, the kiosks were pretty dated and REALLY slow but otherwise I had no issues. I had scored 26A, a seat on the 2 side of the 717 with amazing wing views (we'll get to that) and 43J on the second flight, but ended up moving to a way better seat (more on that later too ;).
All Check-in counters are located on the upper level of the airport, and TSA and Baggage Claim are on the lower level of the airport, so down to security we go. There are usually two security checkpoints open, but the south checkpoint was closed so all passengers (general, CLEAR and TSA PreCheck) were directed up to the north checkpoint for screening today.
There was absolutely no line (that is the general line of only about 5 people straight in front of me) but I took advantage of my PreCheck status so that I didn't have to take my shoes off and stuff out of my backpack, it had been a long trip and I really wasn't feeling general screening today.
After clearing security, which took no more than 5 minutes, it was time to explore the terminal a bit before departure. Midway has three concourses, A, B and C, all of which serve Southwest. Delta, Volaris and Allegiant all use Concourse A so that's where we were headed today.
Lots of amenities and restaurants within the airport are currently closed due to the whole COVID situation, so there were limited options for things to eat/shop but I'm glad there were at least some options that were available to us.
We were one of two non-Southwest flights listed on the board LOL, so that just gives you a sense of how dominant Southwest is here at Midway. Delta currently only has 3 flights to Atlanta at the time, so their operation here is still pretty small. Good news is that we'll be leaving on-time from gate A5 for Atlanta today.
Delta utilizes gates A5 and A6 here at Midway, but since they don't have overlapping flights at the moment, all DL operations have been consolidated to A5, and that's where we'll be boarding today.
About 90 minutes prior to departure, our aircraft showed up at the gate from ATL. Today, we'd be flying onboard N945AT, an ex-TWA and ex-airTran 717-200 at 20 years old arriving from Atlanta, GA (ATL).
Delta boards by rows, from back to front, with first class and C+ boarding first, like most airlines in order to reduce passenger congestion onboard the aircraft. I will be sitting in 26A today so I'll be in the first group of economy passengers to board, and I made my way onboard as soon as we were called to board. Here's quite the stellar view of our Madpup down to Atlanta today, you know she looks pretty good for 20 years you know. ;)
The 2 by 3 seating onboard the 717 is probably the most attractive feature of this jet, as there is only one set of middle seats per row, and due to COVID, all the D seats on this plane are blocked so no passengers have anyone directly next to them. The same applies to the B seat on the right hand side as well.
Here's my seat, 26A, for this ~90 minute flight down to Atlanta today. No IFE on this plane unfortunately, but its a quick flight so no big deal. With 31" of pitch in economy, it's pretty standard to see a pitch in that range on flights nowadays.
Now that engine view is exactly why 26A is a killer seat on the 717. Not only is it just you on that side (the B seat is blocked), but you get two whole windows and that view is totally worth it. These engines offer up some real power and great sounds to go along with them.
Legroom here is decent, the seat next to me would remain empty so I stashed my backpack under the seat next to me, allowing for a little bit more room for my feet under the seat. This would definitely help with comfort for this flight
The two windows at this seat make it super worth it, 100% recommend. The window layout is the same across the aisle in 26E as well, if you end up sitting on the right side instead. Our crew just closed the door and we should be departing soon with only 31 passengers onboard today.
This cabin was amazingly empty today, I was the furthest back passenger, and nobody was sitting in any of the 4 rows behind me or in my row at all. This was going to be a great flight.
After a quick pushback and taxi, were airborne within 10 minutes of leaving the gate. These 717s are little speed demons so the takeoff experience is definitely something unforgettable. Flight time, wheels up to wheels down, was announced at 1hr 27mins and we were going to Atlanta, so add at least 10 minutes to taxi.
110V power outlets and USB ports were available on this flight, with one outlet for every pair of seats and two outlets for each trio of seats. Good to have since most of Delta's regional jets don't have power in economy, so I'd much rather take a 717 over a regional jet simply for these increased amenities and mainline jet feel overall.
After reaching cruising altitude of 35,000 feet on this flight today, I got a chance to get up and walk around and just admire how few people had actually taken this flight. I spoke with our FA and she frequently works the MDW flight and attests the low passenger count to the fact that this flight usually attracts business travelers making international connections in ATL, which given the current situation, isn't happening right now.
Funny enough, there was nobody sitting in the row in front of me, across from me or in any of the seats behind me at all, so I was the furthest passenger seated on this plane today. Surprising how empty planes seem to be nowadays, isn't it?
In response to COVID-19, Delta has reduced service onboard all of their flights domestically to these prepackaged service bags. As of September 1st, Delta was the only US airline with reduced service like this unfortunately. Each passenger received a "food pack" about 30-35 minutes after takeoff.
A very simple service indeed, with each bag containing a small bottle of water, a packet of hand sanitizer, Cheez-Its and either Biscoff cookies or a Toblerone chocolate, depending on the flight. Hand wipes were available upon request on this flight, although Delta had committed to providing them during boarding, so I'm not sure why that wasn't happening on this flight, but I asked for one and got one quickly so no worries there.
After eating the snack bag, I decided to check out the bathroom, Albeit the 717 is a small jet, the bathrooms were equally as small. There are 3 onboard, one in the front and two in the back, and they're not very roomy whatsoever. A decent-sized sink was much appreciated given how small they seem to be (I'm looking at you 737-900).
The old-style seats on the 717 are super nice and I like how the saetbacks look. The tray table was a decent size, seat recline was decent enough (I'm not tall so it's not usually a problem) and you can see the power outlet between the two seats in front of you on the bottom right.
Somehow it totally slipped my mind to get any photos during the descent, other than this one of the 717 Safety Card (which the FA very graciously let me keep as a souvenir after the flight) but it wasn't really memorable or anything like that, the fog got really dense once we passed through 10,000 feet on the way down and didn't really clear up until we were 2,500 feet or so from landing.
After landing (we touched down in ATL on 9R at just after 2:00pm) we had just a quick taxi up to gate B11 and parked next to N943AT, a 717 built just weeks before the one we were on, up at gate B7 loading to go out to Savannah, GA. This was honestly a great flight and I wasn't ready for it to be over, but so be it, I had an A350 to catch so let's keep moving.
The 717 truly is a surprisingly modern marvel in the Delta fleet at the moment, The 2-3 configuration and full-size jet feel on regional routes is really nice and its disappointing that their days are unfortunately numbered, with aims to cut the fleet in half by the end of 2020, the remaining fleet faces retirement by the end of 2021, but we shall see.
On the way off today, I stopped by the cockpit for a couple photos, and found it to be surprisingly modern, considering many of Delta's similarly-aged now-retired MD-88/MD-90 aircraft had more aged cockpits compared to this. Still, a nice treat nonetheless since I had never had the chance to get cockpit photos on any of my flights before. Props to the crew onboard for letting me stop by!
We disembarked at B11 here in Atlanta, right on time, at 2:15pm. I didn't board my flight up to Seattle until 5:45pm all the way out at F5 so we'll explore the airport until then. The airport wasn't busy at this time, surprisingly, so it was definitely easy finding my way around Atlanta.
Delta definitely has an outstanding product onboard their 717s and despite their old age, the cabin gives off a refreshed vibe sporting new seats in a 2 by 3 layout in economy, which reduces the number of middle seats onboard compared to a 737 or A321. Currently all based out of Atlanta, I would definitely recommend trying to seek out flights on the 717 over various other mainline jets simply for the increased comfort in the smaller sized cabin feel. The crew on this flight was absolutely stellar, I always hold Delta crews to high standards and a "premium" feel in every cabin, but this crew truly went above and beyond, keeping our safety and comfort a priority throughout the flight. I had never flown a 717 or been to Chicago Midway before, so both things on this trip were a first for me, and it was definitely worth it. Unfortunately, rumor has it these will exit the Delta fleet by the end of 2021, so for those who want to hop a ride on one, you're time is fleeting.