The airline with the best average rating is Delta Air Lines with 7.3/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 32 minutes.More information
This is just a weekend trip to see a friend in Detroit. Given the choice between Delta or American for the nonstops from DCA to DTW, it was an easy choice. The rates weren't great, but not unreasonable. I booked Comfort+ for the journey to DTW and just regular economy for the return trip. This is the first of two flights for comparison with the July 2020 Delta reports I just published.
When I arrived at DCA at around 5:10, the security line was a complete zoo. The normal line extended well into the hallway and the TSA Pre line was at least 30 deep. Thankfully, no one was in the CLEAR line, so that got me through quickly. I wonder if this will change now that Amex is giving every Platinum cardholder CLEAR membership.
The entrance to the Delta Sky Club can be found immediately after security, on the left. There are two elevators you can take to go a level up to the club.
According to Delta's website, the Sky Club at DCA opens at 5:15am. However, I think it opens at the standard 5am because there were quite a few folks already in the lounge when I arrived.
The DCA Sky Club is very nicely apportioned: plenty of seating of different varieties, tons of outlets, and a beautiful tarmac view. As you can see from the picture, the bar is not open this early.
The buffet area can be found along the side opposite from the entrance.
Not a particularly exciting breakfast, but nice to have something warm this early before the flight. I grabbed some scrambled eggs, yoghurt, and a cup of coffee.
Great reviews from the lounge:
My ride to Detroit was on N342NW, a 28 years-old A320. Unfortunately, due to the angle of Gate 21, I was unable to snap a picture of the plane.
Boarding began at 5:35am, 5 minutes behind schedule. After first class was called, boarding was slowed by the gate agents asking for volunteers to gate check bags–at least 15 people took advantage of that offer and this process took quite a bit of time. Comfort+ was called about 10 minutes after boarding began, after Diamond Medallions and Delta 360s. One difference from earlier in the pandemic is that Comfort+ is now called as a priority boarding. On my flights in July 2020, Comfort+ boarded in the same back-to-front order as the rest of economy (which meant last).
Everyone is handed a pack of Purell sanitizing wipe upon boarding. These are better than the United sanitizing wipes, which tend to be soaked and reek of rubbing alcohol.
Delta's A320s feature 4 rows of first class in a 2x2 configuration followed by 3 rows of Comfort+ in a 3x3 configuration.
It was a full flight. My seat was 12F, the starboard window seat in the 3rd row of Comfort+.
The seat was comfortable, with plenty of legroom at 34 inches of pitch. Delta's seats lead with its IFEs compared to United and American. There is an outlet between each seat.
A member of the ground crew came onboard to thank us for our patience and to announce they're performing final checks before closing the door. The doors were closed at 6:08am and we pushed back 3 minutes later. After taxing for a bit, we took off at 6:21am.
Not much to say about this flight, as it is right around an hour long.
Service began 15 minutes after takeoff. It's hard to judge economy service in the masked era–the flight attendants were polite and efficient, but not sure if there is anything else to say. If you were wondering, yes alcohol was available at this hour. The gentleman in 12A had the house red wine. I am all for it being 5 o'clock somewhere, but a 6:30am house wine on a US domestic flight does not seem very appealing.
I fell asleep for the remainder of the flight. We touched down at 7:32am and arrived at Gate A71 6 minutes later.
Lounge: The Sky Club at DCA is a comfortable place to wait for your flight. I imagine it can get quite crowded later in the day, but for morning flights it was a very peaceful oasis compared to the mess that the gate area was.
Cabin & Seat: Delta's seats are better by the virtue of the IFE, but otherwise this is a fairly normal extra-legroom economy seat.
Service: Service was efficient, just how you want it on a short flight.
Meal & Catering: The packs of Goldfish was new to me--is this just for Comfort+ or is Delta trying out new snack options for all of economy?
Bottom Line: Delta offers a reliable and comfortable flight between its hub at DTW and DCA.