Review: Delta B717-200 First Class (AVL-ATL)

After a wonderful week in North Carolina it was time for us to head back to Texas. With the only direct option between Asheville and Austin being on Allegiant (no thank you) we were going to have to connect. Coupled with the fact that we were trying to get home in time for Mrs. ATX Jetsetter’s brother’s graduation, Delta through Atlanta was our best bet.


We booked the flight directly with Delta after searching for options using Google Flights. Our regular Economy tickets were pretty cheap and, a few days before departure, I got a reasonable upgrade offer from Delta to First Class on the 717 for our AVL-ATL leg so I took it. Normally I wouldn’t have paid to upgrade on a route this short but, since we had a wedding the night before, I thought it would be nice to be able to spread out and relax a bit.


We arrived at the airport and returned our rental car to Avis an hour and a half before our scheduled departure time. The Asheville airport is small and it only took 3 minutes to get from the parking garage to the Delta counter.

a group of people walking outside a building
people sitting in a large hall

There were a couple of passengers in the Sky Priority lane and a small line in the general lane. The early morning flight to Atlanta had a mechanical issue and there was one agent trying to accommodate the passengers from that flight and check us in. It took 5-10 minutes before we were helped but the agent apologized for the delay and said they had a couple of people not show up for work this morning. That, coupled with the delayed flight, meant the whole Delta operation was running lean.

Delta Check-In Counter Asheville Regional Airport

After checking our bags we headed off to security. As I emptied my pockets I realized I still had the keys to the rental car and had to run back over to the Avis desk to drop them off. With that crisis avoided, I was still through security and airside over an hour before departure.

Asheville Regional Airport Concourse Interior

Our flight was departing from Gate 3 and Mrs. ATX Jetsetter found us some seats in the gate area. I headed out to explore the terminal though, with only a few gates, I was back at my seat 5 minutes after leaving.

a group of people in a building
people walking in a building with chairs and a couple of people

Our Delta Boeing 717-200 (N988AT) arrived from Atlanta just before 10:00a local time and soon it was time to board.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 717 Asheville Regional Airport


Due to the staffing situation, and the ramp crew trying to deal with the delayed A320 and our waiting B717, boarding was a little delayed. 32 minutes before departure pre-boarding started followed by Active duty military, Delta 360/Diamond Medallion and First Class passengers.

Delta Air Lines

DL 1677

AVL-ATL (Asheville Regional – Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International)

Seat: 3D (First)

B717-200 (N988AT)

Scheduled: 10:42a-11:37a

Actual: 10:41a-11:31a

As we headed down the jet bridge to board, I managed to sneak a peek of the plane between the gap with the jet bridge. Though you don’t see T-Tails much anymore, the avgeek in me always gets excited when I have the chance to fly on one.

a person pulling a luggage in a hallway
a close up of a plane


Once we stepped onboard, we were greeted with a fresh and clean cabin. You certainly couldn’t tell that this plane was 22 years old.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 717 First Class Seats

The seats in First were arranged in a 2-2 configuration and the only noticeable difference between the 717 and the other mainline narrowbody aircraft was the lack of an IFE screen in the seatback. With these planes slated to be removed from the fleet by 2025, Delta decided not to add seatback entertainment. While this is something I typically value, the 717 tends to operate shorter flights where it is less of an inconvenience, though they do some midcon flying on routes like ATL-DAL.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 717 First Class Seat

The legroom was also decent and we had plenty of space to spread out, which was much appreciated the morning after a wedding. There were also two small bottles of water waiting at our seat which was the extent of the pre-departure service.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 717 First Class Pre-Departure Water


Boarding was completed on time and, after waiting for the delayed 6:00a flight to Atlanta to push back, we pushed off the gate and taxied out to the north end of the runway for departure.

a plane on the runway
airplanes on a tarmac

We took off to the southeast and overflew Laurel Park and Hendersonville before making a sweeping right turn towards Atlanta.

a road between trees and buildings
an aerial view of a landscape

In Flight

Once airborne, the flight attendant working the First Class cabin hopped up and started the service. Due to the short duration of the flight, there was no service in Comfort+ or Economy and only a limited service in First Class. Service began with a pass of a watered down snack basket, consisting of almonds, Biscoff cookies and Sun Chips.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 717 First Class Sun Chips

After the snack basket, drinks were served. I had a mimosa while Mrs. ATX Jetsetter had some tomato juice.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 717 First Class Drinks


Shortly after our drinks were served, we began our descent into Atlanta. We overflew downtown before looping around to land from the west.

a train tracks on a road
an airport runway with a runway and buildings

Once on the ground we taxied over to the D gates, past our waiting Delta A321 that would take us to Austin, and pulled into gate D6 next to a Spirit A320.

a large airplane parked at an airport
a yellow airplane on a tarmac

Since we were seated at the front of the plane, we were off and into the concourse quickly and headed for the Plane Train.

Atlanta Airport Concourse D Interior


These short flights, at only 164 miles in the air, are usually pretty uneventful. The crew hustled to do a full snack and beverage service and we arrived in Atlanta a few minutes early. Pair that with a comfortable seat and it was a very pleasant flight!

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