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Delta Air Lines Airbus A321-200 Economy Class Review [IAH to ATL]

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Jessica Merritt
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Jessica Merritt

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A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little ca...
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Airline: Delta Air Lines (DL)
Aircraft: Airbus A321-200
Flight #: DL1572
Route: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), connecting to Springfield-Branson National Airport (SGF)
Date: March 13, 2024
Duration: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Cabin and Layout: Main Cabin (economy class), 142-seat capacity across 24 rows, 3-3 configuration
Seats: 32A, 32B
Cost: $294.40 each (including a connecting flight to Springfield)

I booked a last-minute flight to Springfield for myself and my daughter and chose a pair of Delta Air Lines flights that would take us to Atlanta and then on to Springfield. This was my first time flying Delta in a solid decade or so, and I was satisfied with the experience, though boarding and cleanliness were somewhat lacking.

Let’s look at our experience flying Delta Main Cabin from IAH to ATL, from booking — including how I saved $600+ on this flight with AmexTravel.com — to our IAH airport experience, onboard amenities, and service.

Booking Delta Main Cabin

With a last-minute booking, I had last-minute flight options. I checked several booking options, including Google Flights, AmexTravel.com, Chase Travel, Capital One Travel, and direct with airlines.

My choices seemed to be bonkers routes, like a 13-hour journey that would take longer than driving, flights into St. Louis or Kansas City (plus a lengthy drive to Springfield late at night), or a pair of Delta flights that would take us to Atlanta and then Springfield within about 6 hours, including a layover in Atlanta. Atlanta was out of our way, but it was the best option other than just giving up and driving.

However, the flight was way more than I wanted to pay. Booking direct with Delta, I would have paid more than $1,200 for our pair of tickets.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review direct pricing
My last-minute booking options didn’t look great. Booking directly with Delta for the best available flight would have been more than $1,200.

I shopped various portals, and AmexTravel.com had a much better price: $740 all in instead of $1,217. That saved me $477!

I paid for the flight with The Platinum Card® from American Express, which earns 5x Membership Rewards Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, then 1x).

IAH to ATL Delta flight review original pricing
Booking with AmexTravel.com was $477 cheaper for a Delta Air Lines flight.

As I booked my flight on AmexTravel.com, I noticed a policy offering a full refund for cancellations within 24 hours. That came in handy when the next day, I saw the same flight was once again cheaper. We could book for $294 per person, including taxes and fees, rather than $370.

I chatted with AmexTravel.com and pointed out the price difference, then asked for an adjustment. I mentioned the 24-hour refund policy and the agent initially recommended that I just cancel and rebook. Knowing the flight was nearly fully booked, I asked if they could just adjust the price to make it easier for me, and within a matter of minutes, I had an adjustment.

As soon as the chat was over, I saw on my Amex account that the original fare charges had been refunded, and new, lower charges had been added for $294 each. That was another $152 savings.

Delta IAH to ATL flight review updated Amex Travel pricing
The confirmation email I got after AmexTravel.com adjusted pricing for me and brought it down to $294 per person.
Bottom Line:

Between the price adjustment and the lower price booking on AmexTravel.com, I paid $629 less than I would have if I had booked directly with Delta Air Lines.

I booked Main Cabin, which is just a step above Basic Economy but below Comfort Plus. Main Cabin granted us seat selections and slightly earlier boarding than Basic Economy.

Despite booking through AmexTravel.com and not Delta directly, I was able to save hundreds of dollars on my booking and earn redeemable SkyMiles and elite-qualifying Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs). For this flight, I earned a total of 1,255 redeemable SkyMiles and $251 MQDs.

However, the flight was so fully booked at that point that I couldn’t find 2 seats together. I got us as close together as I could when I booked it. Then, I contacted Delta customer service, explaining I’d be rows away from my school-age daughter, and they were able to seat us together in a window and middle seat.

Hot Tip:

If you’re traveling on Delta as family, read through our ultimate guide to flying Delta with kids!

George Bush Intercontinental Airport

We arrived at IAH a few hours before our flight, way earlier than necessary. But I hadn’t flown Delta Air Lines in years, IAH traffic has been awful lately with construction, and I hardly ever fly out on weekday afternoons, so I wasn’t sure what to expect and wanted to be early just in case. Also, I had intentions to visit the Amex Centurion Lounge and wanted plenty of time to enjoy it.

Check-In

We flew out of Terminal A, where we were greeted by an art car in the check-in area.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review Terminal A IAH departures
I always love seeing the art car at the entrance to Terminal A.

To the left of the art car were check-in desks and kiosks for American Airlines and Spirit Airlines. There was a security entrance, but TSA PreCheck wasn’t offered on that side.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review Terminal A IAH departures flight information and check in
The check-in desks and entrance to gates A17 to A30, but not TSA PreCheck.

On the opposite side was the Delta check-in area. I’d checked in online, had boarding passes in the app, and didn’t have any bags to check, so we went right past check in and went directly to security. However, I noted that there was hardly any traffic, and the check-in process seemed to go fast for most Delta passengers.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review Terminal A IAH departures Delta check in kiosks
Delta check-in kiosks.

Security

Heading on to security, the lines were very clear. It seemed like the only difference between TSA PreCheck and regular security was the winding path regular passengers had to take instead of the shorter, straight path back for TSA PreCheck.

IAH offers CLEAR expedited security that enables passengers to skip either of these lines. I haven’t signed up yet because these quick ID lines are typical for me at IAH. I know not every IAH passenger is that lucky, but I don’t typically fly during busy times.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review Terminal A IAH TSA line
Minimal lines for regular and TSA PreCheck security.

Just a few people were ahead of us in the TSA PreCheck line.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review Terminal A IAH TSA PreCheck line
The TSA PreCheck line was minimal.

Past the ID check, the TSA PreCheck screening line was short. It only took us a few minutes to get through.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review Terminal A IAH TSA PreCheck screening
Security screening was quick!

Our gate was A15, so we could have turned right after security to head to the gate. However, we turned left to get to the Skyway that would take us to Terminal D, where we had our choice of a couple of lounges.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review Terminal A IAH signage
Just past security in Terminal A.

I’m glad we took the turn we did because we encountered an adorable pair of therapy dogs along the way! These dogs were in the terminal to relieve stress for travelers, and it certainly worked on me.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review Terminal A IAH therapy dog
This good boy Patrick was dressed up for St. Patrick’s Day!

Patrick’s friend Sharky was just around the corner, another very good boy and a welcome stress reliever.

IAH to ATL Delta economy flight review IAH service dog
It was a treat to meet Sharky and Patrick on our way to the lounge.

More stress relief awaited us just steps away: a live string quartet performance from Harmony in the Air. With therapy dogs and lovely music available in the terminal, we probably could have just parked it here and relaxed happily until our flight. But we needed a snack and Wi-Fi, so it was lounge time.

IAH to ATL Delta economy flight review IAH symphony
A string quartet in the terminal from Harmony in the Air.

KLM Crown Lounge

I have Priority Pass Select with my Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and I could get into the Centurion Lounge using my Amex Platinum card, so we had a few lounge options.

The easiest option would have been to stay in Terminal A and eat at Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar, a Priority Pass restaurant. But Terminal D, with the Centurion Lounge and a couple of other lounge options, was just a quick train ride away, and we had time, so we went for it.

Hot Tip:

Starting July 1, 2024, I’ll lose access to Priority Pass restaurants at IAH, as the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is dropping its Priority Pass restaurant benefit. Farewell, free chips and guacamole at Cadillac!

IAH to ATL Delta flight review Terminal A IAH Skyway train platform
We hopped on the Skyway to Terminal D.

When we arrived at Terminal D, I saw a sign directing us to the Centurion Lounge I’d planned to visit. However, I noticed the terminal was unusually quiet, so I decided to try our chances at getting into the elusive KLM Crown Lounge just a few steps to our right instead.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH Terminal D Centurion sign
We almost headed to the Centurion Lounge, but the KLM Crown Lounge was close, free with my membership, and hard to pass up.

The KLM Crown Lounge is a Priority Pass lounge that’s often too full for Priority Pass visitors, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try it during a quiet time in the terminal. My daughter got in for free with my Priority Pass guest privileges instead of paying the $30 guest rate at the Centurion Lounge, and that sealed the deal.

Within the KLM Crown Lounge, we found comfortable seating and a small buffet with a bar.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH buffet area
The buffet at IAH KLM Crown Lounge.

I loved the delightful Delft Blue houses on display within the lounge.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH Delft Blue houses
It was fun to see these KLM souvenir houses on display in the lounge.

Hot options on the bar included tortilla soup, meatballs, and rice.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH buffet hot
Hot buffet in the KLM Crown Lounge.

Cold options included a quinoa salad, broccoli salad, and greens salad, along with charcuterie skewers.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH buffet cold
Cold buffet at KLM Crown Lounge IAH.

The bar featured various liquors, beers, wines, and sodas, along with sparking water, mixers, and juices. Nonalcoholic options were self-serve, but alcoholic drinks required an attendant.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH bar
The bar at KLM Crown Lounge IAH.

Seating was plentiful. Although I overheard the front desk turn away guests because the lounge was “too full” late in our visit, we had our choice of seats. We first sat in bench seating near the buffet, then moved to more comfortable chairs with outlets after we were done eating.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH buffet table seating
Lots of seating options in the KLM Crown Lounge IAH.

The only area where the KLM Crown Lounge fell short for us was Wi-Fi. The lounge didn’t have its own Wi-Fi, and I was instructed to use the “IAH free” airport Wi-Fi, which didn’t work well for me.

Bottom Line:

Although the Wi-Fi didn’t deliver, we were comfortable and found good refreshments in the KLM Crown Lounge. It was worth the train ride over! Check out my full, detailed review of the KLM Crown Lounge at IAH.

Boarding

Back in Terminal A, we found some fun LEGO and tech vending machines near our departure gate.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review Terminal A IAH vending machines
These LEGOs must be for adults because there is zero chance I’m bringing those small pieces on a plane with kids.

Right next to our gate, A15, was Mockingbird Distillery and Smokehouse. The exterior seating was just around a small corner from the gate — you could easily sit here to listen for announcements and watch the crowd, then move over when ready.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review Terminal A IAH Mockingbird Distillery
This bar and restaurant was right next to our gate.

The plane was already at the gate when we got there.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review plane before boarding
Our plane at gate A15.

The desks in the gate area had tropical decor. We weren’t headed anywhere tropical, and none of the other gates in our area had tropical flights, either. But it was fun nevertheless.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review gate desk decorations
Tropical decor at the Delta gates.

Boarding was chaotic. When we reached the gate, most of the passengers were standing to wait for their boarding group.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review packed gate
There’s no way all of these people were in the first boarding group.

Knowing we’d have elites and higher-class passengers ahead of us, we sat down for a while to wait out the mess at the gate.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review gate seats
Boarding took long enough that we had time to wait at the gate seating.

Then, the gate agents made an announcement. With a full flight, they expected we’d run out of room for carry-on baggage and needed volunteers to check their bags for free. Not many people volunteered, and they repeated the announcement a few times.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review boarding line
Some of the checked bag volunteers.

It took about 15 minutes to get to our Main Cabin boarding group. We weren’t the last to board — though we were close to it — so I’m not sure if the plane ran out of carry-on bag space.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review boarding
Boarding Main Cabin.

Heading onto the plane, Delta displayed its awards and advertised free Wi-Fi for SkyMiles members.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review entering the plane
Stepping onto the plane.

On Board Delta Air Lines’ Airbus A321-200

As we got into our cabin, the plane was clearly packed, with passengers filling seats and full closed carry-on compartments almost as far as I could see.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review full cabin
We were in the next-to-last group on the plane.

We made it to our seats, 32A and 32B. These Main Cabin seats were 18 inches wide with a 30- to 31-inch pitch. These were comfortable enough for a short flight, though my seat had something poking me through the leather that I didn’t notice until we were settled into the flight.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review seats
Seats 32A and 32B.

I hardly ever fly in the window seat, so it was nice to enjoy the view for once!

IAH to ATL Delta flight review ATL landing
Nice view of the wing.

There was enough space for our backpacks to go under our seats, though that didn’t leave much room for my feet. Still, the legroom was okay.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review leg room and storage
Room for my bag and feet.

The seats had a charging port, but it was in an awkward spot in between the seats, so I didn’t bother using it.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review seat charger
Charging outlet at the seats.

The seat back pocket had enough room for a tablet and water bottle and held a few informational pamphlets.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review seat back pocket
Adequate room in the seatback pocket.

The pamphlets had safety information and instructions for accessing the onboard Wi-Fi.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review seat pocket information
Seat back information pamphlets.

The lights and air above us were functional.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review lights and fans
The lights and air worked fine.

The tray table had enough room for a laptop and felt sturdy.

IAH to ATL Delta economy flight review IAH tray table
Fairly standard tray table.

As I looked closer, I noticed my seat had some messes that didn’t get cleaned up in between flights. The window shade and surrounding area had some mystery splats.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review dirty window
Gross window area.

When I opened up the tray table, another mystery mess awaited me.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review dirty seat
Surprise mess behind the tray table.

As we got into the air, the cabin lights were dimmed.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review main cabin seating
View of the main cabin from row 32.

At least the view outside was nice!

IAH to ATL Delta flight review wing in the air
View from the window seat.

Food and Beverage

We were on a pretty short flight — about an hour and a half — but there was time for snack service. The flight attendants offered us a drink and our choice of snacks, including nuts, Biscoff cookies, energy bars, pretzels, and SunChips. The menu was available on the seatback monitor.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review IFE menu
Drink and snack options in the inflight entertainment monitor.

I got ginger ale and a couple of almond bags — I’m guessing I was given 2 of these since they were small.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review drink and nuts
How cute is this almond pilot?

My daughter got a Sprite and an energy bar.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review snacks and drinks
I sampled the bar and chose it for our next flight — it was good!

Amenities

Onboard amenities were the inflight entertainment, complimentary earbuds, and Wi-Fi.

Inflight Entertainment

The seatback monitor offered numerous information and entertainment options, including shows and movies, music, games, flight information, and food options.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review IFE flight information
Flight information in the inflight entertainment menus.

We played around a bit with the flight map. Time for a geography lesson!

IAH to ATL Delta economy flight review IAH inflight entertainment map
We could zoom in and out on the map and spin the globe.

Additional information included connecting flights with flight numbers, gates, and flight status.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review IFE connecting flights
It was nice to be able to confirm that our connecting flight was on time.

On the entertainment side, my daughter poked around the game menu a bit but didn’t find anything appealing.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review IFE games
Inflight game options.

I settled in to look for some entertainment. There were limited episodes of popular series listed alphabetically.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review IFE
Series options in the inflight entertainment menu.

When I got to the movie menu, “10 Things I Hate About You” was at the top alphabetically. I wasted no more time shopping around, figuring the rest of the flight was just long enough to make it to Heath Ledger serenading from the bleachers.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review IFE movie
This classic was a welcome sight.

Before takeoff, a flight attendant offered complimentary earbuds to passengers.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review IFE headphones distribution
Passing out earbuds for the inflight entertainment.

The packaging offered instructions for connecting to Wi-Fi and messaging.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review earbuds
Informational packaging.

The earbuds were fine for me and comfortable enough for a short flight.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review earbuds
Complimentary earbuds.

The inflight entertainment monitor had a headphone jack and USB plug under the screen.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review IFE headphone jack
Headphone jack and USB plug.

Wi-Fi

The inflight entertainment menu also offered instructions for connecting to Wi-Fi. I had no problems getting connected, and it was fast enough for my daughter to watch a movie on my tablet with no issues.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review IFE Wi Fi
Wi-Fi connection instructions in the entertainment menu.

Service

Service was minimal but helpful on our short flight. We didn’t need to check bags or get any service at the gate, so we didn’t interact directly with any Delta staff until we scanned in our boarding passes to get on the plane. We were greeted warmly by flight attendants as we stepped onto the plane, and the service to pass out earbuds and snacks was friendly and efficient.

Arrival at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

We arrived at ATL’s Concourse A a few minutes ahead of schedule and made it off the plane and into the concourse in about 10 minutes.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review ATL arrival gate
Our plane at the gate after arrival.

Final Thoughts

My first Delta flight in a long while was perfectly fine. I’ve had far better boarding experiences with low-cost airlines flying slightly smaller planes, but it was nice to fly with the expectation of good service from a legacy airline.

It was great to find a decently priced flight to my destination, and even better to knock some of the cost off by booking with AmexTravel.com and staying on top of price changes. Our departure and arrival times were perfect, and service was satisfactory. I appreciated the onboard amenities, including light snacks, charging ports, inflight entertainment, and complimentary earbuds, though my seat had some cleanliness issues.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Delta's Airbus A321 have TV screens?

The Delta Airbus A321-200 we flew had seatback screens with entertainment through Delta Studio. We could choose from movies, series, music, podcasts, and games for entertainment.

Does Delta A321 have Wi-Fi?

We had access to Wi-Fi on the Delta A321-200, with free messaging for all passengers and free Wi-Fi for Delta SkyMiles members.

What does Delta Main Cabin offer?

Delta Main Cabin offers seat selection prior to departure, the ability to earn miles, no change fees for tickets originating in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean, and eligibility to purchase upgrades to preferred seats.

Does Delta Main Cabin include a carry on?

All passengers flying Delta — even Basic Economy — can bring a carry-on bag and personal item on board free of charge.

Jessica Merritt's image

About Jessica Merritt

A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little cash as possible.

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