The Boeing 717 is a somewhat unique plane. It’s the last of the DC-9 lineage dating back to 1965. Through a series of mergers, the Douglas DC-9 evolved into the McDonnell Douglas MD80 and MD90, then finally the end of line was the Boeing 717. The last commercial aircraft that was ever produced in Long Beach was the 717 and eventually became a Delta aircraft.
Delta acquired all of it’s 717s second hand from Southwest Airlines. When Southwest absorbed AirTran, they wanted to get rid of anything that wasn’t a 737 so Delta took advantage of a great bargain and scooped up all the 717s. Delta’s currently(February 2023) has sixty-six of their 717s in the fleet. The planes are mostly used on short haul flights of usually less than 3 hours around the South East US centered at ATL. A few flights touch other hubs like DTW, MSP, and further west too. Like the DC-9 before it, the 717 is a short haul work horse for Delta.
The Delta 717 has 3 cabins onboard. First Class has 12 seats arranged in a 2-2 configuration spread across 3 rows. Comfort Plus has 20 seats in the somewhat uncommon 2-3 seating arrangement. Economy has 78 seats again arranged in the signature Douglas 2-3 configuration. In my opinion, the Delta 717 is a mostly comfortable plane, with the rear mounted engines, the front of the plane is nice and quiet so first class is very nice. However, the last few rows of the plane are pretty loud and unpleasant. In fact, I think the worst seat in all of the Delta fleet is Row 29 seat D on the 717.
If you’d like to see an in-depth trip report of each Delta 717 cabin check out my reviews:
Delta 717 Legroom and Seat Comfort
When it comes to flights, one of the biggest features is always comfort and legroom. While the 717 isn’t a long haul plane and you’ll never be in one for more than about 3 hours, it’s always nice to have some leg room. The Delta 717, like pretty much every air plane, has the most leg room in First Class, then Comfort Plus, followed by Economy.
The Delta 717 First Class seats are nothing amazing, but they are plush and comfortable. They are from an era before slim seats with no padding. There are some seats that are better than others, I’ll usually say away from the first row. The bulkhead seating doesn’t have great leg room.
I’m not very tall, but even I don’t find the leg room here in row one that great. The other issue with the leg room in the bulk head is that you must put all you’re luggage into the overhead bin. I like to at least be able to put my headphones case or computer bag at my feet.
Rows 2 and 3 have adequate leg room and space to store your items under the seat in-front. I like row 3, but really it’s no different from 2. All of the seats are phisicaly the same, and the shoulder width is more than enough here in First Class.
The Delta 717 has 20 Comfort Plus seats. These seats are the same as an economy seat, but have a few extra inches of leg room. If you can, seats on the left hand side of the plane only have 2 seats instead of three so they are more comfortable.
The leg room here in Delta Comfort Plus is good, even with a bag at your feet. The only seat in the Delta 717 Comfort Plus cabin I would avoid is seat 10C. This seat is an aisle seat on the right hand side just behind first class. Because of the shape of the cabin, it feels like you’re sitting in the aisle and when people walk by, they will bump into you.
On the other hand, seats 10 A/B are excellent as they have a lot of leg room and are somewhat shielded by the slightly wider First Class seats.
The Delta 717 in economy has a pretty wide variety of comfort depending on what seat you’re in. Some are great, others really suck. The 2-3 seating is a benefit, less middle seats are always welcome.
The best seats on the Delta 717 in economy are the exit row seats on the 2 seat side on the left of the plane. There’s even a single seat as the window seat is missing.
These exit row seats have a lot of leg room. Even with a backpack under the seat, there’s space for my feet, though I’m not very tall.
On the flip side, this seat sucks. It’s the very last row and a middle seat. So not only is it really loud from the engines, it doesn’t recline and is just in front of the bathroom.
The leg room isn’t any different than the rest of the economy cabin, but these seats don’t recline.
This is why Row 29 on the Delta 717 sucks, there’s no window and it’s really loud. You’ll certainly want hearing protection. We always use noise canceling headphones.
So if you can, get an exit row on the 2 person side of the 717. If that’s not available, any of the forward seats on the 2 person side are pretty great and would be my second choice. Avoid the last few rows, no view and it’s loud.
Delta 717 Meal and Snack Service
Delta uses the 717 on relatively short flights, 3 hours is about the limit of what these planes fly. Because of that, the meals and snacks provided are somewhat limited. You won’t be crossing oceans so the service items reflect that.
On the Delta 717 in first class a snack box is the normal meal provided on flights of more than 900 miles. It’s normal to have 2 options of snack boxes, both are cold options. A sandwich or a salad is the usually selection. Neither are bad, but not overly fancy.
On flights of less than 900 miles on the 717, Delta does a snack and beverage service. Drinks are complementary in First Class so that’s a nice way to relax with some snacks from the basket.
In the 717 Comfort Plus, Delta offers an enhanced snack and beverage service. In Comfort Plus drinks and snacks are included, it’s not exactly the same as in First Class but it’s pretty close.
In the economy cabin on the 717 there’s a standard drink and snack offering. Usually cookies, crackers, or nuts is the snack option. For drinks, standard soft drinks are free and beer, liquor, and wine can be purchased.
Delta 717 Entertainment and Wifi
Ok, here’s a downside of the Delta 717. No matter what cabin you’re riding in, there’s no in seat entertainment. The 717 is actually the only plane in the mainline Delta fleet that doesn’t have IFE. There is a stream to your own device over wifi option. Streaming is free, but a regular internet connection is also available for a fee.
Delta 717 Amenities
The Boeing 717 is the second smallest plane in the Delta fleet(by one seat). It’s also likely to be retired by 2026 so because of that, Delta isn’t interested in spending a ton of money on amenities for the 717.
The good news is that every row on the Delta 717 has power available to charge devices.
The best feature and amenity of the Delta 717 is the 2-3 seating arrangement. For a narrow-body plane, the common arrangement is a 3-3 arrangement in economy, 2-3 is just better.
Delta 717 Final Thoughts
The Delta 717 is used on all sorts of short haul routes through North America. I personally like riding on the 717, it’s comfortable and pleasant for flights less than 3 hours. Even in economy, I like the 2-3 seating. Of course some seats are better than others, exit rows are great on the 717, but the last row really sucks and would be worth avoiding if you can. The Comfort Plus section of the 717 is great, nice and quiet away from the rear mounted engines.
The Delta 717’s First Class is comfortable enough. Nothing amazing here but it’s better than any other seat. I don’t much care for the bulk head, but I won’t decline the upgrade if that’s the last seat available. All of the rows of the 717 have power, but no in seat entertainment. Wifi is available, but isn’t free.
All in, the Delta 717 is a perfectly serviceable plane.