Talk about great social media service. Sun Country saw me tweet my review and responded to let me know you can now receive mobile boarding passes. Talk about awesome!!
Looking around the inter-webs, I’ve not seen a lot of trip reports of Sun Country’s first class product, so I thought I’d write up a quick review from my last flight with them over Memorial Day weekend. And while I am pretty loyal to the airline, this represents as unbiased of a review as much as possible. I even point out things that I think could be improved.
Check In and Security
I booked this flight in economy and chose an exit row seat which comes complimentary with Ufly Elite status. One downside of the exit row is that you cannot check in online and print your boarding pass. I’m not sure why this is given the fact that almost every other major airline allows you to get a boarding pass in an exit row. This meant I had to visit the counter at the airport, which luckily was open when I arrived a little over two hours before the flight. Sun Country doesn’t officially open in-person check in until two hours before departure so I was glad to be able to check in and get to security.
I had forgotten to put in my known traveller number for TSA PreCheck (rookie mistake), but was able to instead use the priority lane without issue. I certainly missed not taking my shoes off and laptop out, but was through security relatively quickly.
Airport and Boarding
I spent the next hour or two exploring a couple of lounges at LAX, which you can read more about in my head-to-head review. After finishing up at the Alaska Airlines Boardroom, I realized I’d lost my boarding pass (d’oh!), which is another area I wish Sun Country could offer innovation in. There are no mobile boarding passes with Sun Country, so I had to ask the gate agent to reprint it for me.
Upgrades must be requested at the gate and are not confirmed until right before boarding, which for me adds a sense of stress at the gate. I know its a silly thing to stress over, but it would be nice if you could confirm an upgrade at check-in or via an app/website. I’ll write up a guide on how I keep an eye on upgrade availability in the near future. I’ve learned its best to ask for the upgrade as soon as there’s a gate agent available and to inquire right before the pre-boarding starts if your name isn’t called. I’ve had pretty good odds with getting the seat up front – I believe I’ve only missed one upgrade in the last 5 or 6 flights where I was eligible. This flight was no exception, and I was able to secure seat 1F and board with the first class group.
Seat and Service
It was a short walk to my seat in the first row, and I was met with a comfortable recliner with decent legroom. Sun Country seem to have a variety of 737 aircraft with a variety of legroom in the front row – I’ve seen configurations with almost unlimited legroom and others (like this one) which are more limited. Regardless, I found the seat more than comfortable for the three hour flight to Minneapolis.
The cabin crew greeted me shortly after sitting down and offered a pre departure beverage (I chose some sparkling wine!) while the rest of the aircraft boarded. Service was friendly, which is one of my favorite aspects of Sun Country. You really feel like you are coming home upon boarding!
We took off on time and climbed out of the hazy LA metro over the Pacific Ocean. A quick left turn later and we were heading east to the midwest. At this point, hot towels are sometimes distributed but on this flight they were offered shortly before landing if my memory serves me correctly.
Food and Entertainment
Sun Country doesn’t have any built-in inflight entertainment or WiFi options, but do distribute ‘digi-players’ that are free in first class and just eight dollars in economy on domestic flights. The device is loaded with a good variety of movies and tv shows as well as game and music options. It’s a nice option on a long flight, and you can plug in two sets of headphones if you are traveling with someone and want to watch the same movie. The unit also features a stand that kicks out the back so it can be propped up on the tray table.
As this was an evening flight (departing around 6pm) a dinner service was offered. This starts with a cheese, crackers and grapes appetizer (my favorite!) and is followed by an entree. Sun Country only offers one entree selection, which I see as an area they could improve. While I don’t have any dietary restrictions, I could see this being a turn-off for someone who does. On this flight a beef and rice combo was available, which was very tasty and filling. I have seen other passengers request food items from economy, which actually offers a larger selection of food including sandwiches, cheeseburgers, and snack items, so that may be an option if the entree isn’t appealing.
For desert a warm chocolate chip cookie was provided – yum! I washed this down with a little nightcap of scotch :D.
Sun Country offers a great first class product that is often priced a lot lower than on the mainline carriers. I believe an upgrade on this LAX-MSP flight would’ve cost around $140, which isn’t bad for what you get. Paired with friendly service, a good seat and decent food, Sun Country provides competitive product when compared to the likes of United, AA and Delta. If the airline made a couple of refinements such as offering multiple meals choices and providing mobile boarding passes, they could be even more compelling than they already are. Have you ever flown Sun Country? What are your thoughts?