The Sun Country Experience
Updated: Oct 29, 2019
When thinking of air travel in the United States, most people think of the legacy carriers such as Delta, United, American, and Southwest. They may even think about low-cost airlines such as Spirit and Frontier, but there is an airline based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a fleet of Boeing 737’s that really shakes up the American aviation market due to their impeccable service, this airline is named Sun Country. Sun Country Airlines was founded in 1983 and based their aircraft at Minneapolis/ St. Paul airport. They began with a single Boeing 727 and then expanded to have Douglas DC-10's. From their start, they were considered Minnesota's airline, and they indeed still are. Eventually, the company expanded to fly Boeing 737’s, and as of now they have twenty-six –800 variants and three –700's. Currently, they fly to 54 destinations throughout the United States, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. In addition to their scheduled service, Sun Country is known for its charter services. They do a lot of military and college sports team charters.
In 2018 Sun Country announced that they were going to switch out their traditional airline layout, which included a multi-class layout of first-class and economy to an all low-cost economy strategy. However, I must say, Sun Country is FAR from a low-cost carrier even though they charge inexpensive prices. Recently, Sun Country has been expanding outside of Minneapolis/ St Paul with new focus cities in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Portland, Oregon, and Las Vegas. In addition to that, they have started more routes out of Tampa, Orlando, Los Angeles, and Nashville.
I flew out of their new station in Nashville on quite a unique route to Providence, Rhode Island. Currently, Sun Country flies to Minneapolis/ St. Paul and does seasonal flights to Los Angeles and Portland in addition to Providence. Sun Country operates the Providence flight four days a week (Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday) at 10:35 AM and arrives at 2:00 PM with a one hour time change as flight 645. However, this route is ending at the end of October, unfortunately. I paid an excellent fare for this one-way ticket of only $29. Sun Country does follow the model of having to pay for pretty much everything besides your actual ticket and a small personal item (backpack, purse), this includes carry-on and checked baggage which are both $35, as well as you have to pay for a seat if you would like your choice of one at booking, if not you will be randomly placed in one at check-in. I only was traveling with a backpack, so I was able to pay just the $29 price and got assigned seat 15F, which is the window seat in the second exit row on the left side of the aircraft.
I have to say every part of this flight was spectacular. I had come in on a connecting flight with another airline, so I did not have to clear TSA, once I made my way down to gate B-11 at the end of concourse B in Nashville, I was greeted by two very professional and courteous gate agents. I enquired about how many passengers were on our flight, and they said 131 out of 183 seats were to be filled, and 97 were filled on the inbound from Providence. The inbound aircraft was slightly delayed, so I waited patiently for the aircraft to arrive and deplane so I could board. I was, however, a little shocked and thrilled to find out the Boeing 737-800 that was going to be taking me to Providence was N813SY. You may be wondering why this aircraft is so special to fly on, and the reason is because it's Sun Country’s only 737-800 without winglets, and to my knowledge, it is the only one currently operating passenger service for any U.S. airline.
Due to the inbound delay, we were delayed in boarding; initially, we were supposed to board at 9:50 AM but ended up beginning to board at approximately 10:20 AM. The gate agents were extraordinarily kind and allowed me to pre-board, so I could get some great cabin shots and talk with the crew. The crew, in my opinion, are what made this flight one of the best domestic U.S. flights I have ever had. I began talking with Kate who was one of the four flight attendants and inquired a little bit about the airline and her experiences with Sun Country, she was pleased to answer all of my questions and told me that she has been working with Sun Country for over 25 years and that in fact all four of the flight attendants on board had been with Sun Country as long as her! Paula has 30 years with the airline Denise has 26, and Natty also has 25 like Kate. That is over 100 years of combined experience, which is really cool to see! Each of them have seen the changes in Sun Country from nearly the beginning of the airline and they are all still thrilled to be working for them.
Now to the flight itself, Sun Country is branded as a low-cost carrier, and yes, they have low costs with tickets, but their service and aircraft are far from what other U.S. low-cost carries offer. My seat 15F in the exit row had phenomenal legroom at 34 inches of pitch, and the seat was perfectly comfortable. The normal rows also had a decent amount of legroom with around 30 inches of pitch. Each row of three seats offered 4 USB ports, and they actually worked better than the full-on universal power outlets on the aircraft that brought me to Nashville with another airline. To my surprise, even with delayed boarding, the fantastic staff at BNA was able to get the plane completely boarded, catered, and pushed back right on schedule at 10:35. The captain informed us it would be a quick 1 hour and 47 minutes from takeoff to touchdown in Providence. Once airborne, I found out that Sun County does not offer traditional Wi-Fi, but they do allow you the option to stream videos and shows on-demand for free with personal devices. The journey to Providence was very smooth as we cruised at flight level 390 (39,000 feet) during that time, the flight attendants began their service. On Sun Country, you are offered a complimentary soft drink or water, alcoholic beverages are available for purchase, and you can purchase snack boxes if you are in the mood.
As we began our descent into PVD, I looked out over the coast on the beautiful fall afternoon and reflected on truly how amazing this flight was. From the airport staff to the flight attendants to the service onboard and everything in between, I could not have asked for a better flight. We landed in Providence 20 minutes early at 1:40 PM local time and taxied to the gate. I then said my goodbyes to the crew and the beautiful blue airplane. I cannot praise Sun Country enough with their airline and cannot wait to fly them again soon!
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