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Sun Country, The Other MSP Airline, MSP-LAX In F  
User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1920 posts, RR: 9
Posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 10099 times:

Sun Country Trip report



Sun Country is the “other” US airline that is based in Minneapolis St Paul, and has survived the attack from Delta by staying small and my impression is that it is a holiday airline with little ambitious to become a global airline. The airline was founded in 1982 after the collapse of Braniff Airways, and has gone through expansion and bankruptcy during the past few decades. It has once operated planes like DC-10, but has slowly evolved into a small niche airline with charter operations and holiday flights. It has always focused on holiday operation and operates a fleet of Boeing 737-700s and -800s. Its MSP operation is based on the Humphrey Terminal, also known as Terminal Two, along Southwest, Spirit, Air Tran, and Iceland Air. I have always interested in flying this relatively small airline, and finally made an effort to do it earlier this week.

August 8, 2012
SY 425 MSP-LAX Lv1455 Arr1642 Boeing 737-800 Winglet N806SY

Purchasing the ticket through suncountry.com is straightforward and the website is easy to navigate and the process of buying a ticket is pretty up to standard. It is a convenient booking process.

The other MSP Terminal – “Humphrey” Terminal

Sun Country operates from Terminal Two, aka Humphrey Terminal/Concourse H, which is at the opposite end of the airport and away from T-1/Lindbergh Terminal that Delta operates from. The Hubert H. Humphrey terminal was built in 2001, and serves low cost and charter airlines. Southwest, Air Tran, Iceland Air, and Spirit all operate from Humphrey as well and yes, Humphrey Terminal has its own international immigration and custom facilities, as Sun Country operates a number of flights from Mexico and the Caribbean. The terminal is undergoing some expansion at the Southwest end, and I guess Southwest may expand its presence, as well as other LCC.



The terminal itself is relatively functional and I feel that it can use some artworks to beautify the terminal building. It lacks some local flavor. However, the facilities look very well maintained and despite its industrial look, it is pretty functional. The terminal building is also small and both baggage claim and ticketing share the same floor. Sun Country and Southwest are the largest tenants, and the Sun Country area is pretty large. Its check in is separated into express lines for passengers with no bag (kiosk), first class priority line, ticketing, and regular check-in line. I arrived three hours early and there was no wait in any lines. However it got busier an hour later, as Sun Country has a bank of flights to SEA/SFO/LAX all departing around 3pm.

Flight information board – Departure:


Check-in area:


First Class line


Check in was an easy experience and the agent was friendly. She asked where I was heading and number of bag to check-in. Everyone was handled professionally and the agent tagged my bag with a priority tag, which I was impressed. She even insisted on carrying my check-in bag to the TSA drop-off point, and the economy passenger next to me had to drag it to the security area herself. As a non-traditional/holiday airline, I am pretty impressed with the priority treatment.

There is a also a priority TSA line for Sun Country first class passengers, as well as elite members of Southwest, Air Tran, and Sun Country Airlines. Due to my early arrival, the security lines were short and I was through within ten minutes.

Inside the secure area, there is really nothing much going on. There is a sit-down restaurant, with a bar attached to it, as well as a gourmet market, which sells salads, sandwiches, cold meals, and iced drinks. There is also a magazine/newspaper store next to it, as well as a gift shop. There is another minor food, beverage, and newsstand in the Southwest area, near H9/10. There are also a number of play stations for children along the corridor. It is obvious that Sun Country is a holiday airline with lots of children.

Snoopy


Gate area:
The gate area is generic with lots of seating area, which can handle the current narrowbody capacity.
H8 is used by Southwest!


Plane-spotting:
Since Sun Country is the main character, I will focus on its Boeing 737s today.

The first plane arrived for the afternoon bank was actually the plane operating my flight to LAX. N806SY, a Boeing 737-800 Winglet ETOPS, arrived from JFK as SY 242.


Sun Country Catering Truck


11 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1920 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 10100 times:

Sun Country Boeing 737-700 N712SY at H4 From Boston and heading to San Francisco


Sun Country Boeing 737-700 Winglet N710SY at H3 Arriving from Seattle and going back to Seattle


Sun Country Boeing 737-700 Winglet N711SY at H2 – Arriving from Lansing


Air Tran Boeing 717


Sun Country branding


H5, the closet gate to the TSA checkpoint – SY 425 to LAX


Boarding:


Two gate agents were handling boarding, and the agent was selling upgrades at $119, and they would reimburse the check-in baggage fee, if you have checked in bag earlier. First class went out full as $119 was quite a reasonable charge. They also asked for volunteers to check in their bags (for free of course), as they want to keep everything on time. Boarding began at 2:21pm at gate H5, after the only wheelchair passenger made it down the jetway. They boarded first class passengers first, along with exit row passengers, and then from the back to front. Boarding orders were reinforced strictly and everything was in order.

Two Midwestern F/As welcomed us on board and immediately assisted with carryon baggage. They also offered a full pre-takeoff beverage. Diet Coke was my choice and served in a plastic cup.


Cabin Shot:
Sun Country flies an all Boeing 737 fleet with typical domestic seating – 12 first class seats, along with 150 economy class seats in Boeing 737-800s. (737-700 has 117 Y seats)


Seat:
First Class seat is the old-fashioned type and you can some wear and tear, but I appreciate the lumbar support, which is soft and well padded unlike the new generation of slim seats. Seat pitch is 38 inches and is on the tight side. It reminds me of Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400s. The seats are not too comfortable in the upright position. But a slight recline makes a very comfortable day time flight, but not sure if I will be too happy to fly this from MSP to London or even to Anchorage.


Line up of Southwest/Air Tran Planes at Humphrey Terminal


User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1920 posts, RR: 9
Reply 2, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 10096 times:

Flight information:
Boarding was completed early at 2:47pm and we pushed back a minute later. One good thing about Humphrey Terminal is the limited traffic here. Since it was a relatively quiet period, we were number one in line. We took off from R/W17 at 2:55pm, right on the spot. Flying time was three hours and twelve minutes, with an initial cruising attitude of 36,000feet and later climbed to 38,000feet. Due to some thunderstorm activities, F/As remain seated till seat belt sign was turned off at 3:20pm.

Service:
Despite the choppy climb out, service started very slowly. Beverage was served at 3:45pm and proper glassware was used – reminded me of the kind used by Delta. I had a Diet Coke & Jack Daniel.


Hot towel was passed out next, followed the first course of the lunch service. Unlike the usual mixed nuts routine, the F/A passed out a cheese and crackers plate – pre-packaged Creamy Swiss and Babybel cheese with crackers.


Lunch service was served next, but there was no choice of entrées, which was sort of surprising (as most US airlines always offer a second choice) but not surprising – Sun Country is sort of a holiday airline, but then there should be a choice, but at least it is a hot lunch, unlike the cold sandwich I got from Delta the day before in first from Las Vegas to Minneapolis. Today’s choice was a warmed roast beef, mushroom, and caramelized onion sandwich with Chipotle sauce and a nice antipasto salad – Grilled asparagus, zucchini, and peppers, along with bottled water. The sandwich was very nice and very filling, and the Italian style grilled vegetables were surprisingly good. They were all crispy and fresh, not an easy achievement in first class food.



Real metal utensils are used but no linen to cover the table


Service card signed by lead purser


After lunch tray was collected, dessert was then offered – freshly baked chocolate chip cookie (metal fork is given), along with tea and coffee service. Cookie is always good at 36,000feet.



Lunch service was served in a leisurely pace, which was nice given that it was a daytime flight. The F/A always asked if I wanted something else before clearing out cups and glasses – something that I appreciate.

Four flight attendants were in charge of the plane, and the lead purser was in charge of first class. The F/As in generally were friendly and very down-to-earth. The F/A is very experienced and the meal service is carried out in a well timed pace, and it is in no rush. I am in general very happy with the service received.


User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1920 posts, RR: 9
Reply 3, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 10096 times:

Magazine Pocket:
Content – safety card, sick bag, Sun Country magazine (thin), entertainment guide for August, Cambria magazine, and Vacation brochure


Not Sun Country


Entertainment:
There is no main screen entertainment and drop down screens, but Dig E players are available (complimentary for first class). The latest generation of Dig E players is pretty user-friendly and the screens are good. However, Sun Country uses some really cheap headsets and I ended up using my own “apple” headsets.


August movies:


Overflying Grand Canyon


Descent soon began at 3:42pm West Coast time and Dig E players were not collected till the pilot signaled the final preparation at 3:55pm. It was a beautiful day here in the West coast, and we landed on R/W24 at 4:07pm and parked at gate 24 at Terminal Two six minutes later.

Volaris Airbus A319 XA-VOH next door, along with Aeromexico Boeing 737-700 N788AM


Our plane at LAX – getting ready for the return to MSP


The final test was baggage delivery, and it took a while for the first bag to come out at 4:40pm, but priority tag worked and my bag was among the first group of baggage out. There was some mix up with a Westjet flight arriving from Calgary. But interesting, the Calgary flight actually parked at gate a few minutes after us, but they parked at a closer gate.

In conclusion, this Sun Country flight went pretty much as expected. It is not an extraordinary flight, but in general it is a nice change from the usual Delta routine. Compared to Delta on the same flight, Sun Country is comparable and competitive in many aspects, except schedules and frequent flyer program. As some of us know, some of the former Northwest 757s don’t necessarily have the latest entertainment and seat installed. I enjoy the flying experience from Humphrey terminal, which makes the ground experience a bit smoother and less chaotic. I will have no issue to fly Sun Country again if the price is right, but will I go out of my way to fly it? I won’t, but if it will bring back the London Gatwick service via NF next summer, I will fly it.

Thanks for reading,
Carfield


User currently offlineJetBlueGuy2006 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 1660 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 9599 times:

Wow, really good report; not a airline that gets many TR on here. They have been flying out of my home airport in Lansing for a while, and have been meaning to try them out, but haven't gotten a chance.

Thanks for sharing.



Home Airport: Capital Region International Airport (KLAN)
User currently online817Dreamliiner From Montserrat, joined Jul 2008, 2384 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 18 hours ago) and read 9459 times:

Great report Carfield

Havent seen a Sun Counrty report in a while, thanks for sharing.



Reality be Rent. Synapse, break! Vanishment, This World!
User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1937 posts, RR: 24
Reply 6, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 8750 times:
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Good report, Carfield!

Quoting Carfield (Thread starter):
Its MSP operation is based on the Humphrey Terminal, also known as Terminal Two, along Southwest, Spirit, Air Tran, and Iceland Air. I have always interested in flying this relatively small airline, and finally made an effort to do it earlier this wee

Very cool! I flew them back in 2007 - and enjoyed traveling with them. I upgraded to First Class on the flight to JFK I took, but the service, and product has much improved by the looks of it. When I flew them, they had plastic cups, plastic plates, etc.

Quoting Carfield (Thread starter):
here is a sit-down restaurant, with a bar attached to it, as well as a gourmet market, which sells salads, sandwiches, cold meals, and iced drinks. There is also a magazine/newspaper store next to it, as well as a gift shop. There is another minor food, beverage, and newsstand in the Southwest area, near H9/10. There are also a number of play stations for children along the corridor. It is obvious that Sun Country is a holiday airline with lots of children.

I wish they would have more than these establishments - being a regular traveler out of MSP (I live near the airport   I find the Humphrey Terminal is pretty lacking, and could do with a better coffee/food selection.

Thanks for sharing!

Matthew (767747)


User currently offlinereifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1360 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (2 years 1 month 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 8318 times:

Interesting stuff! Thanks for sharing. You wrote they have a niche holiday destination operation, however aparently according to your comments they have a little domestic hub operation, i.e. flying from Lansing to Los Angeles or JFK to Seattle via MSP, correct?

It always strikes me that in the US every single carrier have their own ground equipment, and I often realized that on smaller stations check in staff does ramp work, retags bags themselves etc... In Europe this is all outsourced and automated... Nice to see this


User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6568 posts, RR: 55
Reply 8, posted (2 years 1 month 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 8060 times:

Hi Carfield!

Very nice report with nice pictures !

Great to see a report on Sun Country that I have never seen covered on here before. Looks like they have a nice product.

Thanks for posting!

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1920 posts, RR: 9
Reply 9, posted (2 years 1 month 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 7863 times:

For ground operations in MSP, Sun Country seems to have their own team, but the ground equipments also have the Menzies label. Menzies might be their ground operator in MSP. But the check-in and gate agents all look like Sun Country's own personal staffs.

Yes they run a small hub operation at MSP. You can fly from JFK to LAX via MSP or from Boston to LAX via MSP, or Lansing to LAX via MSP. I don't think hub operation is their main focus but if the schedule works, they don't mind selling you a ticket and transfer your bag within Sun Country system. They definitely don't want to step on Delta's toe and will get crushed. Delta matches their prices on Sun Country flights that depart at the same time, but mostly leaves Sun Country alone.

Thanks for all the kind comments!

Carfield


User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 15
Reply 10, posted (2 years 1 month 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 7577 times:

Hey

Thanks for showing us the other MSP carrier!
Sun County looks to have a decent hard and software product.
I like the fresh cookie that they serve in F.

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineKaiGywer From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 12250 posts, RR: 35
Reply 11, posted (2 years 1 month 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 7474 times:
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FORUM MODERATOR

Quoting Carfield (Reply 9):
For ground operations in MSP, Sun Country seems to have their own team, but the ground equipments also have the Menzies label. Menzies might be their ground operator in MSP. But the check-in and gate agents all look like Sun Country's own personal staffs.

IIRC, from a friend who used to work there... As odd as it was, Menzies handled the SY flights with only SY supervisors working their own flights. SY ground crew handled all the charters and FI, but not their own flights.



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