First To Worst; The Guillotine Seat To Get To Best Happy Hour Ever

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The name Guillotine comes up regarding a particular seat onboard one type of MD 88 aircraft. This seat put me so close to the engine it rattled my nerves a little bit. The reason it gave me pause for thought was because I remembered a sensative incident onboard Delta’s flight #1288 in 1996. The MD 88 was taking off from Pensacola airport en-route to the Atlanta airport when the flight experienced uncontained, catastrophic turbine engine failure. Our condolenses go to those who lost family members on that flight.

At 2:23P CDT Delta Flight 1288 was cleared for takeoff on Runway 17. As the First Officer was advancing the throttles and reaching an airspeed of 40 knots, the cockpit lost lighting and instrumentation. The rear cabin passengers and flight crew heard a very loud bang and experienced a blast-like sensation. The pilot then abandoned takeoff by bringing the throttle to idle and engaging the brake which brought the aircraft to an eventual stop without use of reversers or spoilers.[2]

How Did I Get In This Seat?

I was confirmed for the last flight of the day onboard a 737-800 in a comfy front row economy comfort aisle seat. The Delta upgrade break I caught a few days before also seemed possible on the last flight of the day, but I needed to get home early this particular evening. We were going to celebrate a special occasion.

So I confirmed onto an earlier flight just before my original one on the way to the airport. It only took a minute to confirm by calling the Platinum elite line and asking for a same day confirm to the earlier flight.

Once at the airport, I breezed through security and was into the SkyClub in no time. The friendly SkyClub agents advised me that there was one seat left on the even earlier flight. This flight was enticing, if I accepted, I’d get the last seat on the flight and would get home before I was originally scheduled to take off.

Weekly Flyer: “Does the last seat happen to be in first class?”

Agent: “Unfortunately, it is a middle seat at the back of the plane, seat 35 B”

Weekly Flyer: “I’ll take it”

A thought crept over me as I boarded the MD 88. I remembered there was an incident onboard this aircraft type a long time ago. I know Delta has a world class safety record so this was enough to bring calming thoughts back to front and center.

View From The Back Of The MD 88

I made it back to my middle seat which was in the second to last row. The view to the front appeared to be as long as a football field. I enjoyed the different perspective knowing I’d get home before I was supposed to take off.


View From The MD 88 Guillotine Seat

The view of the engine isn’t quite as impressive as the sound and vibrations this giant (Pratt & Whitney?) engine emits. The seats in row 36 have no view at all and I took comfort that those seats are considered the ones to avoid according to Seat Guru.


Favorite Happy Hour Drink To Comfort

The flight attendants made it back to 35 B in quick time. I was happy and took more comfort in that I was able to redeem a Have One On Us coupon for my favorite cocktail in the sky.


Won For Loosing In The End – Best Happy Hour Ever

I made it home safely and in time to celebrate the Weekly Flyer family’s special occasion in proper style. We don’t drink fancy wine on a regular basis. Our rule is if it tastes good, drink it.

Our favorite any day bottle of red table wine runs about $19.99 at your local wine store. Our favorite any day bottle of white table wine is an even better price, only around $6.99 at your local wine store. But this was not just any day. We were celebrating a special occasion, so it was important I get home early if my schedule and Delta’s schedule allowed.

We saved this 2005 Wine of the Year award winner ever since the dense purple nectar first hit our lips during a visit to the Joseph Phelps vineyard in Napa Valley. We opened the bottle and let it breath for about 10 minutes. Then we decanted the bottle and let it breathe for another 10-15 minutes. At this point we couldn’t contain ourselves any longer. We poured the savory grape juice into two glasses and toasted to the special occasion.


Bottom Line

Enduring the Guillotine seat was a little nerve racking because of the prior incident. The unfortunate incident in 1996 was one of a kind and we certainly feel for those who were injured or lost family members during the flight.

I felt fortunate to arrive early and safely in time to celebrate with Mrs Weekly Flyer and Baby Flyer. A big thanks to the Delta team for accommodating this elite member’s schedule change and getting me home safely.

Sometimes we take safety for granted, but there are a lot of people behind the scenes working to make our flights smooth and comfortable. I know the folks at Delta take safety very seriously. In reality, I flew in the seat with comfort because I knew the great folks at Delta do a world class job with safety.

Delta’s same day confirmation program allowed this SkyMiles elite member to get home early. This program is an excellent way to get home early or leave later for a special occasion.

How many of you have ever flown on this plane and felt the roar of the engine from only a few feet? What did you think of the experience?

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About The Weekly Flyer

The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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  1. I flew the same exact seat RIC – ATL on standby not too long ago. It is certainly loud. Middle seats suck but not bad for that short hop.

    I didn’t know about this story until now. Yikes!

  2. We agree on two points:
    (1) I hate sitting in row 35 of an MD-88
    (2) Joseph Phelps Insignia is a great wine….every year

  3. I believe if you look in the story of DL1288, you’ll see the fatal injuries were in row 37 not row 35.

  4. Being a “lucky” resident of the STL area I’ve been treated to this seating area on a number of AA and Delta flights over the years. I hate it every time. It’s kinda like flying in general. You mighty worry about the plane crashing but they usually don’t so since you can’t do anything about that why worry. It’s kind of an interesting experience sitting so close to the engines. You can really hear them whine and work in different situations but very noisy. I hate the middle seat worse on any row.

  5. Hi Vicente – The plane I flew has fewer rows. The seats in the story, aligned with the engine, are the same ones on the MD 88 version I flew. You can see the two Delta versions on Seat Guru.

  6. I would have stayed on my original flight if I had to be that far back in the plane. Prefer as close to the front as possible. If I have to be behind the wing I’m not sitting there. The McDonald Douglas airplanes I hate flying. I’m a Boeing girl….if its not made by boeing I don’t want to be on it.

  7. I flew in that seat, or a row in front of it, from DTW to TPA in June. I could look out my window at the intake and the spinning turbine. Luckily I could still see a view forward and down. Two and a half hours with my ear four feet from that screaming, whining turbine — it was a brain-filling noise that made conversation impossible…which was okay because I didn’t really want to talk to the guy next to me anyway.

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