Hello, Live From Delta First Class — What’s It Like To Cheat On American?

Filed Under: American, Delta

Yesterday I was scheduled to fly from Providence to Chicago to Los Angeles on American, though my flight from Chicago to Los Angeles was canceled right as I was about to board my flight from Providence to Chicago.


I decided to just not board, given that it was the last flight of the night, and the next flight from Chicago to Los Angeles with any availability was for Sunday evening.

I hopped on ITA Matrix, and saw that Delta had a first class fare leaving at 6AM this morning for just $80 more than I originally paid for economy on American. That seemed like the best bet, since otherwise I’d be stuck overnight in Chicago, only get back to Los Angeles this evening, and would almost certainly be in coach for the longer segment.

I was also excited to fly Delta in general, given my dissatisfaction with American, and that I’ve been considering switching to Delta. American’s frequent flyer program used to be a point of differentiation, though nowadays is average at best. However, what has been absolutely horrible is their operational performance, which they’re supposedly working on fixing (though based on my recent flights, I’m not impressed).

So, how was Delta, which is generally regarded as the best of the US legacy airlines, and also the self proclaimed “on-time machine,” which achieves “unprecedented reliability” (at least that’s what Delta’s CEO tells passengers before every flight)?

Well, Delta was decidedly mediocre, so it very much felt like “business as usual.” I’m not suggesting that two flights are completely representative of the airline, though they didn’t blow me away in the same way that JetBlue did a couple of weeks ago (not that I was expecting them to, given that JetBlue Mint is a very special product).

I figured I’d share my very general thoughts of the Delta experience:

Delta first class seats & comfort

Both flights were operated by old planes (an MD-80 for the first segment and a 767 for the second segment). I was impressed that despite both planes being old, they had power ports, which American has no plans to install on their ex-US Airways domestic planes.

That being said, the seats themselves were tight, and there were no headrests, which I found annoying. I do like that Delta has both a pillow and blanket, though. Even if the quality is kind of crappy, American doesn’t offer pillows in domestic first class nowadays.

Delta service

Service has been unremarkable, and similar to what I get on American. The flight attendants were fine. They weren’t especially hardworking or overly warm, but they weren’t rude either. They did seem a bit lazy at times, though. For example, we were sitting on the ground in Providence for almost an hour (there was a 30+ minute delay), and were only offered one set of pre-departure beverages. It wouldn’t have killed them to offer a refill on coffee at 6AM.

The gate agents were also similar to what I’ve had at American.

Delta food

The food was okay, though perhaps not even better than what American serves. The breakfast consisted of granola, fresh fruit, yogurt, and a croissant, and was the better of the two meals.


The lunch service was underwhelming. By the time they got to me they were out of salads, and only had a pork calzone. I don’t eat pork, so the flight attendant told me I could buy something from the buy on board menu if I wanted to.

On principle I was a bit surprised she wanted me to pay for it (there are a lot of people who don’t eat pork, so having that as the only option is a bit annoying), and when I sort of gave her a strange glance, she said “I guess I can comp it for you since you didn’t get your choice.”

The economy wrap was quite good, though I found the first class meal accompaniments to be strange. There were no nuts before the meal, and the sides consisted of a small salad (which was good), as well as some cheese and grapes and a brownie. There were no crackers or a roll with the cheese, which was a bit odd, since it wasn’t exactly high quality cheese. Delta also doesn’t serve anything with their drinks (no nuts or pretzels or anything).


Bottom line

I wasn’t expecting great things from Delta, so I wasn’t really disappointed. Based on my two flights with them, there’s not a discernible difference between the experience they offer, and what I get on American. Perhaps the biggest difference for me is that Delta has power ports on virtually all their planes. Meanwhile the ex-US Airways planes, which make up a big part of American’s domestic fleet, don’t. Furthermore, Delta has better operational reliability, though in today’s case, both flights left late.

The one thing that really does tick me off about Delta, though, is their arrogance. American’s slogan is “Going For Great,” which is a stretch to begin with. Meanwhile Delta calls themselves things like “the world’s most trusted airline” and claims to offer “unprecedented reliability.”

To me, Delta’s arrogance is a bit off-putting. They’re sort of like that person on a location based social network application who leads by bragging about their you-know-what, when in reality they’re just like everyone else. C’mon, Delta, show us that you’re the on-time machine, and the world’s most trusted airline, and offer unprecedented reliability… don’t tell us.

  1. Somewhat surprised you weren’t offered your choice of packaged snacks. In my experience, Delta usually offers pretzels, peanuts, and Biscoff in both first and economy

  2. You have been on my mind the last 24 hours!! 🙂 I believe you made a good choice not to head to ORD last night. Our teenage friend was scheduled ORD-PHX on AA and was delayed in terminal for three hours. Once boarded, they announced the crew had timed out and needed to find someone to fly the plane. I had serious doubts they would get under way but they did. Friend landed safely just shy of 1am. Does all of this sound familiar?

  3. @ Luke — Nope, wasn’t offered anything on either flight before the meal with drinks. Interesting.

  4. I must say I am a bit shocked with your review. You must have been really unlucky.
    I live in Europe but am flying 90% of the time with Air France and KLM in Europe and Delta in US and am a Skymiles Diamond member – far better deal when it comes to collecting miles.
    99.9% when I fly with Delta, I love their on board experience, while their on the ground service sucks. Only 1 time – MSP to AMS I experienced horrible service – FA’s were rude, unfriendly and looked as if they had been doing the worst job on earth and frankly speaking they were doing a lousy job. All the other times FA’s were amazing and very caring. Never experienced issue with lack of food options in first, there always do 2 or 3 rounds with the basket – fruit, sweets and snacks and always refill drinks if the flight is delayed.
    On the other hand I would never say that about United. Worst airline in US ever. Had flown with American only few times so do not want to judge them, but I generally speaking am avoiding One World cause, again, BA is the worst airlines in Europe.
    Don’t loose patience and give it a try, Delta is really awesome and the chances of getting complimentary upgrade both in US and on intercom flights while flights are overbooked (and 7 out 10 flights are) are amazing if you are platinum or diamond. As long as you do not fly out of Atlanta, where everyone is diamond :).

  5. Lucky, I’ve been elite with Delta for years and after next year will be changing my domestic business to another carrier. I’m looking at a couple different ones. Delta is pretty good, but I really have to agree with you that the arrogance factor is a negative attribute of the airline. The prevailing attitude is “why have a generous frequent flyer program when we’re so good.” Also from my perspective, why give Delta all my business when they sell their first seats competitively, and I can buy status per flight.

    As a data point I have traveled on a number of Delta FC flights this year without power up front. I actually prefer the MD80s for the short and medium hauls because they normally have power. One item Delta excels at is elite customer support in irrops. The Diamond/Platinum line will do anything for you with in practicality, and when traveling with a family in tow it can really make a difference.

    As always OMAAT is great! – Jimmy

  6. This week I had to book a last minute trip from DCA to DTW (American hub to Delta hub) so I had both AA and Delta options. I’ve been fed up with AA lately and since you get no miles anymore I realized that I could give Delta a try. The flights priced out the same and the Delta flight times were just a little better, so I was about to book it when I realized that I’d have to pay baggage fees on Delta, so the Delta trip was actually $50-70 more than the AA trip. (Going for a funeral so I have to bring nice clothes and can’t stuff them into my weekender bag this trip). So, I sadly booked the AA flight, but for a few minutes it felt nice to be free of the AA shackles. I plan to get the Delta credit card soon, which means no more baggage fees, so Delta will actually be a competitive option. Hubby and I (exec plat and Gold/Platinum depending on the year) are fed up with AA and have no reason to stick around anymore now that they’ve made AAdvantage worthless. Stupid move on AA’s part, people have options.

  7. where’d you connect? DTW? MSP? ATL? How was the connection?

    I honestly think that of the big 3 UA is solid in F. Not the best, but they try harder for breakfasts in F than what you’re showing here, and their lunches arent bad either. And they always serve warm nuts with the drinks prior to the meal.

    That said, it all depends on where you live/ where you travel, and the schedule the airline has at your airport.

  8. I must say I am a bit shocked with your review. You must have been really unlucky.
    I live in Europe but am flying 90% of the time with Air France and KLM in Europe and Delta in US and am a Skymiles Diamond member – far better deal when it comes to collecting miles.
    99.9% when I fly with Delta, I love their on board experience, while their on the ground service sucks. Only 1 time – MSP to AMS I experienced horrible service – FA’s were rude, unfriendly and looked as if they had been doing the worst job on earth and frankly speaking they were doing a lousy job. All the other times FA’s were amazing and very caring. Never experienced issue with lack of food options in first, there always do 2 or 3 rounds with the basket – fruit, sweets and snacks and always refill drinks if the flight is delayed.
    On the other hand I would never say that about United. Worst airline in US ever. Had flown with American only few times so do not want to judge them, but I generally speaking am avoiding One World cause, again, BA is the worst airlines in Europe.
    Don’t loose patience and give it a try.

  9. Except the stats do show that Delta has good operational performance, so shouldn’t they talk about it?

    They do run a risk that while they are better than the competition, they are not perfect, so people may actually be more annoyed when they happen to be unlucky and be on a flight that is disrupted. But other than that all companies can and should brag about where they beat their competitors. Capitalism does not reward the demure…

  10. “…we were sitting on the ground in Providence for almost an hour… and were only offered one set of pre-departure beverages.”

    I think this is intentionally done by crew the world over during delays to prevent a line forming for the bathrooms later on which may coincide with the pilots receiving the all clear to push back and taxi out.

  11. One constantly hears of Delta’s great operational reliability but that wasn’t my experience when I flew with them for many years before leaving in 2010 and never looking back. Maybe if you want to split hairs, they might have fewer unforced errors operationally but they have the same weather delays and cancellations and they also have plenty of klunkers in their fleet just like AA. They’re highly overrated.

  12. Ben, I am in a similar situation as yours….definitely dropping my loyalty to AA and thinking of three options: go for DAL or AS next year or become a free agent (given where business class fares are these days, value of global upgrade certs is not what they used to be).

    I would pick AS any day if they allowed ability to earn EQMs with credit card spending as I like their service and new route domestic network with acquisition of VX.

    DAL is good too and think the earnings ability (both status miles and RDMs) from Amex Delta Reserve and Amex Delta Platinum products is pretty awesome. There is just no comparison on Amex Reserve benefits to the United Club card — at least the way I used it.

    What has surprised me the most over the last two to three months is that when it comes to redemption, DAL is the second best after UA in terms of both value as well as how easy it is to use miles. AS is the worst followed by AA.
    The third choice is

  13. Sigh .

    Cue another round of sniping at a legacy carrier. We all hate them all. We all love them all.

    After a few years as DL Platinum, am now Diamond.

    Let’s forget Skymiles for just a second.

    My experience this year has been excellent. Mostly on time, except for some thunderstorm delays. Mostly good food, especially on the longer US flights and transcons. Mostly happy crew members, who don’t seem to hate the parent company.

    As someone mentioned, the Diamond phone line can do miracles, and usually waives any fees, in my experience. I won’t go into the details, but I booked an Asia trip out of JFK, part was on KE, KE messed up the res, and DL moved heaven and earth to get me where I needed to be on their own metal.

    I recently had to fly a leg from DEN-LGA on UA, as the DL flight times didn’t work for me. That was one surly crew and some horrible food.

    So yeah. Fly DL more than one random trip and see how it goes.

  14. Some of my own views from the limited data points across the past few years. Used to be in MSP hub while migrating to AA EXP.

    1) Technology; Delta has an amazingly automated system, from phone channel to mobile and web. During IRROPs, every customer can easily rebook themselves on other options provided by the system. However, the high level of automation means less if any room for human overwriting. During 1-2 IRROPs I was told by agents that they simply couldn;t bypass the restriction of the system, even though they agreed I could’ve been offered a better alternative. Similarly, the award booking etc. automation comes at a cost. Per the best airline this planet has ever seen, computer overrules human decisions.

    2) Management Culture; I could be off here, but I sense they have a rigid hierarchy, from the famous ‘Red Coat’ stories some might know, to the many times I was told ‘My boss said no’. In the meanwhile, I heard more AA reps respond in a more proactive way’I will try that for you.’

    3) Personal Pet Peeve !!! Why did I have to get brainwashed by the Mr. Arrogant Anderson bragging about his flawless airline during the boarding process while on AA, I could quietly put on Bose headsets and start to enjoy movies even before take-off. ‘No wonder so many people are choosing Delta.’ Really!?

    Again, I’m also adopting the free agent model but feel maybe the grass isn’t greener on the other side.

  15. I never really understand complaints about not being offered enough refills. Personally, I’d prefer FAs leave me alone for the most part. I’m pretty sure if you had asked for more coffee you would have gotten some. It’s not like we’re talking about alpha-dog levels of assertiveness, here.

    Ditto with the “omg I can’t believe Delta says they’re good at being on time,” especially considering how many times you yourself have mentioned their operational reliability.

  16. I’ll make this short and simple: I trust Delta. I fly with DL confidently knowing that they will competently get me to my destination in a reasonable amount of comfort.

    75% of my domestic travel involves my commute between DCA and Little Rock, which means transferring in ATL. I have high regards for the ATL gate agents and the Atlanta based flight attendants; I find them to be very personable, engaging and helpful. OTOH, I’ve had some real clunkers flying out of DTW and JFK.

    So Ben…what’s next? Baku (please)?? Riga (pretty please)?? Or is it going to be Dhaka (ug)?

  17. If you’re back with UA, there’s no question that’s the way to go today.

    AAs operations, elite program, award charts, and saver award space have all been DOUGified.

    DLs miles are better than AAs now, but they still stink.

    UA’s operations are much improved, and MileagePlus is far more valuable than AA or DL.

  18. How much drag is it to over-cater or at least come up with a catering system that doesn’t lead to failure to meet expectations about the meal service?

  19. Ben,

    I find your comments about their “arrogance” to be pretentious and uncalled for. Delta says those things because they have the DATA to back them up. I’ve flown over 180,000 miles with Delta this year and if I had to guesstimate my total delay time I’d put it at less than 2.5 hours (obviously don’t have the facts around this). Maybe you should stop flying an airline that should be focusing on “going for mediocre” in terms of airline performance.

  20. Yup, I know what you mean, Ben! I decided to test Delta after hearing how they improved so much. I paid full price for an international first class ticket that had two segments. I found the ground agents uninterested in helping, although the inflight crew were very nice. Both planes were old and dirty, one had busted tray tables forcing me to vicariously balance my hot food tray on my lap. Food was only OK, but I had to eat it quick as turbulence plus no table make it difficult to enjoy anything. But the kicker is that they decided to leave one of my two pieces of luggage behind for the next flight. Of course, I was traveling onward and that bag did not make it on time for the next flight. It took a full week for me to finally get my delayed bag. This is how they treat their premium full fare paying clients? All Those traveling on economy got their bags (I was the only one they called while waiting at the bag drop area), so why did they decide to leave behind mine? Sounds like your experience too, no choice in first clas food and yet econo gets a better choice than you? Just plain unacceptable!

  21. I’m a 4 Million miler from American (BU – Before it became US Air).I recently switched over to Delta. I usually fly Delta Comfort+. I like that all the movies and shows are free, reserved luggage space above the seats, and depending on the flight they try to keep the middle seat open. Delta flight attendants and crew seem to be happier (makes a difference when you’re flying every week). Had too many problems on US Air (which they try to call American), the customer service agents are useless. Cashed in all remaining miles, sent the family on a European vacation and now I’m on Delta whenever possible.

    Delta matched status so I get upgrades (about 30% of the flights vs 50% I was getting on American BU and 10-20% after it became US Air.

    Neither airline is perfect but I refused to fly US Air before the merger and since the merger I was reminded why.

  22. Not surprising. The 3 legacy airlines are terrible. I dream the day a ME airline will buy an US airline. Then we will see things shake up here.

  23. @ATLAvGeek: I have the opposite experience this year. I am MSP based and have gotten lots of “Customer Relations” skypesos dumped into my account after several complaints of delays on Delta flights. I can say that during 2015 my experience was similar to yours. This year it has been a disaster.

  24. @Santastico: Interesting. I think it’s fair to say that everyone has different individual experiences, but I think we can both agree that the numbers don’t like and, statistically speaking, Delta is still operationally better than AA and UA. Furthermore, what irks me about Ben’s commentary is that he is comparing AA’s tagline to DL marketing lines. If comparing apples to apples, DL’s “Keep Climbing” is actually an homage to continuous improvement and doing better.

  25. Furthermore, Ben, as a “journalist”, you should really proofread before posting. Ed states that Delta has “unparalleled” reliability, not “unprecedented” reliability.

  26. ATLAvGeek: I am by no means comparing Delta and others since last time I flew AA was more than 8 years ago. I am a Delta hostage since I am based on a Delta hub. Thus, they might indeed be years ahead of AA and United but they are far from being what they say they are. Their level of arrogance is very high and it starts by having their CEOs trying to sell an image that is not real. See the way they managed the system disaster they had couple weeks ago. I still have nightmares to remember that obnoxious CEO that retired talking on their safety video. In sum, all 3 legacy airlines are terrible and I feel bad Delta does not allow JetBlue to fly to MSP.

  27. A timely article. At 10:30pm this evening I depart LAX to ATL to Charleston, SC. This will be my first Delta ride in first class in quite 7 years. I was quite happy with Delta way back when, so we’ll see how I get treated this time.

  28. I’m Explt on AA, but have flown DL,AS and UA from time to time. My flights on DL were completely opposite of yours. I flew DL last PHX-ATl-MSY-ATL and all 3 flights the FA’s were all engaging, friendly and out going. But the meal service on the PHX-ATL was a bit odd, I ordered the Asian Vegetarian meal, and what I was served was, Cheese Ravioli’s (not very Asian.) The sad part was one of the two meals on the flight was Cheese Enchiladas which I would have had over the Ravioli’s. Now why couldn’t DL or the catering company just serve me the one of the meals instead of boarding me a special meal. My meal was just OK.. Of course the ATl-MSY-ATL were just snack basket flights but again the FA’s were warm and friendly.

    Now if you think DL or AA for that fact have horrible meals, go fly AS…

  29. I recently flew first class on UA from SAT to SFO, and was thinking about griping to UA about what I thought was pretty shabby service: no alcohol for some reason (it was a morning flight, but no bubbles? really?), and a really crappy eggs and sausage breakfast) but after looking at your pics and reading your review, I may have to revise that thought. Domestic first class seems to suck, I guess. That said, I do think UA is trying to upgrade planes and service to some extent (the plane I flew from SFO to Medford on premium economy was brand new and premium economy seats are almost as roomy as first class), but then again, I haven’t flown the other two legacy carriers in years, so I don’t have much of a basis of comparion. I’m mostly new to all this stuff, but I do appreciate your reviews, even if I’ll never fly some of those carriers.

  30. The bottom line is that air service in the United States is quickly becoming a commodity. You’ll have good and bad experiences on any airline but the service and product are more or less the same.

    It’s best to be a free agent and book what is most convenient and the best deal.

  31. The grass always seems greener on the other side. People are always defecting from the big three and jumping ship to the other.

  32. It’s not that Delta is good, they just suck less than the other two legacy carriers… which is why they get my office’s travel $. They get us to where we want in a reasonable amount of time. IRROPs happen, but they’ve taken care of us even without status.

    I still prefer B6 for domestic, but when B6 doesn’t go there or the routing’s terrible, we use DL.

  33. @ATLAvGeek

    Regarding their “statistically better” claims…
    Uh, you do realize that DL cheats on the data they report?

    They claim “never” to cancel flights, yet what came out of the debacle a couple of weeks ago was that they’d already canceled thousands this year prior to the August of Doom.

    They claim to be well into the 85+% ontime, yet if you look at actual flight databases (via FlightAware and FlightStats) you regularly find flight numbers DL claims are > 90% ontime… are more like 60% as measured on the standard “last 30 days” moving average.

    I don’t want to argue that “is better”, only that DL wildly inflates their stats– which serves to reason with the oldest fleet (by a large margin), some of the worst hub (weather) locations and too many DC9s. The physics of the matter say they really can’t be that much better… The claims don’t add up and, empirically, my experience after at least several hundred thousand miles on each of the majors in the last 5 years…. nobody’s great and DL’s surely not the best.

  34. You make it sound like this is the first time you’ve “cheated” by choosing to fly on Delta…it wasn’t. A better choice would have been to compare this flight to the previous Delta flights, just to see if it’s gotten worse.

    Also, proofread before posting, as

    “By the time they got to me they were out of salads”

    So the salad that you were served was…from economy also? Or was the other main option a salad with chicken/seafood/whatever they ran out of, and you were only left with pork as an option?

    Also, some lines are clunky and def need an edit, such as this one:

    “though perhaps not even better than what American serves”

    All in all, it could have also done with some cabin pics. Like a few others have said though, it is a bit hard to judge an entire airline just based on 2 flights.

  35. According to the most scientifically authoritative ranking of US domestic airlines [June 2015 Edition], DL has, by far, the best on-time performance among the Big Three. In fact, AA and UA ranked next to last and dead last, respectively, among ALL US domestic airlines. Can’t wait to see the 2016 edition because I believe that UA has improved quite a bit.

    Every other ranking or claim is simply idle speculation.

    Anyone who is going to pontificate here or elsewhere on this subject and be on solid footing might wish to read the whole piece:

    Jun 17, 2015 at 6:01 AM
    The Best And Worst Airlines, Airports And Flights, Summer 2015 Update
    By Nate Silver


  36. I feel like American Airlines and Delton Airlines or Frontier and Southwest Airlines. Could do better overall when you pay for a ticket,and a lot of the planes don’t come with extra leg room. You maybe get a half cup of soda,and some charge you for a soda. And what’s up with all the delays and computer glitches,what happened to backup systems. Our technology is so much better these days. Overall flyingisn’t what it used to be,I even had my grand daughter’s medication stolen out of her back pack. She had new medication ,well only her and the flight attendants new she had medication in her back pack. That’s so distasteful she has severe asthma!! Paid for an escort $100 dollars it’s almost safer to buy a ticket and fly along with your kids. When she got to her destination she had been ripped off on the one way flight. The medication was very expensive, I guess the person was broke!! I didn’t flie a complaint but tgey just lost all of my familes business. Its more then one way to skin a cat!! Frontier Airlines,my family will no longer fly Frontier Airlines again .At this point who can you trust it’s all about our money fir them not great service. I’ve used all of these Airlines and not impressed with any of them!!

  37. I just wish they overall would give better service, and be trust worthy. And quite sticking fire to our wallets and give great reliable transportation. Had a friend that was delayed fir 23 hours on American Airlines and their wasn’t any computer glitches so what was the problem. And only one $24 dollar food voucher was offered not acceptable,what a nightmare!!!!

  38. Can’t we just conclude that all the American airlines are crap because we just expect too much. Apparently we want flight attendants to read our mind while they are trying to get trough the day by getting the flights out on time and dealing with 100+ needy passengers.
    Just pick your flights on the bases of cost and flight times. And maybe even on previous experiences (ymmv). Stop wanting to be treated like little princesses, even while paying more money then the guys in the back. Athough on every flight there is a guy/girl sitting on seat 99Q who paid even more then your company/yourself did.
    How about, just sit back, relax, enjoy the flight as much as you can. Be nice to the staff. And then after the flight bitch as hell in a complaint form to the company about not getting any nuts or a 2nd cup of coffee on the ground. I bet the people in the complaints office love to hear about it and really care…

  39. I have generally found that choosing airlines based on the destination and/or departure airport is the key to having a good experience on an aviation journey within the US. Otherwise, records of my flight experiences exhibit that I have the same luck on most airlines with regards to on-time arrivals, delays, service, etc.

  40. Last night’s excitement at LAX. We were to begin boarding (LAX to ATL) at 9:40pm. At 9:42pm the Captain comes out to the boarding area and announces, “my co-pilot is very sick and cannot fly. We hope to have a replacement here within 2 hours.” Long story short: we got into the air at 11:35pm, we landed in ATL at 7:05am, and I actually made it to my connecting flight on-time !!

    As for my Seat 1A meal on the redeye flight to ATL: a tiny container of Hummus and a small bag of Pita Chips. That was it.

  41. Recently flew ORD to PDX American first class on a 737 . No movies ( no screen ) no ports , mediocre food and not much of it. The magazine said I could watch movies on Go Go .
    I pulled out my tablet and found that I could pay to subscribe to Go Go or I could watch a movie for $5.99 .
    I thought that was shabby treatment for first class .
    Delta is nearly always our choice for Asia since they fly to NRT in one hop . Every one else requires at least one more flight for a trip that is already painful for my old bones . Except for a bit more crowded I’ve had a better experience in Delta economy than American First Class with movies on the screen for no charge , power ports , wi fi except when you’re over the ocean and too much food .
    Sky miles OTOH is evil . Don’t get me started about Sky Miles . Evil !

  42. @Roger Mote

    Don’t understand your comment on accessing the free content on the AA flights– it’s not “GoGo” content, its actually hosted via the Access Point on the aircraft and you don’t need a GoGo account to access it. If you are on an AA flight with WiFi the primary library is free of charge to all customers.

    As for, your “one hop to Narita comment” then it’s safe to assume you live in Detroit, Atlanta or MSP?
    Generally, people who live in those towns are forced to love DL.

    For the rest of us, in more competitive markets we have choice– and generally DL is not the choice.

    Here in LA, it’s two hops to most everywhere on DL, whereas it’s actually sort of a hub for UA and AA so we get a lot of direct flights.

  43. @DCS

    Again, that data Nate Silver reports against is all ‘self-reported’ not derived from FAA databases–
    Delta’s been caught cheating on that data over and over again.

    And, pick any 10 random flights– look at Delta’s claimed ontime percentage for those flights.
    Then, go look at the real FAA databases of raw data on FlightAware and FlightStats. Pull the “last 30 days” numbers. Compare. You’ll find that DL regularly is 10-20% ‘higher’ in what they claim than the data supports. It’s what they do.

    Or, ask the obvious question– how does an airline that flies planes 5 years older than anybody else, on average, from great hub airports like LGA and ATL actually claim to be 10-15% higher in ontime than anybody else? Simple. They lie. Always have, always will.

    That’s why the DL goat rodeo the other day was caused by a GA Power “power outage”. Right.
    They lie.

  44. Delta in first Class is consistently beter than AAl or UAL. Granted, their 767 domestic fleet FC seats are a bit dated. But, they only have a few domestic configuration 767s. They always have a choice of meals in FC. I respect you don’t eat pork, but is that Delta’s problem?? Delta’s Business Class service between JFK and LAX/SFO is far superior to the JetBlue product. Delta places o a lot of emphasis on their JFK long haul domestic products. Flying JetBlue in their premium product always feels like flying with backpackers experiencing their first “luxury ” experience. Does Delta receive any credit for their Priority check-in and lounges??

  45. @Tonm Thomas

    You’re kidding, right? If you are comparing JFK-LAX or JFK-SFO, both United and AA offer full lie-flat beds, sumptious meals and full-on pampering. Try the AA321T or the UAL-PS services– AA gives you the full ability to pre-order your meal selection, too.

    They all have their problems to be make the blanket statement that Delta’s First Class is better in all markets is simply incorrect. I snagged an AA 321T seat upfront at JFK (home airport these days is LAX) connecting back from Heathrow. One of the best trans-con experiences I’ve ever had and I fly across the country 4 times a month.

  46. I thought the most important thing to Ben was in-flight internet. How was that never brought up in the entire blog or comments section? I assume he had internet on both flights.

    Care to compare DL’s internet to all other carriers? Even non-US based?


    And you should have been offered a snack basket several times throughout the flight. Plus how do the top-shelf liquors compare?

  47. We did first class MIA-LAX-HNL a few days ago and at least the food was way better than that. Anyways…we are on Intercontinental La Moana Bora Bora right now on a overwater bungalow on points…first class was on points too. And since you are one of the blogger that I learned from how to do it I just want to say THANK YOU :0)

  48. Tachyon , I guess I didn’t explain well . I thought it was as you mentioned for movies . Connect to the wifi
    only for movies and there would be no charge . I went through the steps to watch a movie . The system would not let me view a movie without payment . For gogo I thought it was shabby that for anything other than movies I had to subscribe to gogo and it was no bargain . Even in coach on Delta I’ve had free movies and free internet . I was dismayed to pay for first class on American and not have either .
    BTW , it’s not safe to assume that I live anywhere near Detroit , Atlanta or Minneapolis .

  49. I flew Delta the day after the computer outage.

    Our flight was from Tampa to ATL to Rio (for the Olympics).

    The gate agent were helpful and patient, despite the long lines and angry/frustrated pax.

    I thought they handled it pretty well on the ground.

    The flights were good (both in business class), and the FA’s were pretty good, too.

    We had one FA that was on both the flight down and the return flight 10 days later. She’s been with Delta for 30 years and only does 2-3 trips per month to Rio. That’s it. She was pretty happy about it.

    Overall, flying within America these days is not much better than riding the bus.

    If you keep your expectations low, you’ll be fine.

    Always be prepared for the worst.

    Pack your own snacks and water, bring lots to read, and be kind to others.

    And relax, you’ll get there. Eventually.

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