In Defense of Delta

Filed Under: Delta

Posts from me are going to be a bit lighter over the next week as I travel to the Maldives. Some of you may remember my friend Nick, who reviewed JetBlue’s A321 Mint Class last August, along with his trip to South America. Nick is possibly the biggest Delta/SkyTeam apologist and funniest person I know, and I hope you find him interesting/amusing. 😉


There’s perhaps no airline that is quite as vilified by Ben as — you guessed it — Delta Air Lines.

What he sees is an airline running a mileage program that is not as lucrative as American’s, a program that requires significant spend (or use of a co-branded credit card) to reach elite levels and offers poor redemption availability on its own metal domestically.

Ben sees a program that won’t let you redeem miles for travel on partner airlines in international first class.

Ben sees a program that has made some customer-unfriendly changes within the last few years.

I see it differently.

If 100% of what you value in an airline is its mileage program, Ben is probably right: Delta can’t compete with American Airlines (for now – but that’s only because American hasn’t devalued its program… yet).  But if you, like me, place more value on the in-cabin and on-the-ground experience than on your mileage bank, Delta blows away the other legacy carriers.

Even Ben will begrudgingly admit that “they run a good operation,” but I don’t think you can get him to admit that they’re actually a great airline.  That’s what I’m here for: not to sugarcoat SkyMiles, but to tell you why Delta is still the best U.S. carrier, warts and all – and give you a rebuttal on why SkyMiles aren’t all that bad.

Delta Runs Better

There’s no question of this.  Empirically, Delta has an appreciably better on-time performance rate than United and American.  Delta has fewer cancellations, better turnarounds and less customer service complaints.  That’s all established – not conjecture.  They also make a lot more money than United and American do.  Next?

Delta’s In-Cabin (and Lounge) Experience Is Better

“In-cabin experience” is subjective, sure.  But ask around, heck, even ask Ben himself, and he’ll tell you that Delta’s premium cabin food is actually tasty.  I don’t think American Airlines’ biggest supporters, even Ben, can deny that catering on AA leaves something to be desired.  You’ll get a good meal on Delta, and if you’re flying in DeltaOne (aka BusinessElite) between JFK and LAX/SFO, you’ll always get a full meal service.  You’ll get dinner on the 9:05pm JFK-LAX flight – whereas even in “Flagship First” on American on that same route, you’ll be lucky to get a cheese plate after 8pm.

Delta was the first airline to have fleetwide wifi on its domestic planes, and it’s now undergoing a plan to upgrade its wifi to a faster, better performing network.  They serve Grey Goose in DeltaOne, and Woodford Reserve bourbon.  All of its planes – even its regional jets – have first class cabins.  In the new Comfort+ “cabin,” that is, Economy Comfort, you get free drinks and dedicated overhead space.

If you fly the Delta Shuttle, you’ll get free food, beer and wine, even in economy.  DeltaStudio is a great IFE interface with innovative, interesting programming.  And, more to the point, the service is, on the balance, more gracious and consistent than American’s and United’s.

And when you land, Delta will send out your checked bags within 20 minutes or credit you SkyMiles if they don’t deliver on their promise.

And while you’ll have read a lot of outrage on Ben’s blog about how credit card lounge access (with the Platinum card or with the Delta Reserve card) no longer admits a guest, the upshot is that Sky Clubs are able to offer nicer amenities – such as a real, complimentary food spread all day long.  Try finding that at an Admirals Club.

No, this is not a picture of the author, but the author does find this fella very attractive

More importantly…

People LIKE Flying Delta

Those who fly regularly, and fly Delta, actually like it.  Delta treats its regular flyers well (even its non-regular flyers) and people walk away happier on the whole. I live in Los Angeles, which is no fortress hub and not beholden to any one airline.  And yet I have at least five or six friends I follow on social media who regularly praise Delta, Instragram their flying experiences, etc.

I know just as many, if not more, who are American and United frequent flyers… but I never see them post about it.  Because there’s nothing to be excited about when flying American and United.  Trust me: I’ve tried, and American just lets me down every time, whether it’s the practically nonexistent seatback entertainment, the dour service from couldn’t-care-less-about-you pursers (remember Ben’s purser on his recent trip to London?) or coffee that tastes like rotten dishwater. But Delta, for better or worse, is social media savvy.  They know how to generate excitement, because…

Delta Is Stylish

Maybe – in fact, probably – you don’t care about this.  But Delta knows it can at least attract a loyal audience of followers by looking good.  The Delta App is simple to use and elegant.  Delta’s website is beautiful – especially compared to United’s or US Airways’. Delta’s safety video has been great (and innovative) for years now.

Laugh at the DeltaOne branding all you want (and you should, because I will fully admit that “DeltaOne” is ridiculous), but those newly re-covered seats look great.  Especially when covered in Westin Heavenly bedding.  And flight attendants’ uniforms are on point.  Yes, yes, people will retort that it’s all “style over substance,” but is it really the case when the hard product, customer service and on-time performance are also all industry leaders? (That’s substance for you, folks.)

I’m easily wowed by style – I also love Virgin America and Air France, each of which Ben coincidentally also hates – but it’s not for nothing.  Boarding an American Airlines plane can be depressing.  And United?  No one has accused United of being anything but dowdy.  The point seems trivial, but then again, if style sets the tone for your 5 hours in the air, isn’t that fairly key?

A330 Delta One

Delta Offers More Flatbeds

Try finding an angled-flat seat on Delta.  You won’t.  American’s new seats seem great, but their old international business class seats are horrid.  On American and United, you may get flatbed seats but you may also have to walk over your neighbor to get to the bathroom.  Delta has aisle access from all its flatbed seats on widebodies.

But what I like about Delta is not the seating configuration per se.  It’s that you don’t have to fly JFK-LAX or SFO to find flatbeds domestically.  In fact, Delta positions its internationally-configured planes on a regular basis, and Delta makes it incredibly easy for you to search for flatbed-configured flights (just tick the “flat-bed seat” box on the search form).


You can pretty regularly find flatbed routes from Atlanta to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Honolulu, for example.  But I’ve also flown in an international 767 from Orlando to Atlanta, and I’ve flown a 757 with a lie-flat first class cabin from LAX to Salt Lake City.  All you need to do is run a search on the Delta website.  And you’ll stand a good chance of being upgraded on an internationally-configured cabin if you’re elite.

Elite Status Is Within Reach, Even For Casual Travelers

I like flying. I love the perks that come with elite status.  But I’m not a regular business traveler, and fly infrequently relative to a lot of you (and certainly relative to Ben!).

However, I do have the Delta Reserve American Express card, and put almost all of my spend on it annually.  I usually hit both threshold bonuses and get 30,000 Medallion qualifying miles from the card alone – enough to keep me at Silver Medallion, at a minimum.  But mixed with some healthy amount of flying and a few strategic promotions, Gold Medallion status and higher is within easy reach for the casual flyer – especially if you can bank some rollover qualifying miles from the previous year (a perk only Delta, and not United and American, offers).

This year, I’ve got two roundtrips to Europe on SkyTeam in business class thanks to those amazing $1,400 airfares popping up last fall, which will give me roughly 40,000 MQM’s together.  And Gary recently posted about some great Premium Economy fares on Air France from LAX to Istanbul (which I won’t be doing this year, but is tempting) for under the $1,000 mark – and Premium Economy still earns 150% MQM’s, so that’s almost 21,200 MQM’s for the enterprising mileage runner.

Obviously, mileage run deals abound across all the alliances, but it’s quantifiably easier to reach elite status on Delta using a Delta-branded card (which, in any event, makes the whole “Medallion Qualifying Dollar” requirement moot, since credit card spend above $25,000 eliminates that requirement for all levels).

So… About Those SkyMiles

If you fly an airline solely to accrue enough miles to redeem for an aspirational first class trip on an Asian or Middle Eastern carrier, then SkyMiles is not for you.  And let’s say SkyMiles is not for you – that’s no reason not to fly Delta if you otherwise enjoy the in-flight experience; you can fly Delta metal and bank your miles to Alaska MileagePlan for the best of both worlds.  (Since Alaska, bless their hearts, is not exactly a cutting edge in-flight experience.)

And, look:  I’m not being paid by Delta.  I enjoy playing the devil’s advocate, but I’ll admit I have an AAdvantage account for a reason, and I think the redemption opportunities on American can be great.

But!  SkyMiles have gotten better in 2015, and despite all the sky-is-falling ballyhooing, award availability really has improved, and one way awards have brought SkyMiles at least on par with MileagePlus. But consider this:

  • It’s arguably the best redemption to Europe:  availability on Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Alitalia is actually reasonably decent far in advance, not to mention Delta metal.  American has iffy availability to Europe on its own planes – and even then, you have to eat American Airlines food, and you may get one of the old business class seats – and the only other options using AAdvantage are British Airways, which charges exorbitant fees, and Finnair, Air Berlin and Iberia, which are also-ran airlines that make Saudia and Aerolineas Argentinas look like gold-standard alliance members by comparison.  And as for United, if you’re not flying United metal (which is a substandard product), you’ll only have access to Swiss, Lufthansa and Brussels Airways business class at a much, much higher redemption rate.  Ben may disagree, but Air France, Virgin Atlantic, KLM and Alitalia are solid partners with very good food and service and an excellent (KLM, Virgin, Alitalia) to good-but-improving (c’est la vie, AF) hard product.
  • All those redemption tiers are actually not that bad if you’re just redeeming for domestic travel.  Sure, they may no longer publish an award chart (which is stupid, yes!), but it’s actually pretty easy to piece together a not-exorbitant domestic itinerary on Delta, especially now.
  • If you have a Delta-branded credit card, the Pay With Miles option is occasionally useful in certain instances.  Ben will disagree and laugh at me for saying anything valuing a SkyMile at $0.01 is worth it, but look:  SkyMiles are really easy to accrue.  I’ve found it worthwhile on more than a few occasions to pay for a first class ticket outright and “subsidize” it with 40,000 SkyMiles or so (which would bring it to the cost of economy or below), but continue to earn 150% MQM’s on my ticket, which, to me, is worth it when I’m angling to reach a higher status threshold.

Anyway, I’m not blind to Delta’s shenanigans this year with the SkyMiles program, but to me, I place a high amount of value on the experience of flying Delta.  I like the airline, I like the personnel, I’ve always been treated well at check-in whether I’m flying in economy or at a dedicated SkyPriority desk.

Heck, I think as far as fortress connecting hubs go, Atlanta’s pretty spectacular, easy to navigate, with great restaurants and bars.  Salt Lake City is an incredibly well-run airport with very few delays, even due to weather.  The airport at MSP is also great, and while I haven’t flown through DTW, I’ve only heard fantastic things.  It’s an airline (or an “air line,” per Delta’s trademark) that has chosen its hubs strategically and very well, and is operationally magnificent.

Ben makes fun of me a lot for flying Delta, but I also feel like he wouldn’t be writing hate-fiction (that’s the opposite of fan-fiction, right??) about Delta if he didn’t feel that it posed a threat to American Airlines, and if he didn’t think that what he doesn’t like about SkyMiles are precisely the things that help Delta position itself at the top of the market (and the things that AAdvantage will likely parrot next year).

I know I’m wading into the waters of a rabid AA fan base here, but I’d love to hear your thoughts about your experiences flying Delta.  If Delta had the advantages (er, no pun intended) of AA’s mileage program, would you switch loyalties?

  1. Be happy all the AA fanboys are drinking Parker’s KoolAAid.

    Delta…yeah…you definitely want to stay away. Nothing to see there.

  2. Every airline is good for something. Delta is OK if you live near their hubs or you don’t care about miles / have a very specific use in mind (examples in the article).

  3. I am a Delta fan too but careful you don’t oversell it 🙂 — for example redeyes SFO/LAX->JFK don’t get the full meal service, and not *all* planes have first class cabins; there are still unfortunately many 50-seat regional jets kicking around out there, just way fewer than at AA or (especially) UA.

  4. Delta’s on time record is totally bogus as they constantly change flight times by a few minutes and assign a new flight number, so, that flight has now “never been late.”

  5. Having AA, United and Delta FF accounts, and being partial to European travel, Delta is awesome. KLM’s outstanding 747 new business class product is one of the best out there – excellent food and beverage, and the service is consistently outstanding. The KLM Crown Lounge, superb. Delta metal is, to my mind, FAR superior in comfort, crew service, IFE, and food/bev than AA or (especially) United. So, yes readers, as per earlier poster, nothing to see at Delta…nothing at all… keep hanging where you do.

  6. I fly about 8 segments total per year and try to fly as much Delta as possible. Flew their new 737-900ER ATL-FLL in March and WOW. Nicest plane I’ve been on. Incredible free entertainment and outlets in Economy. Consistent and fast service (drinks, bags, etc.) Wish I flew enough to get status with them!

  7. @MJ, that’s the first I’ve heard of that. Can you link us to some evidence or article about that alleged practice? In my experience flying Delta I’ve never seen the flight times change or a new flight number assigned, but if you have, I’d like to hear some specific examples. Otherwise, I’m inclined to quote Ben’s beloved T-Swizzle, “haters gonna hate.”

  8. So true… DL personnels are not that bad and the comfort + seats are good. I had gotten quite a lot of domestic upgrades as silver and gold medallion in the past 2 years. However, this year it’s hard to get upgrades as a platinum.

  9. I do not purchase from a company I do not trust and I do not trust Delta.

    Secondly, they do run better Ops and are a better experience in the US, but their alliance sucks and let’s be honest, who would fly them internationally over a foreign competitor.

    If you have to fly a US airline, then yes, but otherwise, never.

  10. @Bgriff, thanks for the info. Truth be told I forgot about the redeye California to NYC flights where a full dinner isn’t served, but presumably you get a nice breakfast along the lines of what you get on a morning JFK-LAX flight? I didn’t realize there were still some RJ routes without a first class cabin on Delta — I thought they boasted they’re 100% outfitted with F cabins?

  11. @Scott, to each his or her own, but since you don’t trust Delta, I have to ask: do you trust ANY domestic airline? Don’t think AA has your best interests at heart and not its bottom line.

  12. Well put.

    While the change in skymiles earning is frustrating it is also totally understood. No, you cant use skymiles to book a flight in F on Etihad or Cathay but I usually use miles to head to South America and you can’t beat Delta J in a flatbed on a JFK->GRU route.

  13. I have 100,000 miles from Delta, need a return Business award ticket from Hanoi to SFO or Seattle in March/16. Best use of Delta miles or would you consider using those for that long of flight? Thanks! Delta flights or Korean?

  14. Nick-nice post and your points are all valid. I could actually appreciate the experience being a 1K 2MM flyer with UA. That said, most of my butt in seat miles are on discounted economy fares and reaching the $12k UA has is tough enough. Reaching Diamond with $15k spend would be almost impossible.

  15. All US airlines suck, in terms of service and product. Its their partners that provide the best service and hard product. AA and Alaska have the best partners hands down. Delta, the worst.

  16. Here we go…excuses…excuses…Delta can do no wrong in your eyes. They could order the deaths of all the world’s puppies and I’d think you’d rationalize it…

    I think you and I have gotten into our fair share “debates” over Delta and my personal experience of being a hub-trapped, born and raised Atlanta-native who has flown this airline for nearly three decades. I’ve flown their domestic first class, economy, economy comfort, Delta-special-whatever-they’re-calling-their-new-economy-comfort-seats, transatlantic economy, transatlantic economy comfort, transpacific economy, transpacific economy comfort….and I’ve also flown the other two legacy carriers domestically. All in all, I didn’t notice Delta being better in any major way shape or form (maybe because I avoid eating domestic airplane food). Their long haul service is a joke compared to non-US airlines who fly the exact same routes for the same (and in many cases-lower) price. And I’m not an AA fangirl. I don’t like ANY US carrier. On a route-by-route comparison, Delta just isn’t an airline I’d choose to fly to international destinations because their service and hard products, like the other two legacy carriers, is fairly crappy compared to many international carriers. Sadly, Delta doesn’t partner with the better international carriers. The SkyTeam is a group of the world’s most mediocre airlines…(oh, and Korean, which has its own weird issues to bounce back from).

    My point is- fine. You win, Nick. Delta is the least of the three evils, but, I wouldn’t fly them, or any of their partners anywhere outside of the US. Delta is, in my opinion, quite possibly the worst airline for this hobby and for most frequent fliers – yes, I’m rebutting one of your points. Now that they have a new “E” class fare, many companies force their traveling workers to book “the cheapest fare available”, which is that fare that not only awards you a tiny amount of miles, but makes you come out of pocket for every little thing you might need onboard (yay for over-complicating expense reports!)…not only that, you can forget meeting your MQMs if you’re just running from ATL to JFK once a month on an E-class fare. I’m officially flying American for work even though it means an extra stop, but at least I don’t have to meet some bogus spend requirements and get the amount of miles I actually flown rather than some random amount a Delta algorithm spat out.

  17. also, regarding the alliance… AF and KL open hardly any award seats to Delta any more… good luck finding availability, not even in coach.

  18. Technically you can take SQ to europe with United.

    Even though premium award space sucks the economy and rarely business is possible.

  19. Better in-flight experience on Delta?

    Try 14 hours Sydney to Los Angeles on DL0016 last Sunday.

    No IFE for the entire flight. Yup, none. For 14 hours. And the reading lights didn’t work on the plane either, so no music, no movies, no TV and can’t read a book after the lights go down. For 14 hours. That’s Delta! Oh, by the way, there are exactly 63,431 stitches in the headrest of 34B, the headrest right in front of me….

  20. @ Nick

    Delta still has a few CRJ-200’s, ERJ-145’s and EM2’s in the fleet. The Embraers are simply too narrow to fit a decent first class cabin (they are already set up in a 1-2 configuration) while the CRJ-200’s are too small to make adding a first class worth it. Still, those planes are becoming increasingly rare, and I completely agree with you about Delta’s service being better than the competing US airlines.

    Also, yes the SkyMiles are less valuable than AA miles (although post-devaluation, they are probably better than UA miles at this point), but they are so much easier to accumulate than the competition. In my experience, it sort of evens out between the two.

  21. Nick, you must be UnLucky! You sound like a pitch man for Delta, maybe you should do commercials for them.
    People like flying DL, ask the Canadian woman that was left stranded by DL and an AS employee paid for her to get to her destination on AS.
    Elite status is within reach? Sure if you like silver, but silver might as be lead.
    What about trust? Yes, we took away the award chart because it is better for you. Just trust us.
    Just a few thoughts about DL.

  22. Nope, try to stay away from Delta. Don’t want to risk my lifes on Delta’s old fleets. Delta has way too many MD planes… MD planes should really be stored in museum…

  23. Just flew Delta for the first time in decades? or ever.

    Let’s see
    3~4 schedule changes (good for me I guess)…too bad couldn’t get DL to re-book me on Korean A380
    Flew CRJ200, 737-900ER (nice plane), A332
    Wi-fi on 737 & A332. Gogo price is another story (ranges from $10 for 3 hours flight to $30 for 11 hour flight)
    Got $100 credit x3 for letting them about my seats (Row 30 on A332 do NOT have movable armrest..painful with kids sleeping) << great customer service there

    Overall, I do admit Delta runs like the most profitable airline in USA, FA are nice mostly, they have nice hardware (wi-fi, IFE, seats, power), their app/website is great (I can select seats easily, check my lost bag status), etc.. I won't collect SkyPesos, but I certainly don't mind flying Delta now

  24. You make some valid points, and SkyTeam members have improved (e.g., Garuda looks very good, China Airlines’ 77W J product is top-notch, and Air France is finally but slowly rolling out an excellent J product), but you damage your own crediblity with statements like this: “Finnair, Air Berlin and Iberia, which are also-ran airlines that make Saudia and Aerolineas Argentinas look like gold-standard alliance members by comparison.” Really? Finnair, Air Berlin, and Iberia all offer very solid products (fully flat, and direct-aisle access for most or all seats), Air Berlin and Iberia even have the same business class hard product as Alitalia which you praise. Aerolineas Argentinas, meanwhile, has recliners (and not very good ones at that), and correct me if I’m wrong but Saudia doesn’t have a single flat bed either in business class.

    Also, you fail to mention Austrian for Star Alliance transatlantic awards. It’s not a huge airline but their award availability and product are both excellent, and their route network in Eastern Europe in particular is very strong. Also, Delta blocks most Air France transatlantic premium award space, so the flights that Air France and other SkyTeam members have access to at the saver level are largely off-limits to SkyMiles members.

  25. Delta is, by far, the best of the US Legacy carriers. If you can attain Diamond Medallion, you will be treated well. Global Upgrades work well, the Delta international fleet is the most consistent (1-2-1 and 1-1) of all the US long-haul wide-body fleets. For many of us, we do not really have a choice (* cough * AMS). I fly mainly long-haul (ex-AMS), mostly DeltaOne. Delta and KLM work well together, actually, in some ways you get treated better as a Delta Diamond in Amsterdam than you do in the USA. Many ways to upgrade inexpensive fares ex-AMS (if there are seats). In 20+ DeltaOne segments over the past year, I can only think of one where the service was “sub-par,” and that wasn’t even that bad. If you are on the east coast USA, and you need to get to AMS (consistently and from many cities), Delta/KLM is really your only choice.

  26. I have 28 segments in this year, ATL based and am typing this from a mad dog enroute to CLT. Delta treats me very very well. Great product and great people. One year I was Diamond on DL and Gold on AA and while AA was not horrible, DL so far out shown it that there was no comparison. Delta has earned my loyalty and I would defend her like family.

  27. I’ve done the ATL-LAX on the 772 in lie-flats, but the only drawback was no Gogo Wifi, presumably because it’s an international 772. Anyone do this route *with* Wifi yet?

  28. Well done. I agree with all your points.

    Not worth it for me to earn miles (though more valuable) on AA or UA if the experience is miserable. Lost bags, dirty planes, multiple layovers, terrible food. No thanks.

  29. Comment about european airlines:
    – OW: Finnair offers a fairly decent business class product, and offers a very good intercontinental route network from Helsinki.
    – Star: Do not forget SAS when it comes to business class travel. The new upgraded cabin currently being rolled out on the A333s and soon on the A343s is IMO the best european airline business class product.

  30. One phrase sums up why I prefer Delta to AA for awards: “Fuel Surcharges”. AA has a vanishingly small amount of saver TATL awards on its own metal and there is very little that I hate more than seeing vast swaths of light blue business saver awards only to discover that every one will require a $600+ “copay.”

    That, coupled with how easy it is to acquire DL miles, makes even their inflated award prices preferable to me.

  31. There are 3 types of passengers that fly Delta:
    1) Business passengers: they look for convenience and service. Company pays their ticket and they don’t care about miles
    2) Hub hostages (including myself): live in a Delta hub and unless they want to add a connection to their flights they have no option but fly Delta
    3) Vacationers: they could not care less about miles or service. They care about cost and if Delta happens to be the less expensive option they will fly Delta

    Then you have the passengers that care about miles and elite status and they do not fly Delta at all.

  32. @Nick, I agree with most of your points. But you pushed it too hard, and your overall tone of “Delta is best for literally everything” costs you some credibility, in my book.

    Additionally, you have to give far, far more weight to Delta’s Skymiles program. This is OneMileataTime, home of mile hoarders, cheapskates (that’s me!), and other middle class schemers hoping to travel the world in premium cabins for pennies on the dollar. Inflight experience? Sure, Delta may have a slight edge. But how many people on here choose a legacy carrier domestically over SW and the notorious Companion Pass.

    And the Skymiles program is truly the thorn in Delta’s side. You can’t repeatedly disrespect your loyal customers, claim to be acting in their “best interest,” and reduce low level awards so that a one way LAX-PHX flight costs 32,500 miles. Not cool Delta, not cool.

    For the majority of us in this hobby, I’ll take a one CC signup bonus of one way business on US from North America to Europe any day over Delta’s impossible to redeem miles that you can only earn from CC bonuses once in your lifetime.

    Just my thoughts.

  33. I don’t know how they do it with so many employees, but Delta FAs are the friendliest in the skies (of mainline U.S. carriers, anyway). Friendly, helpful.

  34. Two inaccuracies:

    1) American offers a full meal service on trans-cons after 8p, it’s just on one tray.
    2) American is rolling out food spreads to all Admiral’s Clubs. This has already begun, all without increasing the price of membership.

  35. OP obsesses over tiny differences in domestic food — inedible is inedible and not a matter of degree — and JFK-LAX service. JFK-LAX is irrelevant in today’s world where YVR and MEX are more important economically and culturally than backwards holes like JFK and DCA to the real America west of the Mississippi. And I don’t understand the obsession with harmful drugs like liquor and coffee on board, but I assure you that Skye and Woodford and Krug are the same as the cheap stuff, just with a fancier label.

    Out here in the SLC DL hub prison, we’re a lot more interested in DL’s recent big advances that you don’t even mention. For the first time in a decade, DL DMs have real upgrade certs: four times a year you can upgrade to international J from Y. That’s half as much as on AA, but it’s a lot better than zero like it used to be. And DL Y+ is the best in the USA air lines’ fleets; you actually get 2″ more recline and recline is everything in Y+ because only a fool is awake in Y any more than necessary. Leg room is worthless without extra recline. (Also, IFE is a horrible waste of footroom; congrats to AA for experimenting with removing it.)

    DL also can’t stop rearranging the system with the LAX hub now moving to SEA and MEX flights being constantly cancelled (AA and UA keep up direct MEX flights out of their hubs, but mine from SLC is usually cancelled, sometimes LAX is, too).

    Anyway, DL pax at any level need to be prepared to pay $4k+ each ticket or fly almost always in Y transoceanic 12+ hour trips while AA frequent flyers can be >70% J with decent planning. So the relevant comparison is AA J to DL Y+. AA has the worst J you’ll see and DL the best Y+ on a USA carrier but J still always beats Y+. Period.

  36. “You’ll get dinner on the 9:05pm JFK-LAX flight – whereas even in “Flagship First” on American on that same route, you’ll be lucky to get a cheese plate after 8pm.”

    Simply not true. In AA J or F there is a full meal service on all transcons, regardless of departure time.

  37. @ David Young

    My wife and I had the EXACT some experience with DL on our return from Europe 2 years ago, AMS-SEA. 10 hour flight, no entertainment, no reading lights. Are you kidding me? The flight attendant said everyone calls it the 7 Shitty 7! DL KNOWS IT IS A PROBLEM AND JUST DOESN’T CARE!

  38. Fly whomever you like, but if you’re putting over $60k in annual spend on a Skymiles card, you’re leaving a lot of value on the table in the form of opportunity cost. Even just comparing Amex to Amex, if you put it on the SPG instead, instead of Delta Silver and 60k Skymiles, you could have SPG Gold and 75k AA or AS miles.

  39. You lost me at “all their [domestic] aircraft have [domestic ]first class”

    They don’t.

  40. Nick, either you have never flown on a DL B777 or you are a midget. There is NO way you can sleep on those lay-flat seat if you are over 5′ 10″ tall. That piece for you feet at the aisle is a joke. On this trip from DTW to LHR, I wanted the 10 year old tawny Port from the wine list. Not happening because there was no tawny Port on this flight. This breakfast was disgusting and had some white colored crap that was even unidentifiable to the Purser. Pretty sad service.

  41. I love those posting about Nick losing credibility for this post. As if he alienated his boss, and was in for a rocky road ahead, or something. Any blogger is going to encounter people who disagree with his/her posts. Try saying “I disagree with you due to…” but don’t treat the poor guy like he’s done something wrong because he voices his opinion (or misses a detail about there being some CRJs and like 4 EM2’s left without F). Rough crowd!

  42. I have recently booked MEL-SYD-LAX-MCO-ATL-LNK-MSP-LAX-SYD-MEL with Delta for my holiday in January (I know it is a long way away still)… I got what is a great deal for a FULLY REFUNDABLE ticket (I paid the same price last time with another airline for non-refundable) for that time of the year from Australia with a lot of cities to travel too. The only part I was not going to book Delta metal for is the SYD-LAX and LAX-SYD flights since I have flown Virgin Australia before and knew (and got) the exact seat (in economy) that I love with lots of legroom. The only thing that would make me love delta more is if some of the connections went through DEN instead of ATL and MSP since I love that airport for connections!

    I do however also have an AA flight from MEL-LAX-JFK and LAX-SYD-MEL booked for this July in First on Qantas A380 and AA A321 and am definitely excited to fly First Class for the first time ever!

  43. I can’t say I agree with you about Finnair. Every flight I’ve had with them have been wonderful. Their hard product is much nicer than SAS.

    You’re right about AAdvantage redemption to Europe in premium cabin, but AA’s offpeak economy award to Europe for 40k is amazing, and have really good availability.

  44. My two first Delta flights were horrible horrible almost made me cry experiences when I was relatively new to flying and have never flown them since (and that was in 1996). Think of the worst Spirit Airlines stories and my experience with Delta was worse. I travel almost 150,000 miles a year on personal trips and have been able to avoid Delta at all costs.

  45. As a domestic segment flyer I have 2 choices Detla or AA. Let’s see Delta flies a 717-200 while AA flies a Dash or Crj2.

    On time rates and cancellations way better even when you factor in regional flights. Earlier commenter is just wrong, the stats compiled by the government has nothing to do with flight numbers.

    Finally as a DM they have treated me like a diamond most of the time. Calling me with items left on the plane, waiving fees when I got sick and special treatment when my wife flew with me.

    Would I like a better rewards program. Yes! But not as important as getting where I need to get and on time.

  46. Thanks for posting this!

    I have been a Delta Diamond since the beginning of the program and I have witnessed the operational improvements, including service, on Delta first hand. Delta…at least compared to United and American…is in a world of it’s own.

    If you are half way competent about compiling miles on other programs based on advice from bloggers you can get tons of wonderful international First Class flying opportunities. I have a closet full of airline pajamas.

    I fly the best domestic airline…Delta…and I fly the best airlines worldwide [which sometimes includes Delta].

    I do investing for a living and consider myself a bit of a contrarian. Perhaps that is why i fly Delta and why I love to see the mob all go to American.

  47. Delta has some Virgin Upper Class seats to London at 62K with no fuel surcharges. I was able to go to JNB via ATL non stop in business at low level due to a schedule change on my original routing through Europe. Delta does have availability to Australia via LAX at low level. Its a case of picking your spots. I have done well with my Delta redemptions. That is all that should matter. I also fly AA and overall I have done OK with those redemption as well. However getting low level on AA for many routes they fly is impossible. If you want to go on AA metal MIA-LHR it used to be easy. Now many offerings are BA routes or flights MIA-JFK-LHR with huge fuel surcharges on BA. I have not redeemed much on United. Their charts look pretty bad these days.

  48. «Delta’s on time record is totally bogus as they constantly change flight times by a few minutes and assign a new flight number, so, that flight has now “never been late.”»

    Diamond 5 years, platinum many years before that. *NEVER* seen that happen. I think you’ve been smoking something.

  49. @Stannis your math is a bit fuzzy in regards to bonuses on Reserve card. You get 15K redeemable miles AND 15K MQM for each spend bonus. Hit both in one year you will have received 30K redeemable miles plus the 60K miles from credit card spend for a total of 90K miles (or more if you actually purchased tickets with the card). Debatable if the SPG is a better card only if you value 75K AA or AS miles greater than 90K Delta miles. I don’t but I realize many do.

  50. Nick, you can stop vandalizing Ben’s site. No one wants to read about your love for Delt-uhh and SkyRubles.

  51. Nick, too many disagreements to name them all. Suffice it to say that Alaska is a better airline than delta. Of course DL would like to put AS out of business and eliminate that thorny bit of competition. Also I think Admiral’s Clubs are better than skyclubs not to mention Flagship Lounges that offer amenities DL fliers can only dream about. Finally, DL CEO touts honesty, integrity and respect as DL core values. That is a joke for a bunch of reasons you could think of if you took off the rose colored glasses. Enron had the same values although I’m not putting DL in that class yet.

  52. First off, thanks for taking on such a controversial topic. Haters are indeed gonna hate, and I can see from some of the other comments that the trolls are out in full force today.

    Your defense of Delta is convincing. People in this “hobby” (an overly generous term IMHO, but I digress) seem to forget that the sole purpose of a commercial airline is to transport people and/or goods for a profit. That’s it. Miles and points and Special Onyx Palladium Elite status are all superfluous details. If your airline is only profitable because of its frequent flyer program, I would humbly suggest you’re doing a shitty job of running your airline.

    Delta is the best-run airline in one of the most competitive markets in the world, and they turn a handsome profit because of it. The fact that their frequent flyer program is less generous/susceptible to gaming than their competitors doesn’t detract from their operational excellence. The management at Delta has clearly recognized that keeping our small but vocal miles/points community happy is less important than providing a good value and reliable service to the average public traveller, and that strategy is paying off. Most Delta customers I know are happy with their airline itself, most American customers are only happy with the AAdvantage program, and most United flyers… well, they’re not happy with anything. For the record, I’m Star Alliance Gold, redeem mostly on oneworld via AA/US points, and only fly Delta when I travel with family since my father prefers DTW over YYZ.

    I would be remiss in my troll duties if I too didn’t call you out for forgetting so many United TATL options. Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed that the previous commenters also failed to come up with the complete list. What kind of AvGeeks are you? You got Singapore, SAS, and Austrian, but you forgot TAP, LOT, Turkish, Air Canada, and Aer Lingus. I think that’s the complete list, but if not please chastise me appropriately.

  53. I fly out of Detroit….so you would think I’d be a Delta fan. McNamara terminal is such a PITA that I hate to pick people up from flights there. Give me the north terminal any day. I’ll take changing planes over messing with the other terminal.

  54. @Owen:

    “And I don’t understand the obsession with harmful drugs like liquor and coffee on board, but I assure you that Skye and Woodford and Krug are the same as the cheap stuff, just with a fancier label.”

    That’s like saying a Bentley is the same as a Kia, just with a fancier hood ornament.

    The fact that you’re from SLC and refer to liquor and coffee as “harmful drugs” leads me to believe you’re a follower of one particular belief system and thus probably have limited experience with either substance. I assure you that good champagne and good coffee are very different from the cheap stuff, though whether the price differential is justified is another question altogether.

  55. Note also that Delta is the only US carrier to impose a “carrier imposed international surcharge” on award flights on their own metal originating outside the US or Asia. This dramatically reduces the value and utility of Delta’s one way awards.

    For example, both Delta and United offer award seats between San Francisco and London. If I book both as round trip coach awards originating in the US, the taxes and fees are about the same for both (around $193.00)

    But if I book the same flights as two separate one way awards, the fees on United remain around $193, but those on Delta skyrocket to about $346 (because Delta imposes a 105 British pound “carrier imposed surcharge” on the London to San Fran one way booking).

    Look out!! You never can predict just how Delta will gouge you next…. )-:.

  56. @Arcanum — good point re the other UA TATL options (I’m not including SQ on that list precisely because they aren’t bookable using UA miles) but… Finnish (OW) and Turkish (*A) are in both cases not PRACTICAL airlines to fly to connect to Western and in some ways Central Europe. I also didn’t include Aeroflot when I listed SkyTeam Euro options for the same reason — if you connect in Helsinki, Istanbul or Moscow to fly to Paris, Rome or Barcelona then you’re doing it, in my opinion, wrong.

    I did forget Austrian, though they’re essentially in the same Swiss/LH umbrella, aren’t they? And Aer Lingus isn’t part of any alliances, though it is a United partner… but is also partners with OneWorld and SkyTeam members. So there is that, too.

    And as for TAP and LOT — Good god, if you want to make airberlin and Aeroflot look like stellar options… 😉

    Anyway, this is all by way of saying a genuine thank you for pointing this out and rounding out the list, since I’m not a professional aviation geek at heart and so my statements were more off-the-cuff (though I was focusing more on differentiating OW and SkyTeam in the original post).

  57. @John, Alaska is a better airline than Delta how? Operationally it competes but only because it’s a small regional airline that doesn’t often fly to snowbound, delay-prone regions (I mean, it flies to Alaska, but they seem to have their $#!+ together on that front). I don’t think anyone can seriously make the argument that Alaska is a better in flight experience than DL on a transcon.

    Flagship Lounges offer amenities DL fliers can only dream about – which ones? Have you been to the SkyClubs at JFK or ATL?

    I don’t honestly care what Richard Anderson says about honesty, integrity and respect and whether you disagree with him, but even if you do how does that affect your in flight experience? (It doesn’t.) You can gripe about SkyMiles, but give me a LEGIT gripe about the in flight experience.

  58. @Jack: Ben asked me to write this, so it’s hardly vandalism. Maybe commissioned street art, but not vandalism 🙂

  59. @Kevin – well, I’m bummed I won’t get to sit next to you on a Delta flight, then. You seem like a lovely conversationalist.

  60. @Steve – So everyone under 5’10” is a midget? That will come as a surprise to a lot of folks (including me, the dwarf at the Guinness Book of World Records-competing height of 5’9″).

  61. @Stannis, I think this has already been addressed in the comments, but:

    First $30K of spend on DL — 15,000 MQMs + 15,000 redeemable miles + 30,000 base miles (assuming no spend on airlines or other categories which increase earning).
    Second $30K of spend on DL — ditto.

    So, $60,000 of annual spend would get you 30,000 MQMs and 90,000 redeemable miles at a minimum.

    And SPG Gold is very easy to obtain (you can get it through an AmEx Platinum card) — no need for the SPG card for that.

  62. @Mike: I heard this straight from Lucky’s mouth – he said he got a cheese plate only on JFK-LAX in First after 8pm. I don’t fly AA J or F transcontinentally, but I have a *very* hard time believing you can back up your claim that “there is a full meal service on all transcons, regardless of departure time.” Even LAX-MIA late evening? Even the redeyes?

  63. Nick, I’ll let you decide if you’re a midget but the good news is that you are short enough to sleep on those B777 BE lay-flat seats

  64. Adding to dislike-Delta comments: For a few years I had to fly Delta because I knew nothing about miles and was dutifully collecting Membership Rewards points to go to Argentina from the NYC region. Traveling with small kids, and booking tickets from different accounts ended up with Delta randomly separating me from my kids (I’m talking about toddlers).For every single flight! They would do this, even after spending hours calling them ahead of time to make sure they linked the reservations. A few years ago, with older kids, and after learning the miles game, I still had to burn some Skypesos. Went to Argentina again, called ahead of time, asked them to link the reservations: we still ended up split, my two daughters (ages 10 and younger) and I. Only after a kind passenger switched seats with me, was I able to seat with my kids in an international 10 hour flight.
    I am finally swearing off Delta this summer by having burned all my miles. Trip to Europe, booked under different accounts again, I sure hope they don’t mess up yet again.

  65. I agree with a lot of the points here but feel that the deficiencies in the SkyMiles program still keep me away. I originally chose Delta due to the extensive network and ability to use international upgrades (still only airline that flies to SYD, JNB, and many spots in Asia). I was able to score upgrades on all these flights. Life was good as a DM.

    Then I moved to London and had a few times when I actually wanted to use my miles and quickly discovered the European surcharges on SkyMiles tickets. Well the surcharges, availability, and lack of one-way awards made me understand why people often referred to the currency as SkyPesos. Transatlantic upgradable fares were on par with those to Asia so I couldn’t justify those ($2,200+ with a shot at an upgrade… no thanks). I was left with close to a million miles but was struggling to get good value for them.

    I switched to the AA program and couldn’t be happier. I have had no trouble using my miles and I often earn 1:1 miles on OneWorld partners (Delta is going the opposite direction). The SWUs are phenomenal. I love the fact you can change dates on award tickets with no penalties whatsoever.

    So the primary differentiator for me is the mileage program. SkyMiles is improving though (availability on Virgin Atlantic, introduction of one-way awards). I was able to use my SkyMiles to Rome the other day via Virgin Atlantic and Alitalia on the outbound for great value. However, the return leg was significantly more due to the international origin charges Delta charges. Luckily I was able to fly Iberia and AA for significantly less taxes/fees and even less miles.

  66. Ignore the haters Nick.

    I am United 1K, American EXP, and Delta Diamond, and in my experience flying, Delta has by far the best airline experience operationally. Many Delta complainers don’t even fly Delta, so it’s a bit silly when they try to criticize something based completely on hearsay and reviews from the blogosphere bubble.

    It’s also pathetic when mileage-obsessed commenters complain about “SkyPesos” yet do things like pour over AA award charts and have ExpertFlyer alerts to pick up Qantas F seats released 330 days out in advance. How’s that MPM allowance? How are those ridiculous strategies (“HUCA”) for US Airways redemptions to have untrained call agents break their own rules? Lucky’s readers are willing to be creative in gaming the AAdvantage program but seem at a loss to find value in the Skymiles program, of which there are plenty. I think that’s just lazy.

    You’re not a travel hacker if all you do is just manufacture spend easy AAdvantage miles to redeem on premium travel and complain about other programs that don’t release as many seats when you live in a big OneWorld bubble. And if anything, push will come to shove and that bubble will burst in the anticipated changes to the AAdvantage program. Look at the changes at British Airways to have a clue.

    There’s a reason why AA has such tight routing rules and restrictions in their program, as well as a tough corporate security team to catch mileage brokers. Because they know people constantly game the AA rewards program, and AA attracts a lot of them. I’m sure Delta is not crying over the loss of would-be frequent flyer gamers when they have the most corporate contracts and satisfied business travelers in the US.

    Rhat’s what makes airlines profitable. It’s about running a decent airline operation, not about having an easily schemed frequent flyer program for bloggers and Flyertalker nerds to game. Delta is their worst enemy, because it presents a future for airlines without them. Just look at United catching on and gutting MileagePlus.

    So you know what worse than Delta apologists? The people that complain about them. It’s worse than the people that complain about Apple fanboys. I’ll let you guys draw the parallel between Apple and Delta yourselves.

  67. I don’t think anyone has yet come right out and said this, but Delta effectively has zero usable “saver”/25,000-round-trip award space domestically at any times usable for those who are employed and have school-age children.

    You can dismiss this as both non-operational (Delta is a great airline!) and non-aspirational (Who uses miles for domestic Y awards anyway?), if you like. It’s still true and it’s still a very, very, very big deal to an awful lot of people — and a complete deal breaker for me.

  68. And regarding the flatbeds… AA (US Airways) also has other flatbed routes besides Transoceanic ones. US regularly flies the A330 to Orlando, Miami, Cancun, San Juan, Punta Cana, between Charlotte and Philly, and this past winter, even to Phoenix.

  69. Complaints about not being able to get a FREE upgrade is so over dramatized in my opinion. If you want the seat, pay for it. Stop the racket of purchasing a cheaper seat only to complain you can’t get the more expensive one for free. What does your company offer as free to frequent customers? I don’t get free shopping days at the grocery store, etc. Like all businesses they are there to make money not give everything away.

  70. Tough gig, Nick!
    Good onya though. I’ve limited experience on DL – some good innovations such as economy comfort.. very cost effective for tall folks. Had a bad experience with terminal staff on a delayed flight from ATL-LAX, thus missing LAX-SYD and requiring rescheduling, but then I’ve had similar bad experiences with VA and QF. A key factor of how well a business operates ITO client service is how they deal with issues when THINGS GO WRONG.

    Glad to see DL site has improved points bookings – keen to use airfrance from ORY to PPP and hope points bookings will give us the desired dates / class.

  71. Excellent article, if the anti Delta are upset with the opinion, the archievements of the airline has had in these last four years, is sigh that Richard Anderson is doing the right thing, along with the staff, to be good and bad, in all institutions any.

  72. I think for domestic economy, no one beats Southwest. Love their free live TV using your own tablet. and always big planes. free check bags. and free cancellations are ridiculous.

  73. Delta will almost always get you to your destination. But the status you get is almost worthless. No international upgrades no mater your status. The only way they upgrade people is when coach is full and they need the seat. So unless that rare situation happens to you, no mater what your status you will be stuck in coach while Business Class is half full.

  74. I would not completely agree with Austin Road Warrior as a Diamond, you do get 8 upgrade certs for international travel. Granted you don’t them as a every day benefit like domestic travel.

    There are quite a few operational upgrades that do also take place on a fairly regular basis but that is a matter of luck!

  75. Nick – Your requested data re Delta appearing to fudge the on-time records – I was not about to research my records back in time but here are my two for two latest in the 4/18/15 Delta schedule changes – (A) JFK TO SLC DL 1375 5:29PM changed one minute to 5:30PM new DL flight number 458. (B) MSO DL 1573 12:10PM changed to 12:30PM new DL flight number 1124.

  76. I became unhappy with Delta because I could never seem to benefit from 146,000 Skymiles . I had flown Delta 9 times from PDX-NRT-BKK . So I flew EVA PDX-SEA-TPE-BKK . The planes arrived ok . People were rude ( passengers ) I have never been pushed and bumped so many times . Service was notably deficient and the FAs would just disappear for hours at a time . And.. the food was bad ! Delta didn’t seem so bad after that ! P.S. : they wouldn’t credit miles to my United account either .

  77. I came in late to this debate but have some data that may be relevant. I’m a modest business flyer with an interest in maximizing status for inflight experience and also miles for occasional personal travel. I’m a Delta Silver and have thought a lot recently about switching to AA via a Gold or Platinum status challenge.

    So I went back through my flight history for the last 12 months and found this:
    -25,463 flight miles (including some 500-mile minimums) and $11,513 MQD
    -19 flights so average mileage of 1,340 and average cost of $606 (45 cpm)
    -With no status, a typical flight on AA would earn me 1,340 redeemable miles
    -With no status on Delta I would earn 3,030 redeemable miles (5xMQD)
    -No matter how highly you value AA miles vs Delta that would be a hard gap to overcome
    (personally I just value Delta at $0.01 because I can use cash+miles at that rate and have flights count toward status; I value AA at $0.017)
    -Not worth rehashing here but I ran the math at every status level and Delta would always be more valuable assuming $0.01/$0.017 valuations

    Given that I am just on the bubble of low-tier status, I also strongly value the ability to earn extra MQM via the Delta Platinum Amex (or Reserve) at a much better rate than on AA cards. Just as importantly, Delta’s rollover policy gives an extra cushion and makes sure that any extra MQMs don’t go to waste. I would be pissed if I spent $40K on an AA card to earn extra EQM only for them to get thrown away if I didn’t need them.

    Obviously at 45 cpm I am not getting good deals on flights. If you are chasing deals for long-haul travel you would likely have a very different conclusion. For me, there is no way I can see AA being more valuable given my last-minute, short-haul tendencies.

  78. “And as for United, if you’re not flying United metal (which is a substandard product), you’ll only have access to Swiss, Lufthansa and Brussels Airways business class at a much, much higher redemption rate. ”

    That’s such a biased view. UA can access every single European star partner – LH LX OS TP SN SK LO TK transatlantic, plus all the regional carriers like Croatia, Aegean etc.

    That’s a far wider collection than just KL AZ (good luck with the quality) AF (good luck with CDG) and VS (good luck with APDs)

  79. ps : until the EI/IAG merger is completed, UA also has access to AerLingus award space

  80. Ok, I think DL and AA are both equally good. Neither blows my mind. United is god awful in Economy.

    Those of you who are afraid of Delta’s MDs, AA has the largest MD fleet in the world.

    Delta is better in that they offer great value on mileage upgrades, they have the best elite bennies.

    I think most US carriers have their benefits and major drawbacks.

  81. I also think that International carriers should be allowed fifth-freedom routes in the US. Then we could forget about Legacy carriers and all fly Lufthansa domestically in the US

  82. @Noah Sprenger: Lucky can correct me if I’m mistaken, but I believe fifth freedom routes have to be international in some regard, i.e., can’t be entirely within one country (that isn’t the carrier’s home country). So you can have a Cathay fifth freedom route from JFK to Vancouver, a route which I think is also served by Philippine Airlines. But you can’t have a Lufthansa MIA-LAX (for instance) flight.

  83. @ Noah — Yep, Nick is correct. Fifth freedom routes are, by definition, between two countries.

  84. “And you’ll stand a good chance of being upgraded on an internationally-configured cabin if you’re elite.” Is this true? If I fly Delta to AMS it says NO UPGRADES, is there still a possibility for an upgrade?

  85. @Jeanne LaCelle: Oh, to clarify, I meant an internationally-configured cabin flying a domestic route, which Delta does fairly frequently.

  86. I fly 50-60 segments domesticly p.a.
    I am Platinm FF
    I have their Reserve card

    This all comes together in getting me upgraded ~70% of flights and the economy + mostly after that Ill b e basic economy if i try to grab an earlier flight (when I don’t care where i sit)
    Delta def know their pricing points squeeze prices on the exact flight you want. The sevice is above average your normally greated and arovaux by the Captain/Second
    Food is airline food and its hard to destroy a bloody Mary

  87. It’s all about location and where you normally fly to.

    For flying domestically in the U.S. I find that nothing beats B6 and WN. They make DL, UA, AA, etc. all look like garbage.

    If you are top elite flyer then maybe you may be better off on your carrier of choice; however, for most middle class American’s (who rarely travel for business), you can’t beat B6 and WN; however, B6 didn’t score any points by removing their free bag.

    Nothing beats Continental. I really miss them…. UA stole their soul.

  88. The more I think about it, as annoying the devaluations of Delta’s Skymiles program have been, the fact I am a leisure traveler, from a low traffic city (thus the revenue based redemption system has a neutral effect on me compared to my complete disgust at the increasing of the mileage upgrade requirements), combined with the American Express Delta Platinum card that I hold and its unparalleled companion fare benefit, I am happy with Delta. Before this summer, relative travel experience is not something I would have been qualified to comment on because I normally just flew Delta (with the free checked in bags CC benefit being a money-saver making them pretty much the least expensive airline) but I flew American this summer for a flight from BOS to ORD, and the service was really bad compared to Delta. From the FA’s service to the fact that for a 3 hour flight, there were no in-flight entertainment options. I could be mistaken, it is possible Delta 3 hour domestic flights might not have entertainment options either, so maybe I shouldn’t hold that against American, but the FA’s service was definitely sub-Delta.

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