Hot Take: Is Delta Actually A “Premium” Airline?

Hot Take: Is Delta Actually A “Premium” Airline?

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Delta recently announced some major changes for loyal flyers, including massive adjustments to the SkyMiles program, plus new restrictions on Sky Club access. I’ve been thinking a lot about these changes. Before I share my more detailed take on these changes, I wanted to address a more fundamental question.

Delta is typically considered to be the most “premium” US airline. Delta’s general philosophy is that it can command a revenue premium by offering a superior experience. But is that actually the case anymore? Is Delta actually better than American or United? I wanted to take a look at that topic, as my feelings have evolved on this quite a bit over time.

Back in the day I felt that flying with Delta was way better than flying with American or United, but I’m not sure I feel that way anymore?

How Delta has positioned itself as a premium airline

Let’s go back to pre-pandemic for a moment. Delta has historically positioned itself as the most premium US airline. Going back many years, I actually often considered just flying with Delta because of the better experience that it offered, compared to other US airlines, in spite of the lack of value available through SkyMiles.

I’d say what impressed me most about Delta was four things:

  • Delta had superior operational reliability, and at the end of the day, operational reliability is the single most important thing an airline can offer
  • Delta had friendlier employees who were more invested in guest satisfaction than at other carriers; on Delta you really felt like employees cared
  • Delta invested in its aircraft interiors (despite flying old planes), by offering personal televisions at every seat
  • Delta Sky Clubs were superior to American Admirals Clubs and United Clubs, with much better food, drinks, and (typically) design

When you combine those four things, the airline really stood out, especially from the perspective of business travelers. The airline simply offered a very pleasant, reliable, well-rounded experience, which is more than you can say about American and United.

Delta has positioned itself as a premium airline

Delta has lost its edge in recent years

Maybe it’s just me, but my desire to fly with Delta has decreased significantly in the past couple of years. This is partly due to ways in which Delta has become worse, and partly due to ways in which other airlines have become better.

Let’s start with service — I find that service on Delta is no longer consistently better than on other US airlines. Like all other major US airlines, Delta has hired tens of thousands of new employees since the start of the pandemic, and I find those employees don’t necessarily have the same commitment to the airline as some of the employees who have been there longer. For example, I’ve been on flights with Delta new hire flight attendants, and they’re no different than new hire flight attendants on American.

When it comes to operational reliability, Delta is still a bit more reliable than American and United, but the difference is no longer huge, and the gap has narrowed. Operational reliability was the single thing that used to most frustrate me about American, but for the most part, I find it’s an area where American has improved nicely (not necessarily with communication surrounding operational issues, but just in terms of running an on-time operation).

But to me the biggest area where Delta has lost its edge is when it comes to its premium products.

For one, Delta’s long haul business class product is uncompetitive and inconsistent. The airline has dozens of Boeing 767s with really uncomfortable business class seats, plus ex-LATAM Airbus A350s, that don’t even feature direct aisle access. Compare that to American (which exclusively has Boeing 777s and Boeing 787s with direct aisle access and comfortable seats) and to United (which has completed its Polaris retrofit program).

Delta Boeing 767 business class
United Boeing 767 business class

Next, while Delta Sky Clubs are on average between than American Admirals Clubs and United Clubs, you know what’s better than a better club? Actually being able to reliably get into the lounge. While they might not be much to write home about, I have never had to wait to get into an Admirals Club. Making people wait in a line to enter the lounge is the opposite of what you’d expect from an airline that values the time of its customers and claims to be the airline of business travelers.

I recognize Delta is theoretically implementing policies that should limit crowding, but please let me know when we actually no longer see lines outside of Sky Clubs.

Speaking of lounge access, Delta doesn’t have any international premium lounges, while American has Flagship Lounges and United has Polaris Lounges. Yes, Delta is working on this concept, but again, let me know when a lounge actually opens.

United Polaris Lounges are better than Delta Sky Clubs

While it’s nice that Delta has personal televisions on its narrow body aircraft, let’s keep in mind that Delta really crams seats onto planes, including in first class. As a standard, Delta has 36″ of pitch in first class, and if the person in front of you reclines, good luck working on your laptop without having to turn the screen.

Delta Boeing 737 first class

Look, I don’t want to completely dismiss the investments that Delta has made. The airline still has TVs across its aircraft, and offers free Wi-Fi, which is awesome, and more than can be said for American and United.

But you know what other airline has had that for a lot longer? JetBlue. JetBlue has been offering free Wi-Fi to all passengers for over a decade, has way more legroom in economy, and also offers TVs. So if that’s what makes an airline premium, then perhaps we should consider JetBlue to be the more premium US airline?

JetBlue is superior in economy to Delta

Bottom line

Delta has long been regarded as the most premium US airline, though I can’t help but feel like the airline has lost its edge a bit, especially in relative terms. Don’t get me wrong, Delta does many things well. But service and operational reliability at the airline aren’t what they once were.

Most significantly, though, I can’t say that I have much desire to fly Delta in a premium cabin, or on a long haul international flight. Domestically you can enjoy standing in line to enter a Sky Club, before getting in your seat with 36″ of pitch, and service that’s no longer consistently better than on competitors.

Meanwhile on long haul flights, while American and United have invested in excellent fleet consistency and international lounges, on Delta you could be in an overcrowded Sky Club prior to flying an outdated Boeing 767 to Europe. That’s not really premium, if you ask me.

I’m curious to hear what y’all think — does Delta have the same edge that it used to?

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  1. Joey Ramone Guest

    The flight attendants on delta domestic flights want to pass out cokes and then hide in the galleys. Very little interaction with passengers. They hide and scroll on their phones.

  2. Kevin Guest

    I see very little mention of the fact that Delta has far fewer flight choices than AA or United and Delta is often almost double the price for comparable seats. The service, in my experience is still far better than the competition as is the reliability… still, to build a new loyalty program that does not reward actually flying on the airline seems ridiculous on its face. Has Delta forgotten that a ton of those...

    I see very little mention of the fact that Delta has far fewer flight choices than AA or United and Delta is often almost double the price for comparable seats. The service, in my experience is still far better than the competition as is the reliability… still, to build a new loyalty program that does not reward actually flying on the airline seems ridiculous on its face. Has Delta forgotten that a ton of those “new” COVID Medallion members will be rolling off the program after their roll-over miles are gone? Give it a year, upgrade and then see what you have.

  3. bilbeach Guest

    I concur with Bgriff: if I can no longer gain reliable access to Delta lounges, the fee I pay for the AMEX Platinum is a waste, and I’ll drop the card in a heartbeat. Surely AMEX has considered how Delta’s rule changes will negatively affect their business. Are they betting on Centurion lounges becoming a substitute good? If so, they apparently know less about consumer habits than I would have guessed.

  4. Victor Guest

    You write them; they acknowledge receipt but NEVER reply.!! Rude and poor business practice

  5. Christopher Winchell Guest

    I couldn't agree more. I wrote a lengthy complaint, as Delta Platinum Medallion members, following our Delta One flight LHR-LAX last month and haven't heard a word since, despite 2 follow up attempts through chat (which was poor at best, and which I've never experienced before) and Instagram. We paid $10K, and also brought 8 other people in Delta One. The hard product on the A330-900neo is quite good, and in general the Delta One...

    I couldn't agree more. I wrote a lengthy complaint, as Delta Platinum Medallion members, following our Delta One flight LHR-LAX last month and haven't heard a word since, despite 2 follow up attempts through chat (which was poor at best, and which I've never experienced before) and Instagram. We paid $10K, and also brought 8 other people in Delta One. The hard product on the A330-900neo is quite good, and in general the Delta One ground experience is as well. However the soft product, compared to VS and BA, is incredibly substandard, and on this flight the "service" delivery from a senior crew was ABYSMAL (unlike the service going over which, despite the food being poor, was delivered by the crew like they at least cared!). We have been big supporters of Delta for all the historical reasons you mentioned, but am distressed at what the post pandemic attempts at recovery have done to their service ethos. As a retired major airline and travel industry executive, with a singular appreciation for the customer experience, I can only, hope in the midst of achieving their multi-billion dollar profits, Delta regains its footing when it comes to its brand identity.

  6. William Campbell Guest

    I think the outcome of Delta’s gambit is still to come. I have 3.5m on this carrier and have been loyal throughout the years of travel. I expect a recipical loyalty from them as well. If they try and take advantage by devaluing that loyalty, people like myself will not forget and ultimately leave for another which gives me what I want, a fair relationship for that trust.

  7. Jim Guest

    So so true and sad. I recently gave up my Delta Reserve AmEx for Chase Sapphire Reserve and with it gave up my long standing allegiance (decades) to Delta. So not worth it. The fares are always higher and ability to use skymiles, companion certificates and upgrade certificates are exceedingly rare. Not worth it. Just booked international business flights on United. Bye bye Delta.

  8. BenjaminKohl Diamond

    Maybe it's because I'm NYC based but I've condidtently had the worst and most rude DL flight attendants, over the past 15 years or so. I've experienced the sweetest ones generally on AA

  9. Chris Guest

    C'mon... you put the old 767 and 737 interiors as the comps (yes they are out there but 2/3 of the 767's have the new Delta One suites in them and the newer 737-900's are leaps and bounds above the 800's... yet you show the fancy JetBlue 321's without showing the vast majority of their fleet's only 2x3 320 standard resolution 1990's screens with the remote on the armrest that changes your neighbors channel every time you sip your drink?

  10. Jiyun Guest

    Tim! Isn't your stance always facts + everyone's well-wisher? We agree it is likely 2024 will also be great for Delta. But since you are just the bearer of bad news but actually a well-wisher for all of us, why don't you join in on the Delta hate for a little bit? All of us will be so happy! :)

  11. Toby Guest

    United reliability sucks in comparison to Delta. Always has and probably always will. American is good. I'd say it still goes #1 Delta, #2 American, #3 United or JetBlue

  12. SYRwhizzy Guest

    We can all complain about the lounge crowding. But guess what? Everyone who’s there has paid to be there. Delta as raked in hundreds of millions without re-investing in the product. They knew long before we did they were going to get overcrowded. Yet they didn’t build more lounges. They ones they did build don’t use space efficiently. This is their problem that they created, they failed their customer base and this is what we...

    We can all complain about the lounge crowding. But guess what? Everyone who’s there has paid to be there. Delta as raked in hundreds of millions without re-investing in the product. They knew long before we did they were going to get overcrowded. Yet they didn’t build more lounges. They ones they did build don’t use space efficiently. This is their problem that they created, they failed their customer base and this is what we get in return.

    Much can be said about their fleet too. Severely lacking in anything exciting in the last decade.

    Arrogance from top executives who are completely out of touch. They’ve completely forgotten about those who kept them going, their core customers, who travelled before, during and after the pandemic and earned their status the hard way.

    Those that can spend $35K/year won’t care much about Diamond status. They’ll be booking premium cabins and everything a Diamond gets already comes with premium fares.

  13. Jared Guest

    Timmy vs the world!

    Hardly matters - most US airlines are careful not to compete in their specific regions and hubs. DL, UA, and AA are all the same for the masses. Most often, the consumer has little choice based on their base. Far from premium, the US domestic aviation industry is designed to shuttle people and to earn the airlines a pretty penny - akin to Greyhound buses. Nothing wrong with that, but premium...

    Timmy vs the world!

    Hardly matters - most US airlines are careful not to compete in their specific regions and hubs. DL, UA, and AA are all the same for the masses. Most often, the consumer has little choice based on their base. Far from premium, the US domestic aviation industry is designed to shuttle people and to earn the airlines a pretty penny - akin to Greyhound buses. Nothing wrong with that, but premium no US airline is and anyone claiming otherwise is delusional.

  14. Ted Guest

    I agree overall but will also tell you Delta’s standard first class pitch is 37”. There are a couple of cheat rows (a320), however. Delta also has more legroom ,on average, than UA and AA in economy.

  15. Tim Dunn Diamond

    the real barometer will be what happens in 2024.
    I have a feeling that alot of people will be disappointed when they find out that Delta not only has not been harmed financially but actually is in better shape in the future.

    There is no worse feeling than knowing your disdain for a company acknowledged absolutely nothing.

    1. Chris Guest

      Most people won't care once they've moved elsewhere -- either as a free agent or as a new loyal member of a program they feel better recognises and rewards their travel patterns.

      For most of us, it's an airline, Tim, not an ex-lover.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      what so many people simply do not understand is that Delta has positioned itself so well both in terms of position in most of the largest premium travel markets in the US (NYC, LA, Boston) on top of its dominance of its core hubs (ATL, DTW, MSP and SLC) so that it is the first choice based solely on schedules in the majority of major markets on the east coast, the SE, and midwest and...

      what so many people simply do not understand is that Delta has positioned itself so well both in terms of position in most of the largest premium travel markets in the US (NYC, LA, Boston) on top of its dominance of its core hubs (ATL, DTW, MSP and SLC) so that it is the first choice based solely on schedules in the majority of major markets on the east coast, the SE, and midwest and is a solid #2 in the west - and still growing there.

      Add in the investments in its product that give Delta the highest quality large airline product in the world and God Save the Points is right not only in saying Delta did what no one else could do but also a whole lot of people that are stomping their feet because they are losing elite status will have to go out of their way and settle for a lower quality product to leave Delta.

      Let them stomp their feet. And watch Delta's financial performance over the next year and beyond and see if they are hurt.

      The chances are very high that they simply will not be hurt and will in fact be even stronger financially

  16. Jon Menard Guest

    It is not. I fly domestic first or international business all the time.

    Delta first (domestic) has worse seats than United or American. Just plain uncomfortable.

    United has way better trained flight attendants on average now than Delta. Not to say they delta is bad but it's good service is spotty.

    Also the first class passengers in Delta I have witnessed - well just in my last flight one idiot thought she was entitled to...

    It is not. I fly domestic first or international business all the time.

    Delta first (domestic) has worse seats than United or American. Just plain uncomfortable.

    United has way better trained flight attendants on average now than Delta. Not to say they delta is bad but it's good service is spotty.

    Also the first class passengers in Delta I have witnessed - well just in my last flight one idiot thought she was entitled to the baggage space above her seat vs other first passengers who got their first to fill up the space...and another really overweight person farted the worst fart ever that led me and others to almost suffocate.

    Bottom line: Continue to call Delta premium so everyone else flocks to it and the rest of us can have our peace on other airlines. Don't write articles like this.

  17. Sasha Guest

    It's both strange and crazy how obsessed people are with airport clubs.... It's a thing only a point counting American can love. Bad food, mediocre drinks, and too many people. When you cry about that you are canceling a card because you can't skyclub it's cringe.

    1. ed Guest

      People that use the word cringe as a form of peer pressure & judgement or that use American as a pejorative are... cringe

  18. Bill Hagen Guest

    Delta needs to decide if they want to be a airline or credit card company. If the later get busy repainting the fleet in Amex colors and logos.

  19. David S. Guest

    I used to really look forward to reading your reviews. Now, with all of the “pop ups” for credit cards, I find myself having to refresh the article, or apply for 5 credit cards. Very distracting.

    1. Leigh Guest

      Totally agree…is it a mobile thing?

  20. Anonymous Guest

    Agreed. IMO United is not only the most drastically improved airline, and rapidly at that, but is now superior to Delta. Particularly with their app. Delta technology is so far behind.

  21. Jb Guest

    Can the shiniest turd contained within a collection of turds be premium? Perhaps. But it's still a turd...

  22. Marston Gould Guest

    As a long time Delta frequent flier (1.8M million miler miles, nearly 5M skymiles) and an annual budget of north of $3M in airline fees, after next year we will be removing Delta from list of approved vendors both domestically and internationally for reasons mentioned. The service was but is no longer premium. I feel for Delta exec staff. COVID did a number on the business. But that doesn’t mean I will spend money on...

    As a long time Delta frequent flier (1.8M million miler miles, nearly 5M skymiles) and an annual budget of north of $3M in airline fees, after next year we will be removing Delta from list of approved vendors both domestically and internationally for reasons mentioned. The service was but is no longer premium. I feel for Delta exec staff. COVID did a number on the business. But that doesn’t mean I will spend money on a service that no longer provides the value it once did

  23. Seagullwhisperer Guest

    I enjoyed the comedic moment when Tim Dunn’s head exploded reading this article yesterday. You can tell by reading the back and fort on here he felt so alive yesterday defending his dear Delta again you hoards of ungrateful malcontents ;) I sure hope he’s doin ok today.

    1. MaxPower Diamond

      It really is amusing that a guy Delta fired, Tim, has such a weird obsession with defending them absent reason or fact, just attacks on others and the site owner.
      The other amusing part is, when you look at how often he posted yesterday, realizing that he actually did nothing else yesterday except post on a blog comment section desperately trying to convince people that find him a joke that Delta is "premium".

    2. Seagullwhisperer Guest

      I wonder if his mental condition is undiagnosed or if he’s actually receiving treatment. Poor Tim!

    3. JB Guest

      Does anyone know if the person who posts under the name "Tim Dunn" is the real former Delta CEO? Or is it someone just copying the name?

    4. Tim Dunn Diamond

      sad that you really believe the lies that you write.

  24. mjc Guest

    have been platinum medallion for last 10 years with a large mix of personal amex delta card spend and maybe 10 flights per year. I will be lucky to get silver status with the changes as I am redirecting my spend to other cards with better points value, skymiles are practically worthless. delta premium experience is non-existent, last weekend flew in paid domestic first (1100 mile flight) on a regional jet and they are still...

    have been platinum medallion for last 10 years with a large mix of personal amex delta card spend and maybe 10 flights per year. I will be lucky to get silver status with the changes as I am redirecting my spend to other cards with better points value, skymiles are practically worthless. delta premium experience is non-existent, last weekend flew in paid domestic first (1100 mile flight) on a regional jet and they are still using covid as an excuse to serve boxed meals of stale fruit and cheese. i will be a free agent and book whichever airline has best price and schedule going forward

    1. CecilO Guest

      Tim Dunn says that is “premium” service and that you should be grateful and if you aren’t then you are misguided and he will incessantly post on here until you change your mind just to get him to shut up or he has a brain aneurysm!

  25. Shoodawg Guest

    Delta is not a premium airline. No premium airline puts a forty cent cookie marketed in bulk at nursing homes on first class meal trays. And the $1 cheese hoagies in Premium Select!!!! Delta so not premium. And the canned wines!! Time to move on!

  26. mian anees Guest

    Delta truly defines premium in the airline industry. With their extensive route network, luxurious cabins, top-notch customer service, and rewarding loyalty program (SkyMiles), they effortlessly earn their 'premium' status. Yet, perceptions can vary, as some travelers may have had exceptional experiences while others encountered minor hiccups. Ultimately, whether Delta is your go-to 'premium' airline depends on your personal preferences and experiences.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      your description might be a tad over the top but you are directionally right in your assessment.
      Even though a whole lot of people and even the author of the article don't understand or at least didn't express it, "premium" is not defined by any single person's perceptions or experiences but by a repeatable series of metrics and that is true whether we are talking about hotels, airlines, beer or cars.
      The fact...

      your description might be a tad over the top but you are directionally right in your assessment.
      Even though a whole lot of people and even the author of the article don't understand or at least didn't express it, "premium" is not defined by any single person's perceptions or experiences but by a repeatable series of metrics and that is true whether we are talking about hotels, airlines, beer or cars.
      The fact that the author - who travels the world and rates travel services doesn't know or didn't articulate how to define "premium" but simply wrote an article which opened the door to a bunch of anecdotal experiences is what is shocking.

      There simply is ample data to show that Delta IS more premium and much more so than other airlines esp. in the US. There is a difference between luxury and premium and a brand set is defined by competitors. Volvo in the US has a different market position, product attributes, share and set of competitors than it does in other countries. Anyone that doesn't understand that car brands often market the same model very differently in different countries. Delta is no different just as Volvo is a global premium car brand.

      And as much as the big 3 in the US are benefitting massively from the financial weakness of the US low cost segment and the failure of many longhaul foreign low cost carriers, the big 3 are collectively premium to the vast majority of airlines in the world.

      Within its own competitive set, Delta simply statistically delivers a higher quality level of service and gets more revenue for it both on an aggregate and unit revenue basis.

      Individual experiences while "nice to hear" don't define anything other than one's individual experiences.

    2. Steven Guest

      How I wish what you say was true.. my dear friend you have drank the cool-ade!
      I am Diamond as well & can only say that the experience has significantly declined to the point of LITTLE VALUE to customers like myself.WHO WERE ONCE CONSIDERED IMPORTANT FOR REVENUE. Perhaps if you reside in a city where there is limited choices or only fly domestic you have a valid point. But come now, Emirates to Milan...

      How I wish what you say was true.. my dear friend you have drank the cool-ade!
      I am Diamond as well & can only say that the experience has significantly declined to the point of LITTLE VALUE to customers like myself.WHO WERE ONCE CONSIDERED IMPORTANT FOR REVENUE. Perhaps if you reside in a city where there is limited choices or only fly domestic you have a valid point. But come now, Emirates to Milan ( biz class) is SO very superior and less Expensive.
      UNITED to Nice is cheaper with wider seats & no line at club!!!
      I was all in at Delta but all the changes since covid has now turned me into a shopper.
      I never purchase anything but biz class anyway so upgrades are insignificant to me. I want service & access!

      Have you looked at their international business amenities bag? Not even a comb!! ( lol)
      Thank you for listening!

  27. Steven E Guest

    Sorry I have to agree with a few comments - no US carrier is premium ( well world class premium) perhaps within the US - they simply don’t have the finesse that world premium airlines have- from wines, food and service - it’s always hit and miss and quite honky tonk and very “casual” and not in a good way

  28. Brown Michael Guest

    The difference comes down to 1 man Richard Anderson. He built the premium brand, deliberately and consciously.

  29. Carl Guest

    The onboard experience on Delta has gone down a lot over the last 5 years, most new hires don't seem to have a culture of caring for passengers and the older ones sometimes display a tad of arrogance. The one thing Delta has over AA is the ground experience at TSA. I have no idea why AA is still refusing to work with Clear or just have an actual premium security line, period (not one...

    The onboard experience on Delta has gone down a lot over the last 5 years, most new hires don't seem to have a culture of caring for passengers and the older ones sometimes display a tad of arrogance. The one thing Delta has over AA is the ground experience at TSA. I have no idea why AA is still refusing to work with Clear or just have an actual premium security line, period (not one that's opened to their lowest status tier). Apart from that AA & United are actually better than Delta on international routes with better seats and a more consistent experience. I was a Delta Platinum member and switched to AA a year ago (I'm now AA Exec Platinum), I'm getting so much more from the AA EP tier (even at the Platinum Pro tier, to compare with Delta Platinum): better international lounges, (especially at JFK, the Soho lounge is vastly superior to Delta), better chance to upgrade on domestic flights and AA miles are also worth more than Delta (even with the recent AA devaluation). The Delta Comfort+ "cabin" is also a bit of a joke, especially for the price they command. For me, introducing Wifi for free doesn't make up for a (too-often) disappointing onboard experience, inconsistent (often subpar) cabins on long haul routes and a terrible mileage program. With so much hubris and a generally declining product, is Delta to the 2020s what Pan Am was to the 1980s?

  30. Greg Wallace Guest

    Not sure I agree with the assessment, or it hasn't told the whole story. We are in Seattle, and transitioned from United 1K travelers to Delta, primarily because United pulled the rug out here - no real footprint in Seattle anymore - it gave it up to Delta. So Delta, a gateway to Europe, Asia from Seattle. We travel business on all these flights on Delta. Delta's staff - in business, etc. - they give...

    Not sure I agree with the assessment, or it hasn't told the whole story. We are in Seattle, and transitioned from United 1K travelers to Delta, primarily because United pulled the rug out here - no real footprint in Seattle anymore - it gave it up to Delta. So Delta, a gateway to Europe, Asia from Seattle. We travel business on all these flights on Delta. Delta's staff - in business, etc. - they give all those routes to older staff, all of whom are quite literally burned out. I don't want to be unkind, but staff in business/Delta One are old, fat, they can't hear, they are quite literally utterly clueless. The service on some of these flights has been wretched. (Asking 10 times for another glass of wine, they forgot the pre-ordered meal completely, etc). In contrast, the younger attendants have way more energy and are totally clued in. "just sayin" - no way you can verify old or "clued in" staff before a flight, so you take your chances.

  31. Jack Guest

    I have never understood the Delta hype.
    -- I've been screwed with irregular ops, delays, and plane swaps as many times if not more on Delta than on its peers.
    -- Delta economics revolve almost entirely around the profitable Amex relationship, which creates most of Delta's lounge problems.
    -- Delta flight attendants are overrated for friendliness. For those who know southern culture, "bless your heart" is a prelude to an insult, not...

    I have never understood the Delta hype.
    -- I've been screwed with irregular ops, delays, and plane swaps as many times if not more on Delta than on its peers.
    -- Delta economics revolve almost entirely around the profitable Amex relationship, which creates most of Delta's lounge problems.
    -- Delta flight attendants are overrated for friendliness. For those who know southern culture, "bless your heart" is a prelude to an insult, not friendliness.
    -- SkyPesos are the original worthless reward currency that set the benchmark for further devaluations and lack of transparency in the industry.
    -- SkyTeam is still the alliance of the misfits.
    -- Hartsfield. Why????

    1. Joey Ramone Guest

      Deltas Amex relationship is making big $$$ for them.
      "bless your heart " is southern for "go have sex with yourself ".

  32. KP Member

    Honestly, I consider Delta and JetBlue to both be two premium US airlines, however they serve different markets. Delta has a far larger network and offers traditional amenities like lounges and a comprehensive FF program that JetBlue doesn’t. JetBlue has brand loyalty in the Northeast and FL and focus on point to point routes for leisure travelers.The points made in the article about Delta’s shortcomings are valid, but Delta is making an effort to rectify...

    Honestly, I consider Delta and JetBlue to both be two premium US airlines, however they serve different markets. Delta has a far larger network and offers traditional amenities like lounges and a comprehensive FF program that JetBlue doesn’t. JetBlue has brand loyalty in the Northeast and FL and focus on point to point routes for leisure travelers.The points made in the article about Delta’s shortcomings are valid, but Delta is making an effort to rectify these problems; the D1 lounge will open early next year, and the notorious B763s will be retired in 2025. Once this happens, DL will objectively offer the best US Business class experience, unless UA magically improves their meals and crew morale. The service on Delta is way better than AA or UA. Take today’s story where Delta went above and beyond to ensure that the back-up actress for Jasmine in Aladdin could make it to Broadway on time. As a leisure traveler, I either fly B6 or DL based on price/schedule as I know that both will deliver a premium experience compared to their competition.

  33. Emmanuel Guest

    It's hilarious how mad you all are at Delta, which seems to me to be clear sign that you feel like you're losing something premium with the cuts in lounge access. Anyway, I completely agree with Lucky. I gave up on Delta Diamond status a few years ago and just fly whoever has the best product on a route: recently I've done AA from JFK to SFO in first, JetBlue from JFK to SEA in...

    It's hilarious how mad you all are at Delta, which seems to me to be clear sign that you feel like you're losing something premium with the cuts in lounge access. Anyway, I completely agree with Lucky. I gave up on Delta Diamond status a few years ago and just fly whoever has the best product on a route: recently I've done AA from JFK to SFO in first, JetBlue from JFK to SEA in mint and BA from JFK to LHR in first, honestly I don't think Delta can compete on any of those routes but I'm looking to see what happens with the new Delta One clubs.

  34. Bruce Guest

    You hit the "nail on the head" about Delta, it is no longer a premium airline. United is now the premium airline, Delta is now in second place and American will be number 2 soon. As you mentioned Delta's long haul product is #3. Jet Blue is the number 1 in economy product, with great leg room and free wifi. So far as clubs Delta needs to only allow access on direct pay memberships,no access...

    You hit the "nail on the head" about Delta, it is no longer a premium airline. United is now the premium airline, Delta is now in second place and American will be number 2 soon. As you mentioned Delta's long haul product is #3. Jet Blue is the number 1 in economy product, with great leg room and free wifi. So far as clubs Delta needs to only allow access on direct pay memberships,no access with credit card membership. Big Ed and his buddy Glen have a lot of work to do.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      feel free to let us know the criteria you used to come up w/ your ranking and the data behind your conclusions.
      It certainly doesn't involve size or revenue since UA is considerably smaller than DL in the US domestic market, where both carriers get the majority of their revenue, and UA simply does not get more premium revenue than DL.

      Your definition certainly doesn't include the ability to access airport lounges because Delta...

      feel free to let us know the criteria you used to come up w/ your ranking and the data behind your conclusions.
      It certainly doesn't involve size or revenue since UA is considerably smaller than DL in the US domestic market, where both carriers get the majority of their revenue, and UA simply does not get more premium revenue than DL.

      Your definition certainly doesn't include the ability to access airport lounges because Delta has far more lounge space and visitors.

      See, alot of people can't figure out that the definition of premium is not anyone's collection of anecdotal experiences.

      "Premium" is defined by a set of metrics, not opinions, whether good or bad. Levi, below, gets it.

      I have provided those metrics over and over in this article.

      And some people don't like those metrics because their opinion is contrary to facts.

      But, please tell us the methodology you use for your conclusion.

    2. Brian Guest

      JetBlue isnt a premium airline when 48% of their flights this summer arrived late. A premium airlines run ontime, doesnt lose bags, has lounges, and can get you beyond B6's limited network.

    3. jedipenguin Guest

      Unfixable. Delta should become a ULCC.

  35. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    Tim Dunn is a False Prophet. #Deltageddon

  36. EK_engineer Guest

    Tim Dunn in very invested in this issue. Or simply has too much time on his hands??. I can't tell.

    1. Chris Guest

      If nothing else, he seems very much to want people to judge DL by its balance sheet and not their own personal experience as a passenger.

      I'd suggest that's generally a fool's errand, regardless of the context.

  37. Levi Diamond

    It's important to remember that Premium generally implies something at least a level below luxury.

    Buick and Volvo are Premium car brands
    Smirnoff, Bacardi, Dewars, and Tanqueray are Premium spirits brands
    Miller Lite is a Premium light beer

    Is Delta out of place in that collection?

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      congratulations.
      We are making progress.

      First, define the brands with which Delta competes. And as noted below, Delta DOES NOT compete with foreign airlines as the singular basis of comparison.

      Next step is discuss the elements that make those brands premium... and part of it is unit revenue. A whole lot of people here don't want to talk about that... but a Volvo is simply not priced like a Chevrolet.

      And a Volvo...

      congratulations.
      We are making progress.

      First, define the brands with which Delta competes. And as noted below, Delta DOES NOT compete with foreign airlines as the singular basis of comparison.

      Next step is discuss the elements that make those brands premium... and part of it is unit revenue. A whole lot of people here don't want to talk about that... but a Volvo is simply not priced like a Chevrolet.

      And a Volvo delivers product attributes that are MEASURABLY higher than a Chevrolet. A whole lot of people don't like those metrics either because THEY DO show that Delta delivers a QUANTIFIABLY higher product than their peers.

      how about you give it a stab.

      I commend you for thinking RATIONALLY about the topic.

    2. DC Guest

      Yes. Delta might be the "best" domestic airline. Maybe. (Which is the same as saying they are the "least bad").

      Nice award. Kind of like being the best actress on "The Love Boat."

      Congrats.

  38. ZTravel Gold

    Anyone who has ever flown foreign airlines knows that Delta ain’t premium and they don’t even come close.

    They’re not terrible, sometimes they are good but not premium! If they are premium, then where would we put Asian, ME’ern and European airlines!

    Gosh for the past 8 years or so, I’ve always opted to fly AF or KLM business over Delta when possible. I would do my best to avoid D1. Quite frankly...

    Anyone who has ever flown foreign airlines knows that Delta ain’t premium and they don’t even come close.

    They’re not terrible, sometimes they are good but not premium! If they are premium, then where would we put Asian, ME’ern and European airlines!

    Gosh for the past 8 years or so, I’ve always opted to fly AF or KLM business over Delta when possible. I would do my best to avoid D1. Quite frankly it’s the soft product that always always fell short. I remember connecting in Ams from Asia, went from KLM business to D1. Right after boarding the FA passed by and I thought she was greeting us but turned out she was asking us to take our trays out (primary school?) The service!! The food? The dirty cabins even when the 350s were new! The limited international routes? The half baked joint ventures that are difficult to navigate, or the phone lines where we get a “Diamond” line and half the time they don’t even know their own policies.
    Delta is a good airline, friendly ppl most of the time but that doesn’t make them premium.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Once again, you do realize that neither Air France or any other foreign airline is permitted to serve the US domestic market, the largest in the world, just as US carriers do not have access to the domestic markets of any significant market in the world?
      The French domestic market is highly protected from competition to the benefit of Air France, far more so than in the US for US carriers. And that is...

      Once again, you do realize that neither Air France or any other foreign airline is permitted to serve the US domestic market, the largest in the world, just as US carriers do not have access to the domestic markets of any significant market in the world?
      The French domestic market is highly protected from competition to the benefit of Air France, far more so than in the US for US carriers. And that is true for EVERY major global airline.
      and all of those Asian airlines to which so many love to compare US airlines do not offer CAREERS for most employees. Some of us define "premium" as including the ability of employees to earn a decent living on par w/ the middle class in those societies.
      Some of us don't think there is anything "premium" about taking advantage of someone else to deliver a product a product which they could never afford even in its most basic form so we can enjoy it.
      You ALSO realize that Delta and Air France as well as multiple other combinations between US and foreign carriers involve revenue sharing joint ventures? If the service was so bad on US carriers, do you really think foreign carriers would share their revenue if it was much better? Of course, in reality, US carriers generate high quality revenue even on international routes where they compete with foreign carriers. No business would survive offering a service which people wouldn't pay for.

      And the root of the issue is that many of you don't like US culture - which is far less accustomed to service or civility than in most parts of the world. Do I like being treated much better in a restaurant in S. Korea or Italy than I am in the US even at a comparable price point, GDP adjusted? You bet I do.
      But if I hated US service so bad, I would leave.

      Some people can't grasp that US airlines reflect the culture in which they operate but they still manage to make as much or money per passenger as their foreign counterparts. In the eyes of the totality of people that travel, foreign carrier service is apparently not as great nor is US carrier service as bad as you think.

    2. ZTravel Gold

      @Tim - I agrée with some of the points you make, but let me briefly share my perspective.

      Air France doesn’t have real competition because of the size of their domestic market (other than sncf/TVG)! We already went from 6 large carriers to 3 here - in some parts of the country it’s like a monopoly. If anything we need more competition.

      I’’m mostly talking and concerned about international travel. We don’t have...

      @Tim - I agrée with some of the points you make, but let me briefly share my perspective.

      Air France doesn’t have real competition because of the size of their domestic market (other than sncf/TVG)! We already went from 6 large carriers to 3 here - in some parts of the country it’s like a monopoly. If anything we need more competition.

      I’’m mostly talking and concerned about international travel. We don’t have a lot of options domestically and they are all similar but I’ve always selected Delta because I was “used” to them. To me it was more of a habit and loyalty over convenience or price. That stickiness is now gone. Not because these changes will impact me severely, they actually won’t, but because they went out of their way to ensure that those who travel the most are penalized the most. Flying them now is pointless. You want recognition, spend. Removing the MQM was it for me. Not the skyclub or any of the other changes. The constant devaluation of all aspects… I think generally this is the end of loyalty programs and that’s ok. Ppl will move on & in couple of years airlines will realize that they have to compete to get our business.

      I’m sure delta has studied this thoroughly (even without consulting Brady lol) but I’m willing to bet that in-spite of all the data, they are wrong and these changes will hurt their bottom line on couple of years.

      It’s exciting… hopefully will see some real completion domestically!

  39. Joe C. Guest

    LOL. If you honestly think Delta is the same as AA and UA, take a trip on Delta and then go take one on AA and UA and then try to tell me Delta doesn't stand out. AA and UA treat employees like hired help and it shows in their lousy customer service. That's why customers pay more to fly on Delta.

  40. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Some people fail to realize that this blog is operated as a for-profit enterprise which is driven by ad revenue which is driven by how many page clicks the site receives. Comments ARE part of generating page clicks and some people are happy to give the site owner revenue to exchange FACTS as well as our own opinions.

    There is factual data that shows that OMAAT's share of aviation blog traffic dropped over the past...

    Some people fail to realize that this blog is operated as a for-profit enterprise which is driven by ad revenue which is driven by how many page clicks the site receives. Comments ARE part of generating page clicks and some people are happy to give the site owner revenue to exchange FACTS as well as our own opinions.

    There is factual data that shows that OMAAT's share of aviation blog traffic dropped over the past week even though Delta threw the blogosphere 3 tons of red meat with their Skymiles changes. OMAAT ran an article on the subject which was wildly popular and then returned to its usual programming of hawking credit cards and foreign loyalty programs - and traffic fell.

    Ben did what any rational person would do - run an article about Delta - this time based on opinions - because everyone has one.

    Problem is that some of us - like me - bring facts to the table and alot of people simply don't like facts because, if something is quantifiable, then an opinion simply doesn't matter any more.

    The question of whether Delta is a premium airline is as subjectively answered as it is to show which airline has the best on-time performance or carries the most passengers.

    And, notably, this article doesn't even define "premium" in a way that applies not just to air travel but to any other product or service. If "premium" were defined in any logical way, the data would simply and overwhelmingly show that Delta is THE MOST premium airline in the world by any OBJECTIVE measure.

    Some people will PREFER Burger King over Wendy's but premium is not subject to opinion - as much as some would like to think otherwise

    1. Chris Guest

      #conniption

      Methinks the Dunn doth protest too much.

    2. MaxPower Diamond

      you really need a life lol. You're upset about an article and now go off on Lucky's site numbers?
      Seriously, Tim. You embarrass yourself a bit too much.

    3. Tim Dunn Diamond

      facts, again, bother you greatly.

      I'm not bothered about anything.

    4. digital_notmad Diamond

      lol tim isn't bothered at all guys, he's very extremely not bothered, can't you see?

    5. Seagullwhisperer Guest

      Oh no Tim’s head just exploded! And he’s perfectly happy to throw Ben under the bus in the process…. ‘cause why not, what the hell!

    6. Leigh Diamond

      I'm laughing at this post, your ending conclusion. Your use the word "OBJECTIVE", yet you lost at the end. Sure, by financial and operational metrics your claim is well founded...but your comment that DL is "THE MOST" premium airline in the world using financial metrics is absurd and now makes you look like a laughing stock.

    7. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Tell us then, Leigh, the definition of "premium" and what components make it up and use brand comparisons from 3 different industries other than airlines - and then tell us why the conclusions you use don't apply to Delta or the airline industry.
      The reality is that the entire article was based on subjectivity - opinions - which everyone gets.

      You and others simply do not want objective answers because it shuts down opinions.

      ...

      Tell us then, Leigh, the definition of "premium" and what components make it up and use brand comparisons from 3 different industries other than airlines - and then tell us why the conclusions you use don't apply to Delta or the airline industry.
      The reality is that the entire article was based on subjectivity - opinions - which everyone gets.

      You and others simply do not want objective answers because it shuts down opinions.

      The reason why Ben launched the article is to generate page clicks when it is clear that this site's page click share fell in a week when aviation blog traffic went through the roof due to Delta's Skymiles announcement.

    8. Chris Guest

      This is hilarious. Tim, you're at the point where you're posting irrelevant comments suggesting that this article was posted simply as a cheap pile-on to drive website traffic.

      Let's be real, though: a comfortable plurality of the comments on this article are from you. I wouldn't be surprised if half the clicks and website refreshes are, too.

      You really don't see the irony here, do you? Or can you really just not help yourself?...

      This is hilarious. Tim, you're at the point where you're posting irrelevant comments suggesting that this article was posted simply as a cheap pile-on to drive website traffic.

      Let's be real, though: a comfortable plurality of the comments on this article are from you. I wouldn't be surprised if half the clicks and website refreshes are, too.

      You really don't see the irony here, do you? Or can you really just not help yourself? Regardless - keep it up; Lucky's got to be loving your support. TD traffic for days. <3

    9. Tim Dunn Diamond

      I have absolutely no problem putting money in Ben's pocket.
      THAT is precisely the point.

      Some people argue against talking about the economics of air travel so they can post their opinion but I acknowledge the economic reality of this site so I am happy to post FACTS.

    10. Chris Guest

      The article was literally presented as an open invitation for opinions. It's also pretty obvious from said article that it's the passenger experience being canvassed and whether readers consider it to be "premium" (which inherently requires comparisons against other carriers) and/or worth the premium Delta often charges for said experience.

      If you think an article literally soliciting anecdotal opinions isn't of value, don't participate. If you're confident your facts are ultimately of more weight than...

      The article was literally presented as an open invitation for opinions. It's also pretty obvious from said article that it's the passenger experience being canvassed and whether readers consider it to be "premium" (which inherently requires comparisons against other carriers) and/or worth the premium Delta often charges for said experience.

      If you think an article literally soliciting anecdotal opinions isn't of value, don't participate. If you're confident your facts are ultimately of more weight than those anecdotal opinions, then it's water off your back. No need to go after people and their motives individually, nor repeatedly reply to comments and police those opinions by insisting people qualify them or defend them according to context and definitions you deem acceptable.

      It's not about you, nor is it about the balance sheet (one can easily dream up a dozen better reasons why DL is as profitable as it is beyond subjective opinion about whether it's often worth a higher cost relative to its peers).

      You can throw all the "facts" at me you like --- I'm still far less impressed with Delta than I was just a few years ago and I'll no longer pay a premium in price to fly them. Do they care? I'd have to assume not. Am I the lone outlier? No. Am I indicative of all? Also no. Will this work out for them long-term? Neither of us knows.

      Many a successful company has lost its way assuming past results will ensure future performance, even with the best of intentions, let alone those who dismiss the criticism as irrelevant anecdotes.

    11. Leigh Diamond

      I never tried to define "premium" in my comment amongst the various global industry verticals...you're putting words in my mouth, as you do with others.

      True "premium" is aspirational. That's what branding and marketing strategy is about.

      You put yourself into a corner with your hyperbolic posts today.

      Premium in other industry verticals?

      LVMH
      Regent Seven Seas
      USB

      The question you asked was kinda silly...different verticals, different metrics.

      (I know your answer to...

      I never tried to define "premium" in my comment amongst the various global industry verticals...you're putting words in my mouth, as you do with others.

      True "premium" is aspirational. That's what branding and marketing strategy is about.

      You put yourself into a corner with your hyperbolic posts today.

      Premium in other industry verticals?

      LVMH
      Regent Seven Seas
      USB

      The question you asked was kinda silly...different verticals, different metrics.

      (I know your answer to this question already)

      Do you really think anyone in the world perhaps thinks DL is the "MOST PREMIUM" airline in the world?

      Great airline on many metrics and service, and now that I'm lifetime AA/oneworld I have much more flexibility...which I have moved to DL..but your not doing anything for yourself.

      Shouldn't you spend more time on Seeking Alpha as opposed to blogs that don't represent your paying clientele?

    12. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      Timmy Boy. You including "most passengers carried" as part of your definition of "Premium" is HI-FRACKIN-LARIOUS. But, continue to be "unbothered".

    13. ed Guest

      Without looking at dictionary, yes, a PREMIUM product or service is one which delivers a higher standard (objectively) AND thus being differentiated fetches a higher price than "standard" options

      Where Tim lost the plot is this article is forward-looking, and thus speculative. Judging from observed, but not measured trends in dimensions Tim wishes to dismiss, Delta is delivering sub-standard service (supply side) AND consumer sentiment is signaling decreased demand. These are just reports, "just follow...

      Without looking at dictionary, yes, a PREMIUM product or service is one which delivers a higher standard (objectively) AND thus being differentiated fetches a higher price than "standard" options

      Where Tim lost the plot is this article is forward-looking, and thus speculative. Judging from observed, but not measured trends in dimensions Tim wishes to dismiss, Delta is delivering sub-standard service (supply side) AND consumer sentiment is signaling decreased demand. These are just reports, "just follow the science" Tim. The data is not yet in.

      I'm sure by cherry picking the data, and Delta execs using balance sheet sleight of hand, Tim can confidently school us on rationality for several quarters to come. Thanks Tim, that's what I'm looking for in my airline experience

  41. Randy Smith Guest

    Delta has been a leader in cheapening thier frequent flyer program and their airline in general. Both Delta and United were neck and neck in the race to the bottom a decade back, with American a distant third taking benefits away (they caught up rapidly in pissing off their most valuable customers with constantly making thier Admirals Club points worth less and making it harder to use the miles. They stopped their 500 mile upgrades...

    Delta has been a leader in cheapening thier frequent flyer program and their airline in general. Both Delta and United were neck and neck in the race to the bottom a decade back, with American a distant third taking benefits away (they caught up rapidly in pissing off their most valuable customers with constantly making thier Admirals Club points worth less and making it harder to use the miles. They stopped their 500 mile upgrades while I still had 33 of them and they offered virtually nothing in return! I refuse to fly United at all, and I only fly Delta if there is no other alternative. American used to be far superior and I flew them quite a bit ( I am a two million miler), but now I don't bother prioritizing American as my first choice. If a foreign carrier is competing on a route I will use them (with the exception of BA and Iberia, both of which are extremely poor choices). Delta a premium carrier? Ha ha ha...

  42. Cindi Guest

    I fly all the airlines and have never found Delta to be any better than the others. I don't get the mystique.

  43. DC Guy Guest

    DL has many employees that pay out of pocket for club membership and many pay the premium AmEx card charges for access. In one swoop DL banned them all. Internal customers are still customers and many are on full fare tickets but are still banned. HINT: Watch DL flight attendants show their “brand loyalty” by unionizing.

  44. FLLFLYER Guest

    I think most of the comments comparing the US3 are pretty spot on here.

    One of my last flights on DL was recently ATL-FLL on a B757 - and completely full. Fortunately in Delta Comfort.

    Captain asks flight attendants to stay seated after departure due to turbulence - not even a bump the entire flight. F/As were mostly new hire.
    They did serve F (no turbulence there) but not Comfort. They just sat on...

    I think most of the comments comparing the US3 are pretty spot on here.

    One of my last flights on DL was recently ATL-FLL on a B757 - and completely full. Fortunately in Delta Comfort.

    Captain asks flight attendants to stay seated after departure due to turbulence - not even a bump the entire flight. F/As were mostly new hire.
    They did serve F (no turbulence there) but not Comfort. They just sat on the jumpseat in front of the passengers speaking Spanish the entire flight.

    Premium?? More like a flight on Avianca

  45. Steven Guest

    I find Delta no longer serves the customers best interest.
    I am Diamond, International First Class flyer & am often disappointed if not club access then issues with Screen, chair or sone other
    Issue.
    Its more expensive & definitely not loyal to its loyal customers.
    I wish I did not have 15 trips booked at present but will fly other airlines more frequently where I may be more appreciated

  46. GringoLoco Gold

    DL definitely has premium lobbyists and internet shills.

    1. jedipenguin Guest

      I feel more appreciated by Spirit-better people.

  47. LLoyd Guest

    Just ordered the United Infinite card which permits access to united lounge with one guest.
    I only have 250K miles remaining with Delta, once they are used, I will be calling to cancel my account. Enough is enough of their greed..

    1. Randy Smith Guest

      Here here! I think Delta's FF is a joke and I use points as quick as I get them; they will be worth less tomorrow...

  48. Paul Gold

    We need more airline choices in the U.S.

    1. ps241 Guest

      Every time we get a new airline for another choice (e.g., Virgin America), the government permits one of the existing airlines to acquire the new airline and eliminate it as a competitor - it's the American way.

    2. jedipenguin Guest

      End cabotage now. I would love to fly Korean Air between Phoenix and Los Angeles.

  49. RF Diamond

    Delta is definitely not a premium airline. To be fair, no U.S. airlines are premium.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      and no foreign airlines have access to the US market any more than any US airlines have significant access to any other carrier's domestic markets.

    2. Extraordinary1 Member

      Which is why American is the most premium airline in the United States.

    3. Seagullwhisperer Guest

      And as such Tim agrees Delta is not truly a premium airline, perhaps when compared to Spirit or Frontier, as they say, “it’s all relative”!

  50. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Another based for considering whether an airline is premium or not is that Delta has more flights operated on its own aircraft - not regional jets - with premium cabins than any other airline in the world.
    Delta also serves more US cities on its own aircraft - all of which have premium cabins - than any other airline.
    AA has a larger number of flights but a much higher percentage of flights...

    Another based for considering whether an airline is premium or not is that Delta has more flights operated on its own aircraft - not regional jets - with premium cabins than any other airline in the world.
    Delta also serves more US cities on its own aircraft - all of which have premium cabins - than any other airline.
    AA has a larger number of flights but a much higher percentage of flights are on regional jets - you can debate the quality of regional jet service vs. mainline and AA and UA both STILL operate scores of 50 passenger regional jets.
    Again, perception of quality is subjective; one person will count some things as premium will others will think something else is more important.
    Everyone will have their own experiences so anecdotes mean little for companies as large as any US airline.

    Delta just happens to provide more opportunities for premium service than any other US airline and gets a whole lot more revenue from doing just that.

    To argue that they aren't premium seems a little silly in light of facts that say they carry more premium revenue than any other airline in the world

    1. MaxPower Diamond

      Cute but aa owns most of their regional flying as Wholly owned carriers.

      Lame attempt at an argument though, tim

      You can just not respond to articles. You know that, right?

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      and you do know that the DOT requires a disclosure when an airline does not operate the flight they market, don't you, and it doesn't matter whether the operator is a wholly owned subsidiary or not?

    3. MaxPower Diamond

      Are you saying AAL doesn’t own PSA, Piedmont, and Envoy?
      You’re really grasping at straws today, Tim

      The AA wholly owneds are AA flying more owned jets than delta. Plain and simple.

    4. Randy Smith Guest

      Tim,
      How much stock do you own in Delta?

  51. Jiyun Guest

    Here Tim, Delta does great business (according to you, and objectively, according to you). They're very profitable. I hear you, and I don't argue with what you say. Ko

    A lot of us believe they shouldn't be this profitable. I don't like them, so do many others. I'm a Southwest boy through and through. Why don't you accept our subjective opinions for what they are and help us propagate this idea. They're a very well-run...

    Here Tim, Delta does great business (according to you, and objectively, according to you). They're very profitable. I hear you, and I don't argue with what you say. Ko

    A lot of us believe they shouldn't be this profitable. I don't like them, so do many others. I'm a Southwest boy through and through. Why don't you accept our subjective opinions for what they are and help us propagate this idea. They're a very well-run business, but they don't need to be if there's dissatisfaction. What say?

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Not once have I discredited anyone's SUBJECTIVE and PERSONAL opinion of their OWN experience.

      I do object to those that wish to paint w/ broad brush strokes including about the nature of Delta or any airline's service.

      After this many posts, which presumably you read, it is mind-numbing that you can't see the difference.

      and I fly Southwest too but they are not even in the same league as AAL DAL or UAL. If you...

      Not once have I discredited anyone's SUBJECTIVE and PERSONAL opinion of their OWN experience.

      I do object to those that wish to paint w/ broad brush strokes including about the nature of Delta or any airline's service.

      After this many posts, which presumably you read, it is mind-numbing that you can't see the difference.

      and I fly Southwest too but they are not even in the same league as AAL DAL or UAL. If you choose LUV as your primary carrier based on anything but schedule, then having a premium experience is clearly not in your vocabulary

    2. Jiyun Guest

      No I'm not saying you disregarded anyone's subjective opinions. I'm being sarcastic. I'm just saying, why not join us for fun once and add to the subjective complaints about Delta?

    3. Jiyun Guest

      I'm NOT*** being sarcastic ugh

    4. Ivan X Gold

      @Tim Dunn ALL THE TIME you tell people why they should feel differently because Delta has better operations, or is more profitable, or has more lounge space, or because (fill in DOT stat). People literally say "I don't like it," and you all but say, "Your opinion isn't worth anything because profitability is the only measure worth considering in a for-profit, publicly held business." So, you can believe that you have never discredited someone's subjective...

      @Tim Dunn ALL THE TIME you tell people why they should feel differently because Delta has better operations, or is more profitable, or has more lounge space, or because (fill in DOT stat). People literally say "I don't like it," and you all but say, "Your opinion isn't worth anything because profitability is the only measure worth considering in a for-profit, publicly held business." So, you can believe that you have never discredited someone's subjective and personal opinion, but evidence to the contrary is everywhere.

  52. Henry Guest

    I do not even consider any of the US airlines is “normal”. If any of them close to the word “premium”, most likely AA, at least they have an F.

    1. Ivan X Gold

      They do, but at least for transcon, I'd say their F is on a par with United Polaris. or JetBlue Mint solo seat; and their J is inferior. (I haven't flown D1 transcon so I can't compare to that, but I haven't heard amazing things.)

      Of course this will be changing in the next few years, but when it does, AA won't have a transcon F anymore.

  53. Dave Guest

    The only thing Delta really still has on the others for me, is service for IROP or advance schedule changes. I'll still take a Delta call center over UA or AA any day. But that might be fading.

    1. Kip Guest

      You'd be surprised at what United has. As a former employee of both United and Delta in RM, it's crazy how many cool programs United has over Delta.

      For call centers, United has much more including options via FaceTime and messages in the app. Way easier than calling and waiting on hold when all you need to do is send a message and wait for a response.

      Other cool programs are connect saver,...

      You'd be surprised at what United has. As a former employee of both United and Delta in RM, it's crazy how many cool programs United has over Delta.

      For call centers, United has much more including options via FaceTime and messages in the app. Way easier than calling and waiting on hold when all you need to do is send a message and wait for a response.

      Other cool programs are connect saver, which holds a flight just a few minutes if someone has a tight connection without effecting any downline connections. Takes into account things like how much time can be made up in air, connections at the arrival airport, duty times, weather and more. All automatic and computerized and designed to cut misconnections.

      There's also a program to help rebook people automatically in diversions and other IRROPs.

      And all of this and more on the most feature rich app.

    2. Ivan X Gold

      Agreed. United's app is actually much better than it has any right to be.

    3. whopperman New Member

      I had a UA flight canceled this summer. I was able to rebook in the app before they sent notification of the cancellation (it was to one of those EAS cities with only 2 flights a day). I was impressed with the app.

  54. Bob Guest

    Another point to add to your analysis is that American and United lounges have gotten much better, closing the gap with Delta's clubs (assuming you can even get in, as you noted). For example, the new United club at EWR and the new American club at DCA are gorgeous, and the food and drinks are upgraded as well. United offers hot and cold buffets with ample choices, and American regularly has customized breakfast and afternoon...

    Another point to add to your analysis is that American and United lounges have gotten much better, closing the gap with Delta's clubs (assuming you can even get in, as you noted). For example, the new United club at EWR and the new American club at DCA are gorgeous, and the food and drinks are upgraded as well. United offers hot and cold buffets with ample choices, and American regularly has customized breakfast and afternoon food bars and just announced further food and beverage improvements this summer. The bottom line is that Delta clubs, while still somewhat better than United and American, are not massively better as they were previously as the other two carriers narrow the gap on this important point.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      I'm guessing you haven't been in the new SkyClubs in AUS BNA EWR LAX ORD MCI and more.
      ALL lounges are getting better but DL is simply investing in more new clubs on top of already having more square feet of lounge space of any airline in the world.
      and JFK T4B, the most ridiculed lounge, will be supplemented by the new T4A SC plus a new Delta One lounge that is larger...

      I'm guessing you haven't been in the new SkyClubs in AUS BNA EWR LAX ORD MCI and more.
      ALL lounges are getting better but DL is simply investing in more new clubs on top of already having more square feet of lounge space of any airline in the world.
      and JFK T4B, the most ridiculed lounge, will be supplemented by the new T4A SC plus a new Delta One lounge that is larger than the T4B SC.
      DL simply opened the floodgates to new customers before all of these new projects could accommodate them. Even in ATL where DL has more SCs than any airline has at any single airport in the world, lines are common at only a couple lounges at specific times.

      Again, quality is subjective. The sheer number of opportunities to enjoy premium services is not. Delta simply has more SF of lounge space already and is adding to it faster than any other airline.

    2. GS Guest

      DL is definitely nice but if their business
      Model relies on pax willing to pay a premium, I don’t see how that’s sustainable. Price and schedule are the most important things - you need a big gulf in quality (or loyalty) for people to overcome that and choose you. SkyMiles is a junk program, and if you can’t separate yourself from UA/AA then how is the model sustainable? Imo Delta’s success the past decade...

      DL is definitely nice but if their business
      Model relies on pax willing to pay a premium, I don’t see how that’s sustainable. Price and schedule are the most important things - you need a big gulf in quality (or loyalty) for people to overcome that and choose you. SkyMiles is a junk program, and if you can’t separate yourself from UA/AA then how is the model sustainable? Imo Delta’s success the past decade hasn’t been because they’re so good, but because AA/UA were incompetent. DL had much tougher sledding competing with AS in Seattle. If UA and AA can get their act together (and they’re starting to) then where does DL go?

    3. Brian Guest

      The sky club at SLC is great. The Admiral's Club at SNA includes some cheese cubes, cookies, salad, soup, and iced tea. Not a high water mark for clubs outside of the focus cities of AA.

  55. Aaron K Guest

    JetBlue may have offered free WiFi first, but I just took a transcon with them in economy (against my better judgment) because I’d heard the product was genuinely quite a bit better than economy on other U.S. carriers. The WiFi barely worked for the entirety of the 6-hour flight. The entertainment screen was on before takeoff but was INSANELY slow and laggy, and then did not work one time for the rest of the flight....

    JetBlue may have offered free WiFi first, but I just took a transcon with them in economy (against my better judgment) because I’d heard the product was genuinely quite a bit better than economy on other U.S. carriers. The WiFi barely worked for the entirety of the 6-hour flight. The entertainment screen was on before takeoff but was INSANELY slow and laggy, and then did not work one time for the rest of the flight. They made an announcement and apologized that all screens were offline the entire flight. Of course this is one experience, but I’ve heard similar stories now from friends. JetBlue seems to have lost its edge as well, and I would definitely not compare their entertainment screens or offerings to that of Delta. The seats are packed in on Delta, but at least the IFE and WiFi they offer is consistently reliable and fast.

    1. Trevor_G Member

      Ok I did fly them last in 2016 so I imagine my experiences are out of date

    2. Ivan X Gold

      I flew them recently on a newer A321 non-Mint config and it was comfortable and spacious (for econ) and Wi-Fi and IFE worked great. (Being in a reclining exit row with a purchased empty middle between us certainly helped.)

  56. Theodore Tso Guest

    I'm a two million miler on American after AA squeezed in two extra rows into economy and generally made the planes much less pleasant to fly. It wasn't ripping perfectly good seatback TVs since I generally don't use them. It was removing the padding from the seats so they were hard to sit in.

    I'm now flying Delta and finding it a much better experience for me. I generally fly Comfort plus and not first...

    I'm a two million miler on American after AA squeezed in two extra rows into economy and generally made the planes much less pleasant to fly. It wasn't ripping perfectly good seatback TVs since I generally don't use them. It was removing the padding from the seats so they were hard to sit in.

    I'm now flying Delta and finding it a much better experience for me. I generally fly Comfort plus and not first class, but for me Delta is FAR superior then American.

    I haven't flown on United in over 20 years but after seeing the the horror stories such as David Dao's bloody face after United overbooked a flight and then had him forcibly dragged off, I have zero interest in flying the Unfriendly Skies.

  57. Mitch Rapp Guest

    I agree completely with your article. Even with all the changes to the SkyMiles program how do we know that the lines to get into the clubs will be shorter. Since Delta made these changes I have canceled my 4 trips with them and re booked them on United. As a Diamond Medallion member since it was first conceived I have already changed to United who was happy to except me as a 1K member since I spend over $40,000 a year on airfare annually.

  58. Joanne Rotella Guest

    Agreed. I just flew business class to Italy on Delta. Not a premium experience. The seats were hard and uncomfortable, did not lie down flat. The cabin was old with lots of shaking and noise. Food service was spotty at best. Restroom too small. I will be looking for a different airline on my next international flight

  59. Jake Guest

    The fundamental problem with the airlines is all of them have failed to invest in their most important asset - the front line employees - namely flight attendants. Their pay hasn't even kept pace with inflation over time and as a result the airlines can no longer hire the cream of the crop - but must hire whoever is willing to work in an extremely crowded environment - working long - up to 15 hour...

    The fundamental problem with the airlines is all of them have failed to invest in their most important asset - the front line employees - namely flight attendants. Their pay hasn't even kept pace with inflation over time and as a result the airlines can no longer hire the cream of the crop - but must hire whoever is willing to work in an extremely crowded environment - working long - up to 15 hour days - for VERY little money.
    In the 1970's to 2000's people went to work for the travel benefits, not the money.
    But today those travel perks are worthless and you cannot use them due to every airline overselling every flight and offering $ 198 round trip tickets all over the place.
    It's shocking to me that the airlines can actually get people to work there at all today.
    I mean the recent 99.4% Strike Authorization vote at American really tells you everything you need to know. This is an industry with VERY unhappy workers and management is to blame for not compensating them properly with raises that exceed the rate of inflation. But I digress, there simply are no "premium" airlines today. They are all more focused on preserving market share (volume) than with profitability and customer satisfaction. It's sad. We need to nationalize and re-regulate the entire Industry.

    1. Guest Guest

      If your comments about no premium airlines today apply to USA-based airlines only then I would totally agree with you. Most Asian airlines and some European airlines are leaps and bounds superior to USA based airlines.

  60. Greg Guest

    Comment: Delta Airlines a premium airline?? Really? I avoid DA like the plague because of their SkyPesos FF program!! https://www.reddit.com/r/delta/comments/za5gmb/what_is_your_philosophe_on_sky_pesos/

    1. XPL Diamond

      Although I see your point -- SkyMiles isn't the most compelling program out there -- that is not one of the metrics Ben is using (operational reliability, friendly employees, aircraft interiors, lounges). Yeah, I get it, we all define "premium" differently, but FWIW I think Ben's list is solid.

      As a counterexample, Avianca LifeMiles is commonly considered one of the best programs, but no one would call Avianca "premium".

  61. Kyle Guest

    Yes absolutely. Soft product has especially taken a hit in D1 and F. There is a post on FlyerTalk that shows the meals in Premium Economy and compares them to AA, and it's not even a contest both in terms of the meal and the presentation.

    Delta being a decade late on business class lounges highly likely contributes to a substantial portion of the crowding issues today.

    Upgrades are next to impossible even for Diamonds/Plats.

    ...

    Yes absolutely. Soft product has especially taken a hit in D1 and F. There is a post on FlyerTalk that shows the meals in Premium Economy and compares them to AA, and it's not even a contest both in terms of the meal and the presentation.

    Delta being a decade late on business class lounges highly likely contributes to a substantial portion of the crowding issues today.

    Upgrades are next to impossible even for Diamonds/Plats.

    Delta in the 2010s was top of the heap. It's unrecognizable today

  62. Trevor_G Member

    This is interesting - being in Seattle Delta had the best lounge *until* the Alaska lounge remodels, and now I'd say the difference is less noticable, especially with the new Centurion lounge. I think Delta definitely put the heat on AA and United, but if JetBlue had lounges I truly think they are nicer than Delta in terms of in-flight experience. If only Alaska had seatback screens, there would be no contest (for domestic at least).

    1. Guest Guest

      I love Alaska Airlines, I have never had bad customer service or a neurotic flight attendant ever. One complaint is their lounge in PDX and it's quite terrible. I think they need to spend money there especially when it's now a OW partner and BA flies nonstop from PDX-LHR. They desperately need a better lounge for premium long haul pax.

    2. Trevor_G Member

      I've never had the chance to fly PDX (I'm Washington born and bred but with living overseas didn't make it to Portland until I was 35!!) and I imagine with being the biggest player there they have less incentive to invest - boo to that! Here's hoping you get the SeaTac remodels, the D gates went from an overated Plaza Premium style lounge to better than any admiral's club I've ever visited!

    3. GS Guest

      PDX will be getting an Alaska Flagship lounge as part of the remodel (think smaller SeaTac N-Sat). can’t come soon enough.

  63. John Guest

    There is quite a rumor floating around that Delta will be retrofitting wide body jets to have a much larger business class cabin, buckling down on their premium stance. Wonder when this will be announced.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      There is also a one year old rumor that Delta will announce an order for the A350-1000, which would get them the most efficient large widebody in the US carrier fleet.

      Delta also placed an order for new cabins on its 9 ex-Latam A350s and is waiting for those to be delivered and will announce their new cabins when they can retrofit enough aircraft while also taking delivery of enough new aircraft to make it...

      There is also a one year old rumor that Delta will announce an order for the A350-1000, which would get them the most efficient large widebody in the US carrier fleet.

      Delta also placed an order for new cabins on its 9 ex-Latam A350s and is waiting for those to be delivered and will announce their new cabins when they can retrofit enough aircraft while also taking delivery of enough new aircraft to make it worthwhile.

      Delta has about 3 dozen new aircraft due for delivery in the next 3 years with the largest amount coming next year. The chances are high that those aircraft will have new cabins and the interior standard set by the new aircraft will be the basis of retrofitting Delta's existing aircraft which could take the better part of the remainder of this decade.

      Unlike United, Delta also does not make grandiose announcements that can't become reality.

      And there is a good chance that Delta will roll out its second generation suite before AA and UA install their first.

    2. Kip Guest

      "And there is a good chance that Delta will roll out its second generation suite before AA and UA install their first."

      This is hugely misleading. Delta decided to not update 767 fleet. They put new colors and new leather on the same old seat. They will always be behind United in terms of updating cabin then. At least United did put their newest cabin on the 767 and did a true upgrade.

      ...

      "And there is a good chance that Delta will roll out its second generation suite before AA and UA install their first."

      This is hugely misleading. Delta decided to not update 767 fleet. They put new colors and new leather on the same old seat. They will always be behind United in terms of updating cabin then. At least United did put their newest cabin on the 767 and did a true upgrade.

      Ontop of this, Delta's 350 fleet is a mess of inconsistency. As a customer, you could get LATAM J seat or Delta One Suites.

  64. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Just a few factual fleet related comments:
    1, In terms of fleet age, the youngest fleet among the big 4 belongs to AA followed by WN then DL then UA.
    While AA has the youngest fleet, it has the most spartan cabins, not even comparable to WN which at least makes up for the lack of onboard amenities with more space on SOME aircraft in SOME seats.
    WN has the most consistent...

    Just a few factual fleet related comments:
    1, In terms of fleet age, the youngest fleet among the big 4 belongs to AA followed by WN then DL then UA.
    While AA has the youngest fleet, it has the most spartan cabins, not even comparable to WN which at least makes up for the lack of onboard amenities with more space on SOME aircraft in SOME seats.
    WN has the most consistent product in an industry where the largest players all operate fleets of more than 800 aircraft where it is and always will be possible to have a consistent product.
    DL has a lot of product diversity in its fleet but also does the best job of segregating its fleet by mission type and use. and it still has more aircraft that have modern seatback AVOD and free Wifi than any other airline in the world.
    UA has great aspirations but all of the fleet purchases are simply not going to replace large portions of their fleet if their growth plans are going to be reality. There is simply no way the supply chain will support the amount of retrofitting that UA will have to do to retain the majority of its older fleet, replace regional jets and take delivery of more new aircraft than any airline in history or this decade. UA's talk about fleet improvements is THE REAL vapor ware.

    As far as premium cabins on international aircraft, no one bothers to note that UA still flies 757s across the Atlantic and sells them as premium class but AA and DL no longer do. UA 757s most certainly are inferior to every other longhaul US premium cabin product.

    DL's 763ERs in domestic service compete heavily against UA's high density 777s which certainly do not have Polaris or near as much space for any passenger. The HD 777s are the LEAST comfortable US widebodies in the sky

    And AA and UA do not have ANY SUITE products on any aircraft while Delta has scores of A330-900s and A350s that do - but all of the bottom feeding comments never seen to recognize that reality. Those that want to argue that a door doesn't matter simply prove that quality is subjective and anyone can choose to argue about what is desirable and what is not.

    1. DL Marketing Premium Guest

      Yeah, and it’s no surprise that your insights usually receive the most detractions.

      United has rolled out its Polaris product on the entirety of its nearly 200 wide bodies which started only in 2016. That’s just under 30 aircraft per year. Delta has just over 40 aircraft with the latest product with doors that was initiated in 2017. That’s 7 aircraft per year. Another issue is the type of markets Delta schedules its infamous 767-300ER:...

      Yeah, and it’s no surprise that your insights usually receive the most detractions.

      United has rolled out its Polaris product on the entirety of its nearly 200 wide bodies which started only in 2016. That’s just under 30 aircraft per year. Delta has just over 40 aircraft with the latest product with doors that was initiated in 2017. That’s 7 aircraft per year. Another issue is the type of markets Delta schedules its infamous 767-300ER: Japan, Tahiti, Deep South America, Africa, and throughout Europe. Interesting to put a subpar product in markets where competitors are putting their best product.

      Several of UA premium transcon service is on Polaris equipment, while there is no A350 and seldom A330neo service. The amount of countries that are exclusively receiving the latest Delta suites can be counted on ONE HAND. Zero in Europe, zero in South America. For a US carrier to put a 2-2-2 J product on Deep South America, South Pacific, and Israel is wild in 2023.

      Pretty sure serving Porto, Tenerife, Shannon, and Malaga with the 757 is better than Delta’s alternative of not serving them at all. Plus the 757 2-2 product is similar and some ways superior to the 2-2-2 LATAM A350 product. Not having premium economy on a narrow body is one thing, but missing on your flagship aircraft is ridiculous.

      United has nearly 5 times as many Polaris equipped aircraft than Delta has aircraft with doors. United had 6 Polaris lounges, American has 5 Flagship lounges, while Delta has 0 premium lounges. Both American and United have credit cards that provide unlimited access to their lounges without spending thresholds and are still able to manage crowding. JFK, LGA, ATL and most AMEX lounges consistently have overcrowding issues. United has 50% more existing seats than Delta on wide bodies and nearly 3x more on order. Both American and United realized years ago that 32J on your largest wide body and having no dedicated premium lounges is not a premium strategy.

      There’s a reason why hoards of commenters agree with Ben.

    2. Sarthak Guest

      @DL Marketing Premium (hilarous alias btw) - This is one of the most informed rebuttals i've read on this thread. Impressive depth.

      I feel like a lot of this garbage you just countered has been just irrelevant/incoherent 'facts' that don't support a certain conclusion but you took the time to shred it apart with facts.

      There's been other examples too - I read somewhere there were comparisons between UA's dense domestic 777s and...

      @DL Marketing Premium (hilarous alias btw) - This is one of the most informed rebuttals i've read on this thread. Impressive depth.

      I feel like a lot of this garbage you just countered has been just irrelevant/incoherent 'facts' that don't support a certain conclusion but you took the time to shred it apart with facts.

      There's been other examples too - I read somewhere there were comparisons between UA's dense domestic 777s and DL's 767s because "it would be a no brainer for anyone to choose DL because of that" while conveniently ignoring the super premium 77Ws on transcon, which you noted.

      Even the prompt in discussion here is being conflated - Kroger is the most profitable grocer. But it's not Whole Foods (premium). They're two separate criteria.

      Anyway, enjoyed reading this.

    3. DL Marketing Premium Guest

      After a while, you notice Tim likes to use curated metrics to portray Delta as better in areas where it’s clearly worse. And somehow include no numbers to support his analysis, it’s impressive really.

      Tim’s approach to aviation analysis is like a crime detective who arrives at a crime scene and has a predetermined idea of the suspect with 100% confidence without first looking at any evidence. Then during the investigation collects evidence solely...

      After a while, you notice Tim likes to use curated metrics to portray Delta as better in areas where it’s clearly worse. And somehow include no numbers to support his analysis, it’s impressive really.

      Tim’s approach to aviation analysis is like a crime detective who arrives at a crime scene and has a predetermined idea of the suspect with 100% confidence without first looking at any evidence. Then during the investigation collects evidence solely to support that predetermination and disregards any facts that may suggest the contrary.

      A logical person starts with a premise and analyses facts to find a reasonable conclusion. Tim doesn’t understand this and it’s likely that he uses casual public forums as a refuge since his analysis would never be taken seriously in the industry, especially at the majors.

      Doesn’t help the incessant mental episodes where he’s completely unhinged, easily tilted and makes crazy insinuations. Just this week he claimed Gary must have been bullied as a child because viewfromthewing posted a negative article on DL.

    4. Cbchicago Guest

      bla bla bla We know you love Delta. However, I have avoided them for the last 50 years. Thank you United for my lifetime GS status. I picked the right airline

    5. Kip Guest

      "UA has great aspirations but all of the fleet purchases are simply not going to replace large portions of their fleet if their growth plans are going to be reality. There is simply no way the supply chain will support the amount of retrofitting that UA will have to do to retain the majority of its older fleet, replace regional jets and take delivery of more new aircraft than any airline in history or this...

      "UA has great aspirations but all of the fleet purchases are simply not going to replace large portions of their fleet if their growth plans are going to be reality. There is simply no way the supply chain will support the amount of retrofitting that UA will have to do to retain the majority of its older fleet, replace regional jets and take delivery of more new aircraft than any airline in history or this decade. UA's talk about fleet improvements is THE REAL vapor ware."

      This whole point is conjecture. Literally no data to support it. You are just making a point based on what you think to just support your point. UA had retrofitted more of its fleet to a brand new designed seat than Delta did. Delta didn't event want to replace the D1 seats on the 767 fleet. only put new fabric on it.

      "DL has a lot of product diversity in its fleet but also does the best job of segregating its fleet by mission type and use."

      You claim that Delta does the best job segregating fleet by mission type and use but then also claim that DL uses 763ER in domestic service.

      "DL's 763ERs in domestic service compete heavily against UA's high density 777s which certainly do not have Polaris or near as much space for any passenger."

      Literally contradicting your own argument in the same comment. DL using the 763ER in domestic service is just a case of wide body rotations in the lull time before/after a long haul flight. In fact, using the 763ER on any domestic route is actually wasteful as the plane can do much more than that, thus the ER. The only domestic route that would support you is any JFK/ATLMSP/DTW to Hawaii flight. In this case UA disigned the HD specifically for domestic trunk routes like to LAS/MCO and other high volume or seasonal traffic like Super Bowl. While not the best for pax experience, its job is to move a lot of people.

      At least please you objective points and arguments rather than your feelings.

      Former UA/DL network planner/RM

  65. Kathleen F Guest

    Delta is not the premium airline that they claim to be. Flight attendants are not as courteous as they used to be. They’re also not as attentive.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      I get that this is an aviation blog but can you tell me how many industries or large companies anywhere in the western world are OBJECTIVELY delivering better service than they did before the pandemic?

  66. Anthony Diamond

    Also, one thing I have noticed is that almost none of the bloggers have even visited Delta’s newest SkyClub. Ben - have you reviewed the new Delta clubs at LGA, LAX, ORD, MCI, BOS, MSP, etc? Have you actually compared the domestic club experience that Delta offers at JFK/LGA to the one offered by American (which consists of a new LGA club and a very old JFK club)? Obviously, the answer no.

  67. Jacob Guest

    100% agree on all of these points you make here. Of the competition, United to me has stepped up it's game the most by far (except for in the food department). The one thing I still appreciate most on Delta vs. AAL and UAL is that you can get 2 seat configuration in economy or comfort on a lot of their planes internationally.

  68. Anthony Diamond

    As someone who flies Delta a lot, the “premium” aspect is derived from:

    1) Perceived better onboard service from FAs
    2) Better domestic experience due to things like Wi-Fi, TVs, Comfort Plus (drinks), etc
    3) This is the big one - much better SkyClubs

    Ben, I think you brush off SkyClubs a bit too much here. First - there are only lines in ATL and JFK. Second - SkyClubs are much better...

    As someone who flies Delta a lot, the “premium” aspect is derived from:

    1) Perceived better onboard service from FAs
    2) Better domestic experience due to things like Wi-Fi, TVs, Comfort Plus (drinks), etc
    3) This is the big one - much better SkyClubs

    Ben, I think you brush off SkyClubs a bit too much here. First - there are only lines in ATL and JFK. Second - SkyClubs are much better than Admirals Clubs and United Clubs. You talk about JetBlue - they don’t have clubs. Premium international clubs (Flagship, Polaris, etc) aren’t really relevant here, because at the end of the day, Delta “premium” reputation is derived 100% from *domestic* operations.

    Last year, with the JetBlue and AA alliance, I actually tried to switch from Delta. Didn’t work. Why? No club in the JetBlue JFK terminal. Poor clubs elsewhere. Just not as nice of an experience.

    When it comes to international flights - I hear the critics of Delta, especially in terms of the 763. But if I am flying a personal international flight in business class, I can just redeem on another airline using transferable currencies. For business flights where my company is paying - I am mostly flying TATL, and between Delta, Virgin and Air France’s, I am fine with SkyTeam. However, most of my flying is domestic, so that is the bread and butter. And in terms of getting around this large country in relative comfort, Delta does it better.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      This is one of the most objective and unbiased comments to this article.

      Delta is quantifying the largest carrier of corporate traffic not just in the US but worldwide. They produce a product which companies pay for which drives their revenue premium
      Add in the strategic missteps by AA and UA and the growth of DL in 2 of the largest corporate travel markets - NYC and LA - and throw in BOS and...

      This is one of the most objective and unbiased comments to this article.

      Delta is quantifying the largest carrier of corporate traffic not just in the US but worldwide. They produce a product which companies pay for which drives their revenue premium
      Add in the strategic missteps by AA and UA and the growth of DL in 2 of the largest corporate travel markets - NYC and LA - and throw in BOS and DL's access to premium revenue customers is growing far faster than any competitors.

      DL will upgrade its products but they will do it based on what customers will pay and that includes their partner network. The Skyteam transatlantic JV is the largest JV in the world while the DL/KE JV is the largest transpacific JV and DL/Latam is the largest in Latin America.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      Replying to @Anthony while waiting in line to get in MSP SkyClub.

      It's not just JFK or ATL. You might claim to fly a lot, but you don't seem to fly enough through other hubs.

    3. Jim Lovejoy Guest

      I've had to wait in line in Chicago.
      I wonder how many other cities other readers could add.

    4. ll5777779 Member

      Tim has a point - DL clearly has a pricing power advantage over its competitors. There’s a few potential drivers of this:

      1. Delta offers a differentiated product in all cabins and maintains an operational and service level edge
      2. A legion of Delta CC / Amex plat cardholders, incentivized by the carrot of SC access (along with some sense of sunk cost due to the high annual fees), behave irrationally and fly delta...

      Tim has a point - DL clearly has a pricing power advantage over its competitors. There’s a few potential drivers of this:

      1. Delta offers a differentiated product in all cabins and maintains an operational and service level edge
      2. A legion of Delta CC / Amex plat cardholders, incentivized by the carrot of SC access (along with some sense of sunk cost due to the high annual fees), behave irrationally and fly delta even when it’s more expensive or less convenient
      3. DL experiences relatively less competition at their hubs (esp ATL, SLC, DTW, MSP due to lack of secondary airports in those cities) and thus is able to squeeze more yield out of those hub captives

      With these Medallion and SC changes, DL management is betting that 2 is a less relevant factor than 1, which is… interesting.

      Fundamentally, what consumers care about for flights they take is 1. How much it cost 2. Whether it was on time (and other ops concerns, like checked bag delivery) and 3. how comfortable the experience was; a distant 4th might be the food and beverage offered.

      DL is only clearly differentiated on 2, and as others have noted, this gap has closed in recent years. BTW - for each of these dimensions, it’s not “sky’s the limit to impress the customer” it’s “how much can you limit the misery” (Ticket cheapness is inverse to the business interests of the airline, being operationally consistent is table stakes, and 3-3 coach can only be so comfortable)

      The brilliance of offering lounge access is that, unlike those other dimensions, there’s actually an opportunity to add some joy into the flying experience. I think that’s why SCs (and Centurion lounges, and even Priority Pass) are so successful - coach is generally a miserable experience, but SC access can let you feel rich for about 45 mins before your flight.

      So it strikes me as an utterly foolish business decision to kneecap (what is likely) the way that the majority of your customer base accesses the SC, and what is likely allowing you extra pricing power in the first place. People are going to churn away from the card, and fewer of your customers will be incentivized to behave irrationally to purchase your more expensive flights

      (PS: Fortunately for DL, 3 is a structural advantage and an actually defensible moat, unlike operational excellence, service, seats, food, etc.)

  69. Stanley Dubinsky Guest

    I will still fly (domestically) 5 hours on Delta to avoid flying 2 hours on American or United. Picky details aside, unlike the other two, Delta doesn't suck (in ways that you cannot photograph).

  70. Ryan Guest

    I agree that Delta has gone downhill. My usual routes are AMS-PDX/SEA and usually in DeltaOne. During the pandemic the reliability and service really decreased. And the website is still buggy as hell and a frequent source of frustration. I can almost never change anything online, and waits on the phone can be hours even as a Diamond or Platinum.

    There’s also just a general arrogance about the company and its marketing apparatus as well....

    I agree that Delta has gone downhill. My usual routes are AMS-PDX/SEA and usually in DeltaOne. During the pandemic the reliability and service really decreased. And the website is still buggy as hell and a frequent source of frustration. I can almost never change anything online, and waits on the phone can be hours even as a Diamond or Platinum.

    There’s also just a general arrogance about the company and its marketing apparatus as well. I loved the attempted spin on the recent SkyPesos program devaluation as a good thing. Gotta give them an A+ for effort at least.

    If I had other options on these routes I’d happily ditch Delta for a carrier that has a reasonable FF program and a better business class product. At least these routes don’t have the 767 anymore…

    1. Trevor_G Member

      Oh, you could try flying Icelandair's 757s (obviously, I jest)

  71. Brian Guest

    I’ve never understood the people who “always fly delta”. Sure, they might have TVs. But what else? If you’re flying international, what partners do you care about flying? Air France? Ok. Or using your sky pesos on? I feel bad for anyone who’s been a delta loyalist. They certainly don’t care about you.

  72. Donna Diamond

    Where you fly from , where you fly to and which class of service you fly certainly can tip the scales of which of the Big US3 are premium for your needs. For me, international flying from a non hub city to European countries flying Business Class, DL is overrated, overpriced and still flies 767s to places I want to go, namely Venice and Nice. AA consistently prices it’s J product as much as $3000...

    Where you fly from , where you fly to and which class of service you fly certainly can tip the scales of which of the Big US3 are premium for your needs. For me, international flying from a non hub city to European countries flying Business Class, DL is overrated, overpriced and still flies 767s to places I want to go, namely Venice and Nice. AA consistently prices it’s J product as much as $3000 less per trip and it’s a consistent product, my flights are reliable, and when transiting DFW and ORD, I’m killing time in a Flagship Lounge and not waiting in an endless line in ATL for inferior Sky Club access. If I flew domestic economy routes, my experience might be different. For now, AA is my ride and this comes from a former DL passenger with 2 million miles.

    1. jedipenguin Guest

      Delta needs to go back to flying crop dusters. American is superior domestically as well.

    2. Gregsdc Member

      Not rushing to defend Delta (no perceptible differencefrom AA), but note that as a Delta One customer, you would skip the line at Sky Clubs.

    3. Donna Diamond

      @gregsdc- I had no idea that I could have skipped the line. Thanks for the info.

    4. Niji248 Guest

      I've too switched to AA since the Pandemic, as they're the first to being back the flagship service elements. I flew JFK -SFO on Delta One a couple times in 2021 and was given a box of junk food and no amenity kits (as they're dangerous, just as certain drinks are more "dangerous" than others). Honestly I don't get why people constantly trash AA, for sure they're not the most premium, but they are adequate...

      I've too switched to AA since the Pandemic, as they're the first to being back the flagship service elements. I flew JFK -SFO on Delta One a couple times in 2021 and was given a box of junk food and no amenity kits (as they're dangerous, just as certain drinks are more "dangerous" than others). Honestly I don't get why people constantly trash AA, for sure they're not the most premium, but they are adequate and competitive to DL and UA in their business class offering. I also appreciate the EP phone agents, as they're most often very helpful, unlike most of the DM clueless new hires. I also got yelled once by a flight attendant in Delta One for getting up to use the lav when apparently the pilot was in there, but the FA did not block the galley with their cart like they should have. So...

  73. al Guest

    Has anyone actually seen a line for sky club outside of ATL or JFK? Genuine question.

    1. Jerry Diamond

      I saw a very long one at DFW last week.

  74. Robert Fahr Guest

    Just say no.

  75. S_LEE Gold

    I live in Seattle area, so it would be most convenient to fly DL for both domestic and international itineraries, however, I chose AS/AA instead.
    It was the customer service during pandemic that turned me away from DL. I needed to change my name on Skymiles account, but there was no way to contact anyone from customer service center. I waited hours on chats and calls, and failed to get connected to any agent....

    I live in Seattle area, so it would be most convenient to fly DL for both domestic and international itineraries, however, I chose AS/AA instead.
    It was the customer service during pandemic that turned me away from DL. I needed to change my name on Skymiles account, but there was no way to contact anyone from customer service center. I waited hours on chats and calls, and failed to get connected to any agent. I sent mails only to get feedback months later that said they had laid off a half of the customer service team and recently hired new agents. It was such a terrible, frustrating experience.
    All other competitors(AS, AA, UA) had customer service available to be connected in 30 minutes.
    Also, DL was the WORST in terms of updating COVID-related travel restrictions. They misinterpreted the restrictions of many Asian countries, and denied boarding of many passengers who had prepared valid COVID test results. I will NEVER EVER fly DL.

    1. stogieguy7 Diamond

      I used to fly DL when I lived in SLC. Moved away in 1998 and forgot my Skymiles number (things were different then, I lost the card). FF to 2010 and I call DL trying to get my number back. They were SO difficult, stubborn, absurd and obnoxious that I basically bagged it. I rarely fly with them and when I do, the miles go to my KLM Flying Blue account. But anything where you need service with DL is an ordeal.

  76. stogieguy7 Diamond

    Recently did a R/T MKE-BOS with JetBlue one way and DL the other. On the DL (return) leg, I actually opted for Comfort+ as a $22 add on, but in the end the two segments cost about the same. Both flights were on nice new aircraft; JetBlue on an A220, Delta on an E-175. Both featured nice seats and large screen entertainment. Legroom was solid on both, service was good on both. But, I have...

    Recently did a R/T MKE-BOS with JetBlue one way and DL the other. On the DL (return) leg, I actually opted for Comfort+ as a $22 add on, but in the end the two segments cost about the same. Both flights were on nice new aircraft; JetBlue on an A220, Delta on an E-175. Both featured nice seats and large screen entertainment. Legroom was solid on both, service was good on both. But, I have to admit to being more impressed with JetBlue. I'd never flown them before, but they were really great. Basically everyone gets the equivalent of Economy Plus with free wifi - as standard. And with a new A220. What's not to like about the product?

    As for DL, actually took them again to BOS, this time from ORD on an A220. Again, nice aircraft and the legroom was still good. Took UA back on the return. I'm gold, so we were in Economy Plus. DL's plane was nicer, but the crew, gate management and overall flight schedule was better handled by UA. Yes, DL's new A220 was far nicer than UA's older A319. But UA has a lot of new planes on order and their crew was really awesome. Add some new hard product in there and UA is better in my view. Everything in dealing with DL, aside from the occasional segment, is more of a pain.

  77. Roberto Guest

    AMEN! OMAAT’s biggest DL fan boy is going to stroke out today!

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      no. I am using LOGIC and not emotion.

      Quality is about perception.

      Anecdotes are about one person's experience.

      Data represents the experiences of a group. Measuring quality for any company that serves tens of millions of people requires data.

      Actual data simply says that Delta offers a higher quality product as evidenced by the amount that people will pay for its services.

      The only people that are freaking out are the people that can't accept those realities.

    2. David Shipman Guest

      Well JD powers with its data does rank JetBlue #1

    3. DLPTATL Diamond

      clearly they don't take into account lounges otherwise they would be disqualified

    4. Freaknbeans Guest

      Ha Delta sucks now! Too busy smelling their own farts and getting high on them….just like Tim!

  78. Yang Jin-Hong Guest

    You've got to be a delulu to think that Delta, or any US airline for that matter, will ever be a "premium" airline. They've got a lot to catch up. The rise of annoying Delta stans on youtube seemingly elevated it's reputation when anyone with half a functioning brain knows how much of a hot mess this airline is.

  79. sunviking82 Guest

    I was so glad to read this review. I have felt this way for a number of years. DL isn't the DL just after the NWA merger. Their planes are tired, and the service isn't any better then AA (which is my airline of choice now). You left out that food on DL is the worst of the 3. AA domestically and internationally is head and shoulders above what DL offers to eat. The updates...

    I was so glad to read this review. I have felt this way for a number of years. DL isn't the DL just after the NWA merger. Their planes are tired, and the service isn't any better then AA (which is my airline of choice now). You left out that food on DL is the worst of the 3. AA domestically and internationally is head and shoulders above what DL offers to eat. The updates to the AA Admirals clubs (food and bev and the upcoming renovations) really makes them the best deal and they are in more and better airports plus have the coordination with AK.

    Yes DL was the US gold standard, but the big 3 are pretty equal. I will argue that if AA ads free WIFI and with the new wide body/XLR interiors coming, they leap frog DL in hard product (not a fan of IFE screens, usually don't work well and takes up under seat space so prefer to have a device holder with live TV :)). If AA service can be more consistent (generally it's good for me) then DL will be looking in the review view mirror at a red white and blue tail.

    1. Alex Guest

      Ok hold on here, United biz class food doesn’t hold a candle to delta. United’s food is unedible. Ask any frequent Polaris flyer lmao. Otherwise I prefer United 100%

    2. Extraordinary1 Member

      You need to try American, they provide a much better experience than both United and Delta.

  80. Brick Bradford Guest

    This is simply dishonest. Twice, you had comparison pictures showing an old Delta cabin compared to a brand new cabin from United. The Delta 767 and 737 cabins are from 20 years ago and no longer in use. Got an agenda?

    1. Ivan X Guest

      Yeah, but the point is that Delta is still flying a lot of those old cabins around, whereas AA and UA have retrofitted biz class across most of their long haul fleets. UA certainly does have its fair share of 737 and A320 beaters flying around though.

    2. tipsyinmadras Diamond

      Delta absolutely still uses those 767-300s with ancient D1 on East Coast TATL and US transcon routes - there's zero privacy, the seats are akin to medieval torture devices, and the IFE is glorious 480P at best

    3. Andrew Guest

      Delta definitely still flies some of those old 737-800s with the tiny, dim screens pictured above. Granted, United still has a bunch of -800s/900s with the old DIRECTV screens but at least there are plans to retrofit--I think Delta has stopped retrofitting the -800s with the newer screens.

  81. Hk Guest

    What is certain is that many many people are willing to pay premium to fly Delta. There’s a good reason to that - at least for coach class pax, slightly better in many relevant aspects does add up to feel like a premium airline. I found that both employees and passengers are cockier than other airlines but let them be.

  82. Kyle Guest

    Delta's customer service is the biggest change I've noticed since the Pandemic. I fly 200k+ miles per year so interact with their employees frequently. They no longer take a personal approach, they care less about offering a compelling product and service. Sad...it was great.

    I agree there are too many elites and lounge access is ridiculous. But the recent changes leave me scratching my head. Bad publicity everywhere you look.

  83. Omar Guest

    My hot take is Delta is not a premium airline and never has been.

    1. jedipenguin Guest

      They were great as a crop duster operation-need to go back to their roots.

    2. DSK Guest

      I was waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting for it. Thank you! Finally, someone remembers Huff Daland Dusters!

  84. Doug Guest

    Agree totally. Delta is making frantic changes to increase its profitability while significantly reducing its premium branding. Execs at Dekta May see initial rewards from this strategy but long term it will fail. I’ve often flown Delta’s inconvenient routes, at a higher price, in order to be loyal to an airline with a better product. Now that Delta is similar to other airlines, even a discount one like JetBlue, why should I or anyone else...

    Agree totally. Delta is making frantic changes to increase its profitability while significantly reducing its premium branding. Execs at Dekta May see initial rewards from this strategy but long term it will fail. I’ve often flown Delta’s inconvenient routes, at a higher price, in order to be loyal to an airline with a better product. Now that Delta is similar to other airlines, even a discount one like JetBlue, why should I or anyone else endure inconvenience and high costs? I won’t and I imagine thousands of others won’t either. Bad, bad, greedy strategy Delta. Good luck with it!

  85. Samantha Guest

    I find JetBlue to be the most premium of US airlines. Delta can be nice for passengers but honestly their biggest attraction is for shareholders, who demand maximum exploitation. By the way, their colors are fugly.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      only if you disregard JBLU's HOT MESS of an operation which consistently ranks them at the bottom of the US industry in on-time.

      And JBLU doesn't offer Mint on very many planes.

      There are a higher percentage of seats on AA, DL and UA that do not have the lowest amount of legroom via their first class or extra legroom economy seats than on B6

    2. digital_notmad Diamond

      yes but a relatively few percentage of passengers fly business class

    3. Ivan X Guest

      JetBlue has a different set of pros and cons. They have the most spacious economy seating, IFE at all seats, free fast Wi-Fi, trivial booking of an empty seat on the website, the best domestic airline business class hard product if you get a solo seat, and the best business class food.

      With that said, their reliability blows, there irrops are awful, many (most?) planes don’t have Mint, and their zoo-like, loungeless terminal experience at...

      JetBlue has a different set of pros and cons. They have the most spacious economy seating, IFE at all seats, free fast Wi-Fi, trivial booking of an empty seat on the website, the best domestic airline business class hard product if you get a solo seat, and the best business class food.

      With that said, their reliability blows, there irrops are awful, many (most?) planes don’t have Mint, and their zoo-like, loungeless terminal experience at JFK feels anything but premium. All things being equal, I’d still rather fly in a Polaris cabin.

  86. digital_notmad Diamond

    Agree. Certainly on the east coast the onboard service is markedly worse than AA/UA - it's bad enough I take a different carrier on that factor alone, when given the choice.

    1. OCTinPHL Diamond

      But you are wrong. According to Tim's DOT data AA/UA are worse. They must be, because Delta earns a "revenue premium." Your opinion doesn't count.

    2. digital_notmad Diamond

      Yeah lol talk about a logical leap - fortress hub economics? Never heard of it...

    3. Ivan X Guest

      I’ve been both pleased and disoriented that I feel like Tim’s posts have become much more measured and even useful as of late. Has he changed, or have I?

  87. Adam Guest

    I think for the purposes of this article, I'm separating Delta non-competitive Domestic, from Delta International and Delta (competitive domestic).

    Delta International:

    The product is not competitive between Europe and the USA. Too many old A330's and 763's. Poor food quality, and lackluster service. No premium lounge offerings and an overall poorer customer experience than AF, KLM their peers. I think if you spoke to any un-brainwashed Delta Diamond, they go out of their...

    I think for the purposes of this article, I'm separating Delta non-competitive Domestic, from Delta International and Delta (competitive domestic).

    Delta International:

    The product is not competitive between Europe and the USA. Too many old A330's and 763's. Poor food quality, and lackluster service. No premium lounge offerings and an overall poorer customer experience than AF, KLM their peers. I think if you spoke to any un-brainwashed Delta Diamond, they go out of their way to use AF/KL to Europe. Up until recently DL didnt even offer kids meals in Delta One! Meanwhile AF treats my young travelling kids like actual people.

    Delta Non-competitive: Here we're talking fortress hubs.

    Outside of price, Delta offers a decent product in ATL/SLC/MSP/DTW. Flights are generally on time. The Delta App works well in dealing with IROPS, weather, etc. The Sky Clubs are good and improving. The variety of flights is good. But, prices are HIGH

    Delta Competitive.

    These are routes Delta flights where more than 2 other carriers compete with them.

    In this regard, I am not sure Delta is really competitive or premium. Especially where JetBlue offers Mint and UA/AA are flying widebodies. The best DL can offer are the new A321NEO's with the horse blinkers.

    I personally am in MSP, and deal with Delta non-competitive. Its fine, just expensive. Thankfully we get AF/KLM and ORD is just down the road for better award options.

    1. A different Adam Guest

      This is a good way to frame it. I think Ben broke things down nicely overall, but basically made a broad conclusion when factoring in the various factors. For me, I think I have to look at Delta domestically in a different light as Delta internationally. I agree that Delta just doesn't compete will internationally for a variety of reasons, but has probably fallen further behind in recent years as they have lost some of...

      This is a good way to frame it. I think Ben broke things down nicely overall, but basically made a broad conclusion when factoring in the various factors. For me, I think I have to look at Delta domestically in a different light as Delta internationally. I agree that Delta just doesn't compete will internationally for a variety of reasons, but has probably fallen further behind in recent years as they have lost some of what makes them special compared to AA/UA with declining service quality and operational quality combined with the long running lack of premium business/first lounge options and an aging business class product.

      Domestically I think Delta is stronger than internationally, but I don't fly enough to really compare well between airlines. I recall having very similar flights on UA and Delta within a week of each other and vastly preferred DL despite the flights being fairly short and nothing being wrong with UA. Delta was just more pleasant. Of course that is only one data point. I find FAs on AA and UA to fall into the same category, where they don't really add anything to the experience. My recent experience on AA highlights that, where the flights were fine but the cabin crew did nothing to make us want to go out of our way to fly AA again. My wife would actively avoid AA/UA for DL, B6, and AS. I find the lounge issue to be a problem. In the past I might prefer Delta because of the lounge, but now I don't expect to be able to get into the lounge so I'm not going out of my way to book with them.

      Overall, I think I still give DL the edge domestically from personal experience and I don't see UA or AA really making an effort to improve the culture and make passengers feel more welcomed and valued, but I definitely agree that Delta of 2023 is less appealing in many ways than Delta of 2019.

  88. ItsATribunal New Member

    I found out recently that Delta does not offer seat back entertainment on all aircraft on an Emrbraer 175 to BOS. Even in FC you are stuck only looking at the too-close seat in front of you.

    1. N515CR Member

      To be fair, very few airlines have seatback screens on regional jets. Air Canada and JetBlue are the only ones that come to mind.

  89. Is TD real? Guest

    Does anyone else think that it’s possible Tim Dunn is actually Ed Bastian or some corporate higher up with a pen name?

    1. Ken Guest

      Someone needs to check on him to be sure he's doing alright. We love you TD

  90. tom Guest

    I think Delta's most noticeable downfall is that high number of old, non refurbished B767-300s they fly in Business Class. Yes, I hear they are taking new deliveries of A350s and A330 Neos. But those delivery numbers are far lower than the number of 767-300s they fly. Delta refurbished its 767-400s nicely. But, they deliberately made no investments in these old aircraft that feel scratched up and worn. They also made little post Covid investments...

    I think Delta's most noticeable downfall is that high number of old, non refurbished B767-300s they fly in Business Class. Yes, I hear they are taking new deliveries of A350s and A330 Neos. But those delivery numbers are far lower than the number of 767-300s they fly. Delta refurbished its 767-400s nicely. But, they deliberately made no investments in these old aircraft that feel scratched up and worn. They also made little post Covid investments in their BC food and wine program. Menus still don't list wine choices. This does not feel premium a tall..

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      factually incorrect.
      Delta flies less than 3 dozen 767-300ERs on transatlantic service. They have more new A350-900s and A330-900s due for delivery in the next 3 years.

      And Delta execs are once again saying that an A350-1000 order is due in the next couple months.

      And a relatively few percentage of passengers fly business class. Just about any rational person would far rather fly on a 767-300ER in coach than on a 9 abreast...

      factually incorrect.
      Delta flies less than 3 dozen 767-300ERs on transatlantic service. They have more new A350-900s and A330-900s due for delivery in the next 3 years.

      And Delta execs are once again saying that an A350-1000 order is due in the next couple months.

      And a relatively few percentage of passengers fly business class. Just about any rational person would far rather fly on a 767-300ER in coach than on a 9 abreast 787 or 10 abreast 7777 on AA, UA or any other carrier

    2. Trevor_G Member

      Bro, have you been on a 777 or 787? They could do 12 across on one of those and I'd still pick it over a freaking 767

    3. TM Gold

      Delta currently has 45 767-300s. They are by far the worst D1 product, but economy isn’t too bad with 2-3-2 seating.

      Currently they have 23 A330-900s and 28 A350s, though 9 of those are the ex-LATAM birds without D1 suites. Eventually delta will refurbish those interiors to D1 suites. They have another 42 A330-200/300s, with the dated herringbone D1 seats, but they’re still a step above the 767-300s.

      So yea, D1 is a...

      Delta currently has 45 767-300s. They are by far the worst D1 product, but economy isn’t too bad with 2-3-2 seating.

      Currently they have 23 A330-900s and 28 A350s, though 9 of those are the ex-LATAM birds without D1 suites. Eventually delta will refurbish those interiors to D1 suites. They have another 42 A330-200/300s, with the dated herringbone D1 seats, but they’re still a step above the 767-300s.

      So yea, D1 is a mixed bag across the fleet, but the worst of it is concentrated in JFK and BOS it seems. I live in a western state and usually connect via SLC or LAX and all of my international flights on Delta are either A330Neos or A350s.

    4. Tim Dunn Diamond

      and at least 10 of them are used for domestic flights including JFK transcons and Hawaii.
      On those routes they compete with far different products from other airlines.
      And even domestically, it comes down to what customers are willing to pay.
      If the 767-300ERs didn't provide a sufficiently decent experience even on transcons, Delta wouldn't command a revenue premium to JetBlue - but that is exactly the case.

      For profit companies provide...

      and at least 10 of them are used for domestic flights including JFK transcons and Hawaii.
      On those routes they compete with far different products from other airlines.
      And even domestically, it comes down to what customers are willing to pay.
      If the 767-300ERs didn't provide a sufficiently decent experience even on transcons, Delta wouldn't command a revenue premium to JetBlue - but that is exactly the case.

      For profit companies provide services that make money, not to throw products into the marketplace that look sexy.

      And all of the talk about the inferiority of the 767-300ER fails to note that Delta has far more A350-900s and A330-900s that have a superior business class product to anything American or United offer.

    5. tipsyinmadras Diamond

      The only reason anyone is paying for D1 on a 767-300 isn't because it's competitive, it's because customers aren't savvy enough to know they're choosing poorly.

  91. 305 Guest

    They’re not premium. They’re just slightly less shitty than AA and UA. Throw in some marketing tricks and they give off this premium vibe despite not really being much different than the competition

    1. Greg Guest

      Yes Delta is the queen of vapor ware - the Worlds Most Overrated Airline

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      you forgot to mention the world's most profitable and highest revenue airline.
      Obviously real customers - which clearly doesn't include you - are willing to give Delta money which they won't give other airlines
      You do realize that EVERY US airline and nearly every global airline in the world is at least theoretically a for-profit enterprise?

    3. Ivan X Guest

      We are customers. We care about the product we’re buying. Investors and management can care about profits. Delta might be able to remain highly profitable by offering consumers less in a market with limited competition, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it, especially for those of us in hubs where we have potentially superior choices.

  92. Joseph Nemec Guest

    Have been DM for 8 years. 1.75M miler. Done and free agent now. Just cancelled a total of $6K in flights on DL metal I already had booked for
    2024.

    There is literally no value in being a DM anymore if you book business class.

    I am voting with my dollars and going to give United a second look. My wife loves Polaris and she gets upgraded regularly.

    Screw you Delta....

    Have been DM for 8 years. 1.75M miler. Done and free agent now. Just cancelled a total of $6K in flights on DL metal I already had booked for
    2024.

    There is literally no value in being a DM anymore if you book business class.

    I am voting with my dollars and going to give United a second look. My wife loves Polaris and she gets upgraded regularly.

    Screw you Delta. You took me for granted too long and you recent changes are incredibly insulting. You just lost
    $20K+ per year in reliable revenue.

    1. Ivan X Gold

      Polaris, at least the hard product and bedding, is actually really good. Not as good as it was at launch, but, still really good.

    2. Anon Guest

      The Polaris hard product is great (as is the ground experience in the Polaris lounges). If United just invested more in its catering (which is quite bad), it would be a totally solid business class experience. Maybe not on par with Singapore or Qatar, but it would be solid.

  93. Mike Guest

    They have for sure lost their premium status in my books - SkyClub lounges, Staff attitiude, onboard service, Skypriority benefits (or rather non-benefits), all have gone down and they are on par now back with the unreliable service they had previously.

    Cheers!

  94. Eskimo Guest

    Hot Take: Is Tim Dunn Actually knowledgeable?

    Or is just full of fluff using big and technical words to look smart.
    Repeating their quarterly earnings call can't fool everyone.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      tell us which airlines in the world exist for the benefit of handing out benefits to anyone, esp. for bloggers that pride themselves in how they manage to pay anything but the full price.

      I don't expect consumers of any product to be able to articulate the business aspects of why companies do what they do but I do expect bloggers to at least use the products they write about. Ben simply does not and...

      tell us which airlines in the world exist for the benefit of handing out benefits to anyone, esp. for bloggers that pride themselves in how they manage to pay anything but the full price.

      I don't expect consumers of any product to be able to articulate the business aspects of why companies do what they do but I do expect bloggers to at least use the products they write about. Ben simply does not and simply repeats the tropes he reads elsewhere. Let's ask him to tell us when he actually stood in line at JFK T4B on a paid ticket.
      I get that he lives in an American hub and so I certainly don't slight him for being as loyal to AA as he is to other carriers.
      I do slight him for copying internet commentary rather than his own experiences that are comparable to the type of customer that any AA, DL or UA are seeking -and that doesn't include passengers on miles tickets earned from everything but flying on that carrier's own premium cabins

    2. OCTinPHL Diamond

      @Tim - but you disregard other posters who say, based on THEIR experiences, that Delta is only marginally better, if marginally. The actual BIS fliers who post on here saying "eh, it is a little bit better. Maybe."

      You are worse than Ben because you take facts (DOT data) and conflate it to support your opinion(s). At least Ben is making cogent arguments to support his opinion. You throw facts at the wall and...

      @Tim - but you disregard other posters who say, based on THEIR experiences, that Delta is only marginally better, if marginally. The actual BIS fliers who post on here saying "eh, it is a little bit better. Maybe."

      You are worse than Ben because you take facts (DOT data) and conflate it to support your opinion(s). At least Ben is making cogent arguments to support his opinion. You throw facts at the wall and say "See, it sticks."

      Does Delta earn more than AA and UA (and everyone else). Yes. Does that make it more premium? Who knows. One is fact, one is opinion. My complaint with you is that you state your opinion as if it were fact and sh!t on other peoples' opinions.

    3. Tim Dunn Diamond

      no, I don't discount anyone's opinion based on their experiences.

      But I do frequently note that all of the big 4 US airlines serve over 100 million customers per year.
      Anecdotal experiences are simply not near as significant as data that represent all of a population.

      Delta simply commands a revenue premium because there are people that are willing to pay more for their service.
      The argument that Delta dominates its hub markets...

      no, I don't discount anyone's opinion based on their experiences.

      But I do frequently note that all of the big 4 US airlines serve over 100 million customers per year.
      Anecdotal experiences are simply not near as significant as data that represent all of a population.

      Delta simply commands a revenue premium because there are people that are willing to pay more for their service.
      The argument that Delta dominates its hub markets which solely explains its revenue premium is countered by anecdotal comments including replies to this article that say that passengers will fly passengers in DL hub cities will connect in other cities to access other airline passengers, just as is true for AA and UA and every other airline. and US airlines compete more against each other than nearly every other global airline does in their home countries.

      Feel free to define "premium" whether for an airline product or service or any other product. Is a high end handbag really worth the premium over something purchased at a discount store? Customers decide that by what they pay for the product. There is no difference for airline services.

    4. OCTinPHL Diamond

      Fact: Delta earns more.

      Opinion: "Delta simply commands a revenue premium because there are people that are willing to pay more for their service."

      Again, you say that Delta is not earning a premium due to its fortress hubs because of anecdotal evidence. You can't have it both ways.

      Tim- I'm in no way saying AA or UA are better managed. Who knows. Given AA's problems over the years, and debt level, I agree that Delta is better managed. But "premium" it is not.

    5. Tim Dunn Diamond

      I am saying that there are plenty of people that specifically say that seek out premium services from Delta hubs.

      I'm not discounting that TRAVEL patterns and preferences AT AN INDIVIDUAL LEVEL are real.

      You just can't try to logically or factually turn ANECDOTAL experiences into generalized statements about whether a carrier, product or service is a premium when it involves 100 million plus customers per year. For a statement on generality, you have to...

      I am saying that there are plenty of people that specifically say that seek out premium services from Delta hubs.

      I'm not discounting that TRAVEL patterns and preferences AT AN INDIVIDUAL LEVEL are real.

      You just can't try to logically or factually turn ANECDOTAL experiences into generalized statements about whether a carrier, product or service is a premium when it involves 100 million plus customers per year. For a statement on generality, you have to use data
      and that data has to come from real customers that actually pay for the services, not infrequent customers that access premium services via any number of discounts that result in a fare that is far lower than what others pay

    6. Jim Lovejoy Guest

      But do they?
      Yes they get better prices in their fortress hubs. But otherwise? I'm not seeing the premium in say LAX-HNL or LAX-DEN, or RDU-MiA or BOS-MIA.

      It seems when people have equivalent choices they are not willing to pay more to fly Delta.

    7. Trevor_G Member

      Ah yes, anecdotes are not evidence. Except that "premium" isn't a hard metric like profit or reliability, it's branding and vibes, so people's subjective opinions are not only relevant, I'd argue they are more important than a lot of the hard data Tim is bringing up. Additionally, the article questions things like why a Delta business class non stop out of LAX to Europe is $8000-10000 when United might be $4000-6000 and if people's *perception*...

      Ah yes, anecdotes are not evidence. Except that "premium" isn't a hard metric like profit or reliability, it's branding and vibes, so people's subjective opinions are not only relevant, I'd argue they are more important than a lot of the hard data Tim is bringing up. Additionally, the article questions things like why a Delta business class non stop out of LAX to Europe is $8000-10000 when United might be $4000-6000 and if people's *perception* of Delta as premium matches the subjective experience of what they would get on another carrier for less.

      I mean I'm flying Delta to Hawaii next month cos I generally like them and they were cheaper than Alaska for first, and I also don't think they're so much better than the competition to warrant paying for Delta One over other options.

      And lastly - American cars in the 90s were more expensive than their Asian competitors, and I sure as hell don't want to be driving a 1995 Oldsmobile over 1995 Honda

  95. Hblurb Guest

    I have heard numbers like a third to half of all customer facing employees are new since the pandemic. The telephone service is terrible, not the wait time (as a Diamond), but I can't count all of the time I have been given inaccurate, misleading or downright false information or had to educate supposedly Diamond reps on rules and processes. To be clear it may be bad to worse elsewhere but this is not a...

    I have heard numbers like a third to half of all customer facing employees are new since the pandemic. The telephone service is terrible, not the wait time (as a Diamond), but I can't count all of the time I have been given inaccurate, misleading or downright false information or had to educate supposedly Diamond reps on rules and processes. To be clear it may be bad to worse elsewhere but this is not a race to the bottom and your point is spot on that the definition of best is blurry and the rationale to pay premium for Delta slim. I had a great flight on AA a few weeks ago in paid first and may be enjoying a freelance status once they take away lounge access in 2025.

    1. Alex Guest

      Same. And the United app solves so many problems that I have to call delta about

    2. David Shipman Guest

      This is so accurate! Thanks for telling it like it is.

    3. Niji248 Guest

      Totally agree with the DM phone agents, most are new and didn't know how to help. I had a schedule change and after several attempted calls to change to a new flight more close to original departure, only to be told again and again that the new flight needs to be in the same fare category Z, can't even be in I!! WTF? I also have EP with AA and AA agents are almost always...

      Totally agree with the DM phone agents, most are new and didn't know how to help. I had a schedule change and after several attempted calls to change to a new flight more close to original departure, only to be told again and again that the new flight needs to be in the same fare category Z, can't even be in I!! WTF? I also have EP with AA and AA agents are almost always accommodating and able to rebook, none of this fare category restriction BS. I ended up just cancelling the DL booking and booked AA/BA instead.

  96. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Quality is about perceptions but facts clearly show that Delta is indeed THE MOST premium US airline.
    - Delta CONSISTENTLY earns the most revenue per available seat mile
    - Delta CONSISTENTLY scores at the top of the DOT's customer service metrics including on-time and customer complaints. On customer complaint ratios (which is an inverse measure of quality), Delta is often HALF of the ratio of American and United and even Southwest no longer...

    Quality is about perceptions but facts clearly show that Delta is indeed THE MOST premium US airline.
    - Delta CONSISTENTLY earns the most revenue per available seat mile
    - Delta CONSISTENTLY scores at the top of the DOT's customer service metrics including on-time and customer complaints. On customer complaint ratios (which is an inverse measure of quality), Delta is often HALF of the ratio of American and United and even Southwest no longer is competitive over the past 9 months.

    The Sky Club complaints are red herrings both in terms of lines and food quality.
    Ben here uses a picture of JFK T4B lounge lines where there are literally dozens of Sky Clubs around the US that have no lines.
    Comparisons are often made between DL's Sky Clubs and AA and UA's business class lounges and yet DL does NOT YET have a business class lounge. The food in the Sky Club is of two categories and many Sky Clubs have food that is far better than AA or UA's standard, not business class lounges.

    As for business class cabins, the true measure is what people pay far. Uniformity is not the goal and mental midgets that don't understand the concept prove that they don't really buy premium products. When was the last time that Ben told us that he bought a premium cabin product WITH CASH? Delta does a very good job of using its different premium cabins on routes where they are appropriate. The 767-300ERs are used on short leisure heavy routes across the Atlantic.
    And Ben drones on endlessly about the number of different configurations on LH and yet they face EXACTLY the same issue as DL in obtaining parts to retrofit their A350s.

    No, Ben, Delta IS a premium airline and people who actually fly them and pay for their services decide that and not bloggers like you that don't pay for a premium cabin on Delta with cash.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Bat signal successfully received!

    2. Greg Guest

      Meanwhile UNITED doesn’t have 25% of intl wide bodies with a sub par biz class running intercontinental routes. More Delta vapor ware.

      UNITED rising

    3. tom Guest

      Tim Dunn argues "Comparisons are often made between DL's Sky Clubs and AA and UA's business class lounges and yet DL does NOT YET have a business class lounge". Isn't that a problem in itself? As a premium innovator, shouldn't Delta have had these all Business Class lounges before UAL & AAL? I understand Delta uses these non refurbished B767-300s primarily on leisure routes transatlantic. That said, pricing on these leisure roots is mostly not...

      Tim Dunn argues "Comparisons are often made between DL's Sky Clubs and AA and UA's business class lounges and yet DL does NOT YET have a business class lounge". Isn't that a problem in itself? As a premium innovator, shouldn't Delta have had these all Business Class lounges before UAL & AAL? I understand Delta uses these non refurbished B767-300s primarily on leisure routes transatlantic. That said, pricing on these leisure roots is mostly not cheaper than on prime routes.

    4. dfw88 Guest

      The problem with the two facts you pointed out isn't that they're untrue - they're definitely true; it's that they're answering a different question than the one posed by Ben in this article. There really shouldn't be any doubt to anyone who follows the industry that passengers THINK Delta is the US's most premium airline. That perception leads them to be willing to pay more and rate them more highly. Whether they actually ARE the...

      The problem with the two facts you pointed out isn't that they're untrue - they're definitely true; it's that they're answering a different question than the one posed by Ben in this article. There really shouldn't be any doubt to anyone who follows the industry that passengers THINK Delta is the US's most premium airline. That perception leads them to be willing to pay more and rate them more highly. Whether they actually ARE the most premium airline, however, is a different question entirely, and one that, as you point out, Delta's top brass probably doesn't care nearly as much about. Perception, to the average customer, is far more important than reality. As long as people are willing to pay more to fly them, it shouldn't matter to Delta if they're actually better.

      Ben has laid out a cogent opinion as to why he doesn't believe that Delta actually is the most premium airline anymore. The problem with the question he posed, as opposed to the one you responded to, is that it doesn't have as simple of industry metrics to back it up (sure, you can look at premium cabin seat counts and fleet consistency and a few other things, but those are only proxies for the real question). This question is an opinion-based one, which is completely fine for an opinion-based blog. For investors or others like that the question is pretty useless so in those circles the question "will people pay more to fly on Delta?" which is another way of phrasing "Do people think Delta is more premium?" is more important. But that's not what this blog is about.

    5. jetset Diamond

      @dfw88 hits this one on the head I think.

      Certainly revenue premium commanded is a metric of perceived premium but doesn't mean it is actually the most premium experience. It doesn't really matter what the answer actually is from an investor standpoint but they are very different.

      Lots of factors drive revenue premium though - perceived premium to customers, corporate contracting impacts, hub locations, competitiveness of highest volume routes, etc.

    6. Alex Guest

      I wonder if there’s a way to splice out on time data hub-to-hub from hub-to-spoke and vise versa. Delta is consistent for me hub-to-spoke, but I keep getting burned on flights out of ATL and JFK especially between one another - lost baggage, inexplicable delays, etc. whereas I have the opposite problem with United, EwR debacle notwithstanding

    7. tipsyinmadras Diamond

      Delta is unquestionably the best run of the US3 but that's not basis to call it "premium" - it's just an incredibly low bar for quality.

      In terms of actual "premium" products - D1 is fine/competitive (on an A350/330/764) but service doesn't measure up to refinement on European, ME3, or East Asian carriers. I flew D1 to East Asia earlier this year because of blind loyalty and now with DL's recent changes I deeply...

      Delta is unquestionably the best run of the US3 but that's not basis to call it "premium" - it's just an incredibly low bar for quality.

      In terms of actual "premium" products - D1 is fine/competitive (on an A350/330/764) but service doesn't measure up to refinement on European, ME3, or East Asian carriers. I flew D1 to East Asia earlier this year because of blind loyalty and now with DL's recent changes I deeply regret not having chosen comparably priced superior offerings from JAL or ANA.

    8. Bob Guest

      Past performance is not indicative of future returns.

    9. Delta Airlines Guest

      on the first point - a higher RASM being driven by customer perception of premium quality and thus higher willingness to pay is one hypothesis. I'd offer a different view of RASM based on hub competition and its impact on pricing power - not just competition at individual airport, but also from secondary airport(s)

      Look at each of the US3's most premium hub where they are clearly the dominant player. For UA that's SFO,...

      on the first point - a higher RASM being driven by customer perception of premium quality and thus higher willingness to pay is one hypothesis. I'd offer a different view of RASM based on hub competition and its impact on pricing power - not just competition at individual airport, but also from secondary airport(s)

      Look at each of the US3's most premium hub where they are clearly the dominant player. For UA that's SFO, AA probably DFW, and DL probably ATL. In the bay area, SFO has TWO competing secondary airports with strong ULCC presence (OAK, SJC). DFW has DAL, which is a massive WN hub. Meanwhile, ATL is literally the busiest airport in the world, where DL has 74% market share, and there are NO secondary airports.

      It is absolutely possible that DL's high RASM is driven by outsized pricing power in ATL (and SLC / DTW / MSP where a similar lack of secondary airport competition exists), while DL's RASM at their hubs is similar to their competitors at those hubs. Of course, we can't know whether this is true since airlines don't report data at this level. But Tim, it's clear to me that you haven't considered all possibilities in deriving this conclusion.

    10. TravelCat2 Diamond

      As a passenger, an airline's RASM is irrelevant to me. RASM is an important financial metric but it isn't a factor in my choice of airline or my flight experience.

  97. Andrew Guest

    We are generally Untited and AA people. We are flying Delta Domestic First for the first time next week and are NOT even being fed a full meal in a 2.5 hour flight (and it is NOT operated by a regional partner). Not that first class food is amazing, but that is pretty lame as United and AA are now consistent with that.

  98. FakeClimbing2023 Guest

    Ben, to your earlier comment that "A little humility can go a long way." Delta's premium image is what the carrier wanted to project and market. They are really good at virtue signaling. If we look at the premium cabin footage, AA's 77W has F8J52 and UA's 77W 60J. 34 seats in J tops for Delta widebody, but again, we know how DL love to tout about the industry-leading C+ as if it were a...

    Ben, to your earlier comment that "A little humility can go a long way." Delta's premium image is what the carrier wanted to project and market. They are really good at virtue signaling. If we look at the premium cabin footage, AA's 77W has F8J52 and UA's 77W 60J. 34 seats in J tops for Delta widebody, but again, we know how DL love to tout about the industry-leading C+ as if it were a completely different cabin - Medallions can even receive the exclusive upgrade to C+!

  99. Jetiquette Guest

    I've flown on 22-23 different carriers (lost exact count) and have not found many to be better than US carriers in all honesty. Cramped seats, no A/C vents, subpar food, horrible websites/apps, you name it. Even many of the carriers that are constantly rated in the top 5 on blog sites are not that great. Unless you're flying in business class, you probably won't find a truly better experience than what you would get on a US carrier.

    1. Ivan X Gold

      You raise a good point about websites. I can’t really even think of a non-US carrier website or app that doesn’t feel like hot garbage.

  100. Basil Guest

    And don’t forget Delta’s biggest weakness, a terrible alliance. Being able to fly United and redeem on Singapore, Lufthansa, Aegean and Turkish is HUGE. And being able to arb Avianca points to fly United long haul to places like Australia

  101. Mark Guest

    Totally agree. JetBlue is better for leg room, drinks in a can (instead of a cup of ice with a drop of soda), and first class food. AA don’t refuse you lounge access or make you wait for a lounge. Alaska and AA have usually more legroom in first. WiFi is better and more consistent on JetBlue. My miles are actually worth something in AA’s, BA’s and Flying Blue programs. Delta supposedly has more stable...

    Totally agree. JetBlue is better for leg room, drinks in a can (instead of a cup of ice with a drop of soda), and first class food. AA don’t refuse you lounge access or make you wait for a lounge. Alaska and AA have usually more legroom in first. WiFi is better and more consistent on JetBlue. My miles are actually worth something in AA’s, BA’s and Flying Blue programs. Delta supposedly has more stable operations but I’ve had the most problems with Delta out of all carriers recently. If you encounter a delay that will guarantee you’ll miss your connection in Amsterdam, Delta refuses to address the issue before you get to Amsterdam—so make sure you get in line there to be rebooked and be prepared to be sent to an airport 3 hours away from your final destination and told by KLM you can book the train and “try” to get reimbursed by Delta because they caused the delay. Good luck: Delta will blame KLM and KLM will blame Delta. Sky team is worth less than Oneworld or Star Alliance.

    But it doesn’t stop there. Having worked in the airline industry years ago, all the airlines got along fine and had friendly competition. You know, we’re all in a tough industry but business is business and doesn’t mean you need to be nasty to competitors. Delta however always thought they were better than everyone else and acted accordingly. And with the new enhancements to the SkyMiles program that attitude is now shining through in how they treat customers. “Just shut up and give us your money because we tell you we’re premium” seems to be the mantra. I wished they’d actually be a premium carrier and I’d be willing to pay but they’re just not good enough to warrant the premium price.

    1. niji248 Guest

      Delta is really good at cosmetics, like website and app that look good visually but are full of bugs. Like business class seats that look good in photos but feels flimsy and cheap in person. Like food that photographs better than actually tastes.

  102. TM Gold

    The US3 all have their pros and cons. Reality is they are all pretty equal. I’ve been either Platinum or Diamond with Delta for 6 years and even with their huge slap in the face, I’m not exactly running to go fly United or American. The grass is not in fact greener on the other side. Last year I status matched to United as a Premier 1K and I found their hard product at least...

    The US3 all have their pros and cons. Reality is they are all pretty equal. I’ve been either Platinum or Diamond with Delta for 6 years and even with their huge slap in the face, I’m not exactly running to go fly United or American. The grass is not in fact greener on the other side. Last year I status matched to United as a Premier 1K and I found their hard product at least for domestic economy to be a bit shittier and upgrades were significantly harder. I was usually 8-12 down on the list on flights that I would usually get upgraded on with Delta.

    The 767s that see so much use out of JFK are by far Deltas biggest embarrassment but I fortunately don’t have to deal with that hell hole that often. For NYC residents, I don’t see why that would want to fly premium cabins on Delta.

    For the rest of the fleet, I do think Delta has a better offering. Delta One on the A330Neos and A350s (minus the ex-LATAM birds) I find to be a tad nicer hard product than Polaris and the AA 777 flatbeds I’ve flown. Delta really pulls ahead on international economy as UA and AA both cram 10-abreast seating on their 777s and similarly the 787 are brutal in a 3-3-3 configuration. A330s in 2-4-2 are much better for couples and families traveling, and even though A350s use a 3-3-3 configuration, the fuselage is wider than the Dreamliner so you have a little more shoulder room.

    Worth noting, I believe those gross old Delta 737-800s have started interiors mods this month.

  103. George Romey Guest

    One could say that any airline that offers a premium cabin and lounges is "premium." But that word can have endless meanings. DL seems to have lost its way operationally. Seems to me that began to happen about the time management decided to get involved in "social issues." Not the first company to do so and suffer from a business standpoint.

  104. Sarthak Guest

    Finally an awesome summary of this topic that so resonates with my thoughts. I almost find nothing on Delta that's better than (at least) United in my experiences, especially on long haul international travel where a product really makes a difference. Route coverage, tired planes, inconsistent business class, sub-par lounges (there is no lounge like Polaris lounges anywhere in US ex-Capital One), even staff friendliness has never translated into any kind of 'edge' the airline...

    Finally an awesome summary of this topic that so resonates with my thoughts. I almost find nothing on Delta that's better than (at least) United in my experiences, especially on long haul international travel where a product really makes a difference. Route coverage, tired planes, inconsistent business class, sub-par lounges (there is no lounge like Polaris lounges anywhere in US ex-Capital One), even staff friendliness has never translated into any kind of 'edge' the airline may have. I valued their 3-3-3 in economy a lot on the 772s but even that's gone now. Only thing that's unquestionable is perhaps Delta's edge in operational reliability. The CEO is a motormouth freak who misses no chance to diss ME3. I don't get where the 'premium' halo of the brand comes from. In the short term, this may be good penny pinching for profit but in the long run I foresee this to have a pretty decent impact on loyalty and hence top line.

  105. Stephen Guest

    I think its time Ben does one of those rankings of which airline is S-Teir, A-tier, etc. would be fun to see where he puts all the airlines he has has flown into a chart.

    1. Trevor_G Member

      YESSSSS. And his dream airline alliance, combining his favorites into a theoretical alliance.

  106. Lukas Diamond

    "... really crams seems..."

    Should say seats.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Lukas -- Fixed, thanks!

  107. Peter Barnard Guest

    I have been an Exec Plat member of American since 2010, it was great back then and I really enjoyed the perks however as with Delta and I would venture United as well, the benefits have since eroded and if I was still based in the US, I would not bother working that hard to retain my status. However, what I have found over the years is that the status does seem to benefit me...

    I have been an Exec Plat member of American since 2010, it was great back then and I really enjoyed the perks however as with Delta and I would venture United as well, the benefits have since eroded and if I was still based in the US, I would not bother working that hard to retain my status. However, what I have found over the years is that the status does seem to benefit me more when flying outside the US on a partner airline and that has not changed at least on the surface. Being One World I do get access to the best lounges that JAL, Iberia, Qantas, BA etc....offer and it seems that my miles go a little further on the other partner airlines.

  108. Chris Guest

    Perfect timing with the article huh?? Someone is salty over the new rules regarding the skymiles program … Delta is by far better than all its competitors and it knows it and so do you, just because you won’t be able to access the lounge as much as before doesn’t change the fact that they are better. Finally the most loyal customers won’t wait in line or won’t be looking for seat in their lounge to sit.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Chris -- You must not read the blog often. I don't have status with SkyMiles. If anything, these changes help me. I have an Amex Platinum and don't fly Delta more than 3x roundtrip per year, so I'll have no changes to Sky Club access, and I'll be competing with fewer people to enter lounges.

    2. matt Guest

      "Loyal customers won't wait in line" no the ones who can spend the most on a credit card want be waiting. Delta isn't rewarding the weekly flier but is rewarding the biggest spenders which should get priority but so should the loyalist fliers. I earned my first 2 million miles with delta via flying, I have been maintaining with credit cards since. The changes could help with bringing real value back to the levels (2005...

      "Loyal customers won't wait in line" no the ones who can spend the most on a credit card want be waiting. Delta isn't rewarding the weekly flier but is rewarding the biggest spenders which should get priority but so should the loyalist fliers. I earned my first 2 million miles with delta via flying, I have been maintaining with credit cards since. The changes could help with bringing real value back to the levels (2005 gold I was upgraded more than 2019 diamond) but I doubt it due to the lack of airline choices we have. FF is less about using the airline and more about using co branded products that produce higher margins than the product itself. It doesn't reward loyalty just gives certain high spenders the ability to spend and gain status.

  109. Omatravel Guest

    As someone who was a long time Delta loyalist this is absolutely true. Particularly for those with lower or no status. I found the Delta experience about the the same as SW albiet they handled IROPS better.
    IMHO American still handles IROPS the worst but when things are running smoothly I actually prefer them. You know the only US airline I have received an upgrade for with no status? American,
    United has also...

    As someone who was a long time Delta loyalist this is absolutely true. Particularly for those with lower or no status. I found the Delta experience about the the same as SW albiet they handled IROPS better.
    IMHO American still handles IROPS the worst but when things are running smoothly I actually prefer them. You know the only US airline I have received an upgrade for with no status? American,
    United has also made good steps in this direction.
    At this point it pains me to say I genuinely don't care but m8ght even have a preference for AA.

  110. Bgriff Guest

    I think something Delta may come to realize is that a lot of people have the Amex Platinum and so get into the Sky Club and feel like they are having a premium experience when they fly Delta because they get to use the lounge (even if crowded -- and not all of them are crowded all the time), which creates a sort of brand halo effect that makes the whole trip feel more special....

    I think something Delta may come to realize is that a lot of people have the Amex Platinum and so get into the Sky Club and feel like they are having a premium experience when they fly Delta because they get to use the lounge (even if crowded -- and not all of them are crowded all the time), which creates a sort of brand halo effect that makes the whole trip feel more special. My parents are very infrequent flyers who are authorized users on my Amex Plat and they recently flew no-status domestic coach on Delta, but they were thrilled about getting to visit the lounge.

    But if people no longer get to use the lounge on more than a trip or two, they aren't going to go out of their way to fly Delta, and if they do, they may find it just doesn't feel like such a premium experience without the special treat of lounge access.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Bgriff -- 100% agree with this. And this is something I'll address in my upcoming post with my take on the SkyMiles changes. You're right that there's a huge halo effect from this.

    2. lu Guest

      I would really +1 this comment Ben.

      Since opening the Platinum card in 2020, 85-90% of my travel has been exclusively on Delta because of the lounges, justifying the sometimes higher ticket cost for this perk + the general halo effect of Delta's operation and employee standards. I don't travel often, but just enough to be on the cusp or over Silver Medallion.

      Post changes, its really clear that because I am not spending...

      I would really +1 this comment Ben.

      Since opening the Platinum card in 2020, 85-90% of my travel has been exclusively on Delta because of the lounges, justifying the sometimes higher ticket cost for this perk + the general halo effect of Delta's operation and employee standards. I don't travel often, but just enough to be on the cusp or over Silver Medallion.

      Post changes, its really clear that because I am not spending above 6K annually, that loyalty is not to be rewarded or valued. I also don't live in a hub but do have a SkyClub at my hometown airport, so burning through my lounge access twice as fast is a pretty compelling reason to save $700 and just go price conscious on my airfare purchases from now on.

  111. Never In Doubt Guest

    The bat signal is out for Tim Dunn.

    1. Johhny Guest

      I'll let you in on a secret. Tim Dunn is either an employee of Delta, or more likely a paid PR partner. To be as vociferous, zealous, and relentless as he is, often citing elaborate or arcane data, can only be the work of someone who is paid to promote the airline.

      That doesn't necessarily mean what he says is incorrect, only that it's his job to cast the airline in a positive light.

    2. Miguel Guest

      If he's making these comments on someone's behalf, then they really need to rein him in. If for nothing else then for the frequent personal attacks he levies at anyone that questions the supremacy of Delta. Usually they're directed at individual commenters (the other day he literally said "you're just jealous" of Delta to someone) but today's rant include a colorful, alliterative swipe at people in general who have a differing opinion on cabin uniformity....

      If he's making these comments on someone's behalf, then they really need to rein him in. If for nothing else then for the frequent personal attacks he levies at anyone that questions the supremacy of Delta. Usually they're directed at individual commenters (the other day he literally said "you're just jealous" of Delta to someone) but today's rant include a colorful, alliterative swipe at people in general who have a differing opinion on cabin uniformity. Classy. Oh, and it included a term that many perceive to be a slur, something any PR firm or a company as big as Delta wouldn't tolerate.

      And if he's doing this on his own behalf, as a hobby, well, then I don't know what to say. Maybe it's a big piece of satirical performance art; that would be a better explanation than it's a hobby.

    3. Never In Doubt Guest

      30 year Delta employee, which ended nearly 30 years ago.

      And yet he’s all over the internet defending Delta.

  112. DCharlie Guest

    DL might be better than the rest in the U.S. domestic aviation industry. That in itself says little considering the quality of any of the U.S. airline.

    Definitely not outside of the U.S.

    1. Bobby Guest

      In regards to service I don't want the employees to take all the blame post COVID, passengers are also worse.

    2. Jetiquette Guest

      Which carriers are you referring to? I've flown on 22-23 carriers (lost count) and I have not found many to be better than US carriers. Even many of the carriers that are constantly rated in the top 5 by blogs. Unless you're flying business class, the service is generally worse on international carriers than US.

    3. Em Guest

      Really? I fly business occasionally and economy frequently. Name a major airline, I have flown on them due to my work. US based carriers consistently rank towards the bottom with regards to seat pitch, service quality, food quality, amenities, connectivity, age of aircraft and overall space - all factors that are very important to an economy class passenger.

    4. Bestoink Dooley Guest

      Bingo. I avoid US airlines on international flights so I won't smell a pigsty in the restrooms.

  113. JW in GA Guest

    Well said. The interiors are the big sticking point for me.

    I'm United Silver (due exclusively to Bonvoy Titanium) but got upgraded from ATL recently with their new domestic F hard product. That's a modern, sleek and pretty interior. Contrast that with the Delta domestic F that is so dated and chunky (when I do get upgraded out of ATL which is almost never as a Plat).

    Delta One in a 767 is worse...

    Well said. The interiors are the big sticking point for me.

    I'm United Silver (due exclusively to Bonvoy Titanium) but got upgraded from ATL recently with their new domestic F hard product. That's a modern, sleek and pretty interior. Contrast that with the Delta domestic F that is so dated and chunky (when I do get upgraded out of ATL which is almost never as a Plat).

    Delta One in a 767 is worse with screens slightly bigger than my phone. These planes are not being kept up -- the detritus of years collecting in every nook and cranny shows. Yuck.

  114. Sky Guest

    JetBlue used to be a great alternate but their pandemic performance was beyond abysmal. I once had to leave Logan airport and take an Uber to Boston’s South Station to get on Amtrak (glad I even had that option) rather than risk another forced overnight in Boston. I tried them once after that and we had extensive delays so I cancelled and switched to Delta. B6 cannot manage their way through IROPs.

  115. shoeguy Guest

    No US carrier is a "premium" airline, and Delta certainly isn't. It may run a slightly better operation relative to UA and AA on some metrics, but it is hardly a premium carrier and the idea that they are is simply laughable. When Delta is good it is good. But when it is bad, it is just as shitty a carrier as the rest of the US airlines.

  116. Andy Guest

    Couldn't agree more. Plus Skyteam in general is the least compelling of the three alliances when it comes to premium partners. AA has Cathay, JAL and QA. United has Singapore Airlines, ANA. Who is the most premium Skyteam carrier... Virgin??

    1. KATA Gold

      What about Korean Air? Garuda Indonesia? Air France (to an extent)?

    2. thurstontravel Guest

      Garuda? I don't think so.

    3. Andy Guest

      I don't think Air France J is particularly great and you definitely aren't flying F using Delta miles.

      I've actually never flown Korean Air so that could be a good rebuttal but I would be surprised if they were actually as competitive as JAL/ANA/EVA/Singapore airlines.

  117. TheBestBlackBrent Diamond

    Executive summary: no.

  118. Jim Guest

    I've been a DL medallion ("elite") since 2011. I absolutely agree with this assessment. Up through, say, mid-2021, DL was consistently heads and tails above the other US carriers in terms of reliability, experience, and - the crucial distinguisher to me - how well they handled IROPs. I live at a UA/AA hub, and still went out of my way to fly DL for that reason.

    But... in the last two years, what was once...

    I've been a DL medallion ("elite") since 2011. I absolutely agree with this assessment. Up through, say, mid-2021, DL was consistently heads and tails above the other US carriers in terms of reliability, experience, and - the crucial distinguisher to me - how well they handled IROPs. I live at a UA/AA hub, and still went out of my way to fly DL for that reason.

    But... in the last two years, what was once a gulf turned in to a gap, which turned in to a divot (that's only visible from certain angles). Meanwhile, the "elite" benefits have eroded to the point that they're wholly theoretical (upgrades are never available, lounge access was removed, etc.), IROPs are treated like the customer's problem, etc.

    Will I renew my "elite" status next year, now that they've doubled the requirements and eliminated almost all the tangible benefits? Maybe, but not deliberately, it might just happen to work out that way.

    Look, if this is helping pad their bottom line, more power to them. Their job, after all, is to rake in money hand over fist, and I'm sure they have a legion of bean-counters that decides which customers they can afford to alienate. But the reputation they spent so many years building, is very much in the trash, and its only hope is that UA/AA/B6/WN/AS aren't much better... for now.

  119. Frank Guest

    Putting the word “premium” next to any American carrier is an oxymoron. No transportation experience in this country is premium.

    1. jetset Diamond

      So true. At the end of the day, depending on what you value in the US, a different airline may serve your needs optimally and plenty of folks feel like Delta offers the most consistently solid onboard product and ancillary services (domestic clubs, etc.) but this does NOT mean they are truly "premium".

      I can't imagine comparing the Delta experience to Qatar or Singapore for example.

  120. Pat Guest

    I used to live in a semi-rural part of Pennsylvania. Most of the restaurants there were basic, but there were two restaurants that were upscale. Those restaurants weren't great by any measure, but they were "the best" so they took themselves too seriously and overcharged.

    It's the same effect with Delta.

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      "...but they were "the best" so they took themselves too seriously and overcharged."

      What was the consequence of this? They went out of business, or they just made more money?

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Bgriff Guest

I think something Delta may come to realize is that a lot of people have the Amex Platinum and so get into the Sky Club and feel like they are having a premium experience when they fly Delta because they get to use the lounge (even if crowded -- and not all of them are crowded all the time), which creates a sort of brand halo effect that makes the whole trip feel more special. My parents are very infrequent flyers who are authorized users on my Amex Plat and they recently flew no-status domestic coach on Delta, but they were thrilled about getting to visit the lounge. But if people no longer get to use the lounge on more than a trip or two, they aren't going to go out of their way to fly Delta, and if they do, they may find it just doesn't feel like such a premium experience without the special treat of lounge access.

9
Frank Guest

Putting the word “premium” next to any American carrier is an oxymoron. No transportation experience in this country is premium.

7
Chris Guest

If nothing else, he seems very much to want people to judge DL by its balance sheet and not their own personal experience as a passenger. I'd suggest that's generally a fool's errand, regardless of the context.

6
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