What I Like Least About American, Delta, And United

What I Like Least About American, Delta, And United

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There’s no denying that the “big three” US carriers aren’t always popular with consumers. I’ve written posts dedicated to the things that I like about American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines. After all, there’s no perfect airline, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses.

On a slightly less positive note, in this post I wanted to share what I like least about each of the “big three” US carriers. Most of my points are intended to be more big picture, though in a couple of cases I’ll share specific shortcomings of the experience offered by each airline. I’ll provide my take, and then I’m curious to hear what OMAAT readers think.

What I like least about American Airlines

There are two things I like least about American — the lack of a strategy, and the carrier’s international route network.

First and foremost, American lacks a strategy. Executives at the airline claim that the carrier’s product is its schedule, and indeed, American has an extensive domestic route network. But that’s about the extent of it. While both Delta and United are trying to be premium airlines and improve the passenger experience, American seems to be trying to compete with ultra low cost carriers more than anything else.

All of that is great, except for the fact that the airline has high labor costs and has tens of billions of dollars in debt. It’s weird, because the airline selectively invests in being premium, but then also makes the decision to rip TVs out of narrow body aircraft.

Obviously this lack of a strategy also isn’t good for employee morale, as people don’t actually know what kind of a product they’re supposed to be delivering. What’s the mission that American employees are supposed to get behind? “Our schedule is our product?” It’s not clear how employees fit into that, short of running a punctual operation.

I feel like there’s value in having some semi-consistent strategy. For example, United has committed to becoming a more premium airline, increasing the number of premium seats across the fleet, and modernizing cabins.

American Airlines planes at Chicago O’Hare Airport

Second of all, American is the largest airline in the world by some metrics, yet almost unarguably has the blandest international route network of the “big three” US carriers.

It’s borderline depressing to compare the route networks of American and United. While United flies to places ranging from Cape Town, to Singapore, to Tahiti, American seems content just being a massive domestic airline, with a limited long haul international network.

American Airlines Boeing 787

What I like least about Delta Air Lines

There are three things that I like least about Delta — hubris, the SkyMiles program, and Boeing 767s.

First of all, let’s talk about hubris. I think Delta is better than American and United in terms of customer service. Most Delta employees genuinely seem to like their jobs, and they know how to take care of customers. They’re also invested in the success of the company, thanks to the size of profit sharing payouts.

However, I can’t help but feel like the company lacks humility. Delta is slightly better than the competition. Delta management not only knows that, but in my opinion management thinks they’re better by a bigger margin than they actually are.

Now, funny enough, in my post about things Delta does well, I talked about how the airline has a clear vision of being premium, and I pointed out how Delta so strongly marketing itself as premium is probably a good thing for the company’s bottom line. But still, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a bit off-putting for the airline to be so full of itself.

Delta Air Lines Airbus A350 business class

Next up is Delta SkyMiles. While American AAdvantage and United MileagePlus are far from perfect, personally I find SkyMiles to offer the least value for those looking for aspirational redemptions. While I can appreciate the simplicity of SkyMiles, and that Delta has basically turned its miles into a currency worth a cent each, the lack of aspirational redemption opportunities makes me have almost no interest in the program.

Hey, I’m not saying the reality of Delta SkyMiles is necessarily bad for the carrier’s bottom line, but as a consumer, I sure don’t love it.

Delta Air Lines Airbus A220 first class

Lastly, Delta’s Boeing 767 fleet is a major disadvantage. For the most part, Delta has older planes than American, but maintains them well. The exception is Boeing 767s, which are Delta’s most common wide body aircraft. Delta has 65 Boeing 767s, which is more aircraft than Delta’s entire Airbus A350-900 and Airbus A330-900neo fleet.

In my opinion, these offer the worst wide body business class experience that you’ll find on any of the “big three” US carriers. Now, admittedly not all planes are created equal. Delta’s 767-300s are much worse than the 767-400s, but even the 767-400 seats are really narrow. I think just about anyone (except one person) would agree that there’s a night and day difference between the business class product on Delta’s 767-300s and United’s 767-300s.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 767 business class

What I like least about United Airlines

There are two things that I like least about United — that service could be better, and Wi-Fi.

Let’s start with service. I think United is actually the US airline most trending in the right direction. The airline has an amazing route network, and is investing in its onboard experience and in premium capacity. In many ways I’d argue that United is a more compelling airline nowadays than Delta, with one major catch — service.

If you ask me, United is in the same league as American when it comes to service, and not in the same league as Delta. Following the Dr. Dao incident, former United CEO Oscar Munoz spent a lot of his time talking about how United had some customer service renaissance under his leadership.

While it’s true that people aren’t being dragged off United flights, United’s alleged radical customer service transformation simply doesn’t match my experience. Like every other airline, there are good apples and bad apples. But in my experience the customer experience that United offers in no way rivals what you’ll find at Delta.

Don’t get me wrong, United has some really lovely flight attendants (especially some of the ones that have been there forever), but to suggest that the culture has evolved significantly and that United employees are consistently friendly simply puzzles me. That largely might just come down to the carrier’s profit sharing arrangement — employees aren’t as aligned with the company’s success as Delta’s employees.

If United could get on Delta’s level when it comes to customer service, that would be a game changer. But it’s also not easy to change a company’s culture in that way.

United Airlines Boeing 787 business class

Second of all, for an airline so focused on the premium business traveler, the current state of United’s Wi-Fi offering is awful. American and Delta are simply in a different league when it comes to the speed and reliability of high speed Wi-Fi, while United has a lot of catching up to do there. While I know this is something that United is working on, the airline still has a long way to go.

United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX first class

Bottom line

After writing posts about all of the good things about the “big three” US carriers, I figured it was only fair to share my major criticisms of the airlines as well. I’m not saying any of the above are the single biggest problems at the airlines, though when I think of the negatives of the above three airlines, those are the first things that come to mind.

I’m curious to hear how OMAAT readers feel — do you disagree with any of my takes? What do you like least about each of the “big three” US carriers?

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  1. Kyle Guest

    I'm curious to know how exactly you define customer service. It seems, based on your description of Delta, it's about niceness and attentiveness of staff. That's fair. But there's an enormous piece of customer service that everyone seems to leave out of these types of analyses: the airline's response when something goes wrong. I think United actually has the edge here. And the app factors into this as well. If you miss a connection, or...

    I'm curious to know how exactly you define customer service. It seems, based on your description of Delta, it's about niceness and attentiveness of staff. That's fair. But there's an enormous piece of customer service that everyone seems to leave out of these types of analyses: the airline's response when something goes wrong. I think United actually has the edge here. And the app factors into this as well. If you miss a connection, or are about to miss a connection, the app proactively gives you a bunch of options for getting to your destination. Plus, if you call customer service, they will even put you on other Star Alliance flights.
    Don't get me wrong, friendliness and niceness are great. But when it comes down to it, I'd exchange these qualities for consistently good remedies for missed connections (which are, of course, the most common issue when flying). Obviously both would be better, but we are dealing with the airline industry after all.

  2. Franklyn Guest

    I may have missed a comment asking this but I will anyway.

    IWhen was the last time you flew United..from what I can tell with a quick search you haven't flown Polaris in at least 3 years.

    So I'm confused (unless you fly domestic and don't post here) how you can make a comment on service when you don't fly them?

    I mainly fly domestic with the occasional upgrade to first...a "please" hello how are...

    I may have missed a comment asking this but I will anyway.

    IWhen was the last time you flew United..from what I can tell with a quick search you haven't flown Polaris in at least 3 years.

    So I'm confused (unless you fly domestic and don't post here) how you can make a comment on service when you don't fly them?

    I mainly fly domestic with the occasional upgrade to first...a "please" hello how are you" "and your name is" "thank you name" makes any person pleasant and I have received consistent friendly service. (Mind you I'm 1k and a million miler)

    So...my question is. What was your last United flight?

    Second. I had to fly Delta once. Literally at the check in counter they are hawking their credit cards even when I said "I normally fly united". Didn't even get on the plane before the credit card speel was given. As you might be able to tell, that left A bad taste.

  3. NWA Guest

    I've never had a complaint about Delta, but my last flight with them reaches back into the period before air travel got ridiculously bad in America. I will pay more for a fare when the lower fare is a hard no, or the higher fare on a better airline isn't an order of magnitude higher. But I can't even recall seeing Delta in the list of carriers for a route recently, so I'm seldom even rejecting them on the basis of price. I'm just not flying on those routes.

  4. El Chimichanga Guest

    I can't tolerate United because of their hub cities, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, Houston.

    Really. These are just crime centers, bad and always getting worse. No excuses, I'll name a list of cities where the worst Americans live, United operates out of those places.

    If there's an issue with a gang in the airport or onboard, the flight crew, hired out of those cities, inevitably takes up the noise themselves.

  5. VD Guest

    You could have added disgusting catering, for all three of them…

  6. Geneva Karr Guest

    Amazing how much of a troll one person can be, Tim Dunn. No one cares what he thinks but his hubris and insistence upon replying to everyone regardless of mental clarity is unparalleled. For someone other's have pointed out is fired from Delta... there's a mental issue with him.

    Tim, you're a troll.

  7. Bo Guest

    For AA, you could add the AI bot that's now used to answer all customer service complaints on their website. There's no longer a way to reach a human being if something happens that needs to be fixed.

  8. Ken Guest

    I have in the recent past flown both domestically and internationally on all three airlines. I view American as a way to get from point A to B with little expectation of much more than a seat. I have not noticed much difference in service between Delta and United; I've had great service on both. I don't care about WiFi as I enjoy the respite from the digital world during my flights.

  9. Icecreamcono Guest

    Idk, I feel like high labor costs are more important than seatback screens with terrible audio, but maybe that’s just me?

  10. Jim from PHL Guest

    The worst thing about United is its catering. The worst thing about both AA and Delta are their websites and apps in comparison to UA. This is one area where no-one can disagree, as UA is leap years ahead of the competition.

    1. Zach B Guest

      I had a friend describe United catering as mediocre hospital or retirement home food

  11. Ron Rice Guest

    DELTA: "Management thinks they're better by a bigger margin than they actually are." "So full of itself." Sadly this attitude starts from the top. Just listen to the analysts/investors conference call or see the leadership on TV. The rank and file, it seems, carry the "we're the best" chip on their shoulder. Any special request is often rejected outright with the justification of "company policy," even if such requests are considered fair and accommodated where...

    DELTA: "Management thinks they're better by a bigger margin than they actually are." "So full of itself." Sadly this attitude starts from the top. Just listen to the analysts/investors conference call or see the leadership on TV. The rank and file, it seems, carry the "we're the best" chip on their shoulder. Any special request is often rejected outright with the justification of "company policy," even if such requests are considered fair and accommodated where possible by other airlines, including low-cost carriers. It's undeniably off-putting. Pride is admirable, but it should never cross the line into hubris.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Ron,
      you have two things in your post.
      First, about hubris. The definition involves EXCESSIVE arrogance, not just an awareness that one really is the best.
      Delta IS the world's BEST by many metrics including generating the most revenue and being the most valuable on the stock market on top of being the most respected airline by many general business publications and by metrics that have nothing to do with aviation such...

      Ron,
      you have two things in your post.
      First, about hubris. The definition involves EXCESSIVE arrogance, not just an awareness that one really is the best.
      Delta IS the world's BEST by many metrics including generating the most revenue and being the most valuable on the stock market on top of being the most respected airline by many general business publications and by metrics that have nothing to do with aviation such as measurable brand metrics. Delta LEGITIMATELY has the right to tout how well it has done just as other superstars or companies such as Apple can do.
      The real issue is that there are plenty of people that can't stand to admit that some other company besides their favorite really is better.
      When you can OBJECTIVELY tell us why Delta isn't the best at all of the things the world has heaped praise on it for, we'll list.

      As for your comment about passenger service, you do realize that Delta like every other large airline serves tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of passengers per year? If I had even a nickel for every where individuals thought that their perspective on anything was representative of a company as large as a major global airline, I'd be a VERY rich person.
      Do you also realize that Delta consistently ranks at the top end of customer service metrics for US airlines right alongside - over time - Southwest?
      When your own perspective differs so much from what data-based analysis shows about customer service, then any OBJECTIVE observer has to ask legitimate questions?
      Is it possible - yeah, even probable - that you really aren't a typical, unbiased, objective customer or, even still, it is YOU that can't figure out how to get along w/ service providers that other people are able to do? Do you really think that you want or need anything that millions of passengers don't also seek of Delta and Delta somehow manages to deliver satisfactorily for those people.

      Perhaps you can OBJECTIVELY explain why you see Delta so much more poorly than everyone else.

      And this has nothing to do with Delta - it has to do with the dissonance between personal experiences and the norm - which in this case is determined by hundreds of millions of customers.

    2. Jason Guest

      Dude- he just doesn't like delta. Even big companies that do things well can have people who've had bad experiences. Not sure why that's hard for you to understand, or why you are getting so upset.

    3. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Anybody is free to just say they don’t like something but that isn’t what he said. He tried to paint his personal experiences as the norm or argue points that don’t make logical sense. It’s not a hard concept to understand

    4. Zach B Guest

      I mean what Jason and Ron is saying are not wrong assertions either. I've had my fair share of crappy experiences with Delta customer service where they had a laissez-faire attitude towards anything that doesn't fit neatly into a solution they already have. Like LAX Delta hub in my opinion has some of the worst customer service people in their network from my experience flying on Delta extensively.

  12. ORD_Is_My_Second_Home Gold

    Your opinion on Delta's customer service is yours. My experience has been that unless you're a Diamond (or a blogger), Delta treats you like garbage. The FAs regard you as an inconvenience to them, and the ground service has been poor to non-existent. This has been a regular experience of mine when I've been forced to fly them.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      and tell us how much experience you actually have on Delta given your user name and the comments you have made about flying Delta before.

      Anecdotes and personal preference is fine - but it is YOUR opinion and pure data proves that your experience is not what the majority of US airline customers experience which simply means we all have to ask why you see the world so much differently than everyone else.

      Perhaps it is the United paycheck?

  13. Geneva Karr Guest

    I'm surprised ATL didn't come up in this. I avoid that airport at all costs. If I wanted to connect in 7 double wide trailers lined up, I'd go to a trailer park, I don't need an airport modeled after one.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      honestly, tell us what US large hub airports do you think provide a better experience? - esp. when you factor in the number of passengers that each hub carriers - which is none since ATL is the world's busiest airport

      the problem w/ your statement is that everyone compares world class airlines and service (airports included) to US airlines which serve very different purposes. Only Chinese and Indian airports carry anywhere near the number of...

      honestly, tell us what US large hub airports do you think provide a better experience? - esp. when you factor in the number of passengers that each hub carriers - which is none since ATL is the world's busiest airport

      the problem w/ your statement is that everyone compares world class airlines and service (airports included) to US airlines which serve very different purposes. Only Chinese and Indian airports carry anywhere near the number of domestic passengers and both trail the US by a very wide margin. Other large global airports such as ICN, SIN, and the Middle East airports all serve high percentages of long-haul international passengers which pay higher fares.
      And only the European and some Japanese airlines pay labor costs as high as US airlines.
      California and other US states are finding out that when you push labor costs based on trying to create a "living wage" and not based on the product that customers are willing to pay for, costs rise and people leave - and the people that are hurt the most are the very people that you thought would benefit.

      The US at least understands the value of discount air transportation and many low cost or ultra low cost carriers use airports that have lower costs - even within the same airport. Ever been to WN's gates at IAH?

      ATL works because it is efficient and in the right place in US geography. DL and EA jointly built it into what it is now but I am sure that if DL did it today, they would make each concourse wider.

      while I wait for your or anyone else's suggestion of large US airports that work better than ATL, I'll throw out that DL's terminal at DTW is by far the best airport in the US and it was actually built w/ as many gates as DL has at ATL now. It just is about 600 miles north of where it should be to work - but it reflects where Northwest thought there was potential for a massive terminal - and that never worked out.

    2. Geneva Karr Guest

      How about you go take a walk and get a life? I think everyone understands your opinion of Atlanta airport and delta but no one cares.
      There are some redeeming qualities about ATL, like flying away from it, but it’s built and staffed like a trailer park.

    3. Tim Dunn Diamond

      but you get to post your opinion and refuse to justify what you wrote because...?

      that's not how it works, dearie.

      Again, answer the question what US large hub airports work better than ATL even on a smaller scale and the answers - some of which WILL be subjective - are virtually none.

      On an objective, data-based basis, the answer is NONE because no airport in the world moves as many people as efficient as ATL does.

    4. Jason Guest

      This is an opinion piece. It's subjective not objective. People can have the options they want and don't have to justify them. Why the rage?

    5. Geneva Karr Guest

      Get a life loser. No one owes you anything.

    6. Jason Guest

      It's totally possible to not like some place and still admit it efficiently transports a lot of people. Why is that impossible for you to understand? Why do you call him dearie?

    7. Tim Dunn Diamond

      and that is PRECISELY the point.
      She can avoid whatever she wants.
      But she can't tell us that any other airport does a better job - which is ALL I asked her to do.
      Everyone gets personal preferences and opinions but that doesn't mean that, if you choose to disclose them publicly, you might be asked to defend them.

      As I fully expected, she and you can't really answer the question as to what large US airports do a better job.

    8. Geneva Karr Guest

      Pretty sure I did explain. The design is that of a trailer park and it is staffed in a similar fashion.
      Go troll elsewhere

    9. Tim Dunn Diamond

      again, what airport do you think does better.

      is it the sprawling mess that is DFW airport or the vastly overpacked CLT or DEN that can't even keep a train consistently running or EWR that is consistently overscheduled by its primary tenant airline or ORD which is having to spend ten billion plus dollars to be able to allow international passengers to be under the same roof as their connecting domestic flights?

      the question is...

      again, what airport do you think does better.

      is it the sprawling mess that is DFW airport or the vastly overpacked CLT or DEN that can't even keep a train consistently running or EWR that is consistently overscheduled by its primary tenant airline or ORD which is having to spend ten billion plus dollars to be able to allow international passengers to be under the same roof as their connecting domestic flights?

      the question is real. I don't care what you think of architecture. I am asking you to tell us what airport does a better job than ATL.
      It really isn't that hard of a question to answer.
      Trolling is making indefensible comments - which, so far, is all you have done.

    10. Jason Guest

      She doesn't care and doesn't have to. She doesn't like the aesthetic. Nor do I. I liked it when the concourses weee painted red more. At the same time I recognize that the airport is efficient. I just don't like it. And both can be fine. Get over yourself. Why are you so angry?

    11. Geneva Karr Guest

      Amazing that someone could be such a troll. I can despise an airport for being a double wide without explaining it to a delta stooge.
      If you had any thought of independent thinking, you’d realize what everyone else thinks of atl. It’s a big trailer park.

      Go to a psychiatrist, ya weirdo

    12. Zach B Guest

      ATL is fine but I get why people don't like it. It's big, it can be a long walk to your next gate if you have to go from one end of the concourse to the center, go downstairs and take the Plane Train to another concourse and then do the same thing again but in reverse to your departing gate, that's a very long trek if going more than one concourse over side to...

      ATL is fine but I get why people don't like it. It's big, it can be a long walk to your next gate if you have to go from one end of the concourse to the center, go downstairs and take the Plane Train to another concourse and then do the same thing again but in reverse to your departing gate, that's a very long trek if going more than one concourse over side to side. Also just the sea of people traversing through that airport is a lot so it can be overwhelming, like rush hour all day every day till the last bank of flights. That's a bit much for some.

  14. Trevor Guest

    Stop wring “in my opinion.” We know it’s your opinion and there are other ways you can express that.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      I'm glad he DOES say "in my opinion" because it is clear that his views are subjective and not based on rationality or logic.

      And it also allows everyone else to come to their own equally valid conclusions based on their own irrationality and bias.

      and we all get to share it and put a few pennies in Ben's pocket in the process.

      Ben may be biased as much as anyone else but he does understand how this site works - which is to pay his bills.

  15. Joseph Guest

    I describe American as an Ohio-themed airline. Completely banal, sort of a grey color that always looks dirty. (Sorry Ohio. I’m sure it’s a really dynamic place in the real world and my description is totally inaccurate. I’ll try it sometime so I can be proved wrong.)

    That said, I prefer the AA model over the UA/DL models. I love the expansiveness of the AA flight map because I have to fly to places like...

    I describe American as an Ohio-themed airline. Completely banal, sort of a grey color that always looks dirty. (Sorry Ohio. I’m sure it’s a really dynamic place in the real world and my description is totally inaccurate. I’ll try it sometime so I can be proved wrong.)

    That said, I prefer the AA model over the UA/DL models. I love the expansiveness of the AA flight map because I have to fly to places like Greensboro or CWA a lot more than I have to fly to Tahiti.

    That brings me to my next point. I strongly prefer to fly on the international partner metal v AA. You really want to fly on UA over Qantas to Australia? Or UA over JAL to Japan? ow Emerald seems more meaningful to partner airlines than Exec P does to AA and a lot more fun to fly something more exotic. I would rather have the novelty of flying Air Tahiti Nui than UA.

    1. ORD_Is_My_Second_Home Gold

      I did fly UA to Australia and had a great experience. I'm a 1K and they treated me right. Your experience may vary.

  16. ClownDancer Guest

    I made a huge mistake once and bought tickets off expedia for delta economy flight from houston-japan-manila. Prior to that i always went straight to the airline for tickets. SIA, EVA, Asiana, Emirates, Korean Air, United, and one of the airlines with China in the name are airlines i have used previously. I had to change my flight. Expedia quoted Delta at $4000usd cheapest economy one way. I tried different days. Different months. The Expedia...

    I made a huge mistake once and bought tickets off expedia for delta economy flight from houston-japan-manila. Prior to that i always went straight to the airline for tickets. SIA, EVA, Asiana, Emirates, Korean Air, United, and one of the airlines with China in the name are airlines i have used previously. I had to change my flight. Expedia quoted Delta at $4000usd cheapest economy one way. I tried different days. Different months. The Expedia agent kept apologizing. He said it was Delta charging $4000.00. Of course I picked a different airline. There was no reason for Delta to do this. I could go to Delta site and find something for around 1400.00 one way. Of course i eill nevrr use expedia and will try to not use Delta. They are thieves.

  17. Rick Guest

    The service on US carriers is abhorrent. I commute between the US and Middle East and the difference is laughable. It’s like a 1st grade girls soccer game compared to a professional men’s game. Not even in the same league. I attribute it to 1 thing: unions. Unions are the highway to laziness and the pathway to entitlement. The crew on Middle East and Asian airlines are customer oriented, no “Me” oriented which is what...

    The service on US carriers is abhorrent. I commute between the US and Middle East and the difference is laughable. It’s like a 1st grade girls soccer game compared to a professional men’s game. Not even in the same league. I attribute it to 1 thing: unions. Unions are the highway to laziness and the pathway to entitlement. The crew on Middle East and Asian airlines are customer oriented, no “Me” oriented which is what unions do. With my Middle East friends and colleagues, we laugh all the time any time someone has to take a US airline. Not just customer service but food, seats, and just about everything else is superior elsewhere.

    1. Lee Guest

      When was the last time you flew Iberia or Ryanair or SAS? And, are you aware of Ben's experience on Oman?

    2. Engel Member

      I haven't flown SAS, but I have flown Iberia and Ryanair.

      Ryanair has an outstanding record of arriving on time and I have never had them cancel a flight (after probably 30+ flights). And for peanuts, you can pay to sit in an exit row and have more legroom than first class on many US airlines.

    3. Chris Guest

      I have to confess: my eyes did a number on me and I saw 'onions' instead of 'unions', which really threw me off for a split second XD

    4. Xavier Guest

      I guess we should go back to the the Golden Age of Aviation where rampant sexism towards FAs was all the rage back then based on your logic, as that is what the Middle Eastern airlines do to their FAs right now with the absurd beauty standards, forced retirement if they "get too old, fat,or pregnant", can't have a long term career with Middle East carriers, etc.

      All you're doing right now is spitting in...

      I guess we should go back to the the Golden Age of Aviation where rampant sexism towards FAs was all the rage back then based on your logic, as that is what the Middle Eastern airlines do to their FAs right now with the absurd beauty standards, forced retirement if they "get too old, fat,or pregnant", can't have a long term career with Middle East carriers, etc.

      All you're doing right now is spitting in the face of every female FA who fought for their rights back in the 60s and 70s to form unions because they had enough being treated like sex objects by men and seen as servants rather than actual people. Which is what you're doing right now yourself with that horrid attitude you have towards US flight attendants.

  18. Robert Fahr Guest

    @Ben. Anyone who reads a travel blog does not need "big three" in quotation marks.

  19. Tony W Guest

    This is one of your best article series ever. I agree with almost all of your conclusions, although in some cases I might have emphasized a couple of other points (on both the positive and negative sides).

  20. FlyerDon Guest

    The biggest gripe I have with AA is the amount of regional jets they use domestically and to Mexico and the Caribbean.

  21. cairns Guest

    What you didn't mention are the alliances of each of these airlines. Delta's is by far the worst. UAL and AA's are excellent in comparison.

    Frankly neither Delta or their alliances go anywhere I'm interested in visiting or couldn't get to on a much better airline.

    1. Tony W Guest

      I agree. Star Alliance and the United app are the best aspects, with a special guest appearance by Turkish Airlines. Now if only you could buy a transatlantic Turkish flight from United.com or the United app... same problem as with SAS as it's been forever (and now SAS is leaving for SkyTeam anyway, so hopefully they'll be better integrated there...)

  22. BookLvr Diamond

    My biggest complaint with all three of these airlines is the surcharges when flying economy.

    I do not like having to pay extra to select my seat and pay extra to check a bag. This is an area where in my opinion Southwest has the right idea. I want to be about to compare all-inclusive prices from one flight to another.

    The fees lead to other problems:
    The charging to check a bag...

    My biggest complaint with all three of these airlines is the surcharges when flying economy.

    I do not like having to pay extra to select my seat and pay extra to check a bag. This is an area where in my opinion Southwest has the right idea. I want to be about to compare all-inclusive prices from one flight to another.

    The fees lead to other problems:
    The charging to check a bag thing leads more people to try to bring their bag on board to save $35, which leads to more arguing over bin space. The rush to get that bin space leads more people to be in a big hurry to board even if it is not time for their boarding group.

    I get why there would be fees for people traveling with an extraordinary amount of luggage, but charging to check a single suitcase is borderline absurd.

  23. Lee Guest

    Of course these articles are subjective impressions. Ben's blog, Ben's subjective impressions. What the (heck) should anyone expect? Read it, agree or disagree, and move on with life.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      He has a comment section because interactions produce page clicks. Everyone gets to write what they want.

  24. AdamH Guest

    AA's standby policy should be on this list.

  25. Nico_Aviation New Member

    Ben - I sent you an IG DM about this, but it probably wasn't seen in the requests. I have an interesting story that could be assembled, connecting to American's Flagship "Service" and things not liked about American. I always avoid American, but OMG...I've never had such a horrendous "premium" experience.

  26. IntlBizTraveler Guest

    While agreed with most of the list, your hate on DLs 767s are just a proof point of you not flying economy. 767s are still the best non-carbon fiber wide body for regular passengers with the 2-3-2 layout.

    1. Capo Guest

      Indeed! As a cattle class traveler the 767 is the best airplane bar none? Your chances of getting a middle seat are 1 in 7! Best hard product!

    2. Redacted Guest

      Well said. Two on aisle is really quite special for economy.

    3. S_LEE Gold

      And it's the best for premium economy, too!
      2-2-2 config is unbeatable in its class.
      Ben cares about business and first class only.

  27. DCS Diamond

    The problem with both this post on the shortcomings of the US "Big Three" airlines and the 3 prior posts titled "N Things X Airline Does Well" is that the metrics by which the various features are judged are highly subjective, especially given that the writer has a preferred airline that he gives most of his business to and has elite status with.

    As an illustration, while the post on "12 Things United Airlines Does...

    The problem with both this post on the shortcomings of the US "Big Three" airlines and the 3 prior posts titled "N Things X Airline Does Well" is that the metrics by which the various features are judged are highly subjective, especially given that the writer has a preferred airline that he gives most of his business to and has elite status with.

    As an illustration, while the post on "12 Things United Airlines Does Well" did not even list UA's PlusPoints upgrades among the top 12, I, as a UA Million Miler and 1K until this year, would have ranked PlusPoints upgrades at the very top of my list because, in my experience, which I can document, PlusPoints upgrades are not at all "tough to come by" like AA and DL cabin upgrades. In fact, I would say that I had more success clearing PlusPloints upgrades, domestic or international, than I ever did clearing UA's systemwide upgrades.

    Also, considering that for many years the writer/forum host was banned from flying with UA, how much credibility does he have when he lists, e.g., UA "service" among things that he likes least about the airline?

    Just another perspective to consider.

    1. Dr. Stan Guest

      Everyone's mileage may vary. I, in probably 5 years as a 1K, 2-million+ miler and hundreds of of PPoints to my name, have maybe received (I'm being generous in recalling) 5 one-segment upgrades! In spite of offering upo tp 500 PPs for one upgrade...hahaha. So, my experience has been a total negative and while it may work for some, it has never worked for me, on domestic OR international flights. I just buy 1st class...

      Everyone's mileage may vary. I, in probably 5 years as a 1K, 2-million+ miler and hundreds of of PPoints to my name, have maybe received (I'm being generous in recalling) 5 one-segment upgrades! In spite of offering upo tp 500 PPs for one upgrade...hahaha. So, my experience has been a total negative and while it may work for some, it has never worked for me, on domestic OR international flights. I just buy 1st class or Business class and don't even think about wasting hours trying to get a PP upgrade, though they are always happy to put me on the WAITLIST, which I clear about 1 in four score attempts. Another data point to take into account!

    2. DCS Diamond

      I just buy 1st class or Business class and don't even think about wasting hours trying to get a PP upgrade, though they are always happy to put me on the WAITLIST, which I clear about 1 in four score attempts. Another data point to take into account!

      -- Dr. Stan

      Well, that right there is your problem: you are impatient so you prefer to purchase First- or Business-class tickets outright instead of...

      I just buy 1st class or Business class and don't even think about wasting hours trying to get a PP upgrade, though they are always happy to put me on the WAITLIST, which I clear about 1 in four score attempts. Another data point to take into account!

      -- Dr. Stan

      Well, that right there is your problem: you are impatient so you prefer to purchase First- or Business-class tickets outright instead of requesting PP upgrades and being WAITLISTED.

      As 2 screen captures I provide at https://bit.ly/49D12ZD clearly document, I cleared a bunch of both my own and sponsored PP upgrades in 2021 and 2022-2023, and the way I did it was to simply to request the upgrades, be waitlisted and forget about them until I received an email like the one below from UA, usually within 1-4 days of departure:

      You’ve been upgraded!

      Hi DCS,

      We’re excited to let you know we’re upgrading your seat to United First/Business for your flight from Newark(EWR) to Geneva(GVA), departing August 20. Here are the details:

      08/20 JW25GY EWR-GVA EWR-GVA United Premium Plus - United Polaris business 12A

      Like I said, and the evidence provided at link shows, UA's PlusPoints upgrades are not at all as "tough to come by" as are AA and DL cabin upgrades. I would list PP upgrades at the very top of "things that UA does well" based on my real and long-time experience with the airline that the forum host does not have.

      Q.E.D.</b

    3. DCS Diamond

      [I, in probably 5 years] have maybe received (I'm being generous in recalling) 5 one-segment upgrades! In spite of offering upo tp 500 PPs for one upgrade...hahaha.

      Dear Dr.Stan:

      The quoted comment, especially the bolded part, makes one wonder just how credible is your purported "total negative experience" with PPs because, you see, there is no way for anyone to offer "up to 500 PPs for one upgrade" given that the numbers of PPs required...

      [I, in probably 5 years] have maybe received (I'm being generous in recalling) 5 one-segment upgrades! In spite of offering upo tp 500 PPs for one upgrade...hahaha.

      Dear Dr.Stan:

      The quoted comment, especially the bolded part, makes one wonder just how credible is your purported "total negative experience" with PPs because, you see, there is no way for anyone to offer "up to 500 PPs for one upgrade" given that the numbers of PPs required depend on the type of cabin one is upgrading from and the type of cabin one is upgrading to, with upgrades from discounted economy to Polaris business costing the most at 80 PPs per segment -- nowhere near 500 PPs for one upgrade.

      Moreover, while you claim that "generously" you may have cleared only 5 one-segment PP upgrades in 5 years, the real data I provided (https://bit.ly/49D12ZD) show that I cleared 19 one-segment PP upgrades in just 2 years, raising the following question:

      How is it possible that in 2 just years I cleared about 4x more PP upgrades than you did in 5 years?

      Either your claimed "total negative experience" with PPs is fabricated, or you are utterly clueless about how to take advantage of what I consider to be the most exciting and flexible cabin upgrade instrument...ever.

      G'day.

  28. Julia Guest

    "There are two things that I like least about United — that service could be better, and Wi-Fi."

    I'd add inconsistent catering to that list. Getting better? Maybe, but definitely not as good as it was 5 or 6 years ago...there was a decline even before covid cutbacks.

    Not surprised that u-know-who is arguing against Lucky's opinions on the greatest airline in the history of time.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      I'm surprised that no one has been willing to say the reality which is that it really isn't that hard for DL to be at the top when you look at how badly run so much of the airline industry is run - and the US airline industry is no different.

      Airlines are operationally very challenging and complex but strategically they aren't difficult at all.
      The airline industry has long been defined by egos.

      ...

      I'm surprised that no one has been willing to say the reality which is that it really isn't that hard for DL to be at the top when you look at how badly run so much of the airline industry is run - and the US airline industry is no different.

      Airlines are operationally very challenging and complex but strategically they aren't difficult at all.
      The airline industry has long been defined by egos.

      It is airlines like Delta - since you brought it up even veiled - that have managed to run itself because it seeks to be the best in every arena instead of the unbalanced swing from one side of anything to the other than is most of the US airline industry.

      DL is in the upper half of ALL large corporations in the world in financial terms. That IS a big deal for an airline.
      It is at the top of the US airline industry in customer service metrics - but that puts it below average for most customer service companies. The fact that the rest of the industry is even below Delta is what is frightening.

      Delta is a company. It is no one's relative. It deserves to be criticized where that is due but it also deserves to be recognized for what it has achieved. And yet there are far too many people that can't possibly admit that someone else's preferred company does a whole lot better than their own which is a big reason why aviation-related social media is such a mess but also so entertainingly fun to be a part of at least as I watch some people squirm trying to defend what they write.

    2. Khatl Diamond

      have to agree with tim dunn this time, that it's not so much that Delta is so good, it's that the other 2 are just not that good. Airlines generally are small relative to other corps and sectors (DL's rev was $58B). That doesn't even get them in the top 50 of US corps or the top 250 globally.

    3. Julia Guest

      Oh Tim, you never fail to disappoint with your shilling for Delta lol

      Delta may be the best of the US big 3 (which isn't saying much), but it still falls behind so many, many, many other airlines from around the world in terms of overall quality.

      But you need to keep pimping them for...reasons, so go ahead. You do you, Tim.

    4. Speedbird Guest

      Idk why but I always read Tim Dunn's comments about Delta in a pompous old timey American radio voice accent

    5. InternationalTraveler Gold

      Delta may be better run but that doesn’t help those which are outside their hubs. I fly mostly out of San Francisco and Delta has very few flights. I have flown Delta only a handful of times because they don’t fly to where I need to be.

    6. ORD_Is_My_Second_Home Gold

      So you know everything about Delta. Where do the FAs receive their training in how to behave like concentration camp guards, and how do they keep a straight face when they try to tell you that a can of Coke and a packet of Biscoff are sufficient for a five-hour flight?

  29. Dim Tunn Guest

    Is Tim Dunn going to survive this post?

  30. DesertGhost Guest

    This reads more like a critique of the airline's differing business models than a simple list of don't likes. To that point, you've been the CEO of how many airlines?

    You have a right to like or dislike anything. After all, there's no accounting for taste.

    While I have to acknowledge your expertise on travel, points and miles, I have to question your qualifications to criticize airlines' business models and strategies.

    When...

    This reads more like a critique of the airline's differing business models than a simple list of don't likes. To that point, you've been the CEO of how many airlines?

    You have a right to like or dislike anything. After all, there's no accounting for taste.

    While I have to acknowledge your expertise on travel, points and miles, I have to question your qualifications to criticize airlines' business models and strategies.

    When did having different business models become a felony?

    1. Redacted Guest

      Right. It's like how Ben only sees value in a frequent flyer miles program if he can easily purchase "aspirational flights". Meanwhile, thousands of us are happily snatching up decent deals on short haul economy with SkyMiles and have no complaints.

      Also... Ben is ignoring Southwest but he likely barely flies them anyway so perhaps that's a good thing.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      I'm pretty sure Ben barely flies DL or UA also and the number of AA international flights is smaller than many of AA's non-loyal Advantage members.

      Ghost is right to an extent. Everyone gets an opinion but these "what I like and dislike" articles are a strange mix of product evaluations, rants about products that Ben reads about on the internet but doesn't ever use, and business strategy issues which Ben doesn't understand and that...

      I'm pretty sure Ben barely flies DL or UA also and the number of AA international flights is smaller than many of AA's non-loyal Advantage members.

      Ghost is right to an extent. Everyone gets an opinion but these "what I like and dislike" articles are a strange mix of product evaluations, rants about products that Ben reads about on the internet but doesn't ever use, and business strategy issues which Ben doesn't understand and that is not a slam. Business strategy is not what Ben tries to do most of the time so it is strange for him to try to do it to assess companies that he rarely uses.
      His sole reason is to create page clicks which sells ad space for his card hawking. Gary and others do the same thing.
      As soon as people understand and accept WHY the world works, it isn't hard to figure out HOW it works.

      Ben's a good guy but let's not pretend his bias is any different than anyone else's.

    3. Julia Guest

      Why are you and Tim even here then if you have such little value in what Lucky has to say?

  31. Jonathan Persky Guest

    My biggest gripe with AA is that if you want to do a Same Day Confirmation or go standby you must follow the exact routing, including connecting city.

  32. EthaninSF Gold

    I would add another to the list of gripes with United - their catering. Neither AA or DL's catering is in line with international competitors, but UA has got to have the smallest budget of the three when it comes to meals. I mean, I get that it's airline food, but does it have to look like a three month old frozen meal with plastic wrapped bread?

  33. digital_notmad Diamond

    Spot on analysis; particularly with respect to DL (and, note also that each of their liabilities are intertwined; they could fix a lot of their image issues by fixing the hubris, but they won't)!

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Delta ITSELF does not display hubris but some of its fans certainly do.
      There is a big difference but some want to act as if there is no difference.

      Scott Kirby is a highly paid UA employee and he leads a team of employees that carry UA's water.
      No other airline is the same.

    2. digital_notmad Diamond

      my guy, i'm not sure if you've been following but you're talking about the same airline that mere months ago had to beat an ignominious retreat, tail between legs, after learning the hard way that "lol where you gonna go, f*$# you, pay me" isn't an advisable loyalty strategy. tough to blame that one on the fans, tbh

    3. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Delta SLOWED the rate of change.
      You are behind foolish if you think they backtracked.
      None of which changes that DL makes more money from its loyalty program than any other airline in the world and this huge damage to them that so many thought would happen simply did not come true.

      none of which changes that Scott Kirby calls multiple competitors as having failed strategies and compares itself favorably ONLY to...

      Delta SLOWED the rate of change.
      You are behind foolish if you think they backtracked.
      None of which changes that DL makes more money from its loyalty program than any other airline in the world and this huge damage to them that so many thought would happen simply did not come true.

      none of which changes that Scott Kirby calls multiple competitors as having failed strategies and compares itself favorably ONLY to Delta even though they made 60% of what DL made in 2023 and UAL as a company is worth half of what DAL is worth.

      Feel free to tell us the definition of hubris but it is United that demonstrates the most hubris and is running w/ its tail between its legs as Boeing delivers the news yet again that it will miss yet another reduced delivery schedule to United - just as they already did to Southwest. And Airbus can't possibly make up for what Boeing can't deliver. United NEXT is in shambles, it was the biggest hooplah of airline world and it was created by no one except UA's current execs

    4. digital_notmad Diamond

      ...and even if we pretend not to notice things like the amex spend-based MQM rollbacks which are not temporary so that we can credulously swallow DL PR copy hook-line-and-sinker as you have above, we're nevertheless left with a comical display of hubris forcing the airline to post on their own website mea culpas like "We received valuable feedback from our SkyMiles Members about changes to our SkyMiles Program. Your voice matters, and as a result,...

      ...and even if we pretend not to notice things like the amex spend-based MQM rollbacks which are not temporary so that we can credulously swallow DL PR copy hook-line-and-sinker as you have above, we're nevertheless left with a comical display of hubris forcing the airline to post on their own website mea culpas like "We received valuable feedback from our SkyMiles Members about changes to our SkyMiles Program. Your voice matters, and as a result, we have made adjustments and added new benefits to ensure you are rewarded for your loyalty."

    5. Time Is So Done Guest

      “Delta ITSELF does not display hubris but some of its fans certainly do.”

      Finally, some self awareness.

    6. Tim Is So Done Guest

      “Delta ITSELF does not display hubris but some of its fans certainly do.”

      Finally, some self awareness.

    7. Tim Dunn Diamond

      I've never struggled with self awareness.
      I simply know what I come here to do - provide facts that others won't - while others can't accept it so trash anything and everything that destroys their narrative.

      And I honestly like Ben from what I know from a distance. I have met Gary and hope I meet Ben some day.
      I and both of them understand that I can disagree and still like them...

      I've never struggled with self awareness.
      I simply know what I come here to do - provide facts that others won't - while others can't accept it so trash anything and everything that destroys their narrative.

      And I honestly like Ben from what I know from a distance. I have met Gary and hope I meet Ben some day.
      I and both of them understand that I can disagree and still like them - and they both demonstrate the ability to accept criticism of their work and not take it personally.
      and they, like me, don't like and hide behind fake names.
      It would a totally different world if other people like you would do the same.

    8. Tim Is So Done Guest

      Timmy, no one is hiding behind false names. This handle was chosen to make fun of you, because you cannot accept any criticism. You say that of others, but it’s true of you.

      You want my real name - fine - but I’ll continue to use the same handle. My name is Michael Smith. Really. Feel better now?

      Your problem is that whenever anyone disagrees with you, you whinge like a little baby in a pram. You can’t take any criticism. That’s why you are an easy target.

    9. Redacted Guest

      It's still incredibly childish to make a mocking username. Disagree with him, sure, but keep things classy.

    10. Tim Dunn Diamond

      No, I don't criticize people. I debate ideas and I criticize companies.
      You and a handful of other people can't understand the concept and wear your company loyalties on your sleave so YOU, not me, turn criticisms of companies into personal assaults on someone else.

    11. Parnel Member

      you debate nothing, you are a tired troll saying "Delta is great"

    12. MaxPower Diamond

      Are you really going back to saying Tim Dunn is your real name after admitting multiple times it isn’t? Even a month ago you said it wasn’t your name.

    13. Tim Dunn Diamond

      you are truly off the deep end.
      Please provide a link to where I, not some fake made up name trying to mock me, said that wasn't my real name.

      you believe what you want and make up the rest, none of which is connected to reality

  34. Tim Dunn Diamond

    and it is laughable to argue that DL is defined by hubris when it is Scott Kirby that has taken trashing everyone else including the DOT, FAA and Boeing to heights never seen by any other airline exec.
    And, ironically, UA execs frequently compare themselves FAVORABLY to DL.

    but someone thinks that DL execs - who never compare DL or themselves to any other airline by name - shows hubris?
    Beyond stunning what comes out of some people's mouths - or off their pens.

    1. Tim Is So Done Guest

      “Beyond stunning what comes out of some people's mouths - or off their pens.”

      Said with no sense of irony whatsoever. And speaking of hubris, Tim is thy name.

    2. Neal Z Guest

      As an attorney who has actually represented clients suing Delta Airlines - yes, your "oh so perfect premium Delta, Timmy" - I can attest to the fact that not only do Delta executives have hubris, they are some of the nastiest people in the business. (And since this seems to be important to you, Timmy Boy, I do fly Delta, although not as my primary airline, and my status has ranged from Gold to Diamond...

      As an attorney who has actually represented clients suing Delta Airlines - yes, your "oh so perfect premium Delta, Timmy" - I can attest to the fact that not only do Delta executives have hubris, they are some of the nastiest people in the business. (And since this seems to be important to you, Timmy Boy, I do fly Delta, although not as my primary airline, and my status has ranged from Gold to Diamond over the past 5 years, and is presently Gold. I only buy business/first tickets, so I have no issues with DL re upgrades) I will also note that while I was not a Scott Kirby fan in his years at America West/USAirways/American, and I worried that he would destroy any goodwill that Oscar Munoz created. I was wrong, and I think that Kirby has done a decent job in his current role. (My status with UA has been either Platinum or 1K over the past 5 years, and is presently 1K. As with Delta, I also only buy tix in the pointy end of the plane, so I have no issues related to upgrades).

      United certainly needs to improve its WiFi, although it has gotten better on the newly configured planes. They also need to up their game on food. Delta's WiFi is marginally better, but their food is equally inedible. And the nastiest gate agents I've ever encountered were Delta agents at LAX. If a DMV worker and a Prison Guard had offspring, they'd become Delta gate agents at LAX. And now that Delta has removed the customer service desks from the LAX SkyClub as of a few weeks ago (allegedly to reclaim the space for the whopping 10 seats they've added, but we all know that it is because Ed Bastian is a cheap bastian and employees cost money), their customer service at LAX has gotten even worse.

  35. Tim Dunn Diamond

    yes, it is fair to note the dislikes - but should have been done as part of each of the "likes" articles.
    first, the same question which I have raised on every one of these "what I like and dislike" series deserves to be asked here: how much have you, Ben, flown on any of these airlines and what status do you have in any of their loyalty programs. If you can't or won't...

    yes, it is fair to note the dislikes - but should have been done as part of each of the "likes" articles.
    first, the same question which I have raised on every one of these "what I like and dislike" series deserves to be asked here: how much have you, Ben, flown on any of these airlines and what status do you have in any of their loyalty programs. If you can't or won't prove that, then your likes and dislikes are less meaningful than a lot of your readers that actually do have broad-based experience with multiple airlines across multiple cabins.

    specific to what you have written, though, the fixation with size is, quite frankly, troubling even though it is prevalent in the airline industry - and almost exclusive a male phenomenon.
    According to DOT data - don't even start the childish arguments, max - DL's international route system made more money than any others in just the first 9 months of 2023 which is as much as they have released. UA's was not far behind - at about 95% - but far less profitable per seat mile. AA's international system profit was just 14% of DL's and its TATL and TPAC systems lost money, wiping out the majority of the profits they got from Latin America.
    and DL's domestic profits are twice what UA got so the notion that any of the big 3 is just moving numbers around doesn't square with reality.
    neither companies or individuals buy based on the size of an airline's network; they buy based on whether it can take them where they want to go. And how many international flights have you been on with UA in the past year, Ben?
    AA knows that international doesn't work in most parts of the world, UA thinks it does well but actual data shows they don't do as well as DL and DL

    the fixation with the Delta 767 fleet is equally as troubling esp. since it involves an extraordinary amount of hypocrisy to even make the argument. Tell us how many Delta 767s you have flown on in the past 12 months including in business class, Ben?
    In fact, the 767 is TWO fleets - the -300ERs and -400s and they are configured differently including in business class. Delta's A330 fleet IS larger than its 767 fleet but you want to count them all as one fleet but not count DL's A330 fleet as one - and certainly don't want to count UA's 777 fleet as one.
    In fact, DL uses its 767-300ERs much like UA uses its 777-200As AND its 757s.
    A portion of the DL 767-300ERs fly domestic routes including to Hawaii. A portion fly shorthaul international such as to Latin America where other carriers fly narrowbodies. A portion fly to leisure European destinations predominantly where UA flies 757s. A portion fly in the same markets as other widebodies in the DL fleet. A very few routes over 8 hours are actually served exclusively by 767-300ERs.
    In contrast, UA's 777As are 8 abreast in business class while their lie flat 757s are 4 abreast - both with just half of the seats having direct aisle access in business class.
    The ability to ignore those realities while harping on a few inches on a plane that you don't even fly is quite frankly stunning. It's a.net kind of childishness and hypocrisy.
    you do good work on some stuff, Ben, but your fixation with DL's 767s is borderline pathological.
    And I can assure you that DL will have pulled its 767s off of international service before United. and DL's 767-300ERs might be gone before UA gets rid of its 777-200As.

    Your most logical comments are about loyalty programs and yet you fail to understand what they exist to do - which is to create loyalty by rewarding and incentivizing some type of behavior. There are ample statistics that show that the average award is pretty comparable for the big 3 but each arrives at that differently - although we can't see that data. All programs are growing. DL's program makes more money for it than any others.
    So the notion that a program is better from a consumer standpoint is based very much on personal preference and anecdotes.

    been a fun week of articles but there is more bias here than just about any where on the internet.

    1. Tim Is So Done Guest

      Including in your comments. Bias? Where?

    2. Plane Jane Guest

      Why does Ben need to prove anything to you about his qualifications to write about any airline? The fact that you're here spending hours commenting on his articles is proof alone that you value his opinion highly, regardless of his ridership. Why else are you here spending so long commenting extensively if you don't think he's qualified to have an opinion on AA, Delta, or United? Time is the most valuable resource we all have...

      Why does Ben need to prove anything to you about his qualifications to write about any airline? The fact that you're here spending hours commenting on his articles is proof alone that you value his opinion highly, regardless of his ridership. Why else are you here spending so long commenting extensively if you don't think he's qualified to have an opinion on AA, Delta, or United? Time is the most valuable resource we all have and you seem to spend all of yours on his website showing extremely high respect for Ben, his writing, and his opinion.

      If you think your opinion is more valuable, rather than trying to question the qualifications of the owner of the website, start your own site.

    3. Tim Dunn Diamond

      it's precisely because we ALL have opinions.
      But there is a big difference in writing a trip report about foreign airlines and writing OPINION pieces based on experience which Ben doesn't even have with those airlines.
      Ben is interested in page clicks and writes heavily to the largest market - the US market - where he gets the biggest response.

      I and others participate because we ALL have opinions. The vast majority of...

      it's precisely because we ALL have opinions.
      But there is a big difference in writing a trip report about foreign airlines and writing OPINION pieces based on experience which Ben doesn't even have with those airlines.
      Ben is interested in page clicks and writes heavily to the largest market - the US market - where he gets the biggest response.

      I and others participate because we ALL have opinions. The vast majority of us just don't get paid or financially benefit as much as some people = mostly UA employees - want to try to argue otherwise.

    4. Tim Is So Done Guest

      How do you know what experience Ben has? No one knows what experience you have except you’ve been fired from Delta and banned from Airliners.net. Why you continue to carry Delta’s water is amazing.

    5. Tim Done Guest

      Why don't you do it on your blog? Oh..wait

    6. Khatl Diamond

      When you have such strong hub concentration, tens of millions of people have limited choice when it comes to choosing an airline other than Delta. So, sure, they're gonna sign up for Skypesos. Can you honestly say it's a decent program? It isn't; it sucks and is borderline offensive, particularly as Delta execs are fairly open to admit that devaluation of Skypesos is a focus. And before you say I'm Delta bashing without knowing the...

      When you have such strong hub concentration, tens of millions of people have limited choice when it comes to choosing an airline other than Delta. So, sure, they're gonna sign up for Skypesos. Can you honestly say it's a decent program? It isn't; it sucks and is borderline offensive, particularly as Delta execs are fairly open to admit that devaluation of Skypesos is a focus. And before you say I'm Delta bashing without knowing the product, I was one of those who was stuck at a hub and was recently a Diamond Medallion

    7. Tim Dunn Diamond

      it depends on what you think a loyalty program should be.
      It is a tool to keep people loyal.
      AA also has captive hubs; theirs actually are in larger metros than DL's.
      UA has argued for years that its hubs are in the best metros and now when it comes out that DL has the best network that delivers the best revenue, UA and its fans want to argue that DL monopolizes...

      it depends on what you think a loyalty program should be.
      It is a tool to keep people loyal.
      AA also has captive hubs; theirs actually are in larger metros than DL's.
      UA has argued for years that its hubs are in the best metros and now when it comes out that DL has the best network that delivers the best revenue, UA and its fans want to argue that DL monopolizes its markets.

      DL is growing the fastest in highly competitive markets on the two coasts - the last place an inferior company or loyalty program should work.

      And the best companies that serve hundreds of millions of customers have bad days.
      The reality is that Delta just has fewer of them and that is statistically verifiable.

    8. i am Dunn with this Guest

      what is with the obsession with Ben and Delta…Why dont you start your own blog?

  36. Jkjkjk Guest

    What I dislike about Delta is the cost cutting.
    Their product in J nowadays are meh.
    Bedding, amenity kit, lack of PJs.
    Or let’s talk about how the seats have a lot of dings and black scratches. Geez. Can they make them more visibile?

    Their narrow body products are their saving graces.

    1. Ryan Guest

      J product has absolutely gone downhill. Meals are a lot worse, typically served on one tray, and there's very little to get excited about.

      Also frustrating is the meals on their domestic and Caribbean flights... many routes still serve COVID-era cold boxes, including most Caribbean destinations that have 3-4 hour flights, limited dining options at the destination airport, and for which Delta is charging thousands for first class. A disgusting and disrespectful money grab if...

      J product has absolutely gone downhill. Meals are a lot worse, typically served on one tray, and there's very little to get excited about.

      Also frustrating is the meals on their domestic and Caribbean flights... many routes still serve COVID-era cold boxes, including most Caribbean destinations that have 3-4 hour flights, limited dining options at the destination airport, and for which Delta is charging thousands for first class. A disgusting and disrespectful money grab if you ask me.

  37. S_LEE Gold

    Ironically, what I dislike the most about Delta is their customer service. Of course, their frontline employees are great. Flight attendants, check-in agents, gate agents, etc. But it was totally different when I needed to contact the customer service center regarding my SkyMiles account.
    I was on hold for hours to contact the customer service both on a phone and chat, but it never worked. I could never reach out to a service agent,...

    Ironically, what I dislike the most about Delta is their customer service. Of course, their frontline employees are great. Flight attendants, check-in agents, gate agents, etc. But it was totally different when I needed to contact the customer service center regarding my SkyMiles account.
    I was on hold for hours to contact the customer service both on a phone and chat, but it never worked. I could never reach out to a service agent, and when I tried sending a mail, it was the same. It was impossible to reach out to them. I finally got a reply 3 months later, but I had already turned away from Delta for this reason. It was in the middle of pandemic and that might be why, but I never had such an issue with AA, UA or AS. Delta's customer service center was just poor.

    Also, I confirm as a Korean that Delta was the poorest in dealing with COVID-related travel restrictions. South Korea changed the entry requirements so frequently and non-Korean airlines didn't follow it very well, however, Delta was the worst. I've heard of hundreds of cases where passengers were denied boarding just because Delta staffs misunderstood the COVID testing requirements of Korea. Even if they had valid test results, Delta denied boarding so frequently. The same thing happened on AA or UA, too, but they were far better than Delta.
    Delta has JV with Korean Air and they could have asked for their help regarding the travel restrictions but they never did. Korean Air never had issues like that but Delta did. It was really frustrating.

    I know Delta is the most "premium" of US big three, but I decided to never fly them even if I'm based in SEA. I'd rather take a detour than flying direct on Delta. Now I fly AS domestically and AA/JL internationally.

    1. Jkjkjk Guest

      As a diamond Never had to wait for customer service for long except during pandemic recovery where staffing was a problem and I understood the situation.

      Also delta chat/imessage is great. Wished more business can do that. Looking at you hotel groups.

      Their email response are definitely getting slower than pre pandemic.

    2. Mark Guest

      As someone without status, I can confirm that Delta customer service was much much worse than AA, AS and UA during the pandemic. Multi-hour hold times were the norm.

    3. Redacted Guest

      Interesting. I think Delta has the best customer service of any airline period (not just US). The ability to get through to a real human via integrated-iOS messaging *within five minutes* is almost unheard of elsewhere. Moreover, the number of services they can deliver via chat is fairly impressive -- I've only been asked to call for further assistance on one occasion, and that was regarding a rather complicated refund situation.

      I'm Seattle-based myself and...

      Interesting. I think Delta has the best customer service of any airline period (not just US). The ability to get through to a real human via integrated-iOS messaging *within five minutes* is almost unheard of elsewhere. Moreover, the number of services they can deliver via chat is fairly impressive -- I've only been asked to call for further assistance on one occasion, and that was regarding a rather complicated refund situation.

      I'm Seattle-based myself and partial to Alaska (for several reasons), but you will never hear me make the argument that Alaska has superior customer service to Delta. That's just blatantly incorrect.

      But sure, I guess if you absolutely instist

    4. S_LEE Gold

      I'm an AA elite and I always instantly get connected to an agent. I'm not an elite with Alaska but it doesn't take longer than 10 minutes either. My bad impression on Delta is based on the pandemic period. I know it's good normally, but I think based on the worst times.

      And I forgot to mention this.. Delta's IT sucks when out of the US. When accessing delta website from Korea, it automatically redirects...

      I'm an AA elite and I always instantly get connected to an agent. I'm not an elite with Alaska but it doesn't take longer than 10 minutes either. My bad impression on Delta is based on the pandemic period. I know it's good normally, but I think based on the worst times.

      And I forgot to mention this.. Delta's IT sucks when out of the US. When accessing delta website from Korea, it automatically redirects to Korean website which has very limited features. You have to access the US website to see more details but Delta's IT don't allow it and always redirects to the region you're located physically. You have to use VPN to access the US website of Delta out the US. AA or UA are not like this..
      Also, Delta app is not available in Korea now. If you have Korean iOS or Android account, you can't download Delta app. You must make a US account to do this. Delta says it's because their app doesn't comply with the latest privacy law of Korea, however, UA/AA apps are available in Korea with no issue at all!
      Delta has JV with Korean Air and is making ICN as their Asian base, however, their service for Koreans is terrible. A lot worse than UA or AA.
      They may be good for Americans or Europeans, but certainly not for Koreans. Koreans fly Delta just because of their route network and connectivity with Korean Air, not because of their service.

    5. Redacted Guest

      S_LEE, that is pretty terrible. I would be just as upset as you then -- especially since I think the only way to access the chat support is through the app/website.

  38. CMT Guest

    My biggest issue with AA's international routes, is that any previous somewhat decent partner J/F availability completely dries up and goes to crap. No longer possible to find 80K or 110K flights to Australia, 60K or 80K flights to Japan, and 70K flights connecting through DOH. Instead, only 400K award redemptions on AA's inferior product. Frankly, I wish they'd completely drop the long haul International routes, focus on domestic/short haul international if that's what they...

    My biggest issue with AA's international routes, is that any previous somewhat decent partner J/F availability completely dries up and goes to crap. No longer possible to find 80K or 110K flights to Australia, 60K or 80K flights to Japan, and 70K flights connecting through DOH. Instead, only 400K award redemptions on AA's inferior product. Frankly, I wish they'd completely drop the long haul International routes, focus on domestic/short haul international if that's what they want to do, and bring back decent partner award availability on the long hauls. I'm not talking about whining because someone unrealistically expects to find partner award flights for a family of four to Europe over Christmas holidays. I'm talking about more than 3-4 J awards available a year out to/through DOH from 10 Qatar US gates. Or zero J or F awards on Qantas a year out. But hey, can buy AA for 400K one way almost any day on AA. Way to go AA!

    1. Tim Dunns Mom Guest

      lmao that has literally zero to do with AA and everything to do with the partners and the current international award travel landscape

  39. George Romey Guest

    I fly AA 2-4 times a week. Some of their employees are very, very good. Crew and ground/club personnel. No small number of their flight attendants are apathetic. Stare off into space during boarding rather than serve first drinks and hang coats. The bare minimum in air in premium cabins. But again no small number are amazing.

    When it comes to the domestic coach product AA is a gussy up version of LCC/ULCC. No IFE...

    I fly AA 2-4 times a week. Some of their employees are very, very good. Crew and ground/club personnel. No small number of their flight attendants are apathetic. Stare off into space during boarding rather than serve first drinks and hang coats. The bare minimum in air in premium cabins. But again no small number are amazing.

    When it comes to the domestic coach product AA is a gussy up version of LCC/ULCC. No IFE other than widebodies. No BOB other than junk food over 1,500 miles. But again financially it's probably just not worth it. Someone buying a BE fare isn't interested in IFE of whether a nice sandwich/salad will be for sale.

    Biggest gripe for me is the endless delays even when (like this past Wednesday) the weather is perfect throughout the country. I've adapted by taking long connections and being MIA based more options for direct flights. But unsuspected flyers that take 40-45 minute connections (which are often cheaper) are usually in for nasty surprise.

    Yes Delta tends to have a hubris around the airline and as both Jetblue and Southwest have learned is that all airlines are a heartbeat away from a major operational meltdown and that's when the gloss comes off.

    1. FllFlyer Guest

      Weather around the country was great on Wednesday?
      Better check with the thousands stranded in MCO/TPA due to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

  40. A220HubandSpoke Member

    The criticisms you applied to Delta and United can be applied to AA too. American has so many issues that they cloud each other up

    1. MaxPower Diamond

      The criticisms of Delta: “Hubris, skymiles, and 767” can be applied to AA? Hardly lol
      Lots of problems at AA. Skymiles, hubris, and the 767 are not among them.

    2. MaxPower Diamond

      Also not sure how WiFi is an AA issue like it is for United.
      And Ben even says United service is in the same league as aa

    3. W Gold

      American has a lot of issues, but I think the issues Ben pointed out about Delta are the only issues that cannot be applied to AA. They have a decent loyalty program (better than UA and DL in my opinion). Their widebodies all have decent premium hard products, since they only fly the 777 and 787. And they definetly don't have hubris as an issue lol. Quite the opposite.

  41. Frederik Guest

    The biggest for me is that Delta and United do cash refunds for an extra fee on domestic tickets. American are vouchers only with no card refund option.

  42. DL Guest

    It's commonplace to knock AA's international route system, but I'd argue that their route systems to Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean are unmatched. Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific are perfectly acceptable considering they have some of the strongest partners and gateway cities in each.

    With the world in turmoil particularly in Europe and ME, AA's domestic build-up may not be such a bad idea.

    1. Portlanjuanero Member

      Considering Ben is based in Miami, I also find it odd he skips past AA's unparalleled Caribbean network. I hate flying AA and yeah their long-haul routes are almost nonexistent but no one even comes close to their regional international route map

  43. Biglaw V10 Partner Guest

    I'm shocked the hostility of service by AA frontline staff went unmentioned. This goes well beyond "morale" and speaks to problems with hiring (not being able to screen out psychopaths) and problems with organizational management - not empowering people to do what's actually best, instead holding them accountable to mindless metrics like D0 and telling them (implicitly or even explicitly) that basic human decency, professionalism, respect, and etiquette are unimportant.

    I'm shocked the hostility of service by AA frontline staff went unmentioned. This goes well beyond "morale" and speaks to problems with hiring (not being able to screen out psychopaths) and problems with organizational management - not empowering people to do what's actually best, instead holding them accountable to mindless metrics like D0 and telling them (implicitly or even explicitly) that basic human decency, professionalism, respect, and etiquette are unimportant.

    1. Plane Jane Guest

      Interesting that your rants yesterday are about how you rarely fly AA since they’re socioeconomically below you and now seem to have a lot of thoughts on their customer service.
      I fly them very often and have never experienced these rants or hostility you seem to make up out of thin air to be a blowhard.

    2. Small Law Guy Guest

      Anybody who has to identify themselves as a “big law partner” in their handle has some kind of issues anyway.

    3. DL Guest

      I fly AA a lot too and have never seen these so-called rants. Recently flew to SJD on AA. Perfect flights in the air and on the ground. As I mentioned before, their domestic-first strategy is the most prudent and responsible thing to do right now.

    4. Roberto Guest

      You’re more of annoying poster than @Tim Dunn.

    5. Jesse Guest

      You misspelled UA there.

  44. Willem Guest

    Minor strike against United, but those high-density 777-200s have GOT to go!

    (Alaska, my one gripe would be no lie-flats)

    1. ATP Guest

      Would you rather have a lie-flat (granted, an inferior one) or recliner on a domestic J flight though?

    2. JustinB Member

      call me crazy but i'll take the domestic recliner - unless you know the person next to you too close for comfort 'laying flat' so i'm just in a gentle recline the whole flight anyways

    3. Tim Guest

      If it’s a transcon, which Alaska has plenty of routes, a lie flat is what is desired, for the 5+ hour flight.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Dim Tunn Guest

Is Tim Dunn going to survive this post?

7
Geneva Karr Guest

I'm surprised ATL didn't come up in this. I avoid that airport at all costs. If I wanted to connect in 7 double wide trailers lined up, I'd go to a trailer park, I don't need an airport modeled after one.

4
Tim Is So Done Guest

“Delta ITSELF does not display hubris but some of its fans certainly do.” Finally, some self awareness.

3
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