Los Angeles based Flyer considering switching to AA, advice?

 
Old Jan 18, 09, 9:45 am
  #1  
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Los Angeles based Flyer considering switching to AA, advice?

I'm currently a DL platinum that flies in North and South America about 150-200,000 miles per year.

Because of the reduction of non stop flights originating in Los Angeles I am considering AA based on reputation and word of mouth because I have no experience with them.

How does the American Frequent Flyer program compare to Delta. One of the things I enjoy with Delta are the unlimited upgrades. I'm upgraded 90% of the time, which is pretty good when many of my flights are LAX-JFK-LAX. Admitidly I only buy coach fare when I'm pretty sure I will get an upgrade.

What are SWU and 500 Mile upgrades and how do you earn them?

Does AA offer gate upgrades without using SWU or 500 mile upgrades? If so is it similar to Delta that the list goes by status level, fare class, date of ticketing?

How are the planes and cabins? I've always really liked the Delta cabins with AVOD in first class and the coming roll out of internet access across their fleet. What I'm not looking forward to are equipment substitutions with former NW aircraft which are pale in comparison.

How is customer service? This is another area where Delta is doing a great job but I've heard American is great as well.

Route Network from LAX, connecting in DFW etc. How convienient is AA for a LAX flyer.

Finally does AA still offer challenges to EXP?

Sorry for so many questions.
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Old Jan 18, 09, 10:36 am
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I don't have a lot of experience with DL but flew AA out of LAX for about 3 years.

EXP challenge or comp, you can try but very, very slim chance. My company has a contract with AA, and as a UA 1K I was unable to get a EXP challenge or comp last year.

That makes your change to AA a tough one. Because you can at best do a Plat. challenge (which I believe costs money now), then do the rest up to 100k miles or points as a Platinum before reaching EXP.

As a Platinum, you will get no free upgrades, you must use your 500 mile certificates which you earn, but can also buy at a reasonable rate.

When/if you reach EXP, you'll see a similar program to DL, with complimentary domestic upgrades, no certificates needed.

AA flies widebodies (767) to JFK, but in my experience, they are very tired. No personal entertainment in coach. They do have WiFi now.

AA is OK in LAX except for the remote terminal, which is awful. Unless it's changed in the past year (hopefully it has), think bullhorns / guitar amps for the GA to announce boarding, ramshackle setups and no jetways (even for MD-80 mainline to DFW at times!!)

AA customer service is about average. Much better than UA, not sure how it compares to DL. Their in-flight service in my experience is not as good as Delta, but I have not flown Delta on your stated routes.
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Old Jan 18, 09, 10:58 am
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Welcome

Originally Posted by doug93063 View Post
I'm currently a DL platinum that flies in North and South America about 150-200,000 miles per year.

Because of the reduction of non stop flights originating in Los Angeles I am considering AA based on reputation and word of mouth because I have no experience with them.

How does the American Frequent Flyer program compare to Delta. One of the things I enjoy with Delta are the unlimited upgrades. I'm upgraded 90% of the time, which is pretty good when many of my flights are LAX-JFK-LAX. Admitidly I only buy coach fare when I'm pretty sure I will get an upgrade.

What are SWU and 500 Mile upgrades and how do you earn them?

Does AA offer gate upgrades without using SWU or 500 mile upgrades? If so is it similar to Delta that the list goes by status level, fare class, date of ticketing?

How are the planes and cabins? I've always really liked the Delta cabins with AVOD in first class and the coming roll out of internet access across their fleet. What I'm not looking forward to are equipment substitutions with former NW aircraft which are pale in comparison.

How is customer service? This is another area where Delta is doing a great job but I've heard American is great as well.

Route Network from LAX, connecting in DFW etc. How convienient is AA for a LAX flyer.

Finally does AA still offer challenges to EXP?

Sorry for so many questions.
Many of your questions may be answered in the 1st "Sticky" above, as well the EXP section of AAdvantange at AA.com.

Having said that, Mrs Dallas49er is a DL Plat (yes, here in Dallas). Just some random thoughts from the both of us:

There is a Platinum challenge @ a fee. No challenge of any kind (AFAIK) for EXP, which means it's BIS miles from PLT to EXP. At your stated rate of travel, could be a short time.

At EXP, all your upgrades are free, plus 8 e-vips which are WAY more competitive from a base fare than DL's Platinum Certificates, which need a higher fare class to use. Example: My e-vips to Paris last Thanksgiving out of DFW >$900. Hers, using Platinum Certificates<$2000.

Oneworld alliance partners are more plentiful, to more places. Skyteam has Air France, where s****y attitude is a way of life. Some Oneworld partners have a reputation for being stingy with C and F award seats.

Customer service is subjective at both, but Delta is not what it used to be (but who is?).

Upgrades are based on Status first: mis-CNX (where applicable) are ace of trump, then time of original request. OP ups tend to be few and far between. Connections in and out of DFW tend to be (subjective again) easy.

Perhaps someone here else can be more LAX specific.

Good luck!

Last edited by Dallas49er; Jan 18, 09 at 11:06 am
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Old Jan 18, 09, 11:41 am
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Go for AA

After earning 2MM on Delta, I was driven to AA by Delta's customer unfriendly policies[starting with no waivers, no favors] and have never regretted it.
I left before the PLT program at Delta started.
Last year I had 100% upgrade success on AA- mostly LAX-JFK and LAX-HNL.
2 major advantages over Delta- availability of award tickets is far superior. Check for yourself on any routes almost any day.I find the base awards are almost never available on the flights I want on DL.
The EVIPs can be cleared at the gate- unlike Delta's horrible policy.
CS from the EXP desk is excellent.
I still consider DL the airline that can't say "Yes".
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Old Jan 18, 09, 11:59 am
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Originally Posted by Dallas49er View Post
it's BIS miles from PLT to EXP. At your stated rate of travel, could be a short time.
Not sure if you mean exactly what was stated, but you still have to earn 100k EQM or EQP to earn EXP.

After a plat challenge you won't have more than 20k EQM (and perhaps as few as 10k), so if you qualify on mileage, it's still 90k to EXP. Not the same thing as getting from regular PLT to EXP!

Last edited by CPMaverick; Jan 18, 09 at 12:59 pm
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Old Jan 18, 09, 12:09 pm
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Originally Posted by CPMaverick View Post
Not sure if you mean exactly what was stated, but you still have to earn 100k EQM or EQP to earn EXP.

After a plat challenge you won't have more than 10k EQM, so if you qualify on mileage, it's still 90k to EXP. Not the same thing as getting from regular PLT to EXP!
It's good that you clarified that a PLT challenge is not a short cut to EXP. Technically, however, one could have at least 20K EQM after a PLT challenge (all deep discount fares) since challenges are based on points, not miles.
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Old Jan 18, 09, 12:35 pm
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Originally Posted by oklAAhoma View Post
It's good that you clarified that a PLT challenge is not a short cut to EXP. Technically, however, one could have at least 20K EQM after a PLT challenge (all deep discount fares) since challenges are based on points, not miles.
And after reaching PLT, OP would have lounge access on int'l flights, 100% bonus, higher priority for upgrades; all of which would at least make the remaining 80 to 90K miles needed to reach EXP more palatable.

Last edited by bdemaria; Jan 18, 09 at 1:05 pm
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Old Jan 18, 09, 12:58 pm
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Originally Posted by oklAAhoma View Post
It's good that you clarified that a PLT challenge is not a short cut to EXP. Technically, however, one could have at least 20K EQM after a PLT challenge (all deep discount fares) since challenges are based on points, not miles.
You are right, the points thing causes so many incorrect posts and now mine is one of them! I'll correct it.
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Old Jan 18, 09, 1:12 pm
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Don't count on upgrades clearing anywhere near 100% as an EXP. Last 4 trips in the past 2 weeks LAX-JFK-LAX, LAX-MIA-LAX, upgrades have only cleared for 2 of 4 segments
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Old Jan 19, 09, 7:34 am
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Originally Posted by CPMaverick View Post
Not sure if you mean exactly what was stated, but you still have to earn 100k EQM or EQP to earn EXP.

After a plat challenge you won't have more than 20k EQM (and perhaps as few as 10k), so if you qualify on mileage, it's still 90k to EXP. Not the same thing as getting from regular PLT to EXP!
Sorry! You are right, and I wasn't thinking. Off with my head! OP is still going to have some time in C..C..C..C..C..C.....not First class.

(OBTW-mmgm's recollection of DL's "no waivers, no favors" is what caused me to abandon them, before they abandoned DFW.)
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Old Jan 19, 09, 7:59 am
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Originally Posted by rumrunner102 View Post
Don't count on upgrades clearing anywhere near 100% as an EXP. Last 4 trips in the past 2 weeks LAX-JFK-LAX, LAX-MIA-LAX, upgrades have only cleared for 2 of 4 segments
I'd second this. Even being careful to pick flights with open F cabins a few days before flight, my experience is that on a transcon 757 (for me, usually BOS-LAX or BOS-SFO) you will clear <20% of the time as EXP. If you typically buy tickets way ahead of time (weeks), you may do better, because AA's system favors those who purchase early.

On shorter flights I clear most of the time (well over 50%), except BOS-DFW which is more in the 50% range for me.
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Old Jan 19, 09, 8:03 am
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The preceding posts should have answered your specific questions on the comparative mechanics of AA's an DL's FF programs. My two cents is that in the mid-199os, fed up with scheduling, limited overseas routes and a few other shortcomings, I defected to DL at top elite level for 18 months. This was during the reign of "Clueless" Bob Coggins. Once I realized how bad it really can be at an airline -- some months the policy was hold flights for late connecting incoming flight, the next month it was just the opposite -- I realized, there was no place like home, no place like home...
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Old Jan 19, 09, 10:25 am
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Originally Posted by rumrunner102 View Post
Don't count on upgrades clearing anywhere near 100% as an EXP. Last 4 trips in the past 2 weeks LAX-JFK-LAX, LAX-MIA-LAX, upgrades have only cleared for 2 of 4 segments
I was 50/52 last year, primarily on LAX-JFK. With that said, I have learned over the last three years which flights I stand the best chance of clearing on and take those. I also use Expert Flyer to check the loads in J before I book my ticket.

This year all of my LAX-JFK flights have cleared at least 24 hours out.
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Old Jan 19, 09, 10:32 am
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Recent thread on DL forum of relevance:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/delta...-delta-pm.html
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Old Jan 19, 09, 12:48 pm
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Originally Posted by kkirk2 View Post
I was 50/52 last year, primarily on LAX-JFK. With that said, I have learned over the last three years which flights I stand the best chance of clearing on and take those. I also use Expert Flyer to check the loads in J before I book my ticket.

This year all of my LAX-JFK flights have cleared at least 24 hours out.
EF is a good tool to use to see what's going on and for possibilities. The only thing I've noticed about using it for the specific LAX-JFK or JFK-LAX route is that (for whatever reason) it only shows Fare Codes U, R & C on the first two or three flights of the day. I've never been graced with an upgrade on this route...though I've only taken it four times over the past few years (and mostly as PLT level during that time). On the contrary, I don't remember the last time I WASN'T granted an upgrade on LAX-MIA or MIA-LAX in the past 3 years.
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