American vs. Delta

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Old Dec 27, 17, 8:53 pm
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American vs. Delta

What's your opinion when comparing Delta and American, in terms of flying experience (airplanes, seats, in-flight service), hubs, and frequent flyer program (especially status)?
I moved from France to the U.S. years ago and had a Flying Blue account. Over the past 3 years, I used to fly some: 6-8 domestic round-trips + 1 international (to France). Flying Delta with my Flying Blue allowed me to reach FB Gold, which has some nice perks (such as SkyPriority and 2 free checked bags). I would have been Delta Silver had I switched to SkyMiles (maybe better for miles accumulation and upgrades, but no SkyPriority, which I really enjoy).
I now have a new job and do about 20 domestic round-trips + 2 round-trips to Europe per year. That has put me FB Platinum, but the perks on domestic flights aren't any better than FB Gold. If I were to switch to SkyMiles, I'd be Delta Platinum. And that would give me some much nicer perks! (upgrades for ex.)
But I'm facing the following challenge: I have to book my business trips through an online travel agent and I'm supposed to book the cheapest flight. And lately (over the last year or so), American has been cheaper than Delta (competitive pricing on other airlines don't come up much based on where I fly to/from). I have some flexibility with the time, which has allowed me to always find a Delta flight for my trips so far, but that's getting difficult and may not last (my company is tightening the travel budget and we're being asked to be more flexible - I can't blame them for doing so).
So what if I switch to American? I've never flown with them. How do they compare to Delta? How is AAdvantage compared to SkyMiles for my situation? With AAdvantage, I'd be AA Platinum (probably not quite Executive Platinum - DL Platinum seems to be between AA Platinum and Executive Platinum).

I'd love to get your opinions. Thank you all for your help!
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Old Dec 27, 17, 10:08 pm
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I’d think the most important issues might be the availability of nonstop or single connection flights from your origin as well as flight costs.

For true comparisons I recommend the Wikiposts at the top of each page in the two threads

What are AA 🔹Platinum / PLT Benefits? Are they worth it? (master thd) (50k EQM or 60segments and $6k EQD minima)

What are AA Platinum Pro Benefits? Are they worth it? (master thread) (75k EQM or 90segments and $7.5k EQD minima)


and a visit to the Delta forum to compare the equivalent status benefits there.

Hard product similar enough you’d have to parse it by routing. Soft product arguably better at Delta.

You’d have to check award availability including alliance and partners networks to see which would suit your travels better.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 12:30 am
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I moved from France 6.5 years ago and I've been maintaining FlyingBlue platinum. Flying premium economy to Europe last year I got enough miles to qualify for a lifetime platinum on AirFrance in 2018 and decided to earn status with AA (they had a nice promo last year which pushed me to AA Platinum (OneWorld Sapphire) with just 1 round-trip to South America.
Anyway, here is what I have to say on the subject:
(0) All major US carriers are VERY BAD on domestic flights compared to AirFrance unless you have a status. Doesn't matter, DL, UA, or AA. AA is particularly bad at selling the seats -- often you'll book a flight and won't be able to assign a seat for free until check-in because all available options will be at extra charge. In my experience, DL is slightly better in this respect than AA.
(1) Having gold/platinum on Flying Blue and flying Delta doesn't make much sense: you'll be in the bottom of the upgrade list below Delta Silver. Delta is also very bad about op-ups on overbooked flights: again, you'll go after Delta Silver -- I've had an op-up on a TATL DL flight only once -- ever, it was AMS-BOS in 2012 which was a DL/KL code-share so it apparently had a small number of DL elites.
(2) With AA platinum you'll be able to earn and use 500-mile upgrades on domestic flights, however, the chance of clearing an upgrade on popular routes (NYC-LAX or BOS-DFW) will remain very slim, because you'll have ExecPlat members ahead of you and everybody on systemwide upgrades even further ahead. On less popular destinations you'll have a better chance.
(3) You can easily cheat the AA EQD system if you can fly to Europe on British or Iberia in premium economy -- the fares are usually quite attractive and because of the mile->EQD conversion you'll sometimes get a factor of 2 gain in spent dollars vs EQDs. Also, BA premium economy is a way better than AF premium voyageur (business is much worse though).
(4) There is a big difference between AA EXP and AA PLT, while there is virtually no difference between FB Gold and FB Plat. Basically, AA PPRO/PLT is similar to FB Plat/Gold -- no much difference, just the name + a bit of bonus miles.
(5) AA business lounges in my opinion are comparable to DL in terms of food / comfort. DL used to be much worse but they improved. AA first class sections (where they exist) are substantially better than DL SkyClub.
(6) The major disadvantage of AAdvantage vs FlyingBlue is that qualifying miles / dollars do not roll over to the next year.

Resuming, flying AA being AAdvantage Platinum is much better than flying DL being FlyingBlue Gold. Flying AA being AAdvantage Executive Platinum is a way better than flying Air France being FlyingBlue Platinum.

P.S.: With the changes to FlyingBlue that they're introducing in Apr/2018 you might find it difficult to re-qualify as gold next year if you fly only twice to Europe and the rest on domestic DL flights.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 7:33 am
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Home airport and typical routes matter. Compare common mainline routes to common mainline routes and it's largely a wash IMO (I give a slight edge to Delta for soft product and IT services under normal operating conditions, but American seems slightly less prone to systemwide meltdowns). But if you're talking secondary and tertiary routes, I tend to give the edge to Delta because they tend to keep more in-house in my home area rather than outsourcing to regional partners. And, since they have essentially gotten rid of the remnants of Atlantic Southeast (Satan's Regional Airline) I've been happier with the regional flights I do draw on Delta compared to the American Eagle option. For somewhat eastern hubs, I also prefer DTW (IMO America's most underrated airport) and ATL to CLT, but have no strong opinion on DFW vs MSP vs ORD.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 7:58 am
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One thing I've noticed being a PHL hub-captive is that AA has been matching lowest fares from all competitors for seemingly the vast majority of domestic markets the past couple years. Essentially, this makes flying DL or UA almost always more expensive out of PHL. If you aren't doing a lot of consistent flying to DL hubs, it makes little sense be a DL elite member here.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 8:17 am
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Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and insights.
One thing that I should have mentioned earlier: my decision to be FB Gold over Delta Silver is because I value priority lanes (ex.: SkyPriority) a lot more than upgrades. But now that I am FB Platinum, I admit that I'd rather be Delta Gold instead (I didn't know at the time that I'd be flying today that much more than in the past).
On average, Delta and American tend to serve about equally the places I go to from my home airport. I do think that the Delta HUBs are indeed better than the AA ones: ATL better than CLT. DTW and SLC better than ORD/DCA/PHL. And the NY airports (shared by Delta and AA) equally suck. And LAX (which kind of sucks too) is also shared by Delta and AA.
Here's what I think I will do, and please let me know your thoughts:
My FB Plat. status is valid until March 2019. In March 2016, Delta had given me a match challenge (FB Gold to DM Gold) but I couldn't meet the 90-day requirements to maintain it, so I kept my FB Gold status instead of Delta Silver. So in March 2019, I'll request another match with Delta (I need to wait 3 years from the previous match challenge), assuming my flying situation is still about the same (that's 1.5 years from now, so who knows..).
Right now, it'd probably take me 6-8 months to get up to Delta Gold, and I don't want to fly for so long without SkyPriority.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:42 am
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I will just say this.

1. When $hit hits the fan, DL is much better at promptly rebooking you into a different flight.
2. OWE benefits are nice if your travel mostly consist of international flights. And IMO, crossing the pacific with JL / going to Aus with QF / going to Africa or India via QR is far superior experience compared to MU/KL/AF.

3. But domestically, DL runs far better than AA. No comparison IMO. If my flights are about to be cancelled, DL pushes messages to Fly Delta app and rebooks me. AA? Who knows lol.


Also the big benefit to Delta is that if you have Amex Platinum (totally worth it imo when you consider $200 uber credit/ $200 airline credit/ SPG gold/ Hilton gold/ Marriott gold) - then you get lounge access every time you fly Delta.

Last edited by IIIIIIIIIIllllllllll; Dec 28, 17 at 3:59 pm
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Old Dec 28, 17, 10:31 am
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Originally Posted by bridge29 View Post
One thing I've noticed being a PHL hub-captive is that AA has been matching lowest fares from all competitors for seemingly the vast majority of domestic markets the past couple years. Essentially, this makes flying DL or UA almost always more expensive out of PHL. If you aren't doing a lot of consistent flying to DL hubs, it makes little sense be a DL elite member here.
Interesting. I used to be DFW based and it was the exact opposite, I felt.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 10:33 am
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Originally Posted by IIIIIIIIIIllllllllll View Post
I will just say this.

1. When $hit hits the fan, DL is much better at promptly rebooking you into a different flight.
2. OWE benefits are nice if your travel mostly consist of international flights. And IMO, crossing the pacific with JL / going to Aus with QF / going to Africa or India via QR is far superior experience compared to MU/KL/AF.

3. But domestically, DL runs far better than AA. No comparison IMO. If my flights are about to be cancelled, DL pushes messages to Fly Delta app and rebooks me. AA? Who knows lol.
Basically agree with the above. Delta is better operationally in the US and has generally better customer service. AA has better partners internationally.

If it's going to be much easier to fly AA vs. DL, I'd probably opt for AA, but my general bias for a primarily-domestic flyer would be DL because AA's operations are pretty shoddy and customer service close to nonexistent.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 10:51 am
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I have been a low- to mid-tier elite on both airlines. Honestly, the flight experience is pretty similar. If upgrades are not super important to you (as you stated in your last post) then it will be even more similar (otherwise, route/day/time makes a big difference in upg%). My advice is choose based on which airline has a schedule that makes your life easier. Since you are going to be flying a lot, an hour saved here or there makes a big difference.

When I started flying routes where AA had the most convenient schedule, that's when I switched to AA. You still haven't told us which city pairs you'll be flying often, but you did hint that you have to adjust timing of your flight in order to stay on Delta and avoid AA-- that might be a point in AA's favor. If both AA and DL offer similar schedules and connections for you (and that's a BIG if), I think DL has a slight edge in terms of operations. Meaning, everything else being the same I would choose a DL operated flight over an AA operated flight However, it's a small difference and I wouldn't make too much of it.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 11:05 am
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OP what's your home airport?

Also how important is the frequent flyer program to you?

I initially chose Delta when I started flying frequently two years ago, but ran to AA because SkyMiles is atrocious in my opinion.
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Last edited by FlyingFrZ; Dec 28, 17 at 1:24 pm
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Old Dec 28, 17, 12:49 pm
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GSP is my home airport. Priority lane/access is my first priority. Then free checked bags. Then award tickets. Interesting note about the free checked bags: they help me justify a Delta flight when AA is cheaper, as I can say "I'd be paying $xx more for my bags on AA" (and I'm not using that as a lame excuse, I often do need to check a bag - or even two sometimes ).
Where I fly to in the US varies a lot: Texas (SAT, IAH, HOU, ELP - AA has definitely an advantage for Texas), PDX, DEN, COS, MSA, EUG, MCO, SMF... and more to come. Only one flight per year across the pond to Europe (usually to LYS).
beachmouse mentioned the hub's, that's a good point: with DL, I go through ATL (almost all the time), DTW, SLC, and LAX. LAX kind of sucks (but it's an AA hub too anyway), but the other ones work rather well compared to most AA HUBs. @wetrat0: surprisingly, for my routes, DL and AA actually offer some similar schedules and connections. But going back to the hub's, I'd much rather fly through ATL, DTW, and SLC than through CLT and ORD.
When I look at my frequent-flyer colleagues, those flying Delta seem to experience trouble less often than those flying AA.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 1:08 pm
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Originally Posted by lyderic View Post
GSP is my home airport. Priority lane/access is my first priority. Then free checked bags. Then award tickets. Interesting note about the free checked bags: they help me justify a Delta flight when AA is cheaper, as I can say "I'd be paying $xx more for my bags on AA" (and I'm not using that as a lame excuse, I often do need to check a bag - or even two sometimes ).
Where I fly to in the US varies a lot: Texas (SAT, IAH, HOU, ELP - AA has definitely an advantage for Texas), PDX, DEN, COS, MSA, EUG, MCO, SMF... and more to come. Only one flight per year across the pond to Europe (usually to LYS).
beachmouse mentioned the hub's, that's a good point: with DL, I go through ATL (almost all the time), DTW, SLC, and LAX. LAX kind of sucks (but it's an AA hub too anyway), but the other ones work rather well compared to most AA HUBs. @wetrat0: surprisingly, for my routes, DL and AA actually offer some similar schedules and connections. But going back to the hub's, I'd much rather fly through ATL, DTW, and SLC than through CLT and ORD.
When I look at my frequent-flyer colleagues, those flying Delta seem to experience trouble less often than those flying AA.
The Citibank AA Executive World Elite Mastercard membership gives you both Priority access at check-in as well as free bags (albeit for a $450 annual fee). I find, for my travel pattern, AAdvantage partners (OW and others) better for international award travel than Delta and Skyteam.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 1:33 pm
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Originally Posted by knit-in View Post
The Citibank AA Executive World Elite Mastercard membership gives you both Priority access at check-in as well as free bags (albeit for a $450 annual fee). I find, for my travel pattern, AAdvantage partners (OW and others) better for international award travel than Delta and Skyteam.
The $95 a year AA Citi Platinum Card also gives priority benefits and a free bag. I would definitely recommend OP look into a co-branded card from either AA or Delta since the free bag and priority access are at the top of their list.

If the frequent flyer program isn't that important to you, I would choose whichever airline provides the best average connection times and price.
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Old Dec 28, 17, 1:50 pm
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@knit-in, @FlyingFrZ: for my work trips (which is all of them but one or two per year), I have to use the company-provided corporate card (an HSBC MasterCard). Too bad, I'd love one of these cards. :-(
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