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Delta Diamond thinking about making a switch...

Delta Diamond thinking about making a switch...

Old Nov 4, 18, 8:20 pm
  #1  
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Delta Diamond thinking about making a switch...

I'm going to ask virtually the same question in the UA forum as well. I'm looking for feedback from former "elite" DL flyers who made the switch to either AA or UA, if they're glad they did, and why -- or are the "Big 3" just variations on a theme, each with their own warts of a different color.

First, I'm not hub-captive. My home airports are HSV / BHM. My most frequent destinations are LAX / SNA, as my office is in Irvine. Over 50% of my travel is TATL / TPAC, but all over the world, with annual trips to AMS for the IBC Show. As such, my office trips are a slight backtrack as they're always through ATL.

The problem is, I'm a DM with 400K rollover MQMs. I also put over $1MM in annual spend on my Delta Amex cards (2 Plat, 2 Reserve). I'm heavily invested in DL, and will certainly take a big hit. Between my spouse and myself we spend ~$70K with DL. We buy F / J for >70% of our trips. In short, a switch will be a PITA. We've been absurdly loyal, never even quoting flights with other airlines, booking every flight with DL.

My schedule is hectic, to say the least. With few exceptions, all of my flights are booked inside 7 days, many within 48 hours or even same-day. A good 30% of my flights change on DoD, which has been a gold mine for DL with their $200 change fees, accounting for probably $2-3K in annual fees (not talking fare changes, but change fees). On the times I don't book F it's usually for a last-moment INTL fare that is >$10K (x2, as my spouse usually accompanies me, but that's a personal expense). DL's GUCs/RUCs are becoming more and more difficult to use, and DL has 60K other DMs, so most flights I take are elite-heavy routes. DL makes their highest published "elite" tier absurdly easy to reach, so it's not really that elite at all.

Most of those issues are tolerable, but over the last >90 days DL seems to have been on a race to the bottom -- lots of equipment issues, poor CS agents, GUC debacles, free-for-alls at most gates, lost / broken / stolen baggage, and a myriad of normally small issues that, on their own, wouldn't get a rise out of me, but the frequency of them has compounded to make them more and more of a hassle. Then, even though I book F for most flights, when I need to make a change I'm always nailed the $200 fee. I've never bought an E fare in my entire life, so I'm not asking for much here, just some understanding and not such an overt money grab every time the opportunity arises.

Anyway, I guess this is part rant and part inquiry, so apologies for the whine-fest. I'd just like some quasi-objective input from those in similar positions who left DL for the greener pastures of AA or UA.

Thanks!
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Old Nov 4, 18, 8:32 pm
  #2  
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Exclamation

For a thousand reasons (and most definitely including all the ones you list)-- DON'T
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Old Nov 4, 18, 8:33 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by JonNYC View Post
For a thousand reasons-- DON'T
Well... alrighty then. That was easy.
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Old Nov 4, 18, 8:42 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by TheHorta View Post
We buy F / J for >70%
Doesn’t really matter where you should go based on this data point.

Choose your airline based on hard and soft product.

For some of us that buy 0% F fares I fly AA to get free miles to fly J somewhere and a free MCE seat. That’s about it mate.
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Old Nov 4, 18, 8:50 pm
  #5  
 
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I somehow don't think AA is going to be any better. Every airline has their issues. The fact you pretty much already going to be Diamond for a long time is reason enough to stick DL.
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Old Nov 4, 18, 9:22 pm
  #6  
 
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As a elite on both, and flown F on DL, AA , and. UA in the last 30 days—- They’re all the same $#it, different paint.
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Old Nov 4, 18, 9:25 pm
  #7  
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I know quite a few AA Concierge Key and Executive Platinum folks, and several have moved their custom to Delya. The thing they have in common is they tell us how they don’t regret the move, and that in spite of SkyPesos they find the consistency of relatively good services, clean and well maintained aircraft that aren’t having the IFE replaced by WiFi streaming to BYOD, and not looking forward to having nearly all wifi narrowbodies refitted to minilavs and iltraslimline seats with reduced seat pitch in domestic Y and F. Among other things.

I’d reconsider if you’re not hub captive. If you insist, AA will not match you. They’ll sell you a challenge to Platinum, but there’s no option to Executive Platinum other than flying a lot and earning it.
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Old Nov 4, 18, 9:25 pm
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If you are thinking about AA, you ought to at least contact the AAirpass people to see what you'd get if you bought a bucket of miles. I haven't been AAirpass in years. I had it (and also PassPlus) when I ran a large division of a Fortune 500 and had to do TATL/TPAC on short notice. I haven't kept up with how the program has changed but with your spend there should be some significant benefits.
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Old Nov 4, 18, 9:26 pm
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I agree with the comments about the grass not being greener, although at OP's level of spend it might be possible to attain top-tier status on another airline without losing DL Diamond. That'd be a low-risk way to try out another option without going through the hassle of a full switch.
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Old Nov 4, 18, 9:37 pm
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
I know quite a few AA Concierge Key and Executive Platinum folks, and several have moved their custom to Delya. The thing they have in common is they tell us how they don’t regret the move, and that in spite of SkyPesos they find the consistency of relatively good services, clean and well maintained aircraft that aren’t having the IFE replaced by WiFi streaming to BYOD, and not looking forward to having nearly all wifi narrowbodies refitted to minilavs and iltraslimline seats with reduced seat pitch in domestic Y and F. Among other things.

I’d reconsider if you’re not hub captive. If you insist, AA will not match you. They’ll sell you a challenge to Platinum, but there’s no option to Executive Platinum other than flying a lot and earning it.
Actually EXP is buyable via AirPass
AirPass Membership Elite Status Level
$10,000 AAdvantage Gold
$20,000 AAdvantage Platinum
$25,000 AAdvantage Platinum Pro
$30,000 AAdvantage Executive Platinum

And, while it's not on the price list, I think, for the right contract CK is possible.
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Old Nov 4, 18, 9:44 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by JMN57 View Post
Actually EXP is buyable via AirPass
AirPass Membership Elite Status Level
$10,000 AAdvantage Gold
$20,000 AAdvantage Platinum
$25,000 AAdvantage Platinum Pro
$30,000 AAdvantage Executive Platinum

And, while it's not on the price list, I think, for the right contract CK is possible.
I was told by an AirPass rep recently that a $100k account (sharable within a group of 10) grants 1 CK.
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Old Nov 4, 18, 9:50 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by JMN57 View Post
Actually EXP is buyable via AirPass
AirPass Membership Elite Status Level
$10,000 AAdvantage Gold
$20,000 AAdvantage Platinum
$25,000 AAdvantage Platinum Pro
$30,000 AAdvantage Executive Platinum

And, while it's not on the price list, I think, for the right contract CK is possible.
true enough.

CK can be had with some negotiation and $60,000 or more of prepaid travel, from what some CK have stated. With that situation, the OP might want to consider - but may still encounter some variability with the intangible benefits.

A thread started recently by a DL flyer: What's up with lackadaisical cabin service?

Last edited by JDiver; Nov 4, 18 at 10:35 pm
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Old Nov 4, 18, 10:01 pm
  #13  
 
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I don't travel at your level, so I might be talking out of my hat here. There are a fair number of comments on this forum by regular DL fliers about how poor the AA hard product is. I've heard they're going to 33-inch pitch for MCE, which is about the same that regular coach was 20 years ago.

I'm not familiar with DL DM benefits, but you talk about same-day changes, I guess you mean routing, since I can't imagine they don't give SDC for free to top elites.

I don't know how DL does their upgrades, but on AA it's by status, then rolling 12-month EQD's. So if you're spending a lot, you might be higher on the upgrade list if DL doesn't do it the same way.

Most of my trips are on Legacy USAir A321's, which have no power, and as a matter of policy AA is streaming in-flight entertainment rather than having seatback screens, meaning you have to bring your own screen.

At the end of the day, all the legacy carriers are engaged in a race to the bottom. Today you have to have bottom-level elite status to get what you got for free 15 years ago - checked bags, standby, access to decent seats.

One thing you might do - it will take a little work - is to check prices and schedules on AA and UA when you are booking tickets on DL. See how many times you say "The other carrier flight is cheaper/better/more convenient."
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Old Nov 4, 18, 10:19 pm
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In light of your spending patterns, I'm a little confused why you are loyal to any particular airline?

I was a DM for a couple years and came over to AA just before all the big devAAluations (great timing ). I miss the service and reliability of Delta. That said, I just fly whoever is convenient. On the 30% of occasions you chose to fly Y, did you ever research F/J fares with other carriers? I'd wager you would probably have been able to find a reasonable fare with someone else.

Get a CC with each airline or a non-branded card (Chase Sapphire Reserve is great) and book F on whoever is the cheapest/most convenient.
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Old Nov 4, 18, 10:35 pm
  #15  
 
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Originally Posted by jjglaze77 View Post
In light of your spending patterns, I'm a little confused why you are loyal to any particular airline?

I was a DM for a couple years and came over to AA just before all the big devAAluations (great timing ). I miss the service and reliability of Delta. That said, I just fly whoever is convenient. On the 30% of occasions you chose to fly Y, did you ever research F/J fares with other carriers? I'd wager you would probably have been able to find a reasonable fare with someone else.

Get a CC with each airline or a non-branded card (Chase Sapphire Reserve is great) and book F on whoever is the cheapest/most convenient.
I think OP may care about benefits relative to free flights

"(x2, as my spouse usually accompanies me, but that's a personal expense)"

My wife accompanies me often for business and mileage tickets do make that less expensive. And, while as a board member companies will often pick up my wife's flight but that usually can be construed as income unless the business REQUIRES my wife's presence.
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