Comparisons of mainline carriers?

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Old Nov 13, 18, 7:41 am
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Comparisons of mainline carriers?

Has anyone seen a side-by-side tabular type comparison of the mainline carriers and their FT programs? Specifically interested in AA/United/Delta.
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Old Nov 13, 18, 8:33 am
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IMHO, this isn't even possible in a useful fashion. There are too many levels, too many nuances, and too many varying personal valuations of specific benefits.

Unless you live in a particularly competitive market and fly route patterns that are roughly equally served by multiple carriers - say, halfway between O'Hare and Chicago-Midway such that Southwest, American and United all have appeal - pick the carrier that gives you best services you value, schedule, and price.
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Old Nov 13, 18, 9:21 am
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since you leave in MIA, you should consider the travel patterns you have or will have
basically you should choose an airline that suits your needs
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Old Nov 13, 18, 10:29 am
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I understand that route map is possibly the most important factor for most folks, but a side-by-side comparison of the mainline carriers would be extremely useful. There are many objective metrics that contribute to a carrier's overall value, comfort, and customer service: qualification levels, mile value, fleet size, average seat pitch, average lavatory size, etc. Even though a given traveler might value these in different ways, collecting the factual details in a single document lets them make that assessment.

Of course compiling all of this would be a *lot* of work.
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Last edited by SouthernCross; Nov 13, 18 at 10:35 am
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Old Nov 13, 18, 11:45 am
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Some things are basic. Y on all carriers sucks, MCE/E+ marginally suck less. FF programs are all moving towards rewarding the big buck spenders. Award redemption has been de-valued. In reality there are no stark differences. DL doesn't serve surf and turf in F while AA serves chicken. As noted go with the carrier that bests serves your needs. In you are MIA based unless you want connections its AA.
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Old Nov 13, 18, 12:09 pm
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Originally Posted by newyorkgeorge View Post
Some things are basic. Y on all carriers sucks, MCE/E+ marginally suck less. FF programs are all moving towards rewarding the big buck spenders. Award redemption has been de-valued. In reality there are no stark differences. DL doesn't serve surf and turf in F while AA serves chicken. As noted go with the carrier that bests serves your needs. In you are MIA based unless you want connections its AA.
+1

It also depends on how much you fly and where,

I have 200K this year on AA, 25 on AS, 15 on DL and some on UA.

In F, AA and DL usually give me PDB and a selection of chips. AS doesn't give PDB but gives a cheese or hummus platter.
On AA, if I buy a $400 ticket, it gives my 4400 miles, on DL, if gives me 2000 miles. On AS, it is mileage based. On AA, I get upgraded for free 90 percent of the time. On DL and AS, I need to pay.
In general, Sky Pesos can be very expensive. For example, I looked at a last minute flight this weekend for a 600 mile flight on an empty plane. DL:wanted 50,000 skymiles! AA wanted 25,000. (And we complain about the lack of saavers ....)

Then there's the Admirals Club in MIA and Flagship Lounge when going international.
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Old Nov 13, 18, 12:47 pm
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
+1

It also depends on how much you fly and where,

I have 200K this year on AA, 25 on AS, 15 on DL and some on UA.

In F, AA and DL usually give me PDB and a selection of chips. AS doesn't give PDB but gives a cheese or hummus platter.
On AA, if I buy a $400 ticket, it gives my 4400 miles, on DL, if gives me 2000 miles. On AS, it is mileage based. On AA, I get upgraded for free 90 percent of the time. On DL and AS, I need to pay.
In general, Sky Pesos can be very expensive. For example, I looked at a last minute flight this weekend for a 600 mile flight on an empty plane. DL:wanted 50,000 skymiles! AA wanted 25,000. (And we complain about the lack of saavers ....)

Then there's the Admirals Club in MIA and Flagship Lounge when going international.
DL is not bad for domestic coach awards if you can plan ahead. Their lowest-level awards generally all have a 3-week advance purchase requirement. If you meet that, you can often find better deals than on AA/UA. For example, I can book DTW-FLL for 16K miles roundtrip on DL in December. A lot of the ability to maximize the benefits of the programs requires that you understand their differences and vagaries. Also, the reason for your lower earn level on DL is due to your lower status level, not some inherent difference in AA and DL earnings rates.

Last edited by LBJ; Nov 13, 18 at 12:54 pm
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Old Nov 13, 18, 1:20 pm
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So many things are occurrence specific and very fluid and dynamic. Sometimes you get the award flight, redemption level and class of service the first time you look. Other times nada.

In theory in UA, DL and AA you should always get a PDB when seated in F/J. But at AA while its the policy its not always the rule. I assume DL and UA have hit or misses but which one is the best is anecdotal based upon a tiny portion of F/J paxs. Meals constantly change. I've been offered steak (beef) on DFW/MIA and LAX/MIA, other times a chicken dish.

One thing that is for sure all 3 of the legacies do very little to distinguish themselves.
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Old Nov 13, 18, 2:12 pm
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Originally Posted by SouthernCross View Post
Has anyone seen a side-by-side tabular type comparison of the mainline carriers and their FT programs? Specifically interested in AA/United/Delta.
You are welcome to create your own and provide it to anyone who is interested. Personally, I think it's far too complex, but YMMV.
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Old Nov 14, 18, 9:13 am
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Consumer Reports current issue has comparisons drawn from 55,000 people reporting on 98,000 trips, scored in about 10 different categories. Their ratings and report accurately reflects my experience on multiple airlines.
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Old Nov 14, 18, 11:21 am
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Originally Posted by SouthernCross View Post
I understand that route map is possibly the most important factor for most folks, but a side-by-side comparison of the mainline carriers would be extremely useful. There are many objective metrics that contribute to a carrier's overall value, comfort, and customer service: qualification levels, mile value, fleet size, average seat pitch, average lavatory size, etc. Even though a given traveler might value these in different ways, collecting the factual details in a single document lets them make that assessment.

Of course compiling all of this would be a *lot* of work.
Well, it depends on what you want and on what you have and on what you're willing to pay for.

For example, i have AA lifteime plat status, and UA Silver through high-end Marriott hotel status. As a tallish person, I want extra-legroom seats. On AA, I get into MCE free at booking time. On UA, I have a good chance at E+ at 24-hour check-in (but I feel I have to be able to check in close to 24 hours). But on Delta, C+ is a separate class, and I have zero status there, so I have to pay extra typically for that separate class. Theefore if everyone prices are equal and flight options are the same, AA is best for me seat comfort to price ratio, UA second best, and DL last.

But that just illustrates that what works for someone and what is important to someone varies a whole lot from one person to the next. And thus such general comparison charts are usually worthless to me when they exist, because they don't cover all of that which Id described above.

Furthermore, things change over time. DL used to have C+ in main cabin, just like UA and AA, but a year or two ago they made it a separate booking cabin, and that changed the logistics of getting an extra legroom seat at DL.

But for someone with no status at all, yet wanting extra legroom seats, it's even more complicated. Because in one case it's an upsell after the base price (AA and UA), while at DL it's a price of a different cabin. So it's tricky just to compare the price of extra-legroom seats if you have no status anywhere.

And I haven't even talked about anything other than extra legroom seats, and already the comparison is getting tricky.

So let me just throw out one other complication: At least on some routes, UA has no free IFE, but they have seat-back paid DirectTV, while AA and DL tend to have free IFE (usually on your own devices) but no live TV on most flights. For someone who wants to watch live TV on board and doesn't mind paying for it, UA might be the best of the threer, but for someone who wants a good selection of free stuff to watch, UA may be the worst of the three.

And there are zillions of other factors besides extra-legroom seats and IFE, but most of them are likely to be just as complicated to compare.
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Old Nov 14, 18, 7:58 pm
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Itís simple. If you live in the city that is a hub for AA UA and DL just go with DL. If itís UA and AA hub itís very simple - do not go with UA. If AA only hub you got no choice.
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Old Nov 14, 18, 9:12 pm
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Originally Posted by newyorkgeorge View Post

In theory in UA, DL and AA you should always get a PDB when seated in F/J. But at AA while its the policy its not always the rule. I assume DL and UA have hit or misses but which one is the best is anecdotal based upon a tiny portion of F/J paxs.

One thing that is for sure all 3 of the legacies do very little to distinguish themselves.
I'm 100 percent this week on PDB with AA with several flights. But ... while I'm annoyed at the DL crew who came out to have the gate agent announce they weren't serving PDB because they were running late (they could have prepped all the drinks in the time it took to come off the plane and talk the GA into announcing this) or the AA crew who stands at the door rather than maneuvering around boarding pax to take drink, can't say that's a major reason to make a decision.


Originally Posted by LBJ View Post
DL is not bad for domestic coach awards if you can plan ahead. Their lowest-level awards generally all have a 3-week advance purchase requirement.
Also, the reason for your lower earn level on DL is due to your lower status level, not some inherent difference in AA and DL earnings rates.
Perhaps ... but the rates were ridiculous for a last minute flight on a flight that was only 20-30 percent full on a Saturday.

And, I agree it's due to the lower status level not some inherent difference. Although, there is an opportunity cost associated with switching. And, I forgot to factor in Business Extra earnings although I think DL has something comparable.

But, for me, if its just mileage earnings, because I'm EXP and because of Skypesos inflation, AA offers a much better deal than DL. And ... with 15-20 DL flights in paid F, there really isn't any difference between the two except in the color of the uniforms and the color of the seats.
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