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AA Airbus A321 vs. Delta Boeing 737 from JFK to SFO in coach

AA Airbus A321 vs. Delta Boeing 737 from JFK to SFO in coach

Old Mar 3, 19, 5:16 pm
  #1  
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Question AA Airbus A321 vs. Delta Boeing 737 from JFK to SFO in coach

First - apologies! I am an infrequent flyer and a novice poster. I couldn't figure out where to post this question, but am hoping that someone can either give me advice, or point me in the right direction.

This October I have a 7 a.m. flight booked on AA from JFK to SFO. I am booking through Princes Cruise's EZ Air Flex Fare program for the first time, because changes/cancellations can be made without penalty until 45 days before the cruise. The price for the two of us dropped $300 this week from when we first booked it! (We are flying from SFO to YUL on Air Canada to start our cruise.) Seats can be requested, but not guaranteed until the 45-day mark, although many people report having their seat requests honored on some airlines. (Not Air Canada.)

There is a Delta flight that leaves at 7 a.m. for around the same price, on a Boeing 757. Just hoping to get recommendations between the two flights/airplanes. I looked at Seat Guru, but aren't sure of the exact models/layouts. It looks like the AA Airbus MIGHT have power/entertainment on the seat. The only window/aisle seats we could reserve were in Row 19, near the back of the plane. I thought the Delta plane looked bigger, but haven't checked seat availability yet.

In-seat entertainment isn't a priority, although it would be nice to have a phone charger. Comfort (or as comfortable as you can be in coach), and an uneventful departure are higher on our list.

So wondering if I should keep my AA reservation or switch over to the Delta flight?

Initially, we were booked on an Alaska flight at the same time, but that flight was canceled. There is one that leaves a couple of hours later on a Boeing 737 for $50 more, but we prefer to leave earlier.

Thanks, in advance, for any words of wisdom!
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Old Mar 3, 19, 6:15 pm
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The AA 321 is the Transcontinental config with a mix of First class lie flats, business class lie flats, main cabin extra (coach with extra leg room) and main cabin(standard coach like every other airline). All seats throughout the plane have power and seat back entertainment. Because of the mix of first and business class cabins that take up the entire front half of the plane, overall there are only about 100 seats. You didn't specify which class you were flying, but at a minimum consider paying a little for Main Cabin extra and try to score a seat in rows 11-16 (11 being the most desirable). In addition to the extra space, you get free alcoholic beverages if that's your thing.

The DL 757 will be similar, but much larger seating because 1.) it's a larger plane 2.) they only have 4 rows "Delta One" lie flat first class seats. The rest of the cabin is a mix of Delta Comfort+(more legroom coach + free alcohol) and standard coach (like every other airline). Like the AA plane, all the seats will have seat back entertainment and power.

Beyond that, if you are not flying business or first class, in your case I would go with whatever you feel most comfortable with. Avoid the "basic economy" fare on either of them (if it exists as an option at booking), as it does not let you choose any seat in advance, and on Delta you can't even bring an overhead bag without being charged.
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Last edited by PHL; Mar 3, 19 at 6:28 pm
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Old Mar 3, 19, 7:27 pm
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Originally Posted by PHL View Post
Beyond that, if you are not flying business or first class, in your case I would go with whatever you feel most comfortable with. Avoid the "basic economy" fare on either of them (if it exists as an option at booking), as it does not let you choose any seat in advance, and on Delta you can't even bring an overhead bag without being charged.
That is incorrect. Delta's Basic Economy fares have, from their origin in 2012, allowed a carry-on. It's United that prohibits a carry-on with Basic Economy (and previously, AA).

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michael.../#7aef5d832ce2
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Old Mar 3, 19, 7:31 pm
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Originally Posted by PHL View Post
The AA 321 is the Transcontinental config with a mix of First class lie flats, business class lie flats, main cabin extra (coach with extra leg room) and main cabin(standard coach like every other airline). All seats throughout the plane have power and seat back entertainment. Because of the mix of first and business class cabins that take up the entire front half of the plane, overall there are only about 100 seats. You didn't specify which class you were flying, but at a minimum consider paying a little for Main Cabin extra and try to score a seat in rows 11-16 (11 being the most desirable). In addition to the extra space, you get free alcoholic beverages if that's your thing.

The DL 757 will be similar, but much larger seating because 1.) it's a larger plane 2.) they only have 4 rows "Delta One" lie flat first class seats. The rest of the cabin is a mix of Delta Comfort+(more legroom coach + free alcohol) and standard coach (like every other airline). Like the AA plane, all the seats will have seat back entertainment and power.

Beyond that, if you are not flying business or first class, in your case I would go with whatever you feel most comfortable with. Avoid the "basic economy" fare on either of them (if it exists as an option at booking), as it does not let you choose any seat in advance, and on Delta you can't even bring an overhead bag without being charged.
Thanks for your quick response! We're flying coach, and the seat classification is a little different, because it is through Princes Cruises EZAir. We can make changes until 45 days before the cruise begins without penalty, and select seats at that time, although some airlines do, apparently, let you request seats in advance. I think both flights are economy class rather than basic, because its says we can bring a carryon.

I was a little concerned, because the AA flight isn't until October, and it looked like most of the window/aisle seats in the same row are taken. We were able to request two seats (window and aisle) in row 19, which is almost at the back of the plane. It makes me wonder if this is a popular flight, with more chances of being oversold. According to Seat Guru, the Delta Boeing 737 didn't have back seat entertainment and power, if I'm reading it correctly.

I've had a couple of friends say that Delta has better rankings than AA, but I'm not sure what that means.
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Old Mar 3, 19, 8:24 pm
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Originally Posted by catcher6 View Post
Thanks for your quick response! We're flying coach, and the seat classification is a little different, because it is through Princes Cruises EZAir. We can make changes until 45 days before the cruise begins without penalty, and select seats at that time, although some airlines do, apparently, let you request seats in advance. I think both flights are economy class rather than basic, because its says we can bring a carryon.

I was a little concerned, because the AA flight isn't until October, and it looked like most of the window/aisle seats in the same row are taken. We were able to request two seats (window and aisle) in row 19, which is almost at the back of the plane. It makes me wonder if this is a popular flight, with more chances of being oversold. According to Seat Guru, the Delta Boeing 737 didn't have back seat entertainment and power, if I'm reading it correctly.

I've had a couple of friends say that Delta has better rankings than AA, but I'm not sure what that means.
AA is fine. The JFK-SFO/LAX route is their premier domestic route, and the 3-class A321T they fly is very nice. Delta is good too; their 757 is older than AA's 321's, but on this route, there is not a lot of difference between the two in coach.

I would strongly suggest that for a 5 1/2 hour flight, you might want to pay extra to get American's Main Cabin Extra, or Delta's Comfort Plus seats, for the extra legroom. On a flight that long it will be worth it.

Many people will tell you Delta has a better "soft" product these days, but it is not that big a deal, if at all, on this flight. And you might want to get (and use) an American Airlines credit card through Barclays or Citi (whichever has the better sign up bonus) to get a free checked bag. If you fly Delta, they have a similar deal with Amex.
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Old Mar 3, 19, 9:09 pm
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Originally Posted by Superjeff View Post
AA is fine. The JFK-SFO/LAX route is their premier domestic route, and the 3-class A321T they fly is very nice. Delta is good too; their 757 is older than AA's 321's, but on this route, there is not a lot of difference between the two in coach.

I would strongly suggest that for a 5 1/2 hour flight, you might want to pay extra to get American's Main Cabin Extra, or Delta's Comfort Plus seats, for the extra legroom. On a flight that long it will be worth it.

Many people will tell you Delta has a better "soft" product these days, but it is not that big a deal, if at all, on this flight. And you might want to get (and use) an American Airlines credit card through Barclays or Citi (whichever has the better sign up bonus) to get a free checked bag. If you fly Delta, they have a similar deal with Amex.
I've thought about a credit card, but we don't fly very often, and have too many credit cards already. (I do have a Southwest card, which came with a free companion pass for a year.) Thanks for the suggestion about paying extra for more leg room. As soon as our tickets are confirmed through Princess in early August, I'll contact the airline to see how to upgrade. Wish we could do it now, but so far it has been worth it to have the flex fare through Princess Cruises, so we can take advantage of price drops.
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Old Mar 3, 19, 10:13 pm
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Originally Posted by Superjeff View Post
AA is fine. The JFK-SFO/LAX route is their premier domestic route, and the 3-class A321T they fly is very nice. Delta is good too; their 757 is older than AA's 321's, but on this route, there is not a lot of difference between the two in coach.

I would strongly suggest that for a 5 1/2 hour flight, you might want to pay extra to get American's Main Cabin Extra, or Delta's Comfort Plus seats, for the extra legroom. On a flight that long it will be worth it.

Many people will tell you Delta has a better "soft" product these days, but it is not that big a deal, if at all, on this flight. And you might want to get (and use) an American Airlines credit card through Barclays or Citi (whichever has the better sign up bonus) to get a free checked bag. If you fly Delta, they have a similar deal with Amex.
Hmmm....I thought I replied to this earlier, but maybe I didn't save it.

Oops, the older post just showed up, so I'll edit this one.

One of my friends is a retired Delta flight attendant, and she said that Delta has better free food offerings. (She only flies Delta, usually 1st class, so couldn't advise me about other airlines.)
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Old Mar 4, 19, 2:37 am
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If itís a weekday, the AA flight will be heavy on business travelers and as you are traveling in October it will go out 100% full. Rarely are these flights oversold if you are expecting to get bumped for that purpose. Food, A/V, and power all onboard. As noted above, the plane is geared towards premium cabins so the coach cabin is rather small for a transcontinental flight.
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Old Mar 4, 19, 6:51 am
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Originally Posted by catcher6 View Post
I was a little concerned, because the AA flight isn't until October, and it looked like most of the window/aisle seats in the same row are taken. We were able to request two seats (window and aisle) in row 19, which is almost at the back of the plane. It makes me wonder if this is a popular flight, with more chances of being oversold. According to Seat Guru, the Delta Boeing 737 didn't have back seat entertainment and power, if I'm reading it correctly.
If you're looking at the aa.com seat map, it's not likely full at this point, but they are only showing you seats available to you on your fare. Row 19 is 4th from the rear. If you settle on AA and are ticketed accordingly, you could call them and ask about moving to row 11-16 (Main Cabin Extra) to see what the upcharge would be. Row 11 with the even added space due to exit row, would be the best, but 12-16 are also fine.

Your OP mentions the Delta 757, and your response mentions the 737... I'm pretty sure their JFK-SFO service is a 757, and it's likely the one designated for transcontinental service (with the premium first class lie flat seats), so it will most definitely also have seat back entertainment throughout.
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Old Mar 4, 19, 7:34 am
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There's not much of a difference between the in-flight experience in this context, so either Delta or AA are fine from that perspective.

If you care about reliability, though, you should choose Delta. Their on-time performance is significantly better than AA's.
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Old Mar 4, 19, 8:26 am
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Originally Posted by blitzkriegs View Post
If itís a weekday, the AA flight will be heavy on business travelers and as you are traveling in October it will go out 100% full. Rarely are these flights oversold if you are expecting to get bumped for that purpose.

Who said anything about getting bumped? Now you're just confusing an infrequent traveler.

AA's 321 is nice, in addition to the smaller coach cabin (which really doesn't matter *that* much), because there are so few passengers on the plane (102 seats on a plane that normally seats ~200) is that there is rarely a problem getting overhead bin space. I imagine OP will be checking primary bags having come off a cruise, but still nice not to have to worry about needing to gate check anything important.

And to reiterate on the AA seating - chances are that most window/aisle seats are set aside for elite members and/or designated "premium" seats that anyone can pay for (but don't generally provide any benefits). Sometimes those seats will open up for free close to departure, but if you do find seats you're happy with, then just stick with those.

But agree with others that DL will be operationally more reliable.
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Old Mar 4, 19, 8:55 am
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There's no reason to switch. The A321T is the nicest domestic narrowbody plane that AA flies. Even in coach (seatback IFE and power in every row). You will get a free meal. You can't do better than this in a domestic coach product. If this aircraft does not meet your standards you should not be flying coach on any US domestic flight. As others have mentioned the 321T only has about 100 passengers, so even though you will be in coach the plane boards and deplanes VERY quickly, there is plenty of overhead space, and you won't have to wait in a long queue for the lav. It's also a premium route, so unlikely that the flight would be canceled.

As far as selecting seats, you should ask through the travel agent. The seat map blocks a lot of seats for premium customers only, which is why the flight looks full when it's not. However, many travel agents can access these seats (I used to have one such agent).

Enjoy your cruise and don't worry about this flight!
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Old Mar 4, 19, 9:16 am
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I find the A321T to be a very nice ride. Not crowded, not a ton of passengers to contend with (102 v 190), typically plentiful overhead space, quick board and deplane, and a feeling of not being in a cattle car.
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Old Mar 4, 19, 9:18 am
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I concur you should stick with the A321T. As mentioned this is AA's most premium service/aircraft domestically, so you are guaranteed a screen, power, and meal in every seat. Delta I am sure will be nice too if the timing and pricing becomes advantageous enough. However the 757 will have a lot more passengers, so longer boarding and de-planing times, more fighting for space, ect. So I would stay with the flight you have.
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Old Mar 4, 19, 11:22 am
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post

Who said anything about getting bumped? Now you're just confusing an infrequent traveler.

AA's 321 is nice, in addition to the smaller coach cabin (which really doesn't matter *that* much), because there are so few passengers on the plane (102 seats on a plane that normally seats ~200) is that there is rarely a problem getting overhead bin space. I imagine OP will be checking primary bags having come off a cruise, but still nice not to have to worry about needing to gate check anything important.

And to reiterate on the AA seating - chances are that most window/aisle seats are set aside for elite members and/or designated "premium" seats that anyone can pay for (but don't generally provide any benefits). Sometimes those seats will open up for free close to departure, but if you do find seats you're happy with, then just stick with those.

But agree with others that DL will be operationally more reliable.
ok well, why would one be concerned about an oversold flight 6 months in advance? A 7am gets you 3-5 more flights that day if you have time in your schedule. Doesnít seem like getting tossed off the plane because the person has a tix from a cruise line is the concern...could be wrong, but wondering about oversold seems like a far reaching concern based on all the other info.

AA reliability on this route is pretty spot on. The issue most of the time is JFK (like the airport)-related.
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