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AA Domestic F Service Levels Competitive vs Delta?

AA Domestic F Service Levels Competitive vs Delta?

Old Sep 29, 2023, 7:14 pm
  #1  
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AA Domestic F Service Levels Competitive vs Delta?

Is AA holding its own when it comes to first class domestic service, or has DL clearly taken the lead?

Until recently, I've been a long-standing AA loyalist. Recently, I've been dabbling in DL paid domestic F offerings. Although my experience is indeed my own, the difference in quality across the board has nonetheless been nothing short of astonishing. I have found this to be true across service, hard product, and catering.

For example (among many other points of comparison), consider the food. DL seems to have kicked things up a notch with an array of delectable options that very clearly outshine anything on offer at AA. Whether you're in the domestic FC cabin or lounging it up, Delta's offerings consistently wow with their quality and variety. Even the Flagship Lounge falls way short in comparison. Delta's freshness, flavors and presentation are all on another level in general.

The DL FAs have been, almost without exception, absolute stars on my past ~10 DL domestic flights. They exude a genuine desire to make my flight a memorable one, going above and beyond to ensure I'm a happy camper from before takeoff (never not had a PDB so far) until landing. On American's A321 routes between major markets, the FC service usually comes off as mostly absent... and when it is present it seems indifferent at best.

Since I spend my own money for domestic F for both personal and business, I honestly couldn't care less about free upgrades or the FF programs. So, I'm seriously contemplating making DL my top choice for domestic travel on the segments where it makes sense. Fortunately, there is ample AA/DL overlap on all of those routes. But I suppose this puts me in a considerable minority on multiple fronts.

What are your thoughts and experiences with AA vs. DL domestic F? Have you noticed a big difference in quality, too?
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Old Sep 29, 2023, 7:46 pm
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by AADFW
Is AA holding its own when it comes to first class domestic service, or has DL clearly taken the lead?

Until recently, I've been a long-standing AA loyalist. Recently, I've been dabbling in DL paid domestic F offerings. Although my experience is indeed my own, the difference in quality across the board has nonetheless been nothing short of astonishing. I have found this to be true across service, hard product, and catering.

For example (among many other points of comparison), consider the food. DL seems to have kicked things up a notch with an array of delectable options that very clearly outshine anything on offer at AA. Whether you're in the domestic FC cabin or lounging it up, Delta's offerings consistently wow with their quality and variety. Even the Flagship Lounge falls way short in comparison. Delta's freshness, flavors and presentation are all on another level in general.

The DL FAs have been, almost without exception, absolute stars on my past ~10 DL domestic flights. They exude a genuine desire to make my flight a memorable one, going above and beyond to ensure I'm a happy camper from before takeoff (never not had a PDB so far) until landing. On American's A321 routes between major markets, the FC service usually comes off as mostly absent... and when it is present it seems indifferent at best.

Since I spend my own money for domestic F for both personal and business, I honestly couldn't care less about free upgrades or the FF programs. So, I'm seriously contemplating making DL my top choice for domestic travel on the segments where it makes sense. Fortunately, there is ample AA/DL overlap on all of those routes. But I suppose this puts me in a considerable minority on multiple fronts.

What are your thoughts and experiences with AA vs. DL domestic F? Have you noticed a big difference in quality, too?
My experience has been pretty different than that tbh. I regularly fly both carriers and have status with both. IMHO:
  • Both carriers' domestic F meals are awful. If I have to pick, based on recent flights I'd go with AA, but it's a close call.
  • DL inarguably has the edge on domestic lounge food; ACs are not even in the same league; but internationally I strongly prefer the flagship lounge food vs the SkyPub food.
  • AA FAs are better (less bad) than DL in my experience, e.g., with PDB consistency at say 20-30% on AA and 10-15% on DL, anecdotally.
  • Complain about AA elite desk agents all you want (lord knows I do it plenty), but DL call center is clown show beyond comprehension; they make the AA call center look like a league of philosopher-kings.
  • Their upgrade certs are glitchy as all hell. There is no rhyme or reason to using these things. At least with AA, the rules are clear and things basically work the same way every time. This is not a complaint about on-paper availability of instrument upgrades, though I think AA wins there too. But here, I'm just talking about the basic technology and agent training to get the certs to do what the published rules say they should do. And that's before we get into gray areas like IROPs where AA will protect you in the same class of service and DL has recently decided that their own IROPs are an excellent reason to f you over, throw you back in coach, and force you to find more upgrade space (which, lol).
  • Beyond all of these particulars, there's just a general sense that you're expected to feel in awe and lucky for flying Delta, rather than Delta being grateful to have you as a customer, from *every DL employee you interact with,* whether call center or gate agent or FA, or check in agent, or lounge, etc. etc.
IMHO DL clearly had a superior operation for a time pre-pandemic, but that differential has mostly leveled out between the US3 now; but the arrogance that came with being number 1 has still lingered; percolated, even...
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Old Sep 29, 2023, 8:48 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by AADFW;35624034-

What are your thoughts and experiences with AA vs. DL domestic F? Have you noticed a big difference in quality, too?
I would recommend flying 5-10 consecutive AA domestic F flights yourself and decide based on the experience. Your experience will be route
specific, and only you can decide.

Personally, Ill take AA over DL at the current times. If you pay for it, AA will offer you premium services that Delta cant match such as sit down dinning and tarmac transfers via their five star select.

DL showed how cheap they were during COVID, and never really returned to their pre COVID levels.
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Old Sep 29, 2023, 10:27 pm
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I fly both exclusively in paid F and do prefer Delta's FAs, although on recent flights I've had a good experience with AA's FAs. Also, Delta serves a far better IPA (Sweetwater) compared to AA's lousy Goose Island. I usually order a special meal of one type or another and prefer AA's. On the other hand, I haven't found enough of an overall difference between the two carriers to warrant going beyond what would be the best flight itinerary for me on any given day.
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Old Sep 29, 2023, 10:54 pm
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Originally Posted by HaleiwaFlyer
.... Personally, Ill take AA over DL at the current times...
Is this based on International or Domestic? If domestic, i am shocked, as it is hard to imagine how much lower AA could go for F (Business) right now.
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Old Sep 29, 2023, 11:06 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Uzzar
Is this based on International or Domestic? If domestic, i am shocked, as it is hard to imagine how much lower AA could go for F (Business) right now.
IMO the big 3 + AS are basically the same for the inflight experience for domestic travel. I have never noticed a huge difference between AA, UA, or AS and I seriously doubt that DL is any different. There are some minor differences that people on FT like to blow out of proportion but there's nothing significant.

The food may be slightly better or worse but are you really going to take a less convenient routing because of the food? They sell food at the airport that is far better than anything you are going to get on a domestic flight.
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Old Sep 30, 2023, 1:54 am
  #7  
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Originally Posted by Uzzar
Is this based on International or Domestic? If domestic, i am shocked, as it is hard to imagine how much lower AA could go for F (Business) right now.
Non transcon recliner F hard products across the board are pretty much the same between UA/DL/AA/AS. Take your pick.

AA takes the win for transcontinental F, when compared to DL/UA. I'll take a A321T F seat anyday over DL A350 J seat.

Again, AA still has abit more premium offering than DL for soft product services prior to boarding the plane, if you want to pay for it.

Reason why I mentioned, for the OPs routes, only he/she can decide on what works for his routes. No one on this board is going to convince the OP.
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Old Sep 30, 2023, 2:54 am
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Originally Posted by HaleiwaFlyer
Non transcon recliner F hard products across the board are pretty much the same between UA/DL/AA/AS. Take your pick.

AA takes the win for transcontinental F, when compared to DL/UA. I'll take a A321T F seat anyday over DL A350 J seat.
I think this is mostly right, and think AAs transcon J is generally better than the others'.

I do think that AA is the worst recliner product, certainly compared to Delta, just for lack of IFE and free WiFi. But I acknowledge that other people may care about different things and it's not like I'd take an extra connection to stay on DL for this.
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Old Sep 30, 2023, 3:13 am
  #9  
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Originally Posted by jordyn

I do think that AA is the worst recliner product, certainly compared to Delta, just for lack of IFE and free WiFi. But I acknowledge that other people may care about different things and it's not like I'd take an extra connection to stay on DL for this.
UAs ancient 737 old black recliners = worst Domestic F hard product.
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Old Sep 30, 2023, 6:20 am
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler
IMO the big 3 + AS are basically the same for the inflight experience for domestic travel. I have never noticed a huge difference between AA, UA, or AS and I seriously doubt that DL is any different. There are some minor differences that people on FT like to blow out of proportion but there's nothing significant.
.
Having a substantial amount of DL flights under my belt over the last decade in addition to AA,AS and UA. I can validate that your sentiment and observations are accurate.
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Old Sep 30, 2023, 8:12 am
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AA and DL are equally mediocre in domestic F.
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Old Sep 30, 2023, 8:26 am
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The only thing that Delta has on AA IMO is their lounge quality, however, good luck getting in, and their Y product which I'm fortunate enough to not use. Their domestic F product falls below that of AA in terms of quality of on board glassware, food offerings, seats etc. I've had two gin and tonics in Delta's glassware shatter in my hand. Feels cheap and flimsy, but I have a bias towards heavy glassware. I feel their FAs are equal to AA and their Delta One product is equal to AA business with the exception of their onboard glassware as previously mentioned and lack of a separate J lounge which they are correcting but will be several years before rolled out to their major markets. If someone was flying Y, I would tell them to fly DL, if in J or domestic F, with everything else being equal, I'd direct them to AA. This discussion doesn't even touch on how lousy Delta's Sky Miles program is too, though AAs seems to be trending that way. All that being said, neither airline is that great. I haven't flown UA on any substantial flight in several years in J or F and am curious to give them a try.

For a point of record I live in a Detroit suburb and go out of my way to AVOID Delta and fly AA. This started primarily as a carryover from the Northwest days but since then nothing about Delta has given me a reason to direct more of my business towards them (a lot stems from their crap FF program). I'll fly DTW-CLT/DFW-TPA in F on AA before DTW-TPA nonstop in F on Delta. Will see if that changes as AA's FF program trends more towards DL but for now I'm staying put.

Last edited by umaa83; Sep 30, 2023 at 8:35 am
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Old Sep 30, 2023, 9:54 am
  #13  
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I've found AA's midcon catering in F to be better than DL's – on AA BOS-DFW you get a starter of warm nuts, an entree (I might be the only one on FT that likes the quinoa bowl), and dessert (we got raspberry sorbet). On DL BOS-DEN I've found the meals average to good but all on one tray and no starter or dessert.

Certain stations for both airlines have better crews though, and I believe BOS is one of the stations that has good FAs for both airlines.
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Old Sep 30, 2023, 12:03 pm
  #14  
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There’s give and takes on AA F food vs DL’s. DL has some interesting and nice offerings compared to AA on some routes. But then most flights to Canada and the Caribbean get stuck with sad boxes because DLs too cheap to contract catering in those stations even when it’s readily available. So it really depends on your routes.
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Old Sep 30, 2023, 1:05 pm
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Vegas Gambler hit the nail on the head. They're all pretty close now, but DL used to have a pretty big lead in this area for domestic first IMO.
I know your only asking about AA/DL but will rank the 4 in my experience (and will only reference this year flights as they are all getting slightly better or worse then they have historically been... To add context, I fly Delta and Alaska the most along with 8 flights so for far this year on AA and 6 on UA.

#1- Delta- Highest PDB % , 2nd best food, worse in seat space overall (however I really like the A321 neo seats), above average FA's.
#2- Alaska-Almost no PDB, best food option, most seat space, but FA's are average to below average on the whole
#3 AA- Consistent PDB, decent food, decent seat space, pretty good FA's
#4- United- Consistent PDB, not decent food, average FA's, seats

The top 3 are pretty close overall, but safe to say they are all less then they were in years past (mainly before 2020)...

If you slide over into the Delta forums, you will probably see no love for Delta first right now, as the majority of the postings are upset about the recent announced changes to their FF program and Deltas continue overuse of the word Premium by their marketing and C-Suite since the "premium" experience has declined from the pre 2019 years, but in IMO still is better then the others overall.
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