Switching from AA to DL

Old Mar 30, 19, 8:35 am
  #1  
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Switching from AA to DL

I'm a BOS based flyer that puts up about 50k miles per year for business and very little leisure. Most of it is domestic and east coast. I've been loyal to AA since 2009 but their sAAver availability is maddening, especially the absurd 12 hour layovers, and they are basically down to just routes to hubs from BOS now. I'm thinking about making the switch to DL. I like the product on B6 but the occasional trips to a market they don't serve and the lack of airport lounges are deal breakers. I feel like with DL in BOS I get the following:

1. Second most nonstop routes after B6 (and should grow in 2019)
2. More complete route network than B6
3. Airport lounges
4. Better award availability than AA - your input would help here
5. DL has a hub in SLC which creates the opportunity for ski trip layovers in the winter

I have some miles with UA so they would make sense but they have even less nonstop routes in BOS so they seem to make even less sense. I made PLT with AA last year so hopefully I could get a status match. Only one trip on AA recorded so far this year.
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Old Mar 30, 19, 8:51 am
  #2  
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Originally Posted by bcl00 View Post
4. Better award availability than AA - your input would help here
AA's domestic award availability has become awful - forced overnights on simple two-segment routings that should have no more than 4 hours flying time. But I'm not sure you're going to find DL is a lot better if you really demand awards at lowest (and that's unpublished, but generally knowable) levels.

Your upgrade rate to F as a Gold may not be great unless your business is routinely buying high fare class tickets -- the Y, B, M varieties. You should do well into Comfort+.

DL does have a good and growing network out of BOS and it's almost exclusively on 2-class planes.
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Old Mar 30, 19, 9:01 am
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I made Platinum on CO back in 2005 and experienced frequent upgrades to F so I know what you're talking about. I've accepted that this will not happen unless I increase my travel significantly. In today's world, as someone who puts up 50k miles per year, I've decided that pre-check, lounge access, e+ space in the front of economy, and relatively early boarding is as good as it's going to get. I consider this acceptable for someone who does 1-2 trips per month.
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Old Mar 30, 19, 9:03 am
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Originally Posted by bcl00 View Post
I'm a BOS based flyer that puts up about 50k miles per year for business and very little leisure. Most of it is domestic and east coast. I've been loyal to AA since 2009 but their sAAver availability is maddening, especially the absurd 12 hour layovers, and they are basically down to just routes to hubs from BOS now. I'm thinking about making the switch to DL. I like the product on B6 but the occasional trips to a market they don't serve and the lack of airport lounges are deal breakers. I feel like with DL in BOS I get the following:

1. Second most nonstop routes after B6 (and should grow in 2019)
2. More complete route network than B6
3. Airport lounges
4. Better award availability than AA - your input would help here
5. DL has a hub in SLC which creates the opportunity for ski trip layovers in the winter

I have some miles with UA so they would make sense but they have even less nonstop routes in BOS so they seem to make even less sense. I made PLT with AA last year so hopefully I could get a status match. Only one trip on AA recorded so far this year.
Just one comment, with regard to #4 : Much depends on the uses to which you wish to put your miles, but I have found DL's award availability at reasonable levels much worse than AA's since DL implemented its new award system. It no longer has charts listing miles (saver or standard) for award travel, but rather has widely varying charges in miles for each flight. AA has one further advantage (which I have used in planning transatlantic travel this coming summer): AA permits free changes on award travel as long as the origin and destination remain the same. That policy makes it possible to book an acceptable but not optimal award ticket if nothing better is available at the time of booking and then change it later if something preferable opens up. (I booked award travel MUC-MAD-BOS-DCA on IB/IB/AA and later changed to MUC-LHR-PHL-DCA on BA/AA/AA because I prefer to leave MUC at 10:35 AM rather than 7:30 AM.) While I realize that UA has fewer flights from Logan than AA or DL, I have found award availability (especially award availability without prohibitive surcharges) to be better on UA and its partners than on either AA or DL and their partners.
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Old Mar 30, 19, 1:48 pm
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My own experience is that I've had much better luck getting low-mileage DL awards than AA. I can only get AA to obscure destinations. I've had almost 50K AA miles in my account for a couple of years, and haven't been able to use them because there's never a redemption at a reasonable rate. I finally spent 30K of them on a one-way trip to LHR (which I was stunned to see available, since I'd looked many times in the past and could only find the BA tickets with insane taxes and fees). DL's variable pricing is a bit tricky, but thinking of the old award charts with a domestic trip at 25K, I can usually get something around that, and often less, even flying out of ATL.
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Old Mar 31, 19, 12:02 am
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I switched from AA to DL, but definitely NOT because of award availability. For business class, you might often find Skymiles flights are usually more akin to to AAnytime prices, or more. The lowest Delta TATL business class is 105k one-way, compared to a saaver ticket of 57.5k (plus potentially $400 in BA surcharges). The difference is probably in partner awards but I cannot comment confidently on those (70k maybe?).

I switched to AA to avoid the "Project Oasis" cabins with slimline seats, more density than Southwest, and the infamous 24" wide economy restrooms. I have to admit their partnership with Amex helps too (lounge access for example, and if you get one of their Skymiles cards you can get elite-qualifying miles from spending).

Although I should point out that the DL Embraer planes are definitely no fun - so check to see how likely it is you'll be stuck on one of those Shuttle/Connections to hubs.
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Old Mar 31, 19, 12:57 am
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Originally Posted by Gig103 View Post
Although I should point out that the DL Embraer planes are definitely no fun - so check to see how likely it is you'll be stuck on one of those Shuttle/Connections to hubs.
To each their own -- I like the E75s: 2-2 in Y, the F/Y ratio, and the single seat side in F if you can get it.
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Old Mar 31, 19, 6:39 am
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Many of us who are DL evangelists will point out that the one thing you don't raise as a concern with AA, but is a bonus in a switch, is the way that DL treats customers. The customer service for elites is, by far, the best of any of the legacy carriers. During IROPS or even just special requests, you get a live agent, quickly, who listens and does their best within reason to assist. It's really night and day between DL and AA/UA. So consider that as something you're gaining, if you hadn't already.

But as far as award availability and pricing, I wouldn't think DL will be a haven for you. If you're looking for coach awards overseas, you might be okay, but business or complicated routes and you're going to be paying for it with hundreds of thousands of Sky Miles. US routes with awards are also tough and typically require a significantly larger amount of miles.
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Old Mar 31, 19, 7:50 am
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DL also has a much more consistent onboard product. Everything has WiFi and everything but the regionals / 717 / MDs have IFE. Almost everything has power with a couple minor wrinkles (e.g., the 764 has for part but not all of the plane).

AA you can take 3 of the same type of plane on the same domestic trip and have 3 wildly different experiences.

Also the Embraer comment above is confusing -- the E175s are the best regional plane in the fleet followed closely by the CR9s. I'd take an E175 over an MD or 717 almost any day.
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Old Mar 31, 19, 10:22 am
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I'd add that DL OPs are usually pretty good, with almost no cancelled flights and not many that are badly delayed. [Of course, it helps now that DL doesn't have any MAX aircraft or AFAIK any that have been ordered.]
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Old Mar 31, 19, 2:29 pm
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Originally Posted by bcl00 View Post
I'm a BOS based flyer that puts up about 50k miles per year for business and very little leisure. Most of it is domestic and east coast. I've been loyal to AA since 2009 but their sAAver availability is maddening, especially the absurd 12 hour layovers, and they are basically down to just routes to hubs from BOS now. I'm thinking about making the switch to DL. I like the product on B6 but the occasional trips to a market they don't serve and the lack of airport lounges are deal breakers. I feel like with DL in BOS I get the following:

1. Second most nonstop routes after B6 (and should grow in 2019)
2. More complete route network than B6
3. Airport lounges
4. Better award availability than AA - your input would help here
5. DL has a hub in SLC which creates the opportunity for ski trip layovers in the winter

I have some miles with UA so they would make sense but they have even less nonstop routes in BOS so they seem to make even less sense. I made PLT with AA last year so hopefully I could get a status match. Only one trip on AA recorded so far this year.
I guess the big question here is what are you hoping to get out of this situation? If I'm going to fly in economy, B6 is the only airline I will do that on for longer than 2 hours. The seats in their even more space sections tend to have superior legroom to that of even first class on some Delta and AA aircraft. I often use B6 to position to JFK for intercontinental flights as well. I find B6 to be a great option (possibly the best) for east coast travel and transcons. With that said, as you note they don't have much of a lounge option, and there aren't a lot of options out side the east and west coasts. To add to that, the TureBlue program is really only useful for booking domestic flights.

Delta is considerably more reliable and consistent than AA which is a complete basket-case at this point (takes after its CEO). Zero consistency, reliability is about as bad as it gets, loyalty program is a shell of what it once was, and the employees are on average surly at best. Delta is sort of the Target or airlines for me. Am I going to go to Target hoping to buy a $50,000 Rolex? No, of course not. But as a reliable consistent option to get the little stuff done, it's a good choice. Likewise, Delta does domestic short and mid haul flights better than most others you're going to find in the US. Where Delta drops the ball is with SkyMiles which is only rarely a useful program to try and use. Domestic awards on B6 are a bit easier to find and use than with SkyMiles.

So I guess the real question is, what are you looking for?
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Old Mar 31, 19, 2:37 pm
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Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
The seats in their even more space sections tend to have superior legroom to that of even first class on some Delta and AA aircraft.
JetBlue's Even More Space seats aren't a free/published benefit for Mosaic. It gets down to the OP's probability of scoring Comfort+ vs. regular JetBlue seating, and DL wins that battle of pitch vs. 321 Mint, 321 Core, E90, and revised A320. (B6 vs. DL Main Cabin? Oh, heck yeh!)
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Old Mar 31, 19, 2:46 pm
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The grass is rarely greener. Overall CS is better with DL, but I have found jewels in the rough with AA if you find the right agent.

I can live with the inconsistent hard product on AA. Always have a backup battery charger with me in case I'm unexpectedly stuck on a LUS plane.

Reliability better on DL, but the thing about AA is that there is almost always an alternative that gets me where I need to go when I need to get there. AA has even re-routed me on Alaska on some occasions.

Award availability better on AA by FAR. Business awards for domestic travel are easy to come by, and the partner availability to virtually anywhere in the world is very good. I always price out the award on DL first, and its sometimes a 4x or 5x multiple in miles as what AA charges. DL is good for non-stop domestic awards, and thats about it (and also why I have a large unused DL award balance).

Surprised upgrades aren't on your list of criteria, but flying out of SW Ohio I get consistently upgraded on AA but never on DL. I mean never despite having similar status levels. Just buried on the upgrade list --- so much so I sometimes just buy up to first if the price is equivalent to buying upgrades on AA. BOS may be different, as I rarely fly there.
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Old Mar 31, 19, 2:56 pm
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Originally Posted by 3Cforme View Post
JetBlue's Even More Space seats aren't a free/published benefit for Mosaic. It gets down to the OP's probability of scoring Comfort+ vs. regular JetBlue seating, and DL wins that battle of pitch vs. 321 Mint, 321 Core, E90, and revised A320. (B6 vs. DL Main Cabin? Oh, heck yeh!)
Absolutely. I was more just thinking about purchasing them which is what I always do. I'm not sure if the OP was planning to make Mosaic/DL Gold/DL Silver. This is where more information about travel, who's paying for it, what they're willing to pay for, etc. would come in handy from the OP.
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Old Mar 31, 19, 5:10 pm
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Originally Posted by dc10forlife View Post
The grass is rarely greener. Overall CS is better with DL, but I have found jewels in the rough with AA if you find the right agent.
if you're flying 50k miles a year, wouldn't you want the product that is better overall? Why would you want to have to search for a good employee if you're traveling that much?

Also, saying you have a battery pack because you never know what plane you're going to get is the crux of the point here. On DL you know you'll get at least a USB plug and IFE as long as you're not on a small handful of aircraft. Why should I have to worry about charging and carrying one more thing when I just know I can plug in on DL?
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