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Is there any difference between AA, DL, UA?

Is there any difference between AA, DL, UA?

Old Jul 31, 16, 4:12 pm
  #1  
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Is there any difference between AA, DL, UA?

Is there any service difference between American, Delta, and United, particularly for domestic cattle flying? I cannot think of many other than schedule and price. All three now have what they call is a free snack (Biscoff or similar small cookie) and have a revenue based frequent flyer program.

American:
Has an award chart, like United
Seems to be a stickler with carry on luggage sizers, though other airlines sometimes do this.

Delta:
More planes seem to have IFE than AA

United:
IFE seems not quite as good as DL but not much different. I see it in more aircraft than AA.

Hubs use by individuals vary according to one's location and the airlines' schedule so I don't want to complicate this thread. I do have favorites, like MSP over ATL, IAH over DEN.

If there is no difference, then I would choose based mostly on schedule and fares with a very slight preference to one airline because of frequent flyer program participation.
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Old Jul 31, 16, 4:19 pm
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If you're primarily looking at "domestic cattle flying," don't forget Southwest. They offer some pretty good perks to the general public, like no-fee ticket changes and free checked bags. And now their spend-based loyalty program isn't a whole lot different from the other three majors (with the lack of upgrades being an obvious exception).

I'd also take a look at the DOT on-time departure statistics before deciding; an airline's schedule doesn't mean a whole lot if it's consistently missing that schedule. Lately, AA has been among the worst while Delta has a good operation.
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Old Jul 31, 16, 4:39 pm
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Originally Posted by rjw242 View Post
If you're primarily looking at "domestic cattle flying," don't forget Southwest..
Good point. However, I didn't want to complicate the thread too much. When booking flights, I generally divide airlines into legacy carriers (AA, DL, UA), which is my question, cats and dogs (WN, B6, AS, HA, VX), and cheapskate cats and dogs (Spirit, Allegiant, Frontier, Sun Country, etc.)
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Old Jul 31, 16, 5:03 pm
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Without question DL runs a more reliable, more on time and. and has more consistently good crews than either UA or AA.
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Old Jul 31, 16, 6:18 pm
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Originally Posted by Box10 View Post
Is there any service difference between American, Delta, and United, particularly for domestic cattle flying? I cannot think of many other than schedule and price....
I have found in my 30+ years of flying that AA has a better elite program for my domestic travel needs (primarily based on the routes I fly) and is of better value all-around in my experience, but value has a lot to do with how much my wife and I travel.

My wife actually gets more out of it than I, because she travels more due to business. That said, she's my wife, so she'll always find a way to get more out of something than I.
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Old Jul 31, 16, 8:01 pm
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Thanks for the embedding links in the previous post.

It's a reminder of how frequent flyer programs have really been enhanced! :P Before the lowest elite category was silver. AAdvantage Gold is like the old silver as far as qualifying for it and benefits.

One of the links was what the value is. AAdvantage Gold is pegged at $1,155. For me, it wouldn't be valued as much. Waived processing charges may be worth zero or several multiples of $75. Upgrades are hard to value. Sometimes, they are merely nice but not of value. However, I have gotten and used some complementary US Airways transatlantic upgrade coupons about 10-12 years ago and those were worth something that I would have paid for.

The mileage bonus is worth whatever miles are worth plus a correction factor since not all miles are used but are sometimes wasted.

Thanks for the opinions. United has had a rough time lately so I would guess that few would say United is the best of the 3 absent a superior schedule.

On a related but different topic, I wonder what is the minimum number of frequent flyer memberships one should have to cover all travel. I think it may be how many you can keep active. One possibility is AA, DL, UA, WN, B6. Of course that would miss the cheapskate cats and dogs, like Spirit and Frontier. Alaska is potentially useful for Seattle, Portland, and Alaska but those flights can be covered by AA and DL's programs. On the converse, AS can cover AA and DL so one could merely have AS, UA, WN, B6 membership.
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Old Jul 31, 16, 8:08 pm
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I believe AA has always called their lowest 25K mileage status level Gold and it has been the basic equivalent to UA/DL (and previously NW/US/CO) Silver for many years.
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Old Jul 31, 16, 9:58 pm
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My 3 cents:

AA - unreliable, inconsistent service, formerly excellent FFP now reduced to rubble, formerly excellent alliance now fractured thanks to BA et al.

UA - outstanding alliance partners at least in terms of award availability, middling FFP, seem intent on actually improving on-board product, but think elites are over-entitled (though it seems USAirways is also headed down this road)

DL - profitable, reliable, mostly worthless FFP, decent product, weakest alliance

I know next to nothing about B6, WN, and the others.
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Old Jul 31, 16, 10:43 pm
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Any airline can get you from A to B safely. No airline plans a crash.

There are thousands of details besides getting from A to B safely. A couple hundred of those details are in the frequent flyer programs, elite levels, etc. Then there's the cushiness of the chairs in the lounge, brand of liquor served on board, schedules, prices, gate position within a concourse (very end = bad), design of employee uniforms, customer service phone reps, yes, we could go on and on.

What is important to one person might not be of any consequence to another. What do I care about the liquor if I don't drink liquor? I do care about the ticket price, because I pay for my flights out of my own pocket. At 5'4" legroom is way down on my list or priorities. My 6'5" brother sees it differently.

The best thing to do is to consider what is most important to you. Investigate the airlines flying out of an airport near you and decide which one best suits your needs.
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Old Jul 31, 16, 11:41 pm
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AA is not as far along in its merger with US as DL with NW (long completed) and UA with CO (much more completed). As such, currently, for another year or two, AA planes are a little less "predictable" than might be the case at DL or UA. Though non-merger changes (like DL recently did with C+, and is it done with that finally yet or not>) can happen at any time and possibly be disruptive at least to plane layout predictability (while half the fleet is old style and the other half is new style).

The plane layout not being predictable (if you book in advance) can mean that the seat you reserved is not the seat you get (much more likely than would be the case if plane layouts were consistent). So it can impact quality of the travel experience if you care what you seat you sit in.
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Old Aug 2, 16, 11:52 am
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Full disclosure, I am based in ATL and usually fly to New England and sometimes California. I sit in the back.

So I see little to no difference in the hard product but can confirm that Delta’s handling of IRROPS seems to be better than the other legacies, especially since the a/c used are flying multiple segments per day and thus have more chances to become delayed. The abundance of spare planes and crews on reserve in Atlanta probably speaks to that.
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Old Aug 2, 16, 12:45 pm
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Originally Posted by GlobeTrttr83 View Post
Full disclosure, I am based in ATL and usually fly to New England and sometimes California. I sit in the back.

So I see little to no difference in the hard product but can confirm that Delta’s handling of IRROPS seems to be better than the other legacies, especially since the a/c used are flying multiple segments per day and thus have more chances to become delayed. The abundance of spare planes and crews on reserve in Atlanta probably speaks to that.
Not sure about that last part? Every aircraft flying for the legacies flies multiple segments per day - otherwise the airlines wouldn't make a dime. And AA has plenty of aircraft flying through DFW everyday. Seems like DL just does better than AA operationally.
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Old Aug 2, 16, 12:57 pm
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Originally Posted by rjw242 View Post
If you're primarily looking at "domestic cattle flying," don't forget Southwest.
and free agent biz travelers that slightly prefer AA but don't hesitate flying WN when it makes the most sense (which can be many many times)

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Old Aug 2, 16, 2:07 pm
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Originally Posted by Box10 View Post
Is there any service difference between American, Delta, and United, particularly for domestic cattle flying? I cannot think of many other than schedule and price. All three now have what they call is a free snack (Biscoff or similar small cookie) and have a revenue based frequent flyer program.

American:
Has an award chart, like United
Seems to be a stickler with carry on luggage sizers, though other airlines sometimes do this.

Delta:
More planes seem to have IFE than AA

United:
IFE seems not quite as good as DL but not much different. I see it in more aircraft than AA.

Hubs use by individuals vary according to one's location and the airlines' schedule so I don't want to complicate this thread. I do have favorites, like MSP over ATL, IAH over DEN.

If there is no difference, then I would choose based mostly on schedule and fares with a very slight preference to one airline because of frequent flyer program participation.
Yes, AA can't seem to manage to get you to your destination on time......that's the big difference for me. But that's for another thread
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Old Aug 2, 16, 2:32 pm
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Originally Posted by AANYC1981 View Post
Yes, AA can't seem to manage to get you to your destination on time...
This is a huge and increasing problem for AA. Being delayed is never good and AA is currently the worst in terms of on time flights. Not great in general, but especially if you're flying in Y, you want things to be on time. I would suggest VX, B6, and DL as the better airlines for flying Y. Otherwise, they're pretty interchangeable/bad. In terms of the actual seat, Y is Y. There's really not much to be said about it other than that it sucks (at least IMO).

Personally, if I'm flying Y, the airline becomes less important to me, and the aircraft becomes more important. For example, on a 757 or A321 I know I can get a decent seat in Y at the L2/R2 door. On the 737/A320/A319 etc. I know that the Y seats in general suck. Exit rows are alright, but not great.
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