Old Jul 17, 2017, 10:33 pm
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UA vs DL....share your perspectives

Old Jun 1, 2021, 2:20 pm
  #1  
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In the post pandemic world, wondering if anyone has any advice on Delta Diamond vs United Premier 1k? I have been Diamond with Delta for years being based out of CVG. Delta continues to cut back here to the point that I almost always need to connect. As Delta continues to devalue the SkyMiles program, wondering what folks perspectives are on: 1) Upgrades 2) Business Saver award redemption especially to Europe 3) Service and elite call lines?

I know that the grass is not always greener on the other side so would love to get some perspectives. Thanks in advance!
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Old Jun 1, 2021, 2:24 pm
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Originally Posted by molden79
In the post pandemic world, ...
A basic problem is we don't know what things will look like in a post-pandemic elite world. Same as pre-COVID or different. Anything looking forward is pure speculation.

There is history in this thread of the pre-COVID era, so that is a data point but is it worth much. We can talk talk about what happened in the past year but will that tell us the future? There are difficult times to be navigating thru. .
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Old Jun 1, 2021, 2:28 pm
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FWIW, DL resumes CVG-DFW/BWI/PHL on Sep 8th, CVG-AUS returns next March, and CVG-SFO is loaded for next April. Although the CVG-BWI/PHL flights are currently scheduled as CRJ-200s if you avoid those. The pre-Covid routes which do not seem to be returning post-Covid are CVG-BDL/CLT/IAH/STL/MCI/PHX/YYZ. DL has stated they are bringing on more service agents (apparently, a significant number took retirement option during pandemic).
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Last edited by xliioper; Jun 1, 2021 at 2:45 pm
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Old Jun 1, 2021, 2:37 pm
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
A basic problem is we don't know what things will look like in a post-pandemic elite world. Same as pre-COVID or different. Anything looking forward is pure speculation.

There is history in this thread of the pre-COVID era, so that is a data point but is it worth much. We can talk talk about what happened in the past year but will that tell us the future? There are difficult times to be navigating thru. .
Two things that we do know, of value primarily toward international travel, are the UA hasn't retired any widebody aircraft and has continued with Polaris cabin retrofits as well as premium economy. While DL has retired a significant number of aircraft including all their 777's as well as some narrowbodies. If international travel comes back quickly then UA will be in the position to restore its network quickly while DL will have to wait for new aircraft deliveries. UA has always had a solid network and better alliance connecting points (I'm not a fan of LHR or CDG for example.)

UA has had largely premium cabins than either DL or AA, so in theory upgrades should be easier to get. In practice international upgrades are heavily dependent on the day of the week. On peak travel days, most Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday, they are tough to get. On off peak days much more available.

I generally prefer UA Star Alliance partners over OneTeam. LH, LX, OS, SQ, NH, BR, TK are all solid carriers with good product. Not sure what will happen with OZ if they merge with KE.

UA has made mileage plus less rewarding as have all carriers, but the program remains far more rewarding than Skymiles and DL has been duplicitous in their policies and devaluations.

General opinion is the DL employees are happier and give customers better in flight service.

DL has had incredibly long hold times - it belies the image they want to cultivate.

I'm sticking with UA & AS as my primary two carriers.

ETA: SkyClubs are better than United Clubs. In flight food service is comparable.
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Old Jun 1, 2021, 3:11 pm
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Originally Posted by molden79
In the post pandemic world, wondering if anyone has any advice on Delta Diamond vs United Premier 1k? I have been Diamond with Delta for years being based out of CVG. Delta continues to cut back here to the point that I almost always need to connect. As Delta continues to devalue the SkyMiles program, wondering what folks perspectives are on: 1) Upgrades 2) Business Saver award redemption especially to Europe 3) Service and elite call lines?

I know that the grass is not always greener on the other side so would love to get some perspectives. Thanks in advance!
I'm UA 1K and I took advantage of the DL match special to gain diamond status, so I've been flying more DL these days. I am not a scheduling or statistical expert like many on here, so my feedback is entirely anecdotal. My home airport is EWR and like others have pointed out in this thread, NY airports are apparently among the last to recover toward pre-COVID flight schedules/capacity, so that also may skew my perspective on United.

Re: upgrades, I've been upgraded more on DL vs UA. I was upgraded on UA on every flight from in Q3 and all but 1 in Q4 (my business is essential so I only grounded myself from mid-March thru June). But in 2021 I've been upgraded more on DL than UA. Again, that probably has a lot to do with EWR having many more UA elites than DL elites.

I can't speak to Business Savers as I haven't tried any, especially to Europe, since the pandemic began.

I've had much better elite service call times on United, and I've always had a good service experience with United. I actually just got off the phone with the DL diamond line. I called, waited for 22 minutes to get a call back, then waited another 7 minutes to get a rep once I was auto-called back. The service was to modify a flight that had been affected by a DL schedule change (the replacement itinerary gave me a much longer, unnecessary layover), and they got it straightened out. But 29 minutes is unheard of in my UA experience - not even close.

I'll differ with one of the replies above on just one point - I've found the on-board United FAs more friendly and service-oriented than Delta's. Yes, some in premium cabins suffer from People Magazine syndrome, but not any more than Delta's in my experience.

If you get a match offer, try it out, it's the only way you'll know for yourself.
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Old Jun 1, 2021, 5:23 pm
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Originally Posted by threecap
I've had much better elite service call times on United, and I've always had a good service experience with United. I actually just got off the phone with the DL diamond line. I called, waited for 22 minutes to get a call back, then waited another 7 minutes to get a rep once I was auto-called back. The service was to modify a flight that had been affected by a DL schedule change (the replacement itinerary gave me a much longer, unnecessary layover), and they got it straightened out. But 29 minutes is unheard of in my UA experience - not even close.
This seems to be a particular sore spot with DL right now (evidenced by multiple threads in the 665 forum). Extremely long phone wait times - I got quoted 5.5 hours as a no status trying to fix a completely busted partner reservation, ultimately gave up and cancelled - but even the diamonds seem to be unhappy. Appears to be exacerbated by just your issue, which is that they are rolling through more frequent updates to their schedule and the system doesn't seem to be handling it well. I'm not sure if they're through to bright yet but I would expect both of these issues to normalize a bit as things ramp back up.
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Old Jun 2, 2021, 6:18 pm
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Pre-Pandemic DL had an incredibly reliable operation often going weeks without a mainline cancellation and sometimes 100% on-time days. UA has gotten better over the years but it seems like reliability is just higher on DLs priority list. I am not sure where either will end up as we head back to normal.

I also think DLs WiFi is significantly more reliable than UAs especially its 2kU flights.
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Old Jun 2, 2021, 6:23 pm
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Originally Posted by kenn0223
Pre-Pandemic DL had an incredibly reliable operation often going weeks without a mainline cancellation ....
While DL had the best operational reliability numbers, it did play games with 24 hour delays to avoid cancellations.
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Old Jun 2, 2021, 7:13 pm
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I am a price sensitive flyer, as most of the cost comes out of my own pocket. DL is taking this whole basic economy to a whole new level - the worst out of all of the legacies; AA has been the best, as in the least amount of upfare charge.

On the other hand, Delta's domestic award flights can have amazing value.
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Old Jun 2, 2021, 7:45 pm
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Last Friday LAX-AUS-BOS flight on DL featured bad snack boxes and young but *slow* flight attendants for service. The big thing that stuck out on DL VS. UA were the PTVs on the 321 to AUS and the A220 to BOS. The SkyClub in AUS was also open and was dead. F/A on AUS-BOS kept ignoring me in C+ and came back with a half cup of beer because they "ran out of wine." Calling B.S. on that one.

Not sure how UA compares nowadays, but I'll take in-seat entertainment over food but I really miss both on DL which combined is superior to anything UA before COVID. The only meals that look like anything decent these days is AA on the Transcon routes in F or J.
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Old Jun 2, 2021, 9:19 pm
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Originally Posted by Repooc17
I am a price sensitive flyer, as most of the cost comes out of my own pocket. DL is taking this whole basic economy to a whole new level - the worst out of all of the legacies; AA has been the best, as in the least amount of upfare charge.

On the other hand, Delta's domestic award flights can have amazing value.
AA completely pulled BE fares on domestic routes last Fall, so upcharge is zero these days domestically. DL, UA, AS are fairly close on most routes. AS has been raising theirs over last few months and mostly matches DL on routes. In some cases, they exceed DL -- AS upcharge on SEA-JFK is now $50 while DL is $40.

DL is bringing back plated meals to domestic D1 on June 15th. Domestic FC flights over 1500 miles get meals starting July 13th, but not clear if these will be plated meals or boxed meals (press release from back in March mentions boxed meals with fresh items for FC flights).
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Last edited by xliioper; Jun 2, 2021 at 9:27 pm
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Old Jun 3, 2021, 11:06 am
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Originally Posted by Repooc17
Delta's domestic award flights can have amazing value.
In rare cases, yes. But internationally... woof. 40k United saver EWR-JNB vs. at least 140k ATL-JNB on DL. Premium cabin availability and pricing just gets worse. I think United is 190k on an anytime award, 485k on DL and it looks like they're more aggressively capacity controlling even at that level.
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Old Jun 3, 2021, 11:12 am
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Originally Posted by aCavalierInCoach
In rare cases, yes.
In rare cases? My most recent data point: I flew from DTW to MIA (via ATL) in late May for 6,500 SkyPesos, and got upgraded on both segments, DTW to ATL (widebody) and narrowbody on MIA to ATL. Happy to present to you other data points in the past, in both weekday and weekend flying, and across multiple times of the day.

While I do agree with you on INTL flights, it's not hard to find good-to-excellent value of domestic awards on DL. Much better than UA. UA awards often align with the corresponding cash fares; whereas DL is not always the case, which is where you can find the outsized value.
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Old Jun 3, 2021, 11:23 am
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If LAX factors into the equation, note that DL ops at LAX are currently a disaster due to the T3 rebuild. Remote stand arrivals, jam-packed terminals, DL has it all! Personally, I will not fly DL in or out of LAX until this has been resolved.
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Old Jun 3, 2021, 11:58 am
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Im a Delta DM, who just recently relocated from ATL to DEN. I just status-matched to UA because they are significantly cheaper than DL on many of my routes. I just booked a one way F ticket on UA for the same price Delta was charging for regular Y. Its insane.
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