From 1K to Delta?

Old Jan 16, 20, 11:51 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Austin, TX
Programs: UA 1K, Marriott Gold, SPG Gold
Posts: 104
From 1K to Delta?

For five years, I've had 1K status. It's been great, particularly the recent addition of pre-boarding and the outstanding Polaris lounges. But, in 2019 I had fewer international trips and only got to Gold. I never thought about switching while I was 1K but, if I'm going to consider it, this would be a good year. I expect my international travel to pick up this year and might have a run for elite status again. I'm based in Austin, and none of the big 3 dominate. In looking at the performance rankings, Delta seems to be killing it while United is trending down. So, I'm considering switching to Delta but have zero recent experience with the airline. (My travel is more domestic than international. Usually have a few regular fare business class international flights each year, and maybe a few economy flights with or without attempted upgrades.)

Should I be considering this? I haven't heard great things about Delta lounges, but I wouldn't have to pay if Amex Platinum still includes them. I pay annually (with miles) for United Club and log 40+ visits. If I do switch, any suggestions for accelerating status? It looks like I could status match to get started at Gold?

Thanks for any advice, I've been in a United cocoon for the better part of a decade.
onthesam likes this.
txirish is offline  
Old Jan 16, 20, 11:57 am
  #2  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K 1MM; AS 75K; Marriott Ambassador; Hilton Diamond (Aspire); Hyatt Explorist
Posts: 43,062
If you're 1K, DL will give you a match/challenge to Plat, or even possibly DM.

The DL lounges are on average much better than the United Clubs.

It's a very good airline with a more limited international network and poor partners. I matched to Plat a few years ago but the international options didn't work for me.
AceReport likes this.
Kacee is offline  
Old Jan 16, 20, 11:58 am
  #3  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: UA 1K, DL PM, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 10,788
If you are still 1K you can match to DL Plat for the year, which is a good matching level because it includes C+ at booking (Gold does not, which might surprise you coming from UA). In general I've found DL to be a better airline domestically (better OTP, newer aircraft, happier and friendlier crew) but their international network is somewhat limited and expensive and SkyTeam doesn't hold a candle to Star Alliance. For now, their qualification is on the now-old system where distance counts, so it may be easier or harder for you depending on your travel patterns. In general, DL lounges blow the United Clubs out of the water

However, schedule should still play a big role. You say none of the majors dominate in AUS, but if your travel is to SFO, ORD, or IAD, maybe your choice of carrier still matters.
findark is online now  
Old Jan 16, 20, 12:32 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 9,816
I would have thought Delta out of Ausitin would have been a 3rd place consideration (among legacy carriers) after UA/AA just due to hub situation. I guess your travel patterns make DL viable w/o adding undue time connecting. I'm with UA out of Maui and DL is a distant 3rd network-wise for me. If I were to switch, it'd be to AA for me. I know DL's the better airline, but my main criteria is ease of getting to/from where I need to go.
IAH-OIL-TRASH is offline  
Old Jan 16, 20, 12:37 pm
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 11,646
Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
I would have thought Delta would have been a 3rd place consideration after UA/AA just due to hub situation. I guess your travel patterns make DL viable w/o adding undue time connecting.
I know a couple of DL flyers here in Austin, and they seem happy with it; they just built a SkyClub as part of the airport expansion.

However, I agree, in general; Iíve considered DL several times, and the reasons that Iíve held back are (a) SkyTeam is unappealing and (b) the shortest DL flight from AUS is ATL. With UA/AA, Iíd have a pretty good chance of getting within driving distance of AUS if there were a cancellation / delay / misconnect. (Heck, Iím frequently going through IAH anyway). With DL, if I canít get to AUS, Iím spending the night at the hub.
jsloan is online now  
Old Jan 16, 20, 1:14 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: YVR
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 211
Originally Posted by findark View Post
If you are still 1K you can match to DL Plat for the year, which is a good matching level because it includes C+ at booking (Gold does not, which might surprise you coming from UA).
I had matched to DL gold from AA plat and was certainly surprised. Kind of a deal breaker that an upgrade to C+ could actually have you end up in the middle seat (I believe they've changed that since)
And as others said, DL's international network is weak; I had no option to go to HKG directly from US.
kevflyer is offline  
Old Jan 16, 20, 1:40 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 9,816
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
...(b) the shortest DL flight from AUS is ATL. With UA/AA, Iíd have a pretty good chance of getting within driving distance of AUS if there were a cancellation / delay / misconnect...
Delta was a tolerable option out of Houston until DL abandoned their DFW hub in (I think) 1996.

And Sky Team as more tolerable then, w/ Singapore and Swiss at the time.
jsloan likes this.

Last edited by IAH-OIL-TRASH; Jan 17, 20 at 12:11 am
IAH-OIL-TRASH is offline  
Old Jan 16, 20, 2:56 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: SLC
Programs: UA 1K/DL Plat
Posts: 128
I did this in mid-November, have flown 14 segments with them so far, easily met the status match and haven't flown UA since then. I've been in the UA cocoon since 2000 (having been married to UA and an LAXSW (F/A) and taught to fly by a UA747 captain), I've always been a big UA fanboy (dare I say UA apologist). But, it's a no-brainer for me as I'm in a DL hub (and lots more competition for upgrades) but I wonder why I didn't do this sooner.

Schedules and minimizing time away are my priorities - and DL does this better for where I need to go. So, if that's what works out of ABIA, I'd say switch and here are my positives:
  • Clubs are nicer, food offerings are MUCH better - I was actually full off of a healthy breakfast in Dallas this morning (I'm AMEX Plat, too. No DSC membership)
  • Service is consistently good (not that my experience with UA was every bad) - DL excels at consistency
  • On-time performance for my destinations are equal to UA
  • Domestic first class is well, just classier (bottle of water waiting, pillow and blanket at each seat), been called by name and thanked for being plat on EVERY flight
  • Aircraft are nicer with a more modern feel (A220 is wonderful)
  • IFE's not a deal-breaker but it's nice to watch the flight map while you binge your Netflix on the iPad
I'd say what have you got to lose - worst case you don't like it and can't status match again for a while. But, I've been pleasantly surprised and now looking forward to a D1 suite on the A350 in the spring.
MarkyMarc is offline  
Old Jan 16, 20, 3:00 pm
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Austin, TX
Programs: UA 1K, Marriott Gold, SPG Gold
Posts: 104
Hmmm, great advice, everyone, thanks. Agree about the Atlanta hub being less than ideal for a variety of reasons. The less robust international situation is of more concern. I've been able to make every international trip (except Papeete a few years ago) on United or a *A partner. A few icky Air Canada flights, but I got credit for them at least.

For now, maybe the grass is greener on the United side of the fence. And, the United Clubs have improved and are still getting better. The regular United Club (not Polaris) had a very proper spread of real food on my last visit. They said they stopped getting newspapers and are putting the money into food. Haven't seen a big leap in other clubs yet, though.

I appreciate the wisdom in this community!
txirish is offline  
Old Jan 16, 20, 3:35 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: PDX
Programs: DL Plat, UA Plat 1MM, AS MVP, Hyatt Discoverist, Avis Presidents Club, Hertz President's Circle
Posts: 3,684
After hitting 1MM, I made the switch last year to Delta and my experience has been very similar to Marky Mark . It just.. feels like a better airline. Newer planes, much better technology (I get alerts on my phone as my checked bags are coming onto the carousel), friendlier staff, cleaner and better stocked clubs etc.

That said, I've not been able to abandon *A -- for my international travel I haven't been able to get nearly as many options or competitive business class pricing (ex Canada) as I have on UA/LH/AC so, I'm not sure I'll be able to maintain the Platinum status I earned in the challenge -- but I have no regrets about jumping over to DL.
noah is offline  
Old Jan 16, 20, 3:47 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: JAX
Programs: UA 1K, Hilton Gold, Marriott Gold
Posts: 4,873
Originally Posted by txirish View Post
Hmmm, great advice, everyone, thanks. Agree about the Atlanta hub being less than ideal for a variety of reasons. The less robust international situation is of more concern. I've been able to make every international trip (except Papeete a few years ago) on United or a *A partner. A few icky Air Canada flights, but I got credit for them at least.
Couple of years ago I status matched over to DL and found as stated above multiple times that their INTL network and pricing was no where near UA/StarAlliance. I suggest you do a few dummy bookings on DL to possible INTL destinations and see how they compare with UA/StarAlliance.
TomMM is offline  
Old Jan 16, 20, 3:50 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Minneapolis, MN (MSP)
Programs: DL DM, UA 1K MM, Subway Club Member
Posts: 1,933
If price is an issue be aware that DL is telling investors that they plan to extract additional revenue from their brandís perceived superiority through higher fares. It doubt itís going to be over the top but Iíd be willing to bet a lot of folks are willing to pay 5-10% extra to fly DL.

I switched a few years ago from UA GS to DL Diamond for reliability reasons. DL often goes weeks or months without a mainline cancellation. Their 2nd generation WIFI is as fast as home (streaming Netflix and HBO) and always works. One downside is that everyone is diamond so upgrades to first are unusual.

Their international network, especially to Asia, sucks and they have be offloading a lot of destinations to KE (which is a miserable airline). Europe is better but is still heavily dependent on KLM/AF.
kenn0223 is offline  
Old Jan 16, 20, 4:09 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: NYC
Programs: UA GS (1MM), DL Gold, Marriott Plat, Hyatt Globalist, Avis CC
Posts: 474
Originally Posted by MarkyMarc View Post
  • Clubs are nicer, food offerings are MUCH better - I was actually full off of a healthy breakfast in Dallas this morning (I'm AMEX Plat, too. No DSC membership)
  • Service is consistently good (not that my experience with UA was every bad) - DL excels at consistency
  • On-time performance for my destinations are equal to UA
  • Domestic first class is well, just classier (bottle of water waiting, pillow and blanket at each seat), been called by name and thanked for being plat on EVERY flight
  • Aircraft are nicer with a more modern feel (A220 is wonderful)
  • IFE's not a deal-breaker but it's nice to watch the flight map while you binge your Netflix on the iPad
Definitely different experience. Most of my DL travel has been J transatlantic and almost always on the old 767 product which I think is my least favorite premium cabin of any major carrier. Service is generally consistently fine - but I've had plenty of negative experiences including F today EWR-ATL with no PDB, no bottled water, hurried service with no refills, FA spent the whole time in the galley playing phone games. Had a two hour delay in AMS once with absolutely no explanation. I've earned Gold on DL and have not once been recognized whatsoever. And the F I flew today to ATL on the 737 was definitely behind my UA experiences in terms of hard product. I do agree that SkyClubs tend to be nicer than your average UC, but Polaris makes a world of difference and no SkyClub competes with any Polaris.
SteveHK is online now  
Old Jan 16, 20, 4:11 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: NYC
Programs: UA GS (1MM), DL Gold, Marriott Plat, Hyatt Globalist, Avis CC
Posts: 474
Also - besides JFK, I find DL's route network ridiculous. I'm not connecting in ATL, DTW, MSP, SEA to get anywhere whereas UA's hubs are in cities like ORD, SFO, IAH, IAD, DEN, etc.
SteveHK is online now  
Old Jan 16, 20, 4:15 pm
  #15  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 11,646
Originally Posted by SteveHK View Post
Also - besides JFK, I find DL's route network ridiculous. I'm not connecting in ATL, DTW, MSP, SEA to get anywhere whereas UA's hubs are in cities like ORD, SFO, IAH, IAD, DEN, etc.
If youíre connecting anyway, why do you care where? As long as itís in more-or-less the right direction, anyway. I have a hard time trying to get some Caribbean destinations from AUS when UA only serves them from ORD or EWR...
jsloan is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: