Thinking about flying Delta Air Lines? Here are the best and the worst parts to consider!

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Do the Delta Pro’s outweigh the Con’s?

I fly Delta a lot. Almost exclusively. Sure, I take an AA flight now and then because they are an outstanding (and cheap) use of my hundreds of thousands of BA Avios points from Chase. But that is not the point of today’s post. I want to talk about why I choose to fly Delta. There are pro’s and con’s with Delta just like any airline. Let’s take a look at my list.

First the good bits about Delta.

Amazing service i.e. the Delta people. As a mostly domestic flyer I have, from the Midwest, only 3 real airline choices. I have found Delta people, from front-line gate agents to flight attendants all to be simply amazing. Even when Delta sub contracts out to DGS (Delta Global Services) people they too tend to be really impressive. Delta connection partners, more often than not, are Delta-like even though they are only painted up to look like they really are Delta. Great people make Delta great and I see this day in and day out!

On time almost always. I know folks give Delta a hard time about padding schedules and while the company will not admit this, clearly they do. But you know what, I am just fine with that. Who ever gripes about landing early – not me that is for sure! I have booked dozens of flights next year and I simply expect them all to work and connect without major issues.

Consistent product. I fully admit that all of Delta’s offerings are not as good as other airlines. Having said that, they are consistent with what they do offer (a majority of the time). The seats are all similar and it is rare I am without power, wifi and entertainment (Delta Studio). This matters to me.

Reliable wifi. I must be connected. Always. On Delta it is the rare exception that I am not connected via Gogo. Sure it can be slow at times but they are working on that and working on gate to gate wifi as well. Nice.

Good (and consistent) food. There are few times Delta disappoints on the on-board meal offerings. Even items off the buy food menu are not bad. Yes, unless you are flying an airline with”real” 1st class you are not going to get amazing food but solid and consistently good food is something of value to me.

Nice IFE. Where there is an IFE screen, especially the news ones, they are very nice. Large, clear and simple controls. I can plug in my Bluetooth transmitter and enjoy loads of entertainment choices.

Solid elite benefits. Now I freely admit it is harder, starting next year, to earn top status with Delta (for most) but not really for me and I love the treatment as a Diamond Medallion. This, plus all the perks of the status, makes flying Delta a pure joy.

Partner network. Skyteam works for me. Sure they can be frustrating now and then, and are not as good as Delta, but they get me anywhere I want to go with reasonably consistent elite recognition.

Now on to the worst part of why you may want to not come over to Delta.

SkyMiles – It is “A” very difficult award program. OK, I am being kind. They are shameful at best. They treat members with utter disrespect by hiding the award charts, making endless no notice award changes and a hopelessly broken award booking site (you often have to call to get things booked). They over charge for connections but with no award charts to prove it how can you hold them to it. But Delta brags and calls the program “A” winner.

Honesty issues. For all the good above much of it can be blown out of the water by issues with honesty. One blatant example is all but claiming a win for SkyMiles recently when Alaska in fact won the top spot. Time and time again things are couched in “PR Speak” in Deltaland.

Seat change / schedule change issues. This is maddening. They change planes, seats and even set you up to miss your connection and most times say nothing until it is all but too late. The one thing that could fix it, access to Award Wallet, that too is blocked by Delta because it would be insanely useful and we can not have that when confusion is so much better?

Expensive. If you have not priced Delta flights recently you really should compare them to others. Yeah, Delta tends to be expensive but justifies the price because, well, they get from A-B on-time and consistently etc.

New Diamond Amex restrictions. This is a new nasty one. It used to be reasonably simple to avoid the spend requirement part of elite qualification – now – not so much.

So there you are. To me these are the best and worst of Delta. Are the good parts enough to offset the bad parts? It is for me as an elite. If I were focused on free award travel as my goal I would totally be looking at other airlines! – René

 

 

 

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8 comments

  1. Rene – I’m Platinum and find the benefits to be very good. Don’t think I will ever hit Diamond especially now with the change to the card spend.

    I’ll add the 20 minute bag guarantee especially with Sky Priority they do a great job. I recently had 1 issue with that at LAX where the Sky Priority bags were last off instead of first off and still in the 20 min. I mentioned that to a baggage agent and she agreed and told me to email the company. I know this was a 1 off scenario but they came through and gave me the 2500 SkyMiles.

    Yesterday my wife and I flew on AA since it was non-stop from PBI to PHL. 45 minutes to finally get our bags and many AA Priority tagged bags came at the same time.

    Of course not having status on AA or any other airline means regular check in instead of priority and zipping through like I do on Delta. Since most carriers have an elite check in that is not a unique benefit but I’ve always found the DL agents to be so pleasant (maybe because I always greet them with a smile and a hello as well).

  2. We’re now getting no comp upgrades on almost any important routes out of JFK, so that’s great starting in ’18. By the time their done I won’t be able to upgrade on any flight longer than say 4 hours without a cert, buy up, or mileage upgrade w/ expensive ticket.

    You can’t tell me that’s not a silent shady move to effectively kill comp upgrades overtime.

  3. You forgot a bad one is with Delta painted partners (including wholly owned sub, Endeavor), largest fleet of CRJ200’s with no realistic plan to retire in near future.

  4. I am currently a diamond and have been no lower than platinum for approximately 10 years. 1. The upgrade situation have gotten progressively worse so much so that so that I adhere to “WFBF” rule on transcon flights, just can’t risk it theses days, even as a Diamond- very little shot at upgrades on longer routes. On the other hand, I find the phone support customer service to be excellent as a platinum or diamond, zero wait, courteous reps and they give their better customers a bit of break on changes, etc. 3. The rollover miles are great, and 4. the medallion bene’s seem to be superior to other carriers. I fly United as my secondary airline so that is my comparison. Delta has a superior product when compared to United, no question.

  5. You forgot the following:
    1. The tiniest meals in First Class in the US market. By far the worst catering of the BIG 3. No warm bread, meals never served in courses, packaged desserts are no bueno. UA/AA offer Sundaes on long flights /warm cookies and better options. Its the little things that count. Even Delta One is far behind the competition in the international market.
    2. Delta One – Very poor seating on all planes outside of the A330 (there are very few) A350 looks over-hyped but yet to try. they are charging extra for this flight and 250% overcharge in Skymiles.
    3. Domestic first Class pitch and recline – By far the worst of the Big 3. This is a fact. 36-37″ pitch on some planes compared to AA/UA 38-40″ and the seats BARELY recline. Overall DL has the worst premium cabin product.
    4. the Delta people is hit or miss. In general they are still a US airline that wants to take advantage of you and does not treat you as a guest. My recent DTW-NRT crew was one of the worst hospitality experiences of my life. So even on DL , inconsistency is a huge deal. In general they are better than the others, but they are not good.
    5. Upgrade percentages are downright pitiful
    6. Skyteam – This alliance blows. Find me one lounge in the Skyteam Network that would be an experience like the great ones in OneWorld/Star Alliance. Lots of low class airlines, too many Chinese carriers that have piss-poor service. Even American and United are rocking out some really nice new departure lounges for premium travelers.
    7. You cant use your SkyPesos for First Class. Im sure it would cost 17,400,000 to do so anyways but its not an option.

  6. I like C+ a lot. When first upgrade doesn’t clear, I’m content with the Snack basket, Kind bar and coffee. I haven’t had to deal with a middle seat in C+. Far better IMO than UA’s product.

    Also, a big fan of bags in 20min guarantee.

    Biggest complaint is flying AM as partner. AM is so hit or miss, not consistent, service or product. I also don’t see AM clear medallion upgrades like they are supposed to.

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