Upset over American Airlines program changes? Should you status match to Delta Air Lines? (hint: NOT yet)!

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tweet from AA about program changes

Did you “heart” this Tweet from AA?

So you are an American flyer. You have put up with a bunch of things from AA due to the fact that they ran an outstanding award program as well as a very good elite program. And then, yesterday, you go the above notice in your inbox or via twitter. Happy? Yeah, I bet not so much. So now you have to consider the fact that AA has VS Delta:

  • A poor on time rating
  • A mediocre 1st class meals service
  • Pre Flight beverage service is sketchy
  • FAs are either so-so or don’t like elites
  • Product is underwhelming including new mods
  • Wifi is bad and soon becoming a hodge podge
  • The AA app is really bad
  • Rewards have been severely devaluated

…and honestly I could go on and on all day long. The bottom line is that AA had the one single saving grace of a sweet award and elite program! Those are both now severely diminished.

So let’s get the most obvious and simple issue out of the way, that is, when you should status match Delta. First off, Delta has no match, but they do have a status challenge. The BEST time to do that each year is  after  1JULY. However, keep in mind you only have a 1x-ish lifetime shot at doing this so if you do this at the wrong time you will really kick yourself. So, get your ducks in a row and wait until after 1JULY to get max perks if you go this route.

So what is the difference between the two airlines. To me there are a bunch and I can not hit on them all but look at the number of 1st class (business class) seats on AA new birds or modified aircraft. Do you like two rows of 1st class? Yeah, me either. Delta has a bunch more. Now yes Delta wants to sell these extra seats at stupid cheap prices rather than provide them as upgrades to loyal elites, but at least they have more to begin with. Also, with Delta, you get:

  • Flights that are ridiculously on-time
  • Good 1st class food (if over 900 miles)
  • VERY reliable Pre Flight beverage service
  • Outstanding FAs who like and value their elites
  • Product is good with power everywhere including new mods
  • Wifi is Gogo (i.e. SlowGo) but on almost every flight
  • The Delta app is really really good and works.
  • Award program is a mess unless you know how to use it!

So that is a quick comparison to what you can expect if you decide to move your spend and flying over to Delta. But how about an honest review from someone who does 100+ segments a year on Delta and is a top elite (just not Delta360 i.e. the hidden top spend status).

Let’s first look at the good stuff. Top elites are treated very well by Delta. From free individual club membership to a good percentage of upgrades to fees waived & same day change option (limited by fare class) and so much more – it is good to be a high level elite with Delta.

Next we need to talk schedule changes both good and bad. Just about every single Saturday during the year Delta monkeys with flight times. Sometimes this can be bad but many times not so bad. Sometimes they tell us, many times they don’t. But Delta gives us many choices so that is good when it is their fault. They limit choices on partners but often almost unlimited choices on Delta metal or flights. Overall this is a winning part of Delta so learn how to use it and enjoy it.

What about all important upgrades good and bad? Delta does offer a great many upgrades to top elites. They also offer chances for regional and global upgrades that help if you learn how to use them. They sometimes (ok, often) offer cheap upgrades for sale and many do this to enjoy riding in 1st much to the frustration of those who would like a complementary upgrade. Know this is an issue and an ongoing one with Delta. Also there is the matter of Comfort Plus seats. It is a total mess. I suggest exit row as a default choice on shorter flights.

Next we have OPS. Expect every flight to complete. Expect most to be on-time (Delta tends to pad schedules). Expect when IROPS happen for them to fix things quickly. Expect really good service from Delta people all around including the @Delta people online.

Gosh this sounds like everyone is puppies and roses. Well there are downsides. The award program is a total mess. Those in charge hide the award charts. They make program changes and don’t tell us. They are just flat out sneaky and do nasty things to us. Unless you are willing to become an award expect they will take advantage of you and try to drain your points in foolish ways. Truly the award program, and award folks are not your friends. But that is the worst part of switching to Delta. You have to be smart with your points.

So there you are in a nutshell. Again, please wait till 1JULY if you are thinking about coming over and requesting a status challenge. And when you do, before 6JULY, grab a Delta AMEX Platinum card to help you along the way! – Rene


  1. At first people will be outraged and then realize most of their miles come from credit card spend.

  2. Delta IS great. But remember the on time record does not include regional flights. Of which are always delayed when I fly them.

  3. There may be “more” 1st class seats on Delta than AA, but there are less 1st class seats on Delta now than they offered 2 years ago. Plus the new FCM reduces available upgrades even more.

  4. from chicago to atlanta there was no or little service as the plane was not serviced. As we were boarding there was no ice or water or snacks for anyone!!! they finally got a case of water for 1st class only??And it was not cleaned –trash in seat backs etc

  5. So Rene, are you sticking with DL and changing the blog name back to Delta Points?

    Ben/Lucky at One Mile At A Time is thinking about ditching AA and jumping ship to DL. #competition

  6. @Ben – I am most happy with the current blog name. I really doubt OMAAT will change over to Delta 😉

  7. Great post as I have been thinking about this (or match to Alaska). Quick question: I should be AA Exec Pat in a month or two and have a business class flight end of Feb 2017 from LAX to Europe on AF/KLM but sold by Delta.

    So I should be getting close to 18K MQMs for the 25K challenge for Delta Diamond. When should I request for the challenge and how much time do they take to approve the request. I am thinking the best time would be requesting in the first or second week of December.

  8. @jediwho – I believe only flights booked after you request the match will count but that may slip by. Same with DL AX card MQMs, they can maybe slip by and count. 😉

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