Delta/SkyTeam vs. AA/Oneworld

Discussion in 'Delta Air Lines | SkyMiles' started by Roaddoggin, Dec 1, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Roaddoggin

    Roaddoggin Silver Member

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    I hear a lot of bad things about Delta and their so-called skypesos.

    I have been flying DL almost exclusively for about 4 years holding Diamond status for as long as it's existed. What I like about DL is...
    • Almost always getting upgraded domestically
    • Lounge access (including AF, KL, NZ lounges)
    My understanding is that AA doesn't offer automatic upgrades even to executive platinums (I'm already an AA platinum thanks to a status challenge this year). I'm 6'2" with a 50 inch chest, so not being crammed into a coach seat is my primary focus when it comes to status.
    Redemptions are nice, but I travel nearly constantly for work, so personal trips are few and far between.
    I travel mostly domestically but 2x/year each to Europe and Australia. Qantas is much more attractive as a partner than Virgin Australia, but on the other hand, AF/KL seem better than BA. Useful upgrade certificates are a big "grass is greener" item too so when I fly 14 hours LAX-SYD, I can have a bed.
    So, after that bit of ramble, here's my questions...
    What are the pros and cons of staying with DL/Skyteam vs AA/Oneworld?
    Am I correct about AA being less upgrade-y? (and/or are any of my other assumptions stated above false). I'd hate to trade four uncomfortable international trips per year for dozens of uncomfortable domestic trips.
    I've got some planned business travel to HKG, SIN, SYD, MEL, ADL, DEN (unfortunately, from a mileage perspective, all back to back) in Q1 2013, so the time to switch would be soon if I'm going to do it.
     
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  2. cliburn
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    cliburn Gold Member

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    I am a DL Diamond and EXP. My domestic upgrade pctg (on cheap fares) the same AA vs DL. AA gives you lounge access (including Flagship) on overseas flights in oneworld lounges. SWU valid on any fare. Only downside to AA for me is the network and SDC.
     
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  3. wombat18
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    wombat18 Silver Member

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    Depends on what you're looking for. Virgin has been expanding its partner airlines with whom you can book credit. Virgin has also invested heavily in some nice business lounges in the last few years, and are generally thought to be as good, if not better, than the ordinary Qantas lounges. They're certainly less crowded. You might also want to consider the constant parade of rumors that Virgin might join the Star Alliance, although I wouldn't bank on it. And, perhaps the kicker, availability of award space (particularly across the Pacific) is much better on Virgin.
     
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  4. Roaddoggin

    Roaddoggin Silver Member

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    Re: Australia, upgrades to and from USA. Nonexistent on DL/VJ unless I pay full fare economy, which is almost as much as business anyway.

    Again, please correct me if I'm in error.
     
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  5. mtkeller
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    mtkeller Silver Member

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    You won't get any upgrades all the way to Oz through AA, since there's no way to upgrade with SWUs on anything but AA metal. Your best bet would be to buy a ticket to NRT on AA, upgrade, and then redeem miles on CX to go NRT-HKG-Oz. CX and QF don't get along terribly well either, so that makes it complicated if you need to get somewhere down under that CX doesn't fly from HKG.
     
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  6. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    AA does offer unlimited domestic upgrades to EXP, pending availability.


    I find redemptions much easier and cheaper on AA versus DL.


    I've been very happy with DL as a DM and have just made EXP.

    - Business class flights: I prefer DL's J product over AA's, but the 8 EVIP certificates I get as an EXP to upgrade cheap Y fares are valuable, especially when flying long flights like LHR-LAX.
    - Economy:
    International - I find IFE and seats are better (for me) on DL, especially with DL's Economy Comfort. We'll see what AA's Main Cabin Extra has to offer in the coming year, but, at least on the 752, 763, and 772, AA's IFE system is terrible. I generally prefer the food AA provides over DL food on international flights, although the introduction of salads on TATL flights has made DL's food a bit better than it was.
    Domestic - Most DL flights I'm on have wifi, while AA does not. Food - roughly the same. F seats/space depends on the aircraft.
    - Lounge Access: As a DM, I have Sky Club access; between this and ST Elite Plus, I have lounge access everywhere when flying ST. Even as an EXP, lounge access is limited to being on an international itinerary, which in my case, I almost always am doing when flying AA or OW partners. The SkyTeam Lounge at LHR is my favorite, but we'll see what OW Emerald access offers as I can now use the F lounge when flying BA.
    - Upgrades:
    International - YBM fares on DL are ridiculous much of the time, so I tend to be in the back on DL and not select SWUs for my Choice Benefits. The 8 EVIPs on AA are very appealing...especially since I can use them on cheap fares.
    Domestic - I've had pretty good upgrade percentages on DL as a DM (80-90%). In 2012, AA was roughly 50% as a Plat. We'll see how it goes as an EXP.
     
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  7. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    If the routes work, aa exp is pretty good. The swus are very powerful on AA, and the f lounge access is nice (intl itins, even in y).
     
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  8. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Free food/drink if you get stuck in back as exp too.

    (I'm DL pm and aa PLT, formerly exp...familiar with both programs.)
     
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  9. riceoven

    riceoven Silver Member

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    I'm DL DM and AA EXP. Overall, AA has a more generous FF program imo, but both have their pros and cons. I travel mostly domestic transcontinental (non-direct for the miles ;) ) during business peak days (Sun, Mon, Thur night, Fri).

    Upgrades
    My domestic upgrade success on Delta is about 70-80% while on AA it's been about 95%. However, upgrades on AA are not "automatic", even as EXP, you have to remember to go online and request your upgrade (free) right after you book (I think priority is based on status and how early you request it). For international flights, delta's SWU are almost useless, but AA's are very valuable, as others have said already. Also, you can only use delta's SWU on yourself and someone else traveling WITH you, while you can apply AA's SWU to anybody on any trip. Delta does not give complimentary upgrades to Hawaii while AA EXP does.

    First Class Domestic
    In terms of the hard products, Delta's seats are less comfortable and barely have any legroom (their regional jets are actually a little bit better). AA's seats are not leather (mostly), but more comfortable and have more legroom. Their 737 seats have like a million cup holders too :) I do like Delta's service slightly better, like how they consistently offer you ANY beverage before takeoff and place a bottle of water on your seat before you get there.

    Economy
    Delta's "normal" economy has horrible legroom. My laptop almost broke several times from the person reclining in front of me. Economy Comfort is a little better but those fill up quickly. AA gives EXP 1 free (real) food and 1 alcohol when you sit in economy. Delta only gives you a bunch of drink/perishable food coupons when you hit status levels for use in economy. Sometimes you get lucky and get a food/drink coupon on your ticket if you print it from home (one reason I always print my ticket if I haven't gotten confirmed upgrades).

    International Business
    The newer flatbed Delta Business Elite seats are amazing for sleeping. AA currently only has angled beds but their 777-300s coming soon should have significantly better seats. Service is about the same for both. AA's international route network is really poor though, so you usually have to fly one of their partners, where you can't use their SWUs.

    Other Perks
    Delta gives free lounge club membership to all diamonds while AA doesn't include it as a standard benefit. However, this year you can get it through a special promo if reach a certain mileage over your 100k for EXP. Delta's Choice Benefits are a nice touch - I like being able to gift status or top off my account with miles, and if I really need it, get some SWUs. I like how AA allows you to access first class lounges while traveling in any class internationally - some of those lounges are amazing (HKG). Delta has an amazing domestic standby/flight change policy. If there is availability in your seating class (not fare class) 3 hours before the first flight you want to change to, you can get confirmed for free (you can even change connection cities). AA offers changes 12 hours out but charges $75 even for EXP. Standby on AA is free but you get put at the bottom of the upgrade list if you get on.
     
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  10. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I think rice oven has it pretty close for me, with some specific points/. I have been EXP since it began, TOP before that and Diamond since taht began.

    1) AA eVIP's are worth much more than DL SWU's because AA's work on any fare and almost always confirm instantly, whereas DL requires Y,B or M. On my routes that means DL is usually about 30-50% higher fare. AA is consistently easier to confirm.
    2) eVIP's upgrade as many as three segments and domestic US automatically confirms when the international side does. Not so for DL. They are totally separate and domestic is hit or miss if you're on popular routes, great when you're not.
    3) DL gives SkyClub and Regus with Diamond. AA gives zip.
    4) Both have great customer service for high level elites, but AA is the winner because of more flexibility to service people IME.
    5) DL's new Business sleepers are the best US seats bar none. I pay extra.
    6) Given the Europe alliance choices I'm happier with AF/KL than with the incredibly poor BA/IB. KL has houses in Business:p but lousy seats and excellent service. AF has very good service passable seats and nice lounges. BA has a bad attitude and the worst business class in the industry, Club World. Plus they will not follow UK law on service interruptions.
    7) DL has no FC while AA FC, where it exists, is a pretty good product.

    On balance I'll end out maintaining then both. Emotionally I prefer AA, rationally I narrowly favor DL.
     
  11. Roaddoggin

    Roaddoggin Silver Member

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    Maybe I just got unlucky enough to fly AA's crappiest plane, but the last time I flew AA was a significant distance (either NYC-midwest or west coast) on a non-regional jet (I don't remember which) in the second row of economy. There was no power, no wifi, and no cushion. The foam in the seat had completely deflated so I had the seat frame digging into me for the whole flight. This experience has clearly colored my opinions of AA.

    My attraction to AA has been in it's OW partners, QF and BA. As I'm learning, I'd realize little benefit on QF or BA as an AA EXP aside from lounge access. I already get VJ/NZ/AF/KL lounge access as a DL DM. I'm nearly always upgraded domestically as a DM with a Delta Amex.

    In my situation, is there really any benefit to pursuing AA EXP?
     
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  12. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I fly domestic US very little so I cannot say. However BA pays no attention to EXP (or for taht matter BA Gold, their highest tier then, which I also was for a couple of years. DL Diamond status is always recognized on AF/KL and KE. Others i do not know. One can use DL SWU's on AF/KL also.
     

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