DL vs. UA - Should I stay or should I go now?

Discussion in 'Delta Air Lines | SkyMiles' started by adrianors, Nov 16, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. adrianors

    adrianors Silver Member

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    Hi all,

    I am new with mileage memberships.. I started paying more attention to it in the last two years but just recently joined and started to study more about them. So, my question is, with this whole story of devaluations on both sides, UA and DL, and with me having Silver on both DL and UA, what program do you guys think offers more and better service? I live in NC, in Charlotte, a US Airways hub, which looks like it will become an AA hub soon (OneWorld, in other words). I have plans to fly more next year and would like to have some advice or tips about where I should focus on. I am asking this based on both, my location and the mileage program.
     
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  2. MSYgirl

    MSYgirl Gold Member

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    If you're at the US hub, it seems reasonable to go with US>future AA>i.e. One World. I can't stand going through ATL because of so many missed connections and left them to join AA (personal experience talking, nothing more).

    And thanks for getting that song stuck in my head. :eek:
     
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  3. dc3
    Original Member

    dc3 Silver Member

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    I would definitely go with AA. DL Skypesos are close to worthless and Atlanta is an awful hub. All the programs are going downhill, so pick the least worst.
     
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  4. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Provided you can make the new DL and UA spend requirements for status, I'd stay with one of them for now until AA and US get through their merger. In fact, for the same reason I'd pick DL now. Its FF program certainly isn't great, but they don't have the post merger problems that UA has been experiencing, including incompetent and surly staff.

    However, a lot depends on what you want from your airline: nonstops, lounges, domestic upgrades, award tickets, reasonable international upgrades, good IROPs service, etc.
     
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  5. gregm

    gregm Gold Member

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    My 2 cents.......DL has been very good to me. WIth due diligence, I get my award tickets with a reasonable expenditure of miles. Yes, ATL can be a zoo, but so will any large hub. I agree with dc3... pick the one that has the least drawbacks. Most importantly, stick with your choice and use whatever tools you can to boost perks, i.e.: linked credit cards/mileage promotions.
     
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  6. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Indeed. The UA FP is arguably still stronger than DL but the DL operations are much more reliable and better service in many cases today, especially at the lower elite tier. Neither has reasonable international upgrades at the bottom tiers.
     
  7. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Stay with DL SM. It is known to be best in class.
     
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  8. MSYgirl

    MSYgirl Gold Member

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    I forgot to mention another difference; DL is usually cheaper (sometimes by a lot) than AA for my domestic flights.
     
  9. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    This will vary wildly by destinations and type of travel.
     
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  10. adrianors

    adrianors Silver Member

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    At a gold tier which one would you think is better? It seems that at silver tier UA would be offering more than DL.. (At least from my perspective). DL looks more advanced than UA in technology (IT) but at least with me I always feel that when I am flying I am in a cheaper company (comparing with UA).. I believe you guys travel more than me but I never had big issues with UA except one that I stayed in GIG overnight, in Houston too, because of a problem with the airplane and after missing the last flight. In the end I got married with the woman that was sitting by my side in this flight.. So I guess we were "united" in the air..
    Anyway, after that I was almost always flying DL more because of my job than any other thing.. But the biggest thing to me I guess is the award chart.. I always got good award deals to travel with Star Alliance and I never had one good deal with DL to go to South America.. Would you guys call that just bad luck or UA would be a good choice based on that perspective? What would you guys say that would be the pros and bad things about each one?
     
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  11. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Award redemptions have historically been better on UA than DL thanks to a broader partner network, more generous routing rules and generally more flexibility. UA is cracking down on some of that with a split priced award chart and more restrictions in general, many of which are undocumented.
     
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  12. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    DL requires more effort to redeem effectively. Some people go as far as to claim it can't be done. If you need easy" redemption DL is likely not for you.

    If you'd spend a lot more by splitting flights it may not be worth the money to focus. It seems that nonstop flights and schedule aren't a huge pull as US was not mentioned? Honestly if you're flying for work and US isn't pricing themselves out of the market, they'd at least be worth a long look i think. Where do you normally fly? If you're connecting, whose hub works better for you?
     
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  13. adrianors

    adrianors Silver Member

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    I live in Charlotte, so my airport is CLT, my main destinies are JFK, LAX, ORD, KCI, GIG and POA. Moved recently to Charlotte, used to fly from PIH in Idaho and had no other choice than DL.
     
  14. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Are the nonstops offered by US a big benefit to you, and is any price premium worth paying? Are you travelling for business or leisure, and how tightly do you typically fit your schedule? For me out of MSP, flying delta can mean I can save an extra day of vacation for personal travel, or get in an extra half-day or more of work for business travel (sometimes in both directions) which is a big benefit. However, when I am planning last-minute travel I often end up on US Air and lately American due to them publishing significantly lower fares in my market for last minute travel.

    First and foremost, make sure the airline you choose meets your travel needs. All of the legacy frequent flyer programs can be coerced into working for you, with different levels of effort vs. benefit, but they are not quite so differentiated as we sometimes like to think. If you're putting redemption as a heavy component of your choice, consider where you would want to redeem to and in what class of service. South America is not a Delta strength, but it is one of AA's so you'll likely have an easier time with awards there. DL has some alternatives to get down there such as AM and AR, but they're not necessarily consistently bookable online or from what I have heard of AR the best product.
     
  15. Gtitan
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    Gtitan Gold Member

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    I am CLT based as well. At one time or another, I have held top tier on UA, CO, DL, NW, AA and US (all non-revenue based). Here is what I can tell you. For availability of non-stops, US/AA is going to be a better bet than any of the other carriers, and should you run into issues at some other airport, getting back to CLT on US/AA will likely be easier. DL is a good airline but with the exception of JFK, you cannot get to any of the places you have listed on a direct if that matters, and the FFP is not generous. As to UA, I would at this point counsel it as the worst choice. Here is why, with the exception of one (1) flight to ORD, all of the other flights on UA are United Express flights (UAX). Even among UA loyalists (and I was for many years I am a falling 1K), UAX is miserable and unreliable on the East Coast. Your transit points at EWR and IAD with UAX are royally bad. CLE is ok, and IAH is workable but is a long flight on either the CR-200 and/or the ERJ-145.

    Accordingly, were I to rank right now, I'd rank accordingly being CLT based (1) US/AA, (2) DL and (3) UA. Moreover, when US leaves *A, I think it likely that UA decreases frequencies to CLT, and LH stops the CLT-MUC directs.

    Hope it works out.
     
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  16. adrianors

    adrianors Silver Member

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    Awesome! It seems that is time for me to invest flying more US/AA than any other.. I just flew US and AA to Brazil because of easy and relatively short flights to GIG, AA goes through MIA and US goes straight.. I guess is time to give US a chance (since now its going to be the "new AA", and leave DL and UA for later when I start traveling more often then now..
     
  17. flynhwn

    flynhwn Silver Member

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    Your question should be United or American. You'll have a hard time using Delta miles. They are worthless unless you plan to book your awards 330 days in advance. To make your decision just look at who services the destinations you want to go to along with who flies to the vacation spots you would use your miles for. Just remember with DELTA sometimes you Don't Even Leave The Airport. I know they have good fares sometimes and the flight crews are generally nice but UA and AA has a lot more ways to earn miles than flying.
     
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  18. DiverDave
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    DiverDave Gold Member

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    Keep in mind that Dividend Miles ain't all that easy to use either, and that Doug Parker is no friend of frequent fliers. And Doug will be running the new AA.

    David
     
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  19. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    While you're at it, don't forget that ua recently almost doubled the price of some premium cabin awards.

    Dl is determined to lead the race to the bottom in ff program redemptions, but delivers reliability and a nice product. The others are following similar paths...
     
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  20. bigx0

    bigx0 Gold Member

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    Not sure what they have that DL doesn't as far as mileage earning potential. Certainly they all have shopping portals and silly tie-ins with products and you can earn miles with hotels and car rentals too, but with DL you can even earn many Medallion Qualifying Miles via their credit cards without even flying.
     
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  21. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    DL also makes miles easier to earn when flying, particularly as an elite on (most) partners.
     
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  22. adrianors

    adrianors Silver Member

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    What do you mean when you say "easier"? Works in the same way as AA and UA..
     
  23. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    More lucrative.

    DL & AA pay elite bonus on most partners while UA doesn't. UA only credits those on some ATI/JV partners.
     
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  24. akcae
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    akcae Silver Member

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    While SkyMiles are difficult to redeem at reasonable levels (compared to UA, at least for now until the new chart kicks in), it can be done with some (a lot?) of research (Delta's award booking feature is painfully, hopelessly broken), and not necessarily "330 days in advance" as Delta tends to release more closer to departure once it knows well what seats are likely to go unsold.

    Your other point about IRROP may be cute, but not really accurate -- IME Delta is far more likely to get me out and on time than, say US or UA. I just completed a 9-leg domestic/int'l itin and every flight left on time and got me where I was going with no issues. This despite snow in one of its hubs and generally typical November weather in Europe and the Midwest.
     
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  25. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    My general thought on the mileage programs is that they're all getting worse but that someone willing to invest the effort to become an expert in any of them can still get reasonable value. Yes, RTS, even DL.

    So some other thoughts:
    • UA is going to be a painful experience for the OP. The Express operation is a mess and that's what CLT is down to/will be down to for the most part after the merger dust settles.
    • US/AA is going to be really painful for the next year or so until the merger is complete. I can't think of an airline that has been smooth and fully functional in year zero of a merger process. At least not recently.
    So for a pure flying experience, I'd say go with DL for at least 2014 and then see what the new AA looks like beyond that.

    Right now the AA mileage program is a bit better though (I doubt it will stay substantially better for long after the merger) and so, if you're willing to deal with merger pains, you wouldn't be wrong to switch to your home-town carrier immediately.

    I would, under no circumstances, fly UA(Express) out of CLT though. Not unless you really don't value your comfort or convenience at all. If they had or add substantial mainline service there, you could revisit the decision.
     
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