Which is better for elites....United or Delta?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by hotelexec, Sep 27, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. hotelexec

    hotelexec Active Member

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    THis may be an age old question...and if it is being discussed in another thread I sincerely apologize. (if it is can you tell me which one?) here is the reason for my question. I am PLAT on AA. I will most likely get XPLAT by years end...but I am becoming more and more disheartened by AA in the recent months. I have had several issues both in flight and on the ground in the last couple of months. Also, given the issues with AA's pilots...I am seriously thinking of jumping ship and doing a challenge with another airline in 2013. Just wondering what's the general consensus among the traveling elite? I travel mostly in the USA and canada. ORD is home base...and I typically have at least 2 international trips a year to Europe. Should I stay...or should I go??
  2. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    If you're based out of ORD I would pick either AA or UA, but not DL -- you'll have better routes through ORD. On the other hand, you will be surrounded by elite fliers, and your chances of getting upgrades will therefore be slimmer. Where in the US and Canada do you typically fly? Which route network serves you best? I would go first by route network, then by FF program.
    If the route network is equal, then I think most people would agree that UA and Star Alliance is better than DL and Skyteam, particularly for ability to redeem miles, use upgrade instruments (equivalent of EVIPs, but with fare class restrictions), and ability to get to top tier (takes 125,00 MQMs on Delta).

    On the other hand, all of Delta's mainline jets now have wi-fi, whereas UA only has wi-fi on its JFK-LAX/SFO P.S. flights. UA has free economy plus (for Silver and higher, including on international flights) on many planes and will be converting the rest of the fleet so that all flights have E+. Not sure what the deal is with Delta, but I recall that the Economy Comfort seats are not always free for elites.

    What's wrong with AA for you? There are plenty of anecdotal bad experiences on UA and DL too. From what I experienced, AA treats its EXPs better than UA treats its 1Ks -- I'm both this year. The pilot thing will be a short term inconvenience -- the UA pilots don't have a combined contract with UA, and are probably even more demoralized than the AA pilots.
  3. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    What is important to you as benefits? If GPUs then UA is almost certainly going to be better than DL. If upgrades on domestic flights then it is probably the other way around. Awards are generally easier to redeem on UA than DL but earning points is often considered easier on DL than UA.

    What matters to you makes the decision, not what matters to me.
    NYCUA1K likes this.
  4. HeathrowGuy
    Original Member

    HeathrowGuy Gold Member

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    Delta Air Lines is the Wing of Satan.
    Jimgotkp, meFIRST and redtailshark like this.
  5. riceoven

    riceoven Silver Member

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    Delta's miles are harder to use, but as a top tier elite in both UA and DL, I feel I'm treated way better at Delta, especially when it comes to issues in travel. In my experience, Delta is way more accommodating in bending the rules for Diamonds, maybe their agents are more empowered. The 1K desk plays by the book and you need to talk to the right manager to get anything beyond normal requests done. If you actually fly the airlines on a daily basis, Delta Diamonds get upgraded way more frequently than UA 1K, the upgrade process is very transparent with upgrade lists available on the phone app 24 hours before the flight. Also, wifi on board and power ports are very important to me, and in comparison, I always feel like a waste of time when flying UA. Delta's systemwide upgrades are useless, but UA's aren't that great either. Delta doesn't force you to take them however, since you can choose your (several) elite benefits every year. I always like the choice benefit of making someone else a Gold elite - very valuable in my opinion. UA's domestic first class seats are more comfortable with more legroom, especially the angle when not reclined. I don't know if I'm the only one, but Delta has the most uncomfortable angle in their first class seats when not reclined - the seats bend forward at the top so you have to sit at an angle less than 90 degrees during takeoff and landing. For redeeming miles, United is obviously the winner. But Delta has a lot of unique sweet spots like China and Australia thru partners, as long as you are willing to spend hours over the phone with an agent to book it. My recent record was booking a rountrip with open jaw and stopover across three airlines to China and Korea within 30 minutes over the phone without knowing any availability ahead of time :)
  6. hulagrrl210
    Original Member

    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    I think DL has a better domestic first product than UA (seats, wifi, tv), and as an AS MVP Gold (not even a Delta elite), I got treated better there than I usually do at United as a longtime Premier Gold. That said, I think UA has a better mileage program, which is the only reason I've stuck with them. If you are ORD based, I would probably go with United because of the schedule, but you will be up against a lot of upgrade competition domestically especially post-merger and their customer service can be pretty bad sometimes too. I've dreamed of leaving United for good in favor AS or AA, but keep coming back because of Mileage Plus, ease of redemption, and *A.

    DTWBOB Silver Member

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    One of the benefits of being elite is upgrades, but take a long at some of the threads on FT about the number of people on the standby list for upgrades on Delta - - we were on a flight last week that had 12 FC seats and over 60 people on the upgrade list.

  8. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Ah but no. I must disagree...


    Jeff told us so.
  9. PanAm
    Original Member

    PanAm Silver Member

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    I'd agree to look at the route structure and schedules first of all. SkyPesos are definitely harder to redeem than AA or UA, but depending on how much you're concerned with redemption vs. elite benefits, etc. that may or may not be a major factor to you.

    At the end of the day in my opinion it's shades of gray when it comes to the domestic airlines, for the most part. And too often dependent upon the vagaries of individual agents and CSRs. However personally I generally prefer DL's product to UA's or AA's. And I feel I've been taken care of slightly better by DL (as a GM and for awhile FO) when it comes to irrops and such. My experience with UA Premier line CSRs has often been the worst out of the three, even as a general member on AA.

    I guess there's no real harm in giving it a try and seeing for yourself. I wouldn't expect drastic differences though, IMHO.
  10. Canadi>n
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    Canadi>n Gold Member

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    I suspect you'll be very disappointed with UA once you've been an ExecPlat with AA. As others have noted, residing in Chicago means you'll be way back of the queue for UDUs and seldom find yourself in the front cabin since connecting elites will have scooped up most of the seats before you, and Global Services and 1Ks will take what's left over. And unlike ExecPlats, you won't get free booze and BoB if you're stuck in the back cabin...though E+ is pretty nice AA is bringing back its version (ending MRTC was a bad move on AA's part).

    As a 1K, I feel severely downgraded this year with GSs being treated far better. And I hear if you're not 1K with UA, you're treated even worse (I'll find out next year when I drop down to a Plat). If you do make it to 1K, the fares you'll pay to use SWUs on international flights will be several hundreds of dollars more than would be the case with AA's eVIPs. While you likely won't miss the MD80s, you will miss inflight wifi.

    The best thing about the UA program is the mileage aspect, and earning awards and having more redemption partners. But even here, the better benefits and flexibilities come when you're Plat or 1K.

    I went from UA to AA and don't regret it, despite the games pilots are currently playing at AA. (My UA flight on Monday was delayed an hour because the pilot was late commuting from ORD to EWR and I experienced only one delay out of four AA flights a week earlier.)
  11. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Indeed. If I picked AA or DL out of SFO, I'd be an unhappy camper. Fortunately, I'm a UA flyer.
  12. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    Some other considerations, and some of the same:
    • Route structure and schedule may or may not matter to you. On DL you'd be a short hop to two hubs (seven flights a day ORD-MSP and five ORD-DTW, so probably a single-connect from anywhere while on UA you'd be a non-stop flight from most places). If you need/want non-stops then UA is obviously a better choice. If you don't care about a one-stop then DL may be just as good.
    • Depending on where you live in the Chicago area, it may be almost as easy to get to MKE. DL has four mainline flights a day to each of MSP and DTW from there while UA will be a regional product back down to ORD. Also, if you're a leisure traveler you may find fares out of MKE better on some routes than out of ORD.
    • DL tends to fly mainline metal to a lot more places because of the DC-9/MD-80/88/90. Routes that would definitely be a CR7 (or worse) on united can be found on DL mainline.
    • Upgrade are entirely dependent on route/time. I've gotten a lot of upgrades this year on UA as a 1K. I've also been in the 20s on the list on some flights. I've seen silvers and golds get upgraded on DL on a couple of my 21 segments to date this year and I've seen diamonds in Y on some. There may be a carrier that's universally better for upgrades...but each is going to have certain airports/routes that are harder than others and a route may be really hard on UA and easy on DL or vice-versa.
    • If international upgrades matter to you, then UA is better. Unless you fly Y/B fares internationally for work in which case I don't think there's a big difference.
    • Same day change policies are much better on United. Any flight within 24 hours and changeable starting 24 hours out. Can also pretty easily be done online/through the app. DL is, I believe, three.
    • I've never had any problems in IRROPS as a UA 1K. Other people have. DL does have a fantastic online rebooking tool that can save you time over calling in. UA you basically have to call in or go to the club to get what you want (the automatic system never seems to give the best option).
    • If you cary an Amex Plat, you get DL lounge access when flying DL. On UA you'll have to buy a membership.
    • Finally, since you're leaving AA due to their labor stuff, you should know that UA isn't completely integrated as a single-carrier. It seems that most of the labor issues are ironed out/on their way to being ironed out, but it's always possible that something could blow up. DL seems to have good labor relations. Of course, that stuff comes and goes with time and circumstance.

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