Delta, all the way. I don't have much status with them (Silver) but get upgraded quite a bit. My mom is higher (platinum) and they treat her very well. Regardless what airline you travel with, I've clearly come to see, as most of us here on the site have, that there are benefits that come with loyalty. So even if it's not with Delta, I'd say try to stay with one airline and build loyalty.
I have absolutely no loyalty to any airline. I try to fly non stop if at all possible, especially in the winter months. If I must make a stop somewhere, I always avoid northern cities (Chicago, Minneapolis, etc) during winter months. I also prefer to take early morning flights in order to avoid the cumulative effect of delays/cancelations which can escalate during the day. Everything being equal, I select the lowest cost flight. The last five trips I have taken have been on five different airlines. Since my travel is all leisure, I can decide when, where, and how I want to travel, and I do not have to put up with some of the grief that business travelers must endure.
I have Platinum status with American the past 2 years. I like being able to choose exit row seating when I book my flight and I am upgraded to first class about 50% of the time when flying alone (business) and about a third of the time when flying with my wife (pleasure).
I am just going to miss making Platinum for 2017 - some due to the new points system that went into effect on August 1st but will hold Gold until 2018.
I'm sure gonna miss Platinum status but an exit row is better than "standard coach"!!!
Alaska no question. I've had MVP Gold status for several years now. Alaska's rewards program is consistently at or near the top every year. They still award miles based upon distance and their partner list is extensive and includes Emirates. Being an Alaska member exclusively is the reason why my wife and I will be traveling Emirates first class to Europe on the A380 next month!!
I totally agree - I'm Alaska Gold MVP and it's a great program. Alaska has continued to add partners this year (Japan Airlines, Hainan, Iceland Air) bringing their total of worldwide partners to 17. Since 2002, I've used my Alaska miles to fly to New Zealand (on Cathay Pacific), Chile (on LAN) and London (on American) - all business class. And just this month, I redeemed my miles for a grand European vacation for my family for next summer. We're flying Air France in business class to Paris and then Barcelona. Returning home, we're flying British Airways from Geneva and then London and then back home - but this time First Class. Alaska as a GREAT open jaw feature of their mileage program so one can take full advantage of your hard earned miles. And when Alaska merges with Virgin America, they will have a true east-west presence.
I am loyal to Alaska as well. I have enjoyed MVP status for the last couple of years and will make Gold after completing my next flight. I am amazed at how often I am upgraded with just MVP status. Alaska's loyalty program and their customer service is (in my experience) the best of any U.S. based airline without question. It is truly excellent.
For international travel (primarily Europe), I am not a fan of British Airways, but I do love flying on AA's newer B77W's, which requires flying through LHR (non-stop west coast routes), and a bit inconvenient if heading somewhere on the continent (AA and BA are of course AS partners). This leads me to my next point, which is that when it comes to Europe travel, I find myself often a free agent, due to the fact that I am very picky about the airplanes and cabins that I fly in. Lufthansa also offers a superior product, but again, it can be a bit inconvenient having to fly through FRA when heading to say, somewhere like Italy, and alas, is not partnered with Alaska or One World, but still worth the spend and inconvenience, in my opinion. I had such good flights recently (Lufthansa B748i and United B788) to Europe on LH and UA that in the future, I may start splitting my Europe travel between AA (for the 77W) and UA (Dreamliner).
keplertracker, how is it that you are able to use Alaska miles on AF, when they are not partnered with AS? I also like Air France's products and services (and fly to France relatively often), but alas, they are not partnered with AS or One World (and I've just never thrown in with SkyTeam.)
Actually, AF and KLM are Alaska partners. Take a peek here http://https://www.alaskaair.com/content/mileage-plan/how-to-earn-miles/airline-partners
And next year will be my very first AF flight AND my very first A380 flight too. Any pointers on which seats are best in business class? And which side of the plane is better for an evening flight from US west coast to Paris - people say the starboard side is better.
Wow, I can't believe I didn't know that! Well, that's a total game changer. The best route to CDG from LAX (in my opinion) is on Air France's non-stop A388, which I've taken a few times and - thrown miles away!!! Because , I - did not know!! All this time I made the grim mistake of assuming that AS's partners (besides DL) were all One World members (except I was also aware of Emirates). Recently, I've done AA's 77W from LAX (earning AS miles), but it only flies to LHR. Of course, one can do AA to CDG via DFW or MIA or other U.S. hubs, but not on a 77W (which has a killer business and first product.)
The reason why I like the A388's is because the premium economy is so good. I can't (well, not yet) speak to their business product. I really like flying Air France. Honestly, I've not really paid attention as to which side has the better view on final approach. I would think it depends on which runway is being used... I will say that earlier this year, flying from LHR to ORY sitting on the left side of the plane, I had a stupendous view over Normandie of the cliffs of Etretat, and then later, a fabulous aerial view of Paris, so good that I was able to make out numerous landmarks.
Enjoy the A388. And Air France. And Paris!
I'm so glad I joined this conversation. Thanks for setting me straight!!!
Glad to help! I guess that's the benefit of being part of Marriott's Reward Insider so we can all share tips, recommendations, experience. Everyone benefits! And I'll have my camera ready for touchdown into Paris to take some fabulous pictures if the weather cooperates.
Having flown on LH A388 a couple of years back in Business Class I'd say if you really desire a good view for landing or just looking at the ocean sit in the far rear section of the cabin. I don't recall what row we were in, but it was one of the first six or so of Business and this was our view!
Oh - and I'd also like to say that sometimes (about once or twice a year) as Alaska MVP Gold, I'll get upgraded on Delta as well (short haul flights only). One flight from SLC to SJC in 2013, the Delta boarding agent scanned my boarding pass, then the machine beeped and booped and printed out my new seat assignment in first class (to my complete surprise).
When it comes to the airlines I am a "Free Agent". I make my decision based on a combination of the fewest connections and best price. Flying out of Austin makes it easy to pick and choose. Generally, I fly Delta, American and Untied. I do have status with Delta until the end of this year - the lowest level. Its good for a laugh as I usually end up being number 27 on the upgrade list of 28.
Piedmont and Continental!! Oh wait, those would now be American and United so I'll go with United since we get automatic Premier Gold since I'm one of those Million Milers. We don't have much if any problems with United, certainly not like what others seem to write about. Guess it does pay to fly from IAH!!
What no Southwest people here?? I love SW! I have the companionship pass that allows my wife to fly anywhere with me for free (okay, I have to pay the taxes). It is a win-win for the both of us. The downfall is they don't fly everywhere that I would like to visit but it does the trick for working here in the USA.
I Like SW also. I seem to change flights fairly regularly and no change fees matter. When I use one of big three and I have to make a change and I get hit with $200 change fee which sometimes is more than the ticket cost it fries my you know what. I have lifetime plat On AA and I never get upgraded so it rarely makes sense other than going cross country .
AA, DL, and AS are my preferred carriers. For short haul and award bookings once every few years I will fly UA but I haven't liked them since 2011. I haven't flown Southwest as they often don't fly where I want to go, don't have lower fares than the big 3, and don't serve the "bigger" airports in major cities which are easier to get mass transit. I think the AA and DL premium class transcon service is excellent. I enjoyed flying the A321T on AA in BC and DL in First very much. I think their service is excellent.
ks77 Do you aggregate all your DL and AA into your AS Mileage Plan account (which you can do with Alaska)? Or do you have separate DL, AA and AS frequent flyer accounts?
There is no correct answer to this question. They all stink!! Extra charges, wherever they can sneak them in are my biggest gripe. Failure to keep customers aware of problems and unwillingness to explain delays are a close 2nd!
My least disliked airline is United. This is primarily due to my Silver Elite status which I receive due to my Marriott Platinum status.
I remember when flying was fun but that has not been the case for a couple of decades. Things got much worse after 9/11 and though I don't blaim the airlines for that, I do believe that there are things they could do to mitigate the security related problems that travelers encounter. I never look forward to any trip to any airport or to any flight.
Sorry, Econfkids, but I think this is a slightly complicated question. The bottom line is that the US carriers simply aren't in the top tier, globally - and it's not even close....
I'm curious to hear what others have to say...
Agreed, it's a complicated question. Your observations seem spot on (in alignment with the commercial aviation bloggers) and if anyone should know, it would certainly be you. Or folks like painedplatinum or jasper100 ...
As I mentioned above, I place a high priority on aircrafts and cabin configs, but definitely favor foreign carriers for sublime service, such as Qantas, JAL, Air France and Lufthansa. And now that I know that AF is partnered with AS... "AA, consider yourself put on notice... B77W, Dreamliner, A321 Transcon or not, you're history, pal!!!" I just checked my AS FF account, and I received a whopping 52, yes, that's right FIFTY-TWO miles for one of the segments that I flew on AA metal this month, and less that half the usual miles I would have previously received on the other 2 segs! And no, the flights were not heavily discounted. What kind of a loyalty program is that??? Honest to Goodness, I'll fly up to Portland or Seattle and then across (on AS) to get to the east coast if I have to from now on... AA, DL and UA, you and your crappy excuse for an airline loyalty program can, well, can - can you know what!!! And same thing to the UA flight attendant on my Dreamliner who sneered at me in premium economy during drink service when I had the audacity to ask her what type of white wine (Sauv Blanc? Pino Grigio? Chardonnay - pthhh?) she was pouring. 'Scuze me for asking, Ma'am! Sigh. Rant over.
Thanks for posting about Turkish Airlines. I had no idea!
First of all let me say that all of the American Airlines are far behind the Foreign Airlines and when I fly internationally I make a concerted effort to fly only foreign airlines. None of the American Airlines would be in my top ten airlines. Now I tend to fly first class and occasionally business class internationally and never never economy. When I fly in the US I tend to fly United since I am lifetime Gold and recently flew Jet Blue to Austin and found it to be very comfortable. I also have a lot of American Airline points and have used them regularly for domestic travel. pluto77
Now when I rate the foreign airlines I would rate the top 4 (which I used primarily in my international travel over the last two years) as follows:
1. Singapore Airlines
Econfkids, I fly AA, DL and UA almost equally. I book whichever airline has the most convenient routing/schedule at the best price. Once and awhile I end up on Frontier or Allegiant, but not very often. Those are the only airlines that serve my tiny hometown airport. I have entry-level status on AA, DL and UA and have had that for some time so I have a pretty good idea of what you get from each airline. We just booked a South Pacific trip and bought revenue tix on Fiji Airways and will get AA miles for that. We used AA miles for free tix on Qantas - 10,000 miles per person to fly SYD-CNS which didn't seem too bad a redemption. We bought revenue tix on Air New Zealand and will get UA miles for that. Then we fly home first class on UA for 70,000 points each from AKL-SFO-DEN-[Podunk, USA my home airport] so that seemed like a pretty decent redemption. I fly to HKG later this month on UA and could have flown quite a bit cheaper on Hainan, China Southern, or Air China, but I wanted a direct flight to HKG from ORD, so I chose to pay about $300-400 more for that convenience. So I go [Podunk, USA]-ORD-HKG instead of having a layover at LAX and/or somewhere in China.
My thoughts on the legacy carriers:
AA - I can route to or through ORD, DFW or PHX from [Podunk, USA]. It's often got the best schedule or most competitive price, particularly when I am going to Florida where I have a second house. So I fly AA a lot to Florida, either to RSW or MIA and route through ORD or DFW on those trips. AA is rarely a good choice for me going west as UA is often much cheaper and has a better schedule. I have gold status with AA and enjoy access to Main Cabin Extra seats, but I have only been upgraded once on AA on a less than 500 miles route from [Podunk, USA] to ORD. Usually they run EMB 145s on that route so no first class and no chance of an upgrade. So gold status on AA is not good for much other than MCE seats, free baggage, and group 1 boarding. I have the Citi AA card with the Admirals Club membership so that does make AA attractive, but I use AA clubs even when flying on DL through ATL or UA through DEN, etc. I've had some fantastic service on AA where agents moved heaven and earth to help me, and although there are some bad apples (AA crew at RSW isn't the best), I am generally happy with AA.
DL - Everyone loves DL but me. It does seem to have a better on time record, but I've had lots of problems on DL and haven't had the best luck resolving them. DL is stingy with the vouchers when they screw you over. And when there are delays and problems, they don't do the best job resolving them and don't seem to work with other carriers the way AA and UA do if they need to reroute passengers on another airline. I fly to MSP a lot for work, so DL is the only carrier with a direct route so I use it a lot. DL is the most prominent carrier at [Podunk USA] so I don't get that many upgrades with my silver status as I'm competing with higher status folks constantly. I don't like MSP as it's spread out and doesn't have a good train system to get around. But now it has a light rail system, better airport amenities, and they are building an onsite hotel, so it is getting better. I do like ATL and often fly DL through ATL to Florida. DL tends to be very, very expensive going west so I usually take UA going west. I only get upgrades on DL on routes without a lot of business travelers (MCO routes, mostly, or the occasional routes from a non-DL hub like MIA or IAH). DL C+ seating does have the best snacks, by far, and free drinks. AA and UA don't have these enhancements to their MCE or economy plus seating. So I give DL props for that! DL also has a new class of bare bones fares with no elite benefits, and I've used those fares once or twice and they work fine to save a few bucks. So that is a nice option.
UA - UA is better now. For awhile there, it was absolutely awful. The last few years have seen quite an improvement. I still get a lot of delays on UA at/through ORD, DEN, and SFO. They are generous with the vouchers when they screw up. UA is almost always the best and cheapest option for me going west. I fly to or through ORD a lot, and I use UA or AA for those flights. I've found that those two airlines work very well together to help with delays at ORD which are plentiful. ORD seems to attract bad weather and delays all year long. I cannot avoid it as it's a place I fly to often for work, and I have no access to Midway on a direct route. I've had AA place me on UA and vice versa when I was at risk of getting stuck at ORD, so I am impressed at the ability of AA and UA to work together. DL does not seem to do that with other airlines. I also fly to DEN a lot for work and generally take UA for a direct route as the schedule is better than Frontier on that route. I tend to get upgrades on UA about 40% of the time and almost always on my flights to DEN.
clebert - this is an outstanding assessment! I am "stuck" with UA as my hometown hub carrier out of IAH, and agree that they have come around with the senior leadership change. It has been amazing to me the transformation in attitude and customer service following the change of key leaders in the last year or two! You can feel the difference! It's beginning to feel the way (I can't believe I am typing this) it used to feel on Continental! Your people will never treat your customers any better than you treat them - words to live and operate by.
nationwide, I agree that UA has done a great job of turning itself around. A few years back the UA employees truly seemed to hate their jobs, the passengers, and even themselves. But they are much better now, and I'm seeing less delays and problems and a better job managing delays. I also have had great service from UA when calling them about reservations, etc., recently. I might add that AA and UA have newer planes than DL. DL is running some old metal and is behind the other legacy carriers on updating its fleet. I still get stuck on MD-80s on DL. Yuck.
Shame on you nationwide, Continental was wonderful even though that Slimy Slimzek just felt he had to merge with United.
clebert loved reading your airline comparison. I would tend to agree with you on the UA and AA stuff, but since I haven't flown DL since they first got the B762 some 35 years ago I have nothing to compare. You should try the match up your RSW trips with coming through IAH. Weather (except for thunderstorms) is pretty decent and usually produces little if any delays.
In terms of best pure domestic economy product, I think the award has to go to JetBlue. Even for transcon business, their mint biz is pretty swanky.
Obviously for international business and first, it can vary widely depending on who services the route you're taking, but I find the domestic legacy airlines rarely hold up to the international competition.
Emirates is the best airline on this planet and I can spend hours discussing this I don't know if it is still up but I wrote a post last year trying to get MR members to fly Emirates at least once. I wonder if I actually influenced anyone.
If you haven't as yet you have to fly business class on Emirates or really any of the middle eastern airlines. It will change your world. Just take care as it is dangerous to your wallet. It is sort of like wondering why anyone would pay $800,000 for a Rolls Royce until you sit inside one and you start asking yourself questions like "how much can I get for my kidney"? "Do my children really need a college fund"? "Do I really need to retire" and "how much does a graveyard shift fry cook make"?
Let's not even get into first class. On second thought...let's Last April I flew first class from Dubai to Vegas for the Pacquaio fight. Dubai to LA was on Emirates and it was DIVINE (shower at 30,000 feet in the sky....yes please). LA to Vegas was on Delta first class and was about as comfortable as flying in a C-130 with your full combat load on.
If I were to rank the top five commercial airlines it would look a little something like:
Ok you get the picture. Now if we are talking top ten airlines the list would round out with:
7. Singapore Airlines
8. Qatar Airways
chris0311, have you been following Delta's war on Emirates and the other Gulf state carriers? Something about blocking Emirates' access to gates at ATL and the like. What say you? (I say Delta was acting like a big crybaby).
You know I've thought about this for some time. The main argument that the American owned airlines (hereafter referred to as "poo") uses is that it is unfair for government subsidized airlines to fly routes out of America to third country destinations. While I agree with the unfairness part (Emirates by the way does not use government subsidies but Qatar and Etihad are heavily subsidized) we as consumers need to welcome the competition.
I strongly believe that the gulf carriers are the only thing keeping "poo" from laying us on top of each other and stuffing us into their planes like sardines. For years we have allowed "poo's" horrid service, escalating fees, aging fleet and shrinking seat space go unchecked. "Poo" has claimed poverty while they make record breaking profits year after year while people are so miserable flying that in flight incidents increase annually. Meanwhile Emirates treats you like royalty, provides you with ample seat space, amenities, no fees, fly brand new aircraft and still turns a healthy profit. If more American's start shunning "Poo" and started flying airlines that actually treat them like human beings then "poo" will change.
"Poo" wants to make us believe that the Gulf Airlines will run them out of business. I don't believe that to be true. What it will do however is force them to start spending some of those profits on your comfort, newer aircraft and in the name of all that is holy on some proper training for the air crew.
Just my two cents
chris0311, I'm with ya 100%. My Podunk USA airport gets federal subsidies to pay AA, DL and UA to run flights out of here (at exorbitant ticket costs, I might add), so I'm not super sympathetic to DL et al.