I give Delta a hard time frequently on this blog. I’m pretty transparent about my travel patterns and choices, and how I go about making those. Delta hasn’t been my choice and I think I’m justified in that. I’m not going to rehash all of the reasons here.
Instead I thought I’d take a contrary position for this post, and offer up five good reasons why someone would want to choose Delta and/or Skymiles as their primary air carrier/loyalty program. See what you think, and whether any of these reasons apply to you.
- You’re a super frequent flyer. American and United both have top tiers at the 100,000 mile level. Delta, like United, requires minimum spend for elite status. If you’re flying more than 125,000 miles a year and spending more than $15,000 on airline tickets you’ll be a top tier elite with Delta and folks flying 100,000 – 124,500 and spending less than you won’t be. You aren’t competing for upgrades or standby priority with folks you’d be competing with if you flew another airline.
- You live in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Detroit, or the Upper Midwest. (Or you live in Seattle and fly primarily to Asia, or your primary destinations involve these places.) Northwest Airlines executives used to say about the Upper Midwest, “it’s cold, it’s dark and no one wants to go there… but it’s all ours.”
- Your reward goals are Australia or French Polynesia. Delta’s miles are harder to use than United’s, American’s, or Alaska’s — but they’re ironically best situated for two of the toughest destinations for award travel, especially premium cabin award travel. Delta partners with Virgin Australia, whose award availability is outstanding. And they partner with both airlines flying from the mainland U.S. to Tahiti – Air Tahiti Nui and Air France – although those awards are still tough.
- You don’t care about miles or status, you just want a good airline operation. Flying an airline is still (even primarily) about getting from A to B. If you ask executives at other U.S. airlines which carrier they admire the most, and they’re being candid, they tell you Delta. I cringe when I hear it, because airlines like United wind up simply mimicking Delta’s choices even though they’re running a very different business. But there’s no question that Delta is running a good operation, even if the Skymiles program hasn’t been as good as the airline itself.
- Inflight productivity. American has fleetwide internet… on mainline. US Airways has it on regional jets, and I expect the combined carrier to close the gap. (United, while installing rapidly, has been way behind for years.) If you want pervasive inflight internet, even on the regional fleet — in other words, if you want to make the most productive use of your travel time — it’s tough to argue with Delta.
Do you choose Delta? Who or why not?