Having had the unique experience of being Platinum on both Delta and American in the same year I felt it necessary to share my thoughts and findings on the two leaders in the US Market. While I have had much more experience with American over the years I transferred my loyalty to Delta in the past few years. I predominately changed to Delta due to my automatic Platinum status as an American Express Centurion card holder AKA the infamous Black Card. Due to the Centurion card deal with US Airways I retained my previous status on American and extended it one more year with the US Airways and AA merger with US airways joining Oneworld and transferring my Platinum status from Skyteam for one more year of Platinum status with AA and simultaneously with Delta. I will say I have sided with Delta for several reasons and am working toward my Diamond Elite status in 2015.
I fly a great deal between Miami and NY and in some cases weekly or every other week. I also fly to a variety of destinations in the United States annually and usually one to three foreign trips usually Europe; although, these past years have included South Africa, Japan, and Canada (which barely counts as foreign).
First off, Delta has been the leader with wifi on all flights. This changed my life and my ability to work in flight and be reachable. Not to mention no longer having to fly in the evenings outside the work day. This was huge early on; however, I know it is pretty normal now.
The Delta electronic experience is superior with a superior website, superior smart phone application and the ability to view inflight entertainment on your mobile device while in flight even without seat back monitors installed. This feature is found in their app.
Let's talk concourses. I would say the Minneapolis Airport is a shining star in terms of a modern airport experience at all the Delta Gates. The ability to order food and gate restaurants and bars right in the boarding are with orders paid and placed thru iPads is really modern. Delta also has no shortage of charging stations. I was on a business trip in the past months where I had to use AA/US Airways and I felt like I was having a flashback to 1987 in the concourse. Everything outdated, no plugs (or barely any) and no charging stations. My phone failed due to a lack of power. We all know these days that brings on a hopeless feeling as the smart phone has become a key tool for business travel from navigating to storing all your information. That sucked and due to AA I obtained a back up battery that really seems unnecessary as that was the only moment I have needed it desperately. Thanks AA for making me paranoid. I would also like to point out more and more Delta aircraft also have power plugs onboard in the seats which is also huge for the business traveler.
There is another Delta factoid that is very interesting that I am reluctant to share but I will do so in support of Delta and also knowing many of you are trapped in a Oneworld alliance which is truly hard to escape when you finally get your status. So here it goes. The Miami airport is a madhouse and a laborious walk or train ride to the American gates and through the concourse. American's offerings are vast but domestically Delta competes. There are ample flights to NYC on Delta in an extremely uncrowded concourse with a very short security line. If you are TSA Pre-Check or even Sky Priority you breeze thru. I will also mention, without giving up my entire set of secret locations, that parking in the garage at MIA adjacent to the Delta gates is really easy. You don't have to work very hard or walk very far. I will also add that when flying from Fort Lauderdale the Valet Parking at Terminal 2 is very affordable. Honestly, flying Delta out of Miami or Fort Lauderdale and having a higher airline status and TSA Pre-Check is like flying before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. You drive up to the airport, park, walk in, clear security and walk a short distance to the gate and get on. My office was shocked also in Manhattan today when I left 1:40 minutes prior to departure from LGA and I still had to wait at the gait 10 minutes before boarding. It also helps to take at 3:45pm flight out of LGA which I often do to avoid the rush hour. This can be done due to Wifi availability also which decreases stress and worry regarding communication during the business day. The other super key Factoid about flying Delta out of Miami is that most business people fly American. This means if you are Platinum on Delta you can get an upgrade easier. In fact, most of the time other than perhaps some of the most popular times like 7pm Sunday evening or Friday night etc…though I write this in flight in first class and made the upgrade from LGA and it's a Friday. I will point out that the upgrade factoid is not as applicable when flying from Fort Lauderdale. I feel that Delta has much stronger service from FLL than AA and you have business fliers from Fort Lauderdale, Boca, and some from Palm Beach utilizing the airport weekly to New York City so you have more Diamond Elite competition and platinum competition unless you really prebooked your flight well in advance.
In defense of American, I know they are upgrading and integrating US Airways as well as implementing new aircraft. But Delta has worked so hard on it's concourse offerings in most of it's major hubs it is really impressive. I also think that Delta has done a much better job with it's basic offerings in it's airport club lounges. The Admirals club by AA just does not really match up to the Delta SkyClub. Delta has also done a great job of making their clubs more exclusive without credit card holders with complimentary membership being able to bring in as many guests which keeps the clubs from being over crowded compared to the past. In fact, the concourses at the Delta Hubs in Minneapolis and La Guardia are so nice you almost don't want to go to the Skyclub. The Atlanta hub is huge and very efficient if nothing else. As of lately I have enjoyed the KLM allegiance and they are a great airline, and the Virgin alliance is pretty nice not to mention all the destinations offered through code shares with Air France. Lastly, no I am not on the payroll nor are we in any partnership with Delta I just think that many of us in some area of the Fashion business travel a great deal and I wanted to share my findings.