United Vs Delta Vs American Airlines: Which Has The Best Business Class?


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Delta, United, and American Airlines have all recently launched new Business Class suites or seats named Delta One, United Polaris, or American Super Diamond. These improved business class offerings include upgraded business class soft and hard products with improved seats, food, and service. If your ticket price is comparable, which American airline offers the best new Business Class seat and overall experience? United, Delta, or American Airlines?

United Airlines has launched its swish and rounded United Polaris Business Class Pods which are laid out in a staggered arrangement in the cabin. The walled compartments are not massively high but are probably the most stylish of the three-seat designs (pictured above). You can read our latest reviews of the United Polaris on B777-300, United Polaris on B777-200 and United Polaris on the 787 Dreamliner. Sadly the reality of the product is not as good as it originally seemed. The planned rollout has ground to a halt with the new Boeing 777-300ERs being kitted out with the new seats, but United have only retrofitted the new seats into 5 of their existing planes. The Chicago Polaris lounge was great, but it is the only Polaris lounge that has opened. The new Saks Fifth Avenue bedding is in place for now, but the volume of pillows and blankets is diminishing, and other amenities are slowly disappearing too.

Deltas’ new Delta One Business Class is a walled cocoon which can be experienced on its Airbus A350. This new seat will also be rolled out on its Boeing 777. The low doors give a decent level of privacy, although their low height means you will still be able to see taller passengers as they walk past. You can read our latest trip report on Delta Airlines in Business Class.

American Airlines new Super Diamond Business Class seats incorporate a slightly less ground-breaking design of outward facing herringbone seats with the BE Aerospace Super Diamond seats, but again, these are a huge improvement on their older Business Class seats. You can read our review of the current American Airlines Business Class. You can read our latest trip reports of American Airlines Business Class, Super Diamond Business Class and American Airlines in First.

Are United, Delta or American Airlines Seats More Widely Available?

In terms of fleetwide consistency, United, Delta, and American Airlines have just begun to roll out these new seats, so you may experience an improved soft product across their respective fleets, but you must be very careful which flights you book if you want to experience the new hard product, i.e., the new Business Class cabins and seats.

You can already experience the new Polaris seats on certain routes. We’ve detailed the launch dates of the new Polaris Business Class seats separately. The United Polaris Business Class Pod cabins will eventually be available on aircraft, including the Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner, and Airbus A350-1000. For reliable availability. United’s Polaris was meant to roll out fast, but Sadly, the reality of the product is not as good as it originally seemed. The planned rollout has ground to a halt with the new Boeing 777-300ERs being kitted out with the new seats, but United have only retrofitted the new seats into 5 of their existing planes. The Chicago Polaris lounge was great, but it is the only Polaris lounge that has opened. The new Saks Fifth Avenue bedding is in place for now, but the volume of pillows and blankets is diminishing, and other amenities are slowly disappearing too.

Polaris Lounges are meant to be launching at nine airports, including Chicago O’Hare, Newark, Los Angeles, Tokyo Narita, and London Heathrow. Whether these lounges open with the full Polaris lounge concept seems unlikely.

Delta is only planning to install Delta One on around a fifth of its new fleet, which means that when you book a Delta Business Class ticket, the chances of experiencing their Delta One product is low. In fact, Delta currently offers a very poor 767 Business Class seat with very little leg space, and that looks like a 90’s nightmare, so great care must be taken to avoid the 767 product if you book a Delta Business Class seat.

On American Airlines, whether passengers will be able to enjoy the new business class seats depends on when it gets its’ aircraft deliveries. American Airlines’ new cabin is already operational on its newly delivered 787-9s, along with some refitted 777-200s. However, last year, American delayed the delivery of five of its 787 aircraft, opting to receive four of its units in 2017 over 2016. From this year through 2018, the airline should receive an additional 27 aircraft. Additionally, American expects to receive 22 Airbus A350s in 2017. 777-200 retrofits will also be ongoing, although it is not clear when only the new seats will be fitted.

Are United, Delta or American Airlines Cabins Best?

In my opinion, the United Polaris Business Class Pods are probably the best looking of the three seats, and the fact that these cabins are complemented by matching ground facilities means that this entire product is more of a complete experience than the American Airlines or Delta offerings. For me, this makes United the top choice and the best overall product of the three. Also, due to the routes these seats will be launched on, for the transatlantic trips I take, there is a good chance that I might actually experience these new seats.

Are United, Delta or American Airlines Airport Lounges Best?

If the pre-flight airport experience is important to you, you might want to consider the quality of the airport lounge when choosing your airline.

I vote for the magnificent new United Polaris lounge in Chicago BUT as this is the only Polaris Lounge that has opened (as of March 18), the Delta Sky Club lounges and American Airlines lounges are probably better overall. United’s first Polaris Lounge is good. Chicago O’Hare’s Terminal 1 is already open and offers specialty cocktails, comfortable seating areas, slick showers, relaxation areas, excellent food, fast Wi-Fi, and a stylish ambiance. United is meant to open nine Polaris Lounges around the world. Houston, Newark, and San Francisco lounges first, followed by Dulles, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London, and Tokyo. These are not expected to be as good as originally planned.

Delta has completely renovated Delta Sky Club® lounge in LAX to create a “perfectly serene space to wind down before takeoff”. With over 45 lounge locations worldwide, Delta maintains a significant presence at most major US airports, but the level of refurbishment doesn’t seem quite as extensive as United.

American Airlines is also improving its lounges. The American Airlines Flagship Lounge at JFK will also get an overhaul, with the airline introducing brand-new lounges in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Philadelphia. These lounges will be accessible by all long-haul international and transcon domestic First and Business-Class passengers. The airline will also update its Admirals Clubs. But I prefer the look and slick finish of the United Polaris lounges.

Is United, Delta or American Airlines Food & Drink Best?

United offers Business Class food from Chicago chef Bill Kim and wines selected by United’s Master Sommelier, Doug Frost. An example of a meal from a recent flight includes a lemongrass shrimp with fresh greens, and the Thai lemongrass shrimp had some kick. The main course was the highlight of Polaris, with a choice of 4 mains on this particular flight. I went for the roasted chicken thigh for my main course, which was served with a red bean curd sauce, rice, bell pepper, bok choy, mushroom, and water chestnut, which was tasty. There was also a beef option. Other Polaris choices experienced include a hearty and delicious Asian Fusion Chicken Soup with Thai coconut ginger cream and Korean-inspired chicken or the Portobello and Caramelized Onion Ravioli, which was rich with a restaurant-quality sauce. United’s main course portions are larger and more filling than typical business class mains. Afterward, a cheese plate was offered, followed by a run of the signature dessert card through the aisle, which includes custom-made ice cream sundaes and a choice of three small sweets, including a salted caramel chocolate bar and mini tiramisu.

Delta recently upped their game in regards to food and wine in business class. Examples of the choice of mains include: Grilled filet of beef served with demi-glace sauce, wasabi mashed potatoes, snap peas; Stuffed chicken breast with cornbread and chicken sausage, gravy and haricot verts; Strozzapreti pasta tossed with eggplant and cherry tomato sauce; Cold plate of beef tenderloin and gravlox, egg mousse stuffed tomato and jicama slaw. For me, the Delta menu comes in a close second to United.

American Airlines offers the least refined Business Class food of these airlines. On my last flight with American, dinner was served on a single tray. The starter consisted of Thai chicken with grilled five-spice pineapple, watermelon, and Asian mint dressing. It was served with a house salad with artichokes, roasted tomatoes, and feta cheese, with a choice of creamy Italian dressing or balsamic vinaigrette. As an entrée, I choose the seared halibut with gremolata, with sautéed tomato fennel, lemon risotto, and broccoli. For dessert, I ordered the Black Forest mousse cake. All tasty but, as I said, less refined than other airlines.

Are United, Delta, or American Airlines Pajamas Best?

United Airlines offers 100% cotton pajamas upon request (or Pyjamas as we say in the UK) on flights longer than 12 hours. There are not enough pajamas for every Business Class customer so be sure to request a set. It also looks likely that these will become more and more scarce with United’s cost-cutting. Note that two sizes are available: small/medium and large/extra large. And what are they like? They are grey with royal blue waist tie and buttoned neck. They have the United logo on the chest. They are soft and comfortable but also thin and light which makes them easy to transport and they will not be too warm on the flight but, if like me, you get cold when you are tired, you might need to wear a jumper over them.

For customers flying in the Delta One cabin on flights between Los Angeles and Sydney and Los Angeles and Shanghai. Beginning Dec. 15, Delta will provide in-flight loungewear, helping the airline’s premium customers settle in on two of the longest flights from LAX. These grey pajamas have a zipper down the front of the top and are tracksuit in style with a Delta logo on the chest. They are thicker than those supplied on United but are limited to the LA to Sydney and Shanghai routes, so most passengers will never see a pair.

Finally, American Airlines pajamas are again grey and blue (grey top, blue bottoms- at least the ones I was given were), usually with a V-neck. You are more likely to nab a pair of these on AA than Delta.

Are United, Delta or American Airlines Amenity Kits Best?

United give you an eye mask, earplugs, Do Not Disturb sticker, tissues, Polaris-themed disposable socks, Cowshed hand cream, lip balm, pillow mist, a toothbrush, paste, floss stick, breath mints, comb, hand sanitizer, and pen. United’s new amenity kits aren’t very exciting- although I personally like the smell of Cowshed products — they are comprehensive.

Delta airlines offer the best amenity kit of the three airlines. Delta One offers Tumi hard-sided amenity kits featuring Kiehl’s products on flights from the US. On flights to the US, there is a soft case. Delta’s refreshed kits include Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 and grapefruit-scented Deluxe Hand and Body Lotion with Aloe Vera and Oatmeal. In addition to Kiehl’s, the Delta One kits include a TUMI soft touch pen and eye shades, striped socks, a dental kit featuring Crest toothpaste, tissues, mouthwash, and earplugs. Kiehl’s is one of the few moisturizers that actually works on my skin and locks in the moisture. It is far superior cream to Cowshed (even though Cowshed smells nice too) and is a great choice for dry flights.

American has also revamped its amenity kits. They offer different kits depending on whether you’re flying a transcon, business class, or first class, and with each kit, they partner with a different skincare provider. Their kits have discount codes for buying the skincare products from Cole Haan and the skincare partners, but as you never know what you are getting, these are my least favorite amenity kids.

Find out which airlines I think offer the best Business Class amenity kits in the skies.

Are United, Delta, or American Airlines Pillows Duvets & Bedding Best?

United offers Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, with a lovely blanket and comfy bedding. In fact, the bedding is so good that some customers have been walking off the plane with keepsake Saks blankets! United has cut back the bedding since it originally launched its Polaris cabins. The Delta bedding comes in second as it flies with lightweight Westin Heavenly in-flight Blankets and bedding.

Are United, Delta or American Airlines Best For Privacy?

Delta’s suite-style seats have closing doors, so the airline’s new business class will offer more privacy than American and United.

Are United, Delta or American Airlines Best For Personal Space?

American offers the widest seats of all three carriers in their reverse-herringbone configuration, so it is best for personal space and larger travelers.

So to answer my original question, United vs. Delta vs. American Airlines: Which Is The Best Business Class? My vote is now American, followed by Delta, followed by United.

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