Delta Vs United Vs American Airlines: Which Is Best?


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American carriers are not considered to be the best in the world when compared to airlines like Etihad, Emirates, Qatar, and Singapore. The American lounges, the service, and the food are thought to be worse than their European, Middle Eastern, and Asian competitors.

This is all changing as all three airlines American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines, have recently upped their game. Just have a read of our latest reviews on these three airlines, and you will see what I am talking about! And if you want to fly for free, we have ten tricks that will get you a free Upgrade To First Class.

American Airlines vs. Delta vs. United

American Airlines Long Haul Business Class Flight Reviews

In "Reviews"

American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta are the three main North American airlines and all three have all recently launched a new, upgraded business class soft and hard product, with improved seats, food and service. We’ve discussed in more detail… Read More.

United Airlines Long Haul Business Class Flight Reviews

In "Reviews"

United Airlines has recently launched a new, upgraded business class soft and hard product, with improved seats, food and service. In my opinion, the United Polaris Business Class Pod cabins are probably the best looking of the seats in this… Read More.

Delta Airlines Long Haul Business Class Flight Reviews

In "Reviews"

I have reviewed Delta One which is Delta’s new long-haul Business Class product along with Delta Airlines Premium Select which is their new Premium Economy offering. Read More.

Which Airline Has The Best Business Class?

Many airlines offer a complimentary Chauffeur service for their Business and First Class passengers, but none of the US airlines does, so this is not a differentiating factor.

Which Airline Has The Best Airport Lounges?

All three USA legacy carriers have an extensive network of lounges within the USA and across the globe. While the lounge experience in the USA does not come close to what is offered by Asian and Middle Eastern airlines, have a read of the fantastic Qatar First Class lounge in Doha. It is a cathedral of luxury!

When considering the US Airlines, we rank United’s new Polaris lounges in San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, and Newark as the best airline lounges on USA soil.

American’s new Business Class Flagship lounges (which are open in New York JFK, Chicago O’Hare, Miami, and Los Angeles) are not quite as nice as the United Polaris lounges but are better than Delta’s unimpressive Skyclubs lounges.

So United wins for the best lounge, and Delta comes out worst.

Which Airline Is Most Reliable?

Delta has the oldest fleet but the best on-time performance of the three USA legacy carriers. Delta flights are currently the most likely to leave on time. United and American are more likely to be delayed (although United is improving), making American the worst, even though American operates a modern fleet.

This is partially due to several policies. For example, if a Delta flight attendant delays a flight, it’s coded as a flight attendant delay, and they get a call from their Manager before the plane lands to find out why there is a delay. This efficiency is also due to their plane maintenance, which is carried out by a comparatively happy workforce even though the planes are older. The result; Delta rarely cancels flights.

Which Airline has The Best Frequent flyer program?

American Airlines’ loyalty program AAdvantage is the best frequent flyer program in the world, mainly because of its reasonable award chart and its many airline partners, within and outside the One World alliance.

Delta’s frequent flyer program SkyMiles is the worst of the 3 USA airlines (it was the first program to become revenue-based). Still, Delta doesn’t need to spend as much marketing or their SkyMiles loyalty program to attract customers. It is more reliable and has a more loyal following. Ironically this means that Delta makes more money and provides more return to shareholders.

United Airlines’ frequent flyer program, Mileage Plus, is decent, but it’s not as excellent as AAdvantage, albeit not as bad as SkyMiles.

Which Airline Has The Best Business Class Seat?

Unfortunately, all three airlines offer an inconsistent Business Class seat offering on a range of planes, which are of different ages and at various stages of refurbishment.

United is moving towards a single uniform Business Class product across its entire widebody fleet (although it will still take a few years before it has completed the refurbishment of all its planes).

Which Airline Has The Best Business Class Cabin?

All three carriers have introduced new cabin designs. Still, the United cabins on their newly delivered B777-300ER and refurbished B767/B777 planes are designed by Priestman Goode and feature bespoke furniture elements like an on-brand entrance area, a bar area, and United branded cabin elements.

Delta’s older planes do have disadvantages. They have the reputation of being tatty and dirtier than United and American, particularly in domestic routes, so when including domestic routes, they come in worse. For international flights, they roughly equal American.

Which Airline Has The Best Business Experience?

Your Business Class experience onboard United, American, or Delta will depend on the aircraft type since each aircraft features a different flatbed seat & cabin layout.

The three best wide-body Business Class layout & seats on each airline are:
Delta One Suite on their A350: excellent and super-private suites with sliding doors, arranged in a 1-2-1 layout. Read our review of Delta One to see what you are missing. Of note, the B77s are being refurbished with these suites, so they can also be a good plane choice IF the particular aircraft has been refurbished.

American B777: spacious seats in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout (direct aisle access for all seats). These seats have generous dimensions. United B777 & B767 (with Polaris seats): a 1-2-1 herringbone seat layout, with rows alternating between seats facing forward and at an angle. This United seat is a great seat, but it’s not as comfortable or spacious as American’s B777 Business Class seat or Delta’s A350 suite.

American’s B787 and A330 have seats in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout (with direct aisle access). These are comparable to the Delta B777 & A330 with seats in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout (and direct aisle access). The Delta One suites with sliding doors will also be rolled out on the B777 over the coming years, which will move Delta’s B777 up to the top choice for long-haul joining the A350.

American’s B767 has seats in a 1-2-1 staggered configuration where the foot compartment for each seat is located between and under the seats in front. The foot space can feel cramped, but all these seats have direct aisle access.

Delta B767 has seats in a 1-2-1 staggered configuration. Again the foot compartment for each seat is located between and under the seats in front, similar to American’s B767. The foot space can feel cramped, but all these seats have direct aisle access. American’s version is snazzier and more modern. These Delta seats can be uncomfortable and weirdly noisy! At least this is the case on the recent Delta 767 flight I reviewed to New York JFK.

The Worst Business Class Seats, Some Seats Without Aisle Access

United B767 & B777 (without Polaris seats) are pretty bad, although most B767 and B777 planes are undergoing refurbishment with the new Polaris seats being fitted. United B787 with 2-2-2 layout, Delta B757 with 2-2 layout, United B757 with 2-2 layout, American B757 with 2-2 layout are also your worst international Business Class options.

Do They All Offer Flat Beds?

All three carriers offer flat beds on their medium- and long-haul international destinations (except for routes to the Caribbean, Canada, Central America, and some South American routes).

Which Amenity kit is best

All three are good, but delta wins for style and content. Delta’s Business Class passengers get a silver hard-sided TUMI amenity kit outbound from the USA and a soft-sided black TUMI amenity kit inbound to the USA.

The kits feature travel essentials, including Kiehl’s lip balm and grapefruit-scented deluxe hand and body lotion with Aloe Vera and Oatmeal, a dental kit featuring Crest toothpaste, tissues, mouthwash, and earplugs.

United Airlines’ amenity kits echo many of the key design elements that distinguish the carrier’s Saks Fifth Avenue luxury bedding and contain a signature padded eye mask, earplugs, skincare products from Soho House & Co’s Cowshed Spa, cozy socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a tissue pack.

Created in partnership with fashion designer Cole Haan, American Airlines’ amenity kits are available on long-haul and transcontinental flights between New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Inside, the kits contain beauty and skincare products from C.O Bigelow, 3Lab, Clark’s Botanicals, alongside a new eye mask, socks, earplugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, and headphone protectors.

How about Pajamas?

United offers pajamas to its Business Class passengers, albeit only on upon request and on flights longer than 12 hours. American only offers pajamas in Business Class on routes to Auckland, Hong Kong, and Sydney. Delta doesn’t provide pajamas in Business Class, except on routes from Los Angeles to Shanghai and Sydney.

How about Duvets and Pillows?

All three legacy carriers of the USA offer great bedding, with United being the winner here.

United’s bedding is from Saks Fifth Avenue, with a choice of two different blankets: a quilted duvet and a lighter throw blanket. Mattress cushions are also available upon request.

Delta’s bedding is Westin Heavenly branded and includes an oversized duvet, a high-quality blanket, and a down-alternative pillow.

American Airlines has a partnership with Casper for their inflight bedding, which comprises a pillow, duvet (only on Pacific routes), and slippers. On flights to Auckland, Hong Kong, and Sydney, passengers also get a mattress pad and slippers.

Which Airline Is Best For Food & Drink?

The food on US airlines is decent if slightly unexciting. United serves the most inspiring and tasty food overall, followed by American and then Delta. So if you are flying transatlantic or any long-haul trip, and your sole basis for choosing your flight is for the food, it is United you should choose.

United Polaris customers get to enjoy a newly designed multi-course in-flight dining experience designed by chefs from The Trotter Project, which mentors youth with interest in the culinary arts. It’s a nice touch. The menus rotate every month, so you’ll get different and new dishes each time you fly (assuming you fly infrequently!).

The meal service on my most recent United flight, which I reviewed was excellent and far exceeded all the other meal services that I have had onboard other USA carriers so far.

The selection, the range, the delivery, and United’s new signature pre-meal beverage service make United the best airline to choose to fly long-haul, including transatlantic if your main deciding factor is the food.

American Airlines collaborates with several celebrity chefs from the USA, New Zealand, and Japan to create their in-flight menus. Master sommelier Bobby Stuckey selects Their wine.

On my most recent flight, New York to London, I found the food tasty but repetitive. The lack of variety is a significant issue with the food when flying AA. Having the same meal repeatedly is rather dull if you fly frequently. This is why this meal service comes in as second best.

Delta also offers decent food, with seasonal and regional entrees featuring fresh ingredients and flavors. Delta’s master sommelier – Andrea Robinson – selects wines from around the globe, including regional selections paired with onboard meals.

On my most recent international flight on Delta, transatlantic into New York, shortly after takeoff, I had lunch, which was a tuna starter, cod main, and vanilla sundae. A snack was offered midflight, a warm chocolate chip cookie service. Then, about 90 minutes before landing came the second, light meal service. I choose a hamburger, which was served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. It was the first time I had a hamburger on a plane, but it tasted good!

So the hamburger was good, the food was good, the service was good. Just none of it was that great!

Which Airline Has The Most Food & Drink?

The volume of food delivered by these airlines varies. On long-haul flights, all three carriers offer two meal services (a full meal after takeoff and a light meal or breakfast 90 minutes prior to landing), so there’s no difference here.

The Best American Airline For Inflight entertainment

American, Delta, and United in Business Class all offer decent In-flight entertainment with an extensive library of movies, TV shows, audio options, games, and live TV on select routes. On most flights, you can also stream the library of movies and TV shows to your phone, tablet, or laptop (you need to download the airline’s app on your phone or tablet).

Delta Air Lines is the most connected airline, as measured by available seat-miles, with at least a chance of getting a wireless connection, according to the survey by More than 500 million of Delta’s available seat-miles are covered. It’s closely followed by United Airlines (500 million miles) and American (more than 400 million miles).

Which Airline Has The Best Business Class?

The most comfortable and spacious flatbeds are those on Delta’s A350 aircraft type, followed by American’s B777 aircraft and then United’s B777s with the Polaris seats. But don’t immediately book onto Delta as their product varies hugely depending on whether it is old or new.

Customer Satisfaction

Recently, Delta’s Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer showcased how customer satisfaction and willingness to recommend results directly in increased revenue. Delta’s customers seem increasingly keen to recommend Delta over American and United, which means their revenues are going up.

So Which Airline Has The Best Business Class Overall?

The most comfortable and spacious flatbeds are those on Delta’s A350 aircraft type, followed by American’s B777 aircraft and then United’s B777s with the Polaris seats. But don’t immediately book onto Delta as their product varies hugely depending on whether it is old or new.

Their old long-haul Business Class seats are uncomfortable. Their long-haul Business Class catering is not great. Their new staff uniforms are drab, and their Skyclub airport lounges can also be tatty, messy, and overcrowded, so it is not all win with Delta.

Get A Big Discount On Flights

Book any luxury hotel or premium flight through our luxury travel concierge for discounts and benefits. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, free hotel credit, and VIP gifts at luxury hotels like Four Seasons, Aman, and more for the same price as the hotel’s websites. (Book direct, and you don’t get these benefits, so why would you?). Our Business and First Class flight prices tend to be considerably cheaper than flight prices available online.

Finally, compare all quotes with google flights to be 100% sure you are getting the best possible prices.

This article was inspired by flights taken by The Luxury Travel Expert.

Note: All benefits & upgrades subject to availability & Terms & Conditions, enquire for more information. Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor. Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.