Good Things About Delta
Flash Award Sales– Delta typically has a flash points award redemption sale about once a month. Subscribe to our “Quick Points” emails and we will let you know when the next flash sale is.
Domestic Economy Award Tickets– Delta does not publish an award chart, so their award tickets closely match the price of the flight. If you can find a cheap cash Delta domestic flight, it should be fairly cheap to use points as well. Whereas with United and American, you have to find saver award space, which many times includes flights leaving at non-peak times with less than ideal routings.
Ownership of Other Airlines– Delta owns 49% of Aeromexico and Virgin Atlantic; 10% of Air France and KLM; 9% of GOL Airlines; and about 4% of China Eastern. This makes it easier to earn and use points on these carriers.
Mobile App– Of the four major U.S. airlines, Delta has the best mobile app. I like their features of automatic check-in, tracking your checked bag with notifications, aircraft fleet information, Skyclub locations based on your flights, and updated flight information on the main screen.
Best Fare Guarantee– Delta and JetBlue are the only U.S. airlines that offer a best fare guarantee. If you purchase a ticket directly with Delta and you find a more than $10 cheaper fare for the exact Delta flight, date, number of passengers, cabin, and fare class before 11:59 p.m. on the same day of your ticket purchase, Delta will refund the fare difference plus give you a $100 travel voucher. You can fill out the form online.
A220 Order (formerly C-Series)– Delta has 100 A220/C-Series planes on order, which should eventually replace most of their old and awful to fly MD-80s. The A220 is a regional jet, but has large overhead bins, big windows, and feels more like you are flying 737 or A320.
Free Carry-On With Basic Economy- Delta’s basic economy allows you to bring a carry on without paying a fee unlike American and United (their fee can be avoided if you have their credit card).
Delta Suites- These new business class suites are a better option for business class than what American or United is offering, but the entire experience still falls well behind Qatar’s QSuites.
Bad Things About Delta
Unannounced and Frequent Devaluations– Delta has devalued their award program without notice several times in the past few years. Therefore, don’t keep a large points balance with Delta. Earn and burn those points.
No Published Award Charts– An award on Delta is closely tied to the cash price of the ticket. This is good for cheap domestic flights, but if you want to use points for business or first class, you might be forced to use a ton of points.
Expensive International Premium Class Award Tickets- Delta prices their premium international routes extremely high. For example, the direct flight from Atlanta to South Africa routinely costs at least 500,000-750,000 Delta points for roundtrip business class. Whereas, you could use American Airlines points to fly in Qatar’s excellent business class for only 140,000 points roundtrip.
Old Planes– The average Delta plane is 17 years old, whereas the average for Southwest and American’s average plane is around 10 years. Delta still flies about 170 now defunct McDonnell Douglas planes, who are piloted mostly by very young pilots looking for a fast track to the captain’s chair. Luckily, Delta has new 348 aircraft on order, but some of these planes could be delivered to the foreign airlines that Delta owns an equity stake in.
Seat Maps by Plane: SeatGuru
Fees: First checked bag ($25); second checked bag ($35)($40 to Central America, Caribbean, Ecuador and the Virgin Islands; $100 to Europe, Israel and Tahiti; $55 to Mexico; $75 to Middle East destinations). You can find the full fee policy online and Delta also has a page for special items such as strollers, instruments, sports equipment, etc. Bag fees are waived for elite members, active military, credit card holders (and up to 8 companions), and certain passengers in first class, Premium Select, and Delta One.
Status Match: You can match your elite status from Air Canada, Alaska, ANA, American, Asiana, British Airways, Copa, JAL, JetBlue, Lufthansa, and United. To keep your status past three months, you do have to fly a certain number of segments or miles and spend a certain number of dollars with Delta.
Delta Trip Delay Statement: Delta’s Form
20-Minute Bag Guarantee– If your checked bag does not arrive at the baggage carousel in twenty minutes from plane’s arrival for any domestic flight, you are eligible to receive 2,500 points.
Phone Number: 1-800-323-2323 (SkyMiles)
Same-Day Changes- $75 for the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. Basic economy fares are not eligible. No fee for Gold, Platinum, or Diamond elite members. (fine print)
Lost Items on Airplanes: Online Form
Delta Museum– Delta has an interesting museum dedicated to its history near the Atlanta Airport. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for kids (5-17), and free for Delta employees, military, and kids under 5. There is also a 747 on display that you can walk through. There is a real Boeing 737 simulator, but that costs $425 for a 45-minutes of flight time for 1-4 people.