Delta, United and American. It’s rather hard to decide which of these large, beefy airlines is best. They dominate the US skies, with Spirit, Frontier and JetBlue riding their tailcoats, as well as SouthWest Airlines. With United being the smallest out of the three carriers, American has taken the lead with the world’s largest fleet size, with Delta closely following. This comparison will look at their long haul (6 hours and above) economy features.
*Disclaimer: This review is not endorsed*
Seats & legroom
As these airlines are very similar, their long haul, economy seats hold no unique features. American Airlines produces a modern cabin with fairly comfortable and attractive seats, although according to many reviews, their legroom isn’t great, there are no special storage pockets, but American’s entertainment screen is responsive and has a decent selection of music and films, boasting a seat decked out with both charging and USB ports. United has a similar cabin, sometimes not quite as modern, their seats on long haul come with a dated entertainment screen but with a slower response rate and a more limited selection of activities. UAL also provides a charging port too, but it’s under your seat so it’s slightly more uncomfortable, they only have USB ports on specific aircraft which is a shame. The legroom on their standard economy is satisfactory but can be slightly better on specific seats. aDelta Airlines has the least legroom of all three airlines. Their seats are shown to be comfortable and visually appealing on their more modern aircraft. Live TV is available on all airlines apart from United, where it’s restricted to some 200 aircraft. All the carriers’ seats have a similar design with the leathery feel. In my opinion, American has a better seat and entertainment system, whereas Delta has the best Wi-Fi connectivity, but American has the cheapest internet connection.
Onboard catering & food
Delta and American offer free food on transcontinental flights whereas United doesn’t, Which gives UAL a major disadvantage. However, American Airlines wins with this category. Their food isn’t amazing, but always a decent meal with a well presented tray. All airlines will offer a continental meal, but United does offer ice cream on international flights in most cases. Salad, light starter and desert along with a pack of pretzels is offered on Delta, United and American.
Service and punctuality
Personally, I feel that Delta has the best service out of the three major US carriers. It has a high level of professionalism from their crew, both in the air and on the ground. American’s isn’t bad as well, it’s just that Delta is slightly better. United is more punctual than American for sure, Delta isn’t far behind. When I flew Delta back in 2017, my flight was delayed due to weather and the Delta staff handled it very professionally.
Prices and air miles
Generally they are all similarly priced on their most popular route; London to New York. United being the most expensive, and American being the cheapest. The rewards program for Delta is their unreliable Delta Miles (I made the mistake of signing up for their program), they can change their prices at any time, which is very confusing if you want an upgrade. American and United have a more organised and fixed points scheme.
Overall I found that American won most of the categories, but Delta’s speedy and smiley crew and service makes up for it. I would give the title of the ‘Best US Major Carrier’ to Delta. This is because of their comfortable and appealing seats, great service, fair pricing and decent punctuality.
- New York Times
- Nonstop Dan