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2017 is the year that I become, or more accurately, return to being a bit of a free agent when it comes to booking air travel. For the last several years I had a high level of United elite status that was both a cause and a reason to book with United whenever possible, even when it wasn’t the most economical option. However, my current travel patterns aren’t consistent with earning or maintaining a high airline elite status, and frankly I have approximately 00.00% desire to fly around aimlessly just to earn status. I’m not totally a free agent as I do still have low level United elite status and top tier Alaska status that also gives me perks on American (and to a lesser extent Delta until May 2017), but I’m much more of an airline free agent today than I have been in previous years.
While I absolutely do miss some of my United elite status perks, it is refreshing to again book flights 98% based on price and schedule rather than giving significant preference to a specific carrier because of elite status. As a result of this new-found ‘freedom’, my oldest daughter and I recently flew on a nonstop Delta operated flight to Salt Lake City instead of flying United as we usually do in our travels.
It had been years since I last flew Delta, and while there’s only so much you can gleam from an airline based on taking two regional jet flights, I did still have some impressions of Delta that I wanted to share since my experiences really are consistent with what I have heard about Delta over the past few years.
Delta Flight Attendants and Gate Agents Were Friendly, Really!
Friendly flight attendants and gate agents should be the norm in a customer service industry, but that has been far from a given in my travels. I travel with a carry-on bag that I absolutely love since it fits in literally every overhead bin I have ever encountered, including the tiny overhead bins on regional jets. However, on my United flights I am pretty frequently told in a (sometimes) curt manner that it isn’t going to fit and that I cannot or should not attempt to bring it onboard regional jets. This exchange and instruction is not always pleasant, so I have grown accustomed to it often being a negotiation, at best.
However, on both of my Delta flights, I was not only permitted to bring my carry-on bag onboard without a big negotiation over whether or not it would fit, but I was actively encouraged to give it a try and no big deal if it didn’t work. As usual, it fit without a problem, but that wasn’t the real issue, the impressive thing to me was how polite and civil the whole process was.
This friendly attitude continued on-board, even when my seven year old changed her mind mid-order on which snack she wanted. This wasn’t met with an impatient eye roll or sigh, but rather kindness and understanding. Speaking of snacks…
Delta Serves Snacks
You guys, Delta lets you pick your snack, even on short regional jet operated flights. On the one flight we lucked into Economy Comfort+, we got to pick from a passed snack basket with multiple options early on in the flight, and on our flight in regular Economy we were given a choice between about three different snack options during the beverage service. I also loved the size of the cups for the drinks as they weren’t as small as United’s that we are used to, but you didn’t have to opt for the whole can either. It was a nice in-between sized serving between a shot and the whole can.
Delta Economy Comfort+ is Comfortable
On our outbound flight we were seated in regular Economy and on our return we lucked into the last row of Economy Comfort+, likely thanks to an aircraft swap at some point since we were previously in the first row of regular Economy. You can see the difference between regular economy and extra legroom economy seat shown below.
Neither was horrible, but the Economy Comfort+ row was indeed comfortable with the few extra inches of legroom and the snack basket.
On Time Flying With Delta
Of course a sample size of two flights is totally insignificant, but both of my Delta flights were indeed on-time and uneventful. What is significant is that about 85% of Delta’s flights in 2016 were also on time, which is very good compared to similar airlines like American and United. Delta is known for their operational reliability, and my flights were no exception.
Earning Miles with Alaska
Where Delta has taken hits over the years is usually with their SkyMiles program, though frankly I think that their program is no worse than similar programs these days. However, if you don’t want to credit your flown Delta miles to Delta you can still credit to Alaska for a few more months, which is exactly what we did.
It’s also worth a mention that the GoGo in-flight internet worked on both of our Delta flights, as did the Delta free in-flight selection of movies TV shows you can watch on your own device. I’ve also already booked another Delta operated flight to Atlanta since we returned home from our Utah weekend simply because it left at a better time than the otherwise similar United flight I could have and would have taken if I were still running hard on the elite status hamster wheel.
The world is not all bad when you leave airline elite status behind, in fact, it can be pretty great. Our two Delta flights were absolutely enjoyable for what they were and I look forward to more Delta operated flights later this year. Bring on the internet and snacks…
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.