Over the last year, it’s been more than obvious that I have not been Delta’s biggest fan. After flying them back and forth a dozen times or so from the West coast to Maine, and securing just enough miles for only Silver status in 2014, I left Delta after 7+ years of being a long time NWA Loyalist, Delta FF convert due to merger and holder of Platinum status for 4 of the last 7 years. Yet, with only enough miles to be Silver Medallion, I told myself that 2014 would be the year I stopped flying Delta all together and put my all into my new airline of choice: American.
Last year, I reached AA platinum status in a short 4 months and was attempting to reach Executive Platinum in 2014, then work plans changed again and found myself only taking short hops up and down the west coast. My flying conundrum was who to fly with for these short jaunts and many people advised me to fly Southwest. After all, SWA has the most nonstop frequencies and are the only carrier that flies SAN-SMF nonstop. Initially I took many readers advice and used Southwest for work, but I only did so on my trips to work. I had been opting to fly SWA Monday mornings to get me to work earlier than any other airline via connections. SWA gets me to Sacramento by 8am whereas a connection with Delta or United gets me to SMF by 10am, 1130am with US airways, and even later on Alaska or American. I opted to rework my loyalty and still fly AA/US on my return trips home, this way I can still earn points and status on my favorite airline and not loose status on a global airline altogether. Not to mention, I didn’t care if I arrived home at 1am Friday Morning vs 11pm Thursday night, 2 hours difference when it was already late made no difference to me.
After a few weeks of flying Southwest, I realized my complete disdain with the airline. The first three weeks I flew SWA, my plane was delayed leaving San Diego. I know that this could happen with any airline, but the way SWA handled the delays was mind boggling. No announcements, no apologies, and even worse, they played it off as if the planes were all still on time. The worst was the day when the status boards displayed on time and then boarding, but the incoming plane had not even arrived. Or there was the time when I arrived at the airport 1 hour before my 6:30 am departure because I had to check a bag, and the bag drop line was so long that after 40 minutes I still had not even made it half way through the line. I hopped out of the line, not wanting to miss my flight and attempted to go through security with my full size shampoo bottles and protein powder. To my surprise TSA didn’t seize my liquids or powders and I made my flight. This incident flustered me, as the slow moving queue was one thing, but the worthless agent that was clearly working at a snail pace was another. I think they need to replace the signage reading “express bag drop”. And let me not forget, to add salt to my wound, the agent directing people to either the check-in line or bag drop line was not only snappy but was assuring people the express bag drop line would take no more than 10 minutes. 40 minutes later and frustrated, I told her she needed to reexamine her watch.
Poor video quality – but you get the idea
Needless to say, between the delays, the long lines, and irritable agents, I had enough with Southwest. And that doesn’t include my initial hesitant to flying Southwest: Unassinged seats, boarding zone and number based on check in times, and a horrible frequent flyer program. Each week I would have to set an alarm to remind myself to check in which helped me secure a better place in the lineup. When it was time to board the plane I felt like a kindergartener, lining up in alpha-numeric order when the pedagogue ordered. And then once on board, I was the new kid in school, trying to find a place to sit in the cafeteria, having to ask the cool kids if the seat was taken or if I could sit between them. With most people avoiding eye contact with those of us still in the aisle like we are Ralph from the Simpsons and are just not cool enough to be offered a seat by the A-listers.
When this was all said and done, it was time to plan my travels for July. I decided that SWA was no longer an option and I would reevaluate my flight options. I have Silver status with United and Delta, and Platinum Status on AA/US. AA/US couldn’t get me to Sacramento before 1130am, and UA required a connection in San Francisco to get me to Sacramento by 9am. I decided AA/US was out due to their schedule, and UA wouldn’t cut it as connecting in San Francisco was way too risky due to the fog and constant delays. I would be going back to Delta and could still arrive in Sacramento by 930am. As much disdain as I have for Delta and their Frequent Flyer Program, I decided to give them another go, at least for three oneway trips in July. The results were to be determined. After all, flying Delta now requires a stop in LAX and two segments on Regional Jets. Could this truly be any better than the cattle car that Southwest provided me in June? That was still to be determined!
Well July came and went (and I am VERY far behind in posting) and I am happy to report that not only was flying Delta a better experience than Southwest, other airlines could really learn from Delta. Not to mention I was upgraded on 4 of 6 segments I flew with Delta and I’m only a Silver Medallion! As you all know, I am not a fan of Delta’s loyalty program but they do have it down inflight! Even on their regional affiliates, I felt like I was flying Delta mainline. Unlike American’s regional affiliates, the flying experience on Delta’s affiliates was no different than flying Delta mainline. Snacks in the main cabin, check; only accept credit cards, check; First class seats, check; NO CRJ200 or ERJ145 on SAN-LAX-SMF routes, check; flies from SAN main terminal and has a lounge at SAN, check check! WOW, why would I ever choose to fly AA and fly their crappy CRJ200 and ERJ145 with no first class from the commuter terminal or opt for SWA and their cattle car? Oh wait, I give up comfort and amenities with the smaller RJ for a better frequent flyer program at American and I have ditched Southwest all together. But when it’s all said and done, Delta is a great back up option for me!