Here's the thing. I fly DL a lot, based on flight time (maybe not as much based on segments). Out of 65+ flights this past year, 54 were DL. Out of the 65+ flights, 54 were in J class (or F domestic on DL), and probably 40+ of those were at least long-haul (over 7 hrs), if not ULH - so I am basing my experiences mostly on J experience. Other airlines include AS, BA, CZ, KE, MU, AF, EK, MS, SQ, and AZ.
I'm consistently fascinated by the dislike so many people have for DL. This isn't just on A.net, but elsewhere as well. I realize the scales get tipped when flying with DL on platinum and diamond status, as I have not flown in economy except once or twice with them (mainly when my wife is flying with me and we get upgrade listed based on her status). I never get real answers, however, on why DL is "the worst". On a JNB-ATL flight, half the J class was a tour group and said they would never fly DL again. Why? Their flight from PHL to ATL to continue to JNB was canceled due to weather in PHL (a few in the group were on AA from PHL to ATL and the AA flight was canceled too), and it was such a large group, that DL had to string them across the next three flights to JNB. It seems many 'issues' with DL are similar - one-off issues that may or may not be in DL's control.
In general, I have found:
- J class product on DL is superior to AF, EK, and KE. AF and EK have 'fake' lie-flat seats that are still six-across; so when I (naturally) have the window seat, I'm climbing over the guy next to me. Have not experienced A380 products with any of these airlines, so that may be different. IFE is decent on DL as well, especially compared to AF and EK's absurd, over-the-top mess of screens and remotes with hardly any content.
- Catering and overall experience is more universally acceptable on DL versus other airlines. I know I'm biased as DL serves American food, and I am an American. But very few people eat the cheese on AF J class, for example. KE was thoughtful to leave all of the spice out of their food and let each person add as much or as little as they wished - but the overall food was lacking quality, IMO.
- Domestically, DL's upgrades are a nice perk. I wouldn't pay full F fare for a ticket. But getting a free upgrade, and getting it in a fair, orderly way, is a nice perk.
- DL miles, for all the crap they get, seem valuable to me. One US-Europe round-trip, maybe with another hop on a SkyTeam partner, in J can be enough for my wife and I to fly ATL-ANC round-trip for free. I'm not sure what EK and SQ have from a rewards standpoint, but Delta catches a lot of flak for their SkyMiles; but the rewards seem decent.
- Additional medallion perks are nice; not a huge "wow" factor, but nice. 4 domestic upgrades? Worked easily on ATL-SFO round-trip. Haven't tried the global upgrades yet.
- FAs are, in my opinion, genuinely nicer, in general. Sure, they aren't all younger than 30 - but aren't we past judging service on that by now? They have a routine and a schedule but are always willing to accommodate. For example, serving a dinner service FCO-ATL when departure is at 9:50am is a little odd to me, and the FAs were happy to serve me later in the flight. (And, I've had dinner service at the same weird times with other airlines, too - so I don't think that is a DL-only thing?)
- Change fees and etc are annoying, but many airlines have that. DL seems generous on waiving those, and since they alter schedules by a few minutes even a month or two out from your flight, you can often tweak your itinerary for free. Another airline changed the departure time on me by 45 minutes and I was told there was nothing they could do.
Anyway, you get the point. This is ALL anecdotal evidence, and I'm certainly viewing things from a biased point of view of flying with them almost exclusively in J and F for a while.
What are some things you dislike about DL when compared to other airlines? Please keep them to consistent issues; I didn't mention any once-off "great" experiences I had with them, only highlighted some of the consistent things that seem like DL is a quality product. So please do the same from the other point of view.