Mile High Battle – AA First Vs Delta First

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In this post I’ll share 8 reasons why I believe AA domestic First Class is superior to Delta’s First Class. I recently came clean to Delta about my rendezvous with American Airlines. Since I’ll be flying with AA more and more I learned how to get an upgrade to AA First Class as a gold and it has paid off so far.

What I Prefer About AA First Class

1) The Seat – The seat bottom slides out when reclined. In addition each seat back chair has head rests making it easier to get a good rest on long flights. Most Delta First Class seats do not have the head rests and have inconsistent leg room.

Comfortable Chairs - Seat Bottom Slides For More Room

2) Power Adapters In Every Seat – Most first class cabins come with either an adapter port or a plug. This is a huge benefit for business travelers to arrive full charged. It is rare to find a domestic Delta First Class seat with a power plug unless you are on an internationally configured airplane.

Power Adapter

3) Extra Trays For All Those Drinks – You’ll never have to worry about where to put your drink again. Delta does have extra drink holders on most planes but the middle drink holder is what really sets AA apart in this area.

Extra Drink Trays

4) Holes In Napkins – An adult bib for the messy eaters. I first learned about this neat idea while having steak and drinks at 35,000 feet.

Napkin Holes

5) Hot Nuts & Glenlivit – Hot nuts are served up in most domestic first class cabins. I’m torn a bit on the Glenlivit. I hear from Tommy777 that they only cater 2 Glenlivit bottles on every flight. When I asked for one on my flight today, they said that a gentleman had already laid claim to both bottles and offered me Dewers instead. When I passed a bottle of Glenlivit magically appeared.

Hot Nuts And Glenlivit

6) Meals On Every Flight In First – Enough said.

Meal On Every Flight

7) Warm Cookies – The cookies were fresh and as warm as the hot nuts. Such a nice treat at 30,000 feet.

Warm Cookies

8 ) Champagne – Bravo American, music to my ears. Everyone likes bubbles!


What I Prefer About Delta First Class

1) Unlimited Domestic Upgrades For All Elite Tiers – Delta provides all of their elites, from Silver to Diamond, the chance to receive a complimentary upgrade to First Class. While initially I liked the thought of controlling my first class upgrade chances, I’m beginning to miss playing the gate lottery and having a chance without having to use upgrade instruments.

2) Unlimited Woodford Reserve – Delta doesn’t cap catering Scotch / Bourbon at just 2 bottles per kind of booze. My favorite Woodford reserve is bountiful in Delta’s First Class.

Woodford Reserve

Did I miss anything Delta Points and AAdvantageGeek?

Bottom Line

Sometimes little things make a big difference for a person who flies every week. Both Delta and American have great first class products however I’m starting to like the dAArkside.

Hat tip to my veteran seAAt mate who helped me write this blog post. Her mother was a Pan-American flight attendant so she knows what she is talking about.

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About The Weekly Flyer

The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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  1. Delta and American are my top two airlines too, and in many ways American absolutely wins in first class (food for sure) but you’re quite unfair to Delta.

    They have powerports on all 73Gs, 738s, 763s (domestically configured) and some MD88s and 757s. That’s a a fare cry from “It is rare to find a domestic Delta First Class seat with a power plug unless you are on an internationally configured airplane.”

    Not to mention the fact that AA’s powerports, except for on the newer 738s, require an adapter and Delta’s don’t.

    In addition, how can you overlook the fact that flying AA means your odds of getting a PTV in domestic first class are almost literally zero, while Delta has quite a few of them on longer routes.

  2. Hi James – Its amazing how quickly I forget. You are right about te ptvs on Delta. I rarely use them since wifi, but you are right.

    I can say I have never seen a port on Delta 737 or 757 or md88, so if they are tere I’ve completely missed them.

    Hi Kathy – It’s 5 oclock somewhere.

  3. Doesn’t delta have glenlivet as well? It’s my backup option to Woodford. I think the power port situation is a bit different in delta’s favor as well.

  4. I agree. I think this is being totally unfair to Delta. Makes me question is AA is slipping some commission in here.

  5. AA has sundaes!
    I have heard that AA is more generous in refilling drinks, I have never been denied a refill, a couple of times I have been given a bottle of wine! How is Delta in regards to unlimited refills?

  6. The Delta Power ports on the 757s are between the seats very low down and difficult to find or see but they are definitely there.

  7. Hi ORD – Delta is good (but not hook up an IV good, jk). I’ve received a bottle of wine and champagne on a Business Elite flight with Deta, to go no less!

    Hi Joseph – I’m crazy then because I’ve never used them. What version of the 757, old NW or legacy Delta? How about on MD88 and 737 are they on most planes or just a few? I never knew, I guess you never know what you have until its gone:)

  8. @ The Weekly Flyer – Don’t forget the AAfter Dinner Mint!

    @ Aeroman – I wish AA gave kickbacks, I’m on a redeye out of LAX and my upgrade hasn’t cleared! ūüėÄ

  9. Based on my flights over the past two weeks, I can tell you that the modified MD88’s that came over from NW have power in the FC. The old 757’s (75N) that came over and have not been updated, do not.

  10. To be fair, AA does not have meals on ALL first class flights. I am AA PLT and have been on many late flights that just have warm nuts.

  11. As far as I know AA serves meals on almost all flights. The exceptions being some red eye flights and flights too short to adequately handle serving a meal.
    I fly AA almost exclusively as my business takes me to The Caribbean and Central America. They need those new planes like yesterday. Their planes and their flight attendants are from the same era and are simply wore out.

  12. Transcon redeyes usually have an abbreviated meal. Late flights from ORD to East Coast (for example) do not have meals.

  13. I believe the AA rule is over 600 miles, during meal times. Which is definitely better than Delta (without question) but not “every flight” by any means. The fact that my MIA-DCA flight left at 20:05 meant it was strictly beverage service, even though I personally think that’s well within dinner hours

  14. Delta’s policy for meals in first is 900+ miles during meal times. Really that much better than 600? I am of course disappointed when I don’t get a meal, but it is what it is.

    I never cease to be amazed at people getting picky/whiny about being in first. Whenever I get my unlimited upgrades to first in Delta, I am happy to be there and don’t second question. Sitting exit or bulkhead in coach on Delta is not usually all that bad either, really.

  15. Come on guys……..All the US carriers need to go a long way to even call it a First or even Business class… They all are a bunch of craps.. The need to learn from East Asian and Middle Eastern carriers…

  16. This is truly SAD, but please note:
    1. Please refer to PIC #2, showing the power outlet. Also notice the FILTH at multiple places on the seatback? This is disgustingly common on virtually ALL US CARRIERS, domestic metal or international metal alike and yes, even in the front cabins. One rarely sees this much FILTH on Foreign Flag carriers, not even at the bus. SHAME – and why do you tolerate it?
    2. Loved the comment about A meal in First Class on Every Flight.”(And the magic Glenlevit.) Do the basic math, dude! That Meal on Every Flight is probably the most expensive food that you will ever consume – and damn near the worst. Do the simple math! Unless your front cabin experiences are always the result of ‘statud’ and/or ‘upgrades,’ you’d be far better off spending 2-3-4 hours in the back, but preceeded/followed by a seriously good, ground-level meal – and two rounds of Glenlevit. Did I mention the simple math?
    I hate to harp (OK, I don’t hate it when I write it), but the FILTH is the big turn-off here. Why would you even consider eating a meal in that FILTHY environment. I hope you wash your hands as soon as you get of the airplane!

  17. @Deltaplat: yes Delta uses the 900 mile threshold, but that’s only for cold meals. I think you have to be on a 1500 mile Delta flight during mealtimes to get a hot meal.

  18. Just to follow up:
    Delta Has Glenlivet as well – it’s just AA’s best choice is Delta’s second-best (see )

    767s + “Select” 757, 737 on Delta have inflight power. I don’t use it and the outlets are pretty well hidden. In fact, like you I never noticed the outlets. This is the transcon and international configured 757s. See for a rundown of the status at the time of the merger.

  19. I do enjoy AA first when I can get it, but I have to fly 10K miles to get 4 x 500 mile upgrades. That’s about one out of 5 upgrade ratio unless AA gives me a free upgrade, which only happened once. I personally get much better results on the Delta roulette wheel.

  20. Hi Matt – I flew a 757 today and will report back if I found the power outlet or not in the very near future.

    Thanks for all of the comments, a very spirited debate for sure.

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