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TPG reader Kane emailed me to ask:
“I’m considering a switch from Delta to American, and came across your blog post from two years ago about your dilemma making the change. I was wondering what your thoughts are now that US Airways is merging with American, and considering all the recent changes Delta has made. Also, as a Diamond Medallion (140,000 MQMs and $30,000 in MQDs this year), how do you think I would stack up in the AAdvantage program after the merger with US Airways?”
Breaking up with airlines is not easy to do, and TPG reader Kane is considering ditching Delta for American. In my opinion, American Airlines Executive Platinum status is the most lucrative elite status out there. I think the merger between US Airways and American will actually make this status even stronger, and US Airways flyers are losing a lot more than American Airlines flyers are.
At the top tier you’re going to get eight system-wide upgrades with American. Delta did recently improve upgrade options for Diamond elites, but you still only get four upgrades and they’re much less valuable. Additionally, AAdvantage miles are much more valuable than SkyMiles; I recently booked a trip to Tokyo on AA/Japan Airlines with a stop in San Francisco in first class for 62,500 and $5. American gives me better service, and I can redeem miles for first class on partner airlines, whereas Delta bans you from using SkyMiles to book first class partner awards (e.g., you can only book business class on Korean Airlines).
I don’t mean to bash Delta, as the airline does have a very good in-flight product; I just get so much more out of American. If you’re looking for value in a frequent flyer program, SkyMiles just isn’t a good option, especially with the onset of 2015 program changes.
Kane, I would advise you to make the switch from Delta to American, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. That being said, make sure the city you live in is served well by American. I’m in New York and Miami, so clearly American is a great choice for me since it has a strong presence in both cities. If you’re in a Delta hub like Detroit or Seattle, Delta might be the better option despite the other differences.
If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at email@example.com.