Would You Choose Delta or American Platinum Status for Business Travel?
Update: Some of the offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express.
TPG follower Travel Chaz tweeted:
"@thepointsguy if you were not concerned about redeeming the miles, would you choose Delta or American Platinum status for business travel?"
First off, let's start with the basics since the two statuses are not really equivalent. American Platinum only requires 50,000 miles and Delta Platinum requires 75,000 - but that being said, Delta actually makes it a lot easier to get elite status because they have so many credit cards that offer Medallion Qualifying Miles such as the Delta Platinum SkyMiles Amex, which gives you 5,000 MQM's with your first purchase and up to 20,000 more when you spend over $50,000 in a calendar year; and the Delta Reserve, which gives you 10,000 MQM's with first purchase and up to 30,000 more when you spend over $60,000 in a calendar year).
Delta also lets you rollover any miles above and beyond your qualification threshold into your elite status earning for the following year.
I also think Delta Platinum is actually more valuable, depending on where you live and if you are not in the hub for either airline, you are going to get upgraded more on Delta since the airline offers unlimited complimentary upgrades (based on availability and status priority, of course) on flights within and from the US (excluding Hawaii) to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central America and South America (though not flights with BusinessElite).
American Platinum is not going to give you complimentary unlimited upgrades - you need to select that option when you want the upgrade when making a reservation, and then you have to redeem the 500-mile upgrade vouchers that you earn for every 10,000 miles you fly. AAdvantage Platinum and AAdvantage Gold members earn four 500-mile electronic upgrades for every 10,000 qualifying base miles flown (including guaranteed minimum miles) during their membership year (March 1 or the date you qualify for elite status, through the last day of February).
Delta Platinum also gives you the choice to give someone a $200 voucher, or Silver Medallion status, which is quite valuable, so overall I would go with Delta Platinum on this one. However, American did just enhance its Elite Rewards options, which you earn when you go above and beyond your status threshold qualification, and if you were to hit the same 75,000 miles you would need for Delta Medallion status, you'd get your choice of 20,000 bonus miles OR 1 Systemwide Upgrade OR five 500-mile upgrades OR 4 Admirals Club Day Passes OR 5 single segment WiFi passes - so I still think the Delta options are better.
The Flight Experience
For the moment, Delta also wins when it comes to flying domestically since 100% of their planes have WiFi while American's fleet is still lagging in the WiFi department, and its new fleet of planes has only just started coming online with the introduction of the first of its A319's.
I am American Airlines Executive Platinum and Delta Platinum, and think that in general, flying on Delta Airlines is a nicer experience if you are not worried about redeeming miles, although I have redeemed a bunch of Delta miles this year from flying to Iceland, Milan and South Africa, so it is not impossible to redeem them for some awesome itineraries, but in my opinion, American miles are more valuable since the airline seems to release both more of its own low-level award availability, have access to better award availability on amazing partners like British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas, and, as I mentioned, is about to start getting some new planes to fly domestically and transcontinentally.
I know that was a roundabout way, but I would say go Delta!