Topic of the Week: Is Delta the Airline of the Year?


Air Transport World has named Delta the airline of the year for 2014. That’s the first US-based winner since Southwest in 2003. What do you think? Is Delta deserving?

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30 comments on “Topic of the Week: Is Delta the Airline of the Year?

  1. Plenty of industries have annual awards – they are little more than excuse for a night out to have a party and do some networking.

    Passengers do not care about this award (apart from air dorks !) and Delta would be foolish to make much of it – it’s frankly all pretty irrelevant…

    1. Exactly. Someone else will get the FT Award, then there’s the Freddies for someone in need of some bragging rights, and probably a ton of others. I don’t ever pay attention to this (and don’t participate in any voting where offered).

  2. Congrats to Delta. Great job and good level of service when I fly. Best branding out of the majors in the U.S. Hope you keep up the good work.

  3. I would agree on some levels. Delta has done an incredible job of finding ways to make the NW merger work efficiently. I think their Atlanta, Detroit, and Minneapolis hubs are the best in the US and, as mentioned above, their branding is great. I would challenge, however, that the voters of this award have never tried to redeem SkyPesos for a free flight. A miracle happened this past weekend and I was able to redeem 60k for nonstop flights to CDG this fall – first time I’ve seen that in years.

  4. Well, I’m Platinum on DL, so admittedly biased. But that’s after years of EXP and 1K on AA and UA, respectively.

    It’s a very well-run airline. In the last year, I’ve had very few random delays, very very few mechanical issues, and in my experience, even before I hit Gold and Plat, rare to find a crew member on the ground or in the air who wasn’t smiling.

    Yes, Skymiles is a pain, but honestly, not much worse than issues I had with the others.

    Well deserved.

  5. From every measure I’ve seen, Delta deserves this award. Its CEO was pictured in the article, so he must believe it’s worth something. If I was Delta, I’d tout it.

  6. Sure, why not. They are an efficiently-run operation, and their product has improved over the years. At least in the US, I think they are setting the gold standard in a number of areas. Credit them for trying things like Africa, well ahead of the other US carriers. I thought they were also ahead of the pack with trying to create a more predictable in-flight experience – limiting the 50-seaters to short flights again, and getting premium cabins and wifi/IFE on everything with more than 50 seats.

  7. I agree, what does it really mean. I have been a PL flier (just about hit diamond by all but 2K mi last year) & for the most part Delta does not do a horrible job. I do have several issues with Delta – most if which I have sent to them via email with no response or acknowledgement. I would say that United clubs are far better than the Delta clubs, The United app is much more user friendly and has information that travelers can use versus the Delta app which is much more clunky. And lastly, the general boarding process used by United is much more efficient. They do not just have 2 cues, but 3, one for 1st class, one for their elite fliers & then one for everyone else. It is a much more efficient process when it comes to boarding. I found all of this out by traveling with my husband who is a frequent United flier.

    If I had to give a “best” airline award, it would be to Singapore Airlines. Now that is the Best of the Best when it comes to customer service & making you actually feel like a person when flying. Alas, there has not been a US based carrier that I have found to match the service level of Singapore Air.

    1. If this were about the most popular airline with travelers due to on-board experience, then singapore or a couple other asian airlines would win every year.

      But that’s not what this is. It’s an industry insider perspective on much wider factors than that. From their webpage:

      “In selecting Delta as Airline of the Year, ATW editors cited several categories, including innovation and leadership by executive management; strong financial discipline; a consistent and excellent safety record; proven leadership in community, environmental and technological endeavors; consistent high standards of customer service; and excellent employee relations.”

  8. Delta really has come a long way in the last decade, and deserves recognition for their efforts.

    That said, when you look at the list of past winners, the importance of the award comes into question a bit…

    After all, Asiana was the AOTY back in 2009, AFKL in 2005, and JAL in 2002.

    You had ANZ and ANA winning twice each in the last 8 years… ANZ has done some great things from a marketing perspective, but they’re also from a country with fewer people than the City of Phoenix…


  9. I’ve been Delta Platinum ever since they began that level so I kind of know the airline. I’m a NWA immigrant….who didn’t like DL at first. I fly them a lot because they go where I go. I used to them now. I also have many miles on many other airlines. With what they have to work with ( a primarily obsolete fleet of aircraft)….I believe they do as well as anyone could do. It’s tough to be great in that business. It’s tough to even be civil in that business. It’s not a happy environment. What are the criteria for the award? Financial only? Is it an award measured on purely objective criteria? What is the recognition worth? I don’t know. But I do recall when ENRON was the “Most Admired Company in America”, Perception is often quite ephemeral.

  10. They Deserve it for sure! Branding is Great, Network is outstanding, Equipment and Crews are on pare with anyone out there.
    I disagree that the award is meaningless. Every Company enjoys recognition by its peers and customers. Air Transport World is one of the most respected Trade Publications in the industry and what they say does indeed matter to the Aviation Industry and Delta in particular.
    Delta and its Management and employees have worked hard for this recognition.

  11. No US legacy carrier should qualify actually…not until they get their domestic product up to par with what the Internationals do domestically in their own countries. And Skypesos are a major sore point.

    Besides, Delta declared war on Alaska and Korean this year, and I believe in Karma…

    If I had to give it to a US carrier I’d give it to Hawaiian…

  12. i know this comment isn’t very additive to the discussion but my first reaction was (and still is) BFD. doesn’t matter at all. even the most fervent DL frequent flyer would choose other carriers for their international flights if their miles and status weren’t an issue. that alone should disqualify DL from being the best airline in the world but, hey, its their magazine!

  13. it seems DL is years ahead w/ their fully integrated NW merger; UA still struggles w/ CO, and US hasn’t even begin w/ AA. DL has wind on their back, to innovate – what peer saw value in the Airtrain 717s, too they have grabbed JFK/LGA market share from AA, who is not holding their own in ORD and dare i say lagging at LAX, and the SEA budding mini-hub is strategic

  14. Delta has done a great job of successfully kicking off a wave of consolidation in the airline industry, “stabilizing” the market and “rationalizing” pricing. They are definitely deserving of this award for their service to the industry.


  15. Sorry, but having to deal with Delta personnel more than once due to weather delays or cancellations I would never give them anything but the Cranky JackAss Reward.No thank you, there are better alternatives to fly then Delta, unless you are a captive flyer.

    1. Too bad you had a bad experience with Delta employees. You may appreciate Delta more if you try flying with the largest and possible with worst US Domestic airline, US Air. Their employees are androids with no personality. Status updates are nothing more than a script that often is not true. Then there is the employee that yells at passengers. They really need anger management. Don’t whatever you do, check a bag. If you see that bag again, things will be missing and may take over a week to get your bag back.
      I’ll take a Delta screw-up any day over the lying, nasty US Air.

  16. AA was the mainline innovation of 80s-90s, w/ AAdvantage, lAAtin AAmerica – am i crediting Robert Crandall — they so lost their way. now that fuel costs consume so much of airline revenue, isn’t DL’s innovation to control costs? DL’s debt service on all those old plane will pale in comparison to AA; they hedge oil prices w/ a refinery in PA. i’m not saying i’m their advocate, but they have cracked the nut of their biz plan which neither AA nor UA have, and SW as they evolve to full price carrier hasn’t yet touched.

  17. These awards are kind of silly, but a compliment is a compliment. It’s a huge airline that is well-run. As a Platinum member living in Tokyo, I have a different perspective than the folk that fly the often miserable short flights on small aircraft, in economy, within the US. I could see how those folk would be unimpressed. However, when I consider the treatment I’m given on the phone and through Sky Priority on the ground, and then flat beds in business and decent food and service on long-hauls, I cannot complain. Good for Delta. As I’ve told my friends for the past year, “at least Delta tries”.

  18. As a frequent flier, I will say Delta is probably the best US Domestic airline along with Southwest. As for all these awards, they really don’t mean much; maybe an executive gets a bonus. Doesn’t really help the traveling public.

  19. Overall Delta is very good airline, however their skymiles has to worst value comparing to other
    US Airlines.

  20. I fly on Delta quite a lot, and over the last 2 years have made Delta my go to airline after some less than happy flying on its competitors. I fly internationally a lot and would say that Delta ranks all around as #1, especially on the innovation side, their business elite product is starting to shape up against gulf carriers, and blows away partners like Air France. Their employees are happy, and wether I’m in the very back or up front I always have an enjoyable flight.

  21. It appears that most of these post are from people that either don’t pay attention to the degradation Delta has created by reducing benefits of their SkyMiles program over the year. And those posting have not read the new requirements that will take affect in 2015. I for one will be leaving the Delta program and moving to Alaska Airlines.

    Delta no longer appreciates those loyal passengers that fly with them frequently.

    Jeff Topping

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