Was in St. Louis last week, and did a quick mileage run while there. I’m a Silver Medallion on Delta, but also took American on this run, and since I was in First on all trips, figured I could do a comparison between the two airlines. No pics here – used them all up at Games 4 and 5 of the World Series, and I will always take pictures of a World Series game before I take a picture of another American MD-80 (blasphemy, I know). All flights are on Sat. Oct. 28, 2006.
American Airlines Flight 1856
Lv St Louis – Lambert (STL) – 1:55 p.m. CDT
Ar Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) – 3:40 p.m. CDT
Equipment: Boeing 757-223 (N713TW)
Seat: 4A (First)
I arrived at STL around 1240, having taken MetroLink from a conference in downtown, so I hopped on the train at Arch/Laclede’s Landing and was a straight shot to the airport. I had known from looking at the seatmap that First was wide open, so I decided that I would spend the $40-50 and do the upgrade offered at the kiosk. Sure enough, I quickly found an open kiosk, was asked if I wanted to upgrade and suddenly 18F became 4A on the 757. I headed over to the Delta counter to be placed on the First Class Standby list, as I was returning that afternoon (this is a mileage run after all) and went downstairs to security.
First class/elite checkpoint had about 30 people in it, regular line had about 100 people in it. Not awful for lunchtime on a Saturday. Took about 10 minutes to clear security and I headed into the C gates and grabbed a (not-too-great) pizza at Wolfgang Puck’s, and waited until boarding was called for AA1856 at gate C24.
The STL terminal was nothing spectacular – nothing to write home about, but I’ve been in a lot worse as well. South side was all AA Connection ERJs, north side was mostly AA M80s, with a Champion Air 727 parked next to us. A USA 3000 A320 joined in later.
After pre-boards (there were quite a few wheelchairs on this flight), First Class was called and I boarded through door 1L. This is where the comparison starts. For 757s, I don’t like 1L boarding – boarding through 2L makes it a quieter atmosphere and allows for easier pre-departure beverages. I do like 1L for deplaning though, as you are the first ones off the plane (no merging with coach at 2L).
Flight attendant came around and offered us pre-departure beverages, of which I had a Coke. There was some sort of confusion for a family on our plane, as they kept jumping around the First cabin before the door closed, and I couldn’t understand anything they were saying, as it was in Spanish. Drinks were served in plastic. No real difference from Delta.
We pushed back and made the short taxi over to Runway 30L and took off on our 1:23 flight to DFW (FL380, pretty much a straight shot).
Service here was a beverage service and peanuts. I had a Heineken and passed aside the peanuts. Let me just say that it was great having a real glass in First Class – none of the plastic that Delta so endearingly loves up there. C’mon Delta – just having a real glass is something easily done and would be a real enhancement. As for AA’s snack service, that could use some work. I do enjoy Delta giving you the option of about five snacks, compared to the one AA has.
Seating wise, the seats on both are very similar in width. AA’s had more recline though, and I thought they felt more comfortable than Delta’s. As for IFE, this plane (which, ironically will end up with DL soon) had the LCD flip down TVs, compared to the CRTs that DL has.
Landed from the north at DFW and taxied into C25, quickly deplaned and made a loop on the SkyLink.
Delta Flight 1110
Lv Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) – 6:05 p.m. CDT
Ar Atlanta (ATL) – 9:38 p.m. EDT
Equipment: Boeing 757-232
Seat: 4A (First)
I headed over to the Crown Room afterwards, where I checked in and found myself a recipient of a 4A boarding pass over to ATL. I sat down at the TV (Crown Room was deserted) and put on the Wake Forest-UNC game on ESPNU and had a multitude of Coca-Colas. All-in-all, the perfect layover – football, soda and relaxation.
Our inbound was delayed about 30 minutes, but no complaint from me, as that meant more football at the Crown Room! An announcement was made for us on DL1110 that boarding was to begin soon, so we made our way over to E14 and boarded our 757 for ATL.
Pre-departure drinks were served, and then we pushed and took off for ATL in the dimming sunlight. Flight time was around 90 minutes tonight.
Service was typical DL first. Drinks were kept full (I had more Coke), snack basket came around a couple of times. Seat was average as well. Looking forward to these planes getting Song-itized (is that a word?) – DL will have a great domestic F product then (just get the real glasses!).
Landed late at ATL at A29, but had plenty of time in ATL. Swung by Paschal’s for dinner (Domino’s wasn’t too enticing, especially after having pizza the previous day for lunch) and then went to the A17 Crown Room and watched more college football up there (Texas game was on). Made my way down to A9 for the STL flight.
Delta Flight 916
Lv Atlanta (ATL) – 10:39 p.m. EDT
Ar St. Louis – Lambert (STL) – 11:16 p.m. CDT
Equipment: McDonnell Douglas MD-88
Seat: 3A (First)
Not much different than the above Delta flight. Snacks, drinks, etc. Seats on the MD-88s seem a little narrower than the 757. Domestic first becomes quite repetitive after a while (hence why I don’t really write trip reports any more).
I will mention we had a great On-Board leader that ensured my Coke never bottomed out and that I never ran out of Sunchips. I had him on my flight the next day as well (STL-ATL) and he was just as good then – I made sure to send Delta a letter detailing his excellent service.
Landed at A6 in STL, hurried to the MetroLink and made it to my hotel by 12:15 a.m. or so.
All in all, domestic first is similar for the two. Delta will have a great product when the IFE rollover is done, AA has the glasses but DL has better snacks. DL’s flight attendants also seemed more genuine, but it’s all random based on who is on your flight. Overall, no problem with either carrier – after all, domestic first is just a wider seat, free booze and more attentive service essentially.