Home Travel A $428 American seat vs $305 Delta vs a $254 United berth: Travel experts put the three main U.S legacy carriers head to head in an economy class battle from New York to Los Angeles

A $428 American seat vs $305 Delta vs a $254 United berth: Travel experts put the three main U.S legacy carriers head to head in an economy class battle from New York to Los Angeles

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Editor-at-Large Nicky Kelvin, who flies a state-of-the-art Airbus A330-900neo for $305, puts Delta Air Lines to the test.

American, Delta and United. They are the three large American airlines and between them they operate around 3,000 aircraft.

So they should know a thing or two about flying people from A to B.

But the travel site’s experts test how much they know. The boy with the pointswho film their experiences flying economy class with American, Delta and United on arguably the most prestigious domestic route in the United States: from New York to Los Angeles.

The images are fascinating, with negatives including unanswered doorbells and “sadly disappointing food” on a seat with a “padded topper” and a “soft, warm blanket.”

Read on for the full verdicts.

DELTA AIRLINES

Editor-at-Large Nicky Kelvin, who flies a state-of-the-art Airbus A330-900neo for $305, puts Delta Air Lines to the test.

Nicky told the Mail:

Nicky told the Mail: “Check-in was easy and hassle-free and once on board I found the seat to be very comfortable and supportive, with lovely padding.”

Airplane navigation:

Airplane navigation: “Legroom (upstairs) was good,” said Nicky

“There was a large inflight entertainment screen (upstairs), larger than you’d expect for a budget product,” Nicky revealed.

Putting Delta Air Lines to the test is the editor-at-large Nicky Kelvinwhich flies from JFK on a state-of-the-art Airbus A330-900neo for $305 (£240).

He told the Mail: ‘Check-in was easy and hassle-free and once on board I found the seat to be very comfortable and supportive, with lovely padding.

“Legroom was good and there was a large in-flight entertainment screen, larger than you would expect from a budget product.”

Once the flight began, Nicky received a blanket 'that was soft and warm'

Once the flight began, Nicky received a blanket ‘that was soft and warm’

Above is Nicky's $12 snack box, which 'provided a small, solid meal'

Above is Nicky’s $12 snack box, which ‘provided a small, solid meal’

Anything else on the “first impressions” list?

“There were multiple loading ports,” Nicky added.

Once the flight began, Nicky received a blanket “that was soft and warm” and headphones, although he recommends a Bluetooth dongle, which will allow you to use your own headphones.

Nicky explained that there was a wide selection of free drinks on offer: water, tea, coffee and juices, as well as spirits and beers.

Nicky explained that there was a wide selection of free drinks on offer: water, tea, coffee and juices, as well as spirits and beers.

Overall, Nicky was

Overall, Nicky was “very impressed” with his flight on the A330-900neo.

He continued: ‘A wide selection of complimentary drinks (water, tea, coffee and juices) were available, along with spirits and beers. I also received a free snack. There was no substantial food available for free on the flight, so I bought a snack box for $12 (£9.50), which allowed me to enjoy a small, solid meal.’

Final verdict? Nicky approved of Delta’s financial offer.

He said: ‘Overall I was very impressed with the flight, especially the free drinks and snacks offer, and the full size drinks. The meals that could be purchased on board were also fresh and tasty.’

UNITED AIRLINES

Mark Ramos (above) was assigned to test United Airlines

Mark Ramos (above) was assigned to test United Airlines

Mark paid $254 for his Boeing 777 ticket to the City of Los Angeles. Above: Economy on the United 777

Mark paid $254 for his Boeing 777 ticket to the City of Los Angeles. Above: Economy on the United 777

Mark Ramos was assigned to test United Airlines.

He paid $254 (£200) for his Boeing 777 ticket from Newark Liberty International Airport to the City of Los Angeles.

Your experience? A bit heterogeneous.

He told the Mail that he checked in through the United app, “which saved him a ton of time at the airport,” and then found himself in a difficult situation.

Mark revealed: 'I boarded an entire flight and sat between two people. It was pretty tight.' Entertainment screen? Just a tablet/phone holder, Mark pointed out.

Mark revealed: ‘I boarded an entire flight and sat between two people. It was pretty tight.’ Entertainment screen? Just a tablet/phone holder, Mark pointed out.

As for food, Mark received a free coffee and Biscoff cookie.

As for food, Mark received a free coffee and Biscoff cookie.

The seat had no legroom or extra room to stretch out the legs, Mark complained.

The seat had no legroom or extra room to stretch out the legs, Mark complained.

Mark's experience on the United 777 was a mixed bag.

Mark’s experience on the United 777 was a mixed bag.

There were no serious complaints about the service, but when Mark pressed the call bell, he got no answer.

There were no serious complaints about the service, but when Mark pressed the call bell, he got no answer.

He revealed: ‘I boarded an entire flight and sat between two people. It was pretty tight. The seat had no legroom or extra room to stretch out the legs. During the flight I received a blanket but no pillow.’

Entertainment screen? Just a tablet/phone stand and two charger ports, Mark noted, but no USB ports.

“Overall, very basic accommodation,” he said.

As for food, Mark received a free coffee and Biscoff cookie, noting that “United also offers purchasable food, from snack boxes to hot food in their bistro with plenty of options.”

There were no serious complaints about the service, but when Mark pressed the call bell, he got no answer.

AMERICAN AIRLINES

Liam Spencer, senior marketing manager, put American's prowess to the test.

Liam Spencer, senior marketing manager, put American’s prowess to the test.

Liam paid $428 to fly economy class to Los Angeles on an Airbus A321T

Liam paid $428 to fly economy class to Los Angeles on an Airbus A321T

Liam said:

Liam said: “Inside the cabin, the seats immediately seemed like a significant step up from those on budget airlines like Spirit or Ryanair.”

Senior marketing manager tested American’s prowess Liam Spencer.

He paid $428 (£340) to fly economy class from JFK on an Airbus A321T.

The advantages?

He told the Mail: ‘Check-in was bright, clean and pleasant. The self-service checkouts were quick and easy to use.

‘Inside the cabin, the seats immediately seemed like a significant step up from those on low-cost airlines like Spirit or Ryanair. The seat is large and comfortable, with an adjustable headrest.

Liam was disappointed with the American Airlines food.

Liam was disappointed with the American Airlines food.

Overall, Liam had a

Overall, Liam had a “very good flight” on the US A321 (file image above)

‘There was a decent amount of recline with plenty of legroom and there was a handy charging port attached to the seat and tray table.

‘What’s more, although small, there was an inflight entertainment screen, always a nice touch when traveling in economy class. The screen also has a headphone jack and a port for charging your phone.

‘The flight had a free meal service, which was available 40 minutes into the flight; It’s always nice to have free food in economy class.

“I didn’t receive a pillow or blanket, but I did receive headphones for in-flight entertainment.”

Liam concluded that it was a “very good flight”, except for his dining experience. “The food was sadly disappointing and dry,” lamented the travel guru.

For more information about The Points Guy, visit thepointsguy.com. To see the original video American vs Delta vs United click here.

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