Comparing United Airlines & Delta: Which Airline Is Better?

This post contains affiliate links.This means if you make a purchase using these links, I may receive a commission at no extra charge to you. Thanks for supporting Blogging Money Life! Read my full disclosure.
Comparing United Airlines & Delta: Which Airline Is Better?

Which is better when it comes to United Airlines vs. Delta? In this article, we decide once and for all.

Choosing the right airline can significantly impact your travel experience, whether you’re embarking on a vacation, a business trip, or visiting loved ones. United Airlines and Delta Air Lines stand out as two major players in aviation, each offering many destinations and services. But when it comes to deciding which airline is better suited to your needs, the choice can be daunting.

In this article, we’ll embark on a comprehensive journey to compare United Airlines and Delta, weighing various factors that can make or break your travel experience. From seat comfort to customer service, baggage policies to frequent flyer programs, and route networks to in-flight entertainment, we’ll dissect these airlines to help you make an informed decision the next time you plan your journey through the skies. So, let’s dive in and explore the differences between United Airlines and Delta to determine which one might be better for your next flight.

United Airlines and Delta Airlines Overview

plane in the sky

United Airlines is the world’s third-largest airline, known initially as Varney Air Lines, when it commenced operations in 1ine. The pioneering Varney Air Lines, founded by Walter Varney, marked its entry into aviation history by chartering the first private air mail flight on April 6, 1926. Subsequently, Boeing Air Transport acquired Varney and consolidated it with several other airlines, establishing United Air Lines, Inc. in 1931. This historic merger laid the foundation for the airline we know today.

In 2010, United Airlines embarked on another significant chapter when it merged with Continental Airlines, forging a powerful partnership that has shaped the contemporary United Airlines fleet.

On the other hand, Delta Air Lines traces its origins back to 1925, when it initially operated as a crop dusting company. Over the years, it evolved into the world’s second-largest airline and a key founding member of the prestigious SkyTeam Alliance. By 1929, Delta had transitioned to shuttle passengers and expanded its service network from Monroe, Louisiana, to destinations including Atlanta, Georgia, and beyond.

Delta’s growth trajectory continued with strategic mergers, starting with Northeast Airlines and Western Airlines, eventually culminating in the iconic Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) acquisition. This strategic expansion firmly established Delta as a dominant player in transatlantic flights.

In 2008, Delta Air Lines achieved a landmark merger with Northwest Airlines, marking a pivotal moment in its history. This merger contributed significantly to Delta’s prominence and success in the airline industry, cementing its position as a global aviation leader.

Let’s begin by comparing each airline’s price and providing a breakdown of the inclusions associated with various ticket types. Although precise pricing can be challenging to determine due to fluctuations based on booking timing, we will offer examples of average costs.

Fleet Size and Network

fleet of planes

In the highly competitive airline industry, United Airlines and Delta are two significant players that constantly vie for the top spot. Both airlines offer a wide range of services and have a substantial presence in the global market. This article compares United Airlines and Delta across various aspects to determine which airline reigns supreme.

United Airlines

Fleet size: United Airlines operates a fleet of over 800 aircraft, including both narrow-body and wide-body planes.

Network: United Airlines has an extensive network that covers over 350 destinations worldwide, including domestic and international routes.

Delta airlines

Fleet size: Delta boasts a fleet of more than 900 aircraft, which includes various types of planes.

Network: Delta has an extensive network that serves over 325 destinations across six continents, making it one of the largest global airlines.


United Airlines

United Airlines adopts a conventional approach to the booking process. As you embark on your journey through the initial webpage, you’ll have the chance to specify your preferences and requirements, thus fine-tuning your search results. It’s even possible to reserve tickets with fellow Star Alliance airlines or make side-by-side comparisons between United’s offerings and those of other carriers on this platform.

A brief investigation has revealed some ballpark figures for round-trip flights on the East Coast, with an average cost of approximately $485. Meanwhile, traversing the nation from New York to Los Angeles comes in at around $615, and embarking on a journey to France tends to hover around the $975 mark, regardless of the time of year. These price points are based on United’s Economy class offerings, which serve as our basis for this pricing comparison.

Delta airlines

Delta offers a hassle-free booking process featuring a user-friendly interface and a wide range of flight times accessible throughout the year.

Based on our extensive research into Main (economy class) pricing throughout the year, we’ve gathered insights into Delta’s typical airfare rates. On average, flights along the East Coast are priced at approximately $257, while cross-country journeys average around $526. If you’re planning a round trip to France, expect an estimated cost of $2000.

If you’re seeking an international flight that Delta doesn’t offer, you’ll likely discover suitable options with their partners in the SkyTeam Alliance. To access this booking resource, click on the small SkyTeam listed beside Delta’s logo at the top left corner of the homepage.

Customer Service and Satisfaction

flight attendants in the airport

United Airlines

United Airlines has faced criticism for its customer service, with incidents of mishandled baggage and overbooking.

According to customer satisfaction surveys, United Airlines has received mixed reviews, with some passengers reporting positive experiences while others have expressed dissatisfaction.

United has a reputation for providing poor customer service, particularly during the booking process, over the phone, and on flights. Even though not all flight attendants are the same, customers generally view them as only providing the most basic services for those traveling on the aircraft.

Even while premium passengers all report getting the same vibe from the personnel, there are a few rave testimonials about specific workers who went above and beyond to improve someone’s day.

Delta airlines

Delta is known for providing good customer service and resolving issues promptly and efficiently.

Delta consistently ranks high in customer satisfaction surveys, with passengers praising the airline for its friendly staff and overall positive experience.

Delta has consistently received top marks regarding providing excellent service to their customers. Even though they have expanded to locations worldwide in recent years, the “Southern Hospitality” level they provide has not changed significantly. Even though there have been more recent complaints regarding harried flight attendants and customer care workers, the vast majority of passengers believe that Delta does its best to prioritize the needs of its customers.


baggage on turnstyle in airport

United Airlines

Economy travelers on United Airlines must pay $35 for the first checked bag and $45 for each checked bag they bring. On the other hand, Premium-class customers are exempt from these fees and can check baggage for free, which sets them apart from other passengers on the airline.

When flying Economy, passengers have to adhere to a weight limit of 50 pounds for each bag; however, those flying in premium classes have the freedom to pack more generously, with weight limits that exceed 70 pounds per suitcase. It is important to remember that luggage exceeding these restrictions will be subject to additional fines.

Additional Charges

Additional charges apply for premium experiences on United. For instance, Economy Plus is an upgraded version of Economy that passengers can purchase for an additional fee of $70 per person per flight to extra legroom and in-seat charging power closer to the front of the aircraft. This premium form of Economy is known as Economy Plus. Access to United’s pre-departure lounges can be purchased by customers flying on premium flights for a charge that varies depending on the final destination of the trip.

Additionally, United charges a cancellation cost of several hundred dollars and a change fee of several hundred dollars. We recommend purchasing one of their refundable ticket alternatives (which typically cost $75–100 more than the Economy ticket option).

Delta airlines

The approach that Delta Airlines takes is more welcoming. When you purchase tickets in First Class or Delta One, you can have up to two checked baggage checked in without additional fees. However, the first checked bag is subject to a charge of $30, and the second checked bag is subject to a cost of $40 when purchasing any other ticket category.

Be prepared to pay an additional fee of $150 if you decide to bring a third bag with you. In addition, if the weight limits for luggage you are traveling with are exceeded, you may be required to pay an additional $100 to $200. Delta’s strategy provides customers with various options, giving them freedom based on the ticket they select and the requirements they have for their baggage.

Delta does not charge additional costs for regular travelers other than those associated with overweight luggage, unique or bulky checked bags and packages, and articles. It is not entirely out of the question that particular constraints or circumstances could change this situation.

Onboard Amenities and Comfort

water and glass on an airplane

United Airlines

United Airlines offers a variety of amenities, including in-flight entertainment, WiFi, and power outlets on select aircraft.

In all United’s cabin classes, passengers can enjoy complimentary beverages and snacks, and more goods are available. Everyone else will have to pay extra for alcoholic drinks, while premium travelers will receive varied degrees of complimentary alcoholic beverages. The technology in the headrest has been a significant source of criticism for many passengers, particularly on older, less modern airplanes; there have been frequent instances of the WiFi connection failing.

United Airlines provides different seating options, including Economy, Economy Plus, and United Polaris Business Class, offering varying comfort levels.

Delta airlines

On top of that, Delta provides complimentary snacks and beverages to passengers in all classes throughout their travels. Their Biscoff cookies, which have been their go-to signature snack for decades, are some of our absolute favorites. All types have access to a bar where they can order alcoholic beverages, and there are tablets built into the headrests of each seat for entertainment purposes. There is also the option to buy WiFi.

Delta offers various seating options, including Economy, Comfort+, and Delta One, providing passengers with comfortable seating and extra legroom.

Frequent Flyer Program

United Airlines

Frequent Flyer Program: United Airlines operates the MileagePlus program, which allows members to earn and redeem miles for flights, upgrades, and other benefits.

Benefits: MileagePlus offers various benefits, such as priority boarding, lounge access, and exclusive partner offers.

Delta airlines

Frequent Flyer Program: Delta operates the SkyMiles program, which enables members to earn and redeem miles for flights, upgrades, and other perks.

Benefits: SkyMiles offers benefits like priority boarding, lounge access, and earning Medallion status for additional privileges.


United Airlines

United Airlines provides a range of seating options, including Economy, Economy Plus, and United Polaris Business Class.

Economy Plus offers extra legroom and priority boarding, while United Polaris Business Class provides a more luxurious experience with lie-flat seats and enhanced privacy.

Delta airlines

Delta also offers seating options, including Main Cabin, Delta Comfort+, and Delta One.

Delta Comfort+ provides additional legroom and dedicated overhead bin space, while Delta One offers lie-flat seats, personal service, and access to Delta Sky Club lounges.

Both airlines prioritize passenger comfort by providing complimentary blankets, pillows, and amenity kits on long-haul flights.

Additionally, Delta offers free messaging on select flights, allowing passengers to stay connected with loved ones or work while in the air.

Connectivity and entertainment

man on a plane using the touch screen

In terms of in-flight entertainment, both airlines offer a variety of options.

United Airlines

United Airlines provides personal device entertainment, where passengers can stream movies, TV shows, and music directly to their devices.

Delta airlines

Delta offers seatback entertainment screens on most aircraft, providing a wide selection of movies, TV shows, and games.


United Airlines and Delta both offer storage options for passengers.

United Airlines

On United Airlines, you will find overhead bins for carrying carry-on luggage and under-seat storage for smaller items.

Delta airlines

Delta also provides overhead bins and under-seat storage on its aircraft.

It’s worth noting that the amount of storage space may vary depending on the specific aircraft model and seating configuration. Additionally, checking the airlines’ websites or contacting customer service for more detailed information on storage options and restrictions is always a good idea.

Which one is better?

In comparing United Airlines and Delta, two major airlines in the United States, it’s evident that both carriers offer a range of services and benefits for travelers. The choice between United and Delta depends on various factors, including individual preferences and travel needs, such as international flights, domestic routes, and loyalty programs.

United Airlines, a member of the Star Alliance, boasts an extensive route network that covers international destinations, making it a strong contender for travelers embarking on long-haul international flights. With their Polaris Lounge at Newark Liberty International Airport and exceptional customer service, United offers a premium experience for those seeking a superior airline.

On the other hand, Delta Airlines is a top player known for its Delta One Suites, exceptional dining experiences (including collaborations like the Trotter Project and Saks Fifth Avenue), and Delta Studio for in-flight entertainment. Delta’s comprehensive loyalty program and elite status benefits make it an attractive choice for frequent travelers within North America and Latin America.

Both airlines have their strengths and differences, such as United’s more extensive fleet of planes and Delta’s reputation for on-time arrivals. United may be preferable for travelers looking for a safer bet on international flights and access to Star Alliance partners. Meanwhile, Delta might be the better choice for prioritizing premium cabins, complimentary meals, and domestic routes.

The bottom line is that no definitive answer about which airline is universally better. It largely depends on your preferences, loyalty to a carrier, and travel requirements.

When choosing between United and Delta, travelers are encouraged to consider their needs, such as route preferences, loyalty program affiliation, baggage handling, complimentary food and WiFi, and flight changes. Additionally, consulting with a travel agent or checking recent flight reviews, like those in the Wall Street Journal, can provide valuable insights to help you make the best decision for your travel experience.


While both United Airlines and Delta have their strengths and weaknesses, Delta has an edge in customer service, satisfaction, and overall passenger experience. However, individual preferences and specific travel needs may influence one’s choice between the two airlines. Ultimately, deciding which airline reigns supreme depends on personal preferences and priorities.

Comparing United Airlines & Delta: Which Airline Is Better?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *