Delta vs. Northwest

Delta vs. Northwest 2016-01-31T19:41:56-08:00

Dear Joel,

I know you are partial to Delta’s First Class (read your book), but just thought I’d ask…for a long haul flight on 767 to HNL, who, in your opinion, has the better first class, Delta or NWA? Thanks for your input if you have time to response.


Answered by The Penny Pincher

Hi Will,

Yes, I am partial to Delta Air Lines. In fact, I am leaving tomorrow on a Delta flight to Honolulu. My preference for Delta is only because I get “the upgrades” with them. In essence, I believe that all airlines offer similar first class service. The choice should really be predicated on whom you have established the strongest relationship with. There are a few considerations, however: Delta uses their newer 767 on the Hawaii routes, which are configured as the 767-400, meaning that the seating in first class is 2 by 2 by 2. Northwest’s fleet consists of DC-10s, which are older planes, and the 747s. In addition, some of the Northwest Flights are actually flown on Delta Air Lines since they have a code share agreement.

In short the service on either airline is going to be fairly similar, so go with the carrier that you have established the most loyalty with and have the best chance for an upgrade.

By the way, you might be interested in knowing that I have a new book being released in May. You can per-order a copy at: Joel’s Book

Thanks for your support and have a good flight.


Previous Correspondence:

Hi, Thanks for writing back. My wife and I are Gold on Continental, and would prefer to go EWR-HNL_EWR with them (I could pay $300 service fee + 17,500 miles EACH WAY for a confirmed upgrade), but I worry about waiting for the upgrade and not getting it, and then we are in coach for the 11 hour flight. NW and Delta (and AA for that matter) are selling a first class fare for $1333, about the same cost as what it would cost to pay the Continental base fare ($560) plus the upgrade fees ($600) and the value of 35K miles (at least $200). Am I missing something or should I just buy the Delta or NW ticket and get the Continental miles since they are partners now?

Have a great flight yourself.

Hi William,

I would purchase the first class ticket on a Delta or Northwest code share flight. Be sure that when you purchase your ticket that it is coded as a Continental Airline flight. If it is not purchased as a Continental Airline flight you will not receive elite credit in your Continental OnePass Account.

No you’re not missing anything; airfare pricing can be quite bizarre. This is a good example of why code-share and alliances have benefits to consumers.

All the best,