Continental vs Delta: Not Dogs vs Southern Hospitality

So you live in the New York metro area and find yourself wondering who you should fly or what airline is best.  If you've noticed, there appears to be an ongoing turf war between Continental, the incumbent, and Delta, the newcomer.  Both spend enormous amounts of money on marketing and both have hubs in region, though at separate airports.

For those that don't know, I'm a big Continental flier.    I've been a Platinum for over ten years and  my butt knows them well.   How I ended up choosing Continental is a story for another time.  In 2009 I decided to do an experiment and give Delta a try.  If you asked me 18 months ago if I would ever fly Delta, you would get a definitive 'No'.  You see, Delta was on my list of carriers that was out of my potentials when I first started evaluating airlines, but I'll save the evaluation discussion for another post.  

In the last few years, Delta decided to wake-up and decide New York was going to be its new hub.  Never mind the fact that they have had a reasonable international presence at JFK since the 90s when they acquired the transatlantic routes from Pan Am.  For years Delta decided not to do much with this, they were too busy building Atlanta, Cincinatti and Salt Lake Cities -- all fortress hubs.   Why would a legacy airline go into a heavily competitive environment?   Then jetBlue proved that JFK could be a powerful market and grew its operation under the slot-exemption granted by the FAA.  (There was a clause in the original slot declaration that allowed new entrants a certain number of slots at JFK and LGA, this is how jetBlue got their slots).  It was after jetBlue's success that American and Delta started believing JFK had a lot of potential.    

Then came 2007 when the JFK slot restrictions were lifted.  American, Delta and jetBlue went crazy adding flights and growing their operations.  American invested over a billion dollars in a new facility (which was just being finished up in 2007) and jetBlue invested close to $700 million in a new terminal, taking over the old TWA terminal.  Delta?  Nothing.  

With the parting of Continental from Skyteam it was more important than ever for Delta to have a presence in the New York market.  Even though Continental was the bastard stepchild in Skyteam, Skyteam needed them for their substantial New York operation.   As Continental announced their departure from Skyteam, Delta started ramping its operations and started laying on the hype.

So started my experiment.  I had Platinum status with Delta in 2009 from Northwest and I decided to see if Delta was worth all the hype.

Due to the length of this experiment, I've decided to break it up into smaller portions to make them more digestible which will be released over the next few days.