Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lee: J comparison: DL Business Elite vs CO Business First

Comparison of Business Class products: Delta and Continental

I have been very fortunate enough to fly both Continental and Delta in J within the last year and thought a comparison from a rev-perspective might be useful. Both tickets were Y tickets upgraded, 20,000 R/T for Continental and 25,000 OW for Delta. - In April of 2007 I flew MSP-IAH-LGW-IAH-MSP on Continental in F/J and then most recently in April of 2008 I got to take my first Delta Business Elite trip to Shanghai with an ATL-PVG-ATL routing.

I will preference this posting with saying I am a die hard Delta fan. I have been an elite with Delta for 4 years and fly almost exclusively with Delta. That being said, here is my review.

First of all, I have to give the check in ease and politeness to Delta. When I checked in for my flight to London with Continental, I was forced by the agents standing behind the counter to use the kiosks instead of them checking me in themselves as a Business First / Skyteam Elite Plus pax. I was quite shocked that when I asked them, they pointedly directed me to the kiosks. It was important for me to check in with an agent as I had a surprise for my wife at the time and she didn't know where we were going for our 1 year anniversary. I was able to hide the screen long enough but that one step almost cost me the surprise of the year.

Lounge: This is a tie for one simple reason. The Business Elite lounge (which were closed May 1st, 2008) offered hot appetizers and a cold veggie tray for pre-departure snacks. This is much better than the pre-packaged junk food Continental has in their Presidents Club. With that said, Continental does have the upgraded wine program in IAH that allows patrons to purchase a very hearty glass of Vueve Clicquot champagne which is by far my favorite affordable champagne. CO gets high marks for having this! :-)

Seat: Tie - Continental has 5 inches less of seat pitch but does offer a flat-at-an-angle recline. Delta has 5 more inches of pitch but a recliner style seat. DL's seat is easier to sleep in on your back, CO's for side and stomach sleepers (which I am)

IFE: CO by a hair - The only reason CO wins on IFE was that I got on the 6th flight of ship 19 when it was doing it's tour after delivery. This ship offers 16x9 IFE that has 100's of movies and shows to choose from and all are Video on Demand. DL's Video on Demand has a smaller screen and fewer choices. If I was not on the new ship with CO on the outbound, DL would have won this category.

Food: DL by a hair - DL wins this category for more options and a slightly better steak in the air. DL had 5 main entrees / CO had 4. CO's steak was drier and tougher and DL's was closer to the medium side and easier to cut.

Wines: CO by a mile - CO had some great wine selections along with a Kendal Jackson Syrah that I absolutely loved. DL tries a little too hard with their exotic choices.

Service: Tie* - Both had outstanding service and took care of J pax. CO would have won if I did not have the same flight crew on both the outbound and return on DL as CO's crew really went above and beyond to help celebrate my 1st year wedding anniversary.

Arrival: CO by a mile - Once again, Continental BLOWS Delta away with an arrivals facility for Business First pax. I was able to get a refreshing shower after the 9 hour flight to London (which had a 2 hour maintenance delay before departure after boarding) and got a cold shoulder after a 16 hour flight from DL. This makes a huge difference in my opinion.

Baggage Handling: n/a - CO damaged one of my bags but quickly reimbursed the price of the bag - didn't have bags on DL

OVERALL: CO wins - This Delta lover must hand it to Continental. When weighing all things out, I would choose to fly Continental again before Delta based on the overall service and experience. I am a picky flyer and it is almost impossible to get me off of Delta metal since I live in Atlanta but I definitely will review my international bookings in the future.

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