Delta staking big claim in Bay Area

Delta offers jumbo wide-ride 767 flights between SFO and its Atlanta hub (InSapphoWeTrust / Flickr)

Delta offers jumbo wide-ride 767 flights between SFO and its Atlanta hub (InSapphoWeTrust / Flickr)

Over the last year, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines has made some major moves into the Bay Area providing frequent travelers with new options. For example, today Delta announced that it would add seven new daily round trips between San Francisco International and Seattle starting in March 2014.

But it remains to be seen if Delta can tear TravelSkills Readers-BATS away from our allegiance to our United MileagePlus or Virgin Elevate accounts.  Would you switch over to Delta?

Onboard a recent Delta Embraer 175 flight SFO-LAX (Chris McGinnis)

Onboard a recent Delta Embraer 175 flight SFO-LAX (Chris McGinnis)

Delta’s new  SFO-SEA flights will be operated by Delta Connection partner Compass Air using the popular (and surprisingly roomy) Embraer 175 aircraft, with first, Economy Comfort (premium economy) and standard economy seats. These are the same aircraft Delta is using on its new hourly  California Shuttle flights between SFO and LAX (a whopping 15 times per day).

All Embraer flights offer Gogo wi-fi, snacks and full beverage service. And yes, your rollaboard bag can fit in the overhead bin.

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All flights arrive and depart out of Delta’s relatively quiet boarding area C at SFO’s Terminal 1, which now has its own PreCheck line. There’s also a Delta Sky Club (regrettably outside security, but that’s less of an issue now with the new PreCheck line).

Even though you don’t hear much about Delta in the Bay Area, its significance is growing when you consider the volume of its flights on Delta and its code share partners.

For example, Delta flies nonstop from SFO to Tokyo (UPDATE: Only through March 30 2014). Using its new codeshare partner Virgin Atlantic, you can now fly Delta to London. Using code share partner Korean Air, you can fly Delta to Seoul and beyond. Fly Delta to Mexico City on its partner Aeromexico. Code share partners KLM and Air France offer nonstops to Amsterdam and Paris and beyond. Fly Delta using China Eastern to Shanghai.

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On the domestic front, Delta flies nonstop from SFO to: Honolulu, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Detroit, New York JFK, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Seattle (starting in March) and its main hub, Atlanta. 

From Oakland, Delta flies nonstop to LAX and Salt Lake City, and to Hawaii on codeshare partner Alaska Airlines.

From San Jose, it offers nonstops to Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles (5x per day) and Atlanta. Via its codeshare partner Alaska, it offers flights to Hawaii and Portland.

With all this new service, Delta’s clearly trying to gain a foothold in the booming Bay Area, poaching business travelers from United and Virgin America. One big downside is Delta’s SkyMiles program, generally considered one of the stingiest out there, which makes the thought of giving up Mileage Plus or Elevate points that much tougher.

Do you fly Delta much? Would you be willing to fly it more? Please leave your comments about Delta below.

Chris McGinnis


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  • MightyTravels

    I’d love to see more competition for UA in SFO. Flying Delta is actually a good experience. Delta Skymiles can also be the most valuable currency out there. But it needs a lot of patience and skill to use it properly :(

  • JM

    Hi Chris. The flight in not bookable after March 2014. I picked up the info from other fourms. As you know, airlines love to announce new routes but rarely announce discontiuned routes.

    As pointed out by the poster above, it appears DL is focusing on SEA and LAX for their TransPac flights and adding flights from the Bay Area to connect to those flights.

  • James N

    While these flights are primarily feeders for DL’s new international flights from SEA, they are also competing directly with code share partner AS on the SFO SEA route. If DL continues to add more of its own domestic flights at SEA I wonder how long the AS-DL codeshare partnership will last.

  • James N

    Chris, a posting on also noted that DL will drop SFO NRT in March 2014. Makes sense as SFO is clearly UA territory and DL’s one single international flight simply can’t compete with the options you have on UA/Star Alliance. Also, with UA keeping its second daily SFO NRT flight (853) year round, SFO is not really losing service to NRT. When the government start handling out Haneda slots later this year, UA will likely get a slot pair as they were shut out the last time these were granted in 2010. UA will probably use it to fly SFO HND, so that’s probably even more reason for DL to get out of SFO and focus its international growth at SEA and LAX.

  • netopiax

    Your Global Entry number will get you into PreCheck when flying other airlines. I have used it with AA at SFO and DL at BWI and I don’t have access via status on those airlines. Make sure it is listed when you make the reservation as your “Trusted Traveler Number”. I can’t speak to whether the % is any different when you use status vs. Global Entry, but my experience as UA Platinum is like yours, 100% access.

  • Chris McGinnis

    Hey JM- have not been able to get Delta or SFO to confirm dropping SFO NRT. Can you show where Delta announced this? Many thanks.

  • JM

    The new DL flights from SFO-SEA make sense now. DL announced they are ending their SFO-NRT next March. IF you wish to fly DL to Asia in the future, you will need to fly SFO-LAX/SEA

  • David Bowles

    We both left Delta’s FF programme after finding out that award travel in Europe ends where Delta flies. They no longer allow award travel on their European partners (KLM, Air France). This left us with no option other than to buy a very expensive RT (in this case, AMS-GLA). The business class SFO-MSP and MSP-AMS wasn’t all that impressive, to be honest…

  • Jimbo

    A couple of questions: I have been getting 100% TSA PreCheck as a UA Premier Gold and GlobalEntry member (Yes I know it’s not guaranteed). What would happen when I fy DL through Terminal 1? Would my boarding pass be stamped for PreCheck or is it only when I fly on UA? Not sure if PreCheck is airline-sensitive. I have no status with DL.

    Also, While I used to be a DL fan (was Gold with them for many yrs until my company stopped flying me to ATL), I now find myself stuck with all these DL miles that can’t be easily used. I can’t seem to gift it to relatives (since their mileage requirement is absurd), I can’t use it to upgrade (need to pay some exorbitant fare)…. Any idea what these miles are good for?

  • BCAT1

    A bigger concern for me is that with all of the new service I keep reading about on your blog is that the flow delays when low clouds hang around SFO will continue to increase. It is already ridiculous on short haul flights with flow in place. Too bad volumes at SJC and OAK are well below capacity as it would be nice to shift some of it to them but that isn’t happening. Kind of like LAX versus the ghost town that is known as ONT.

  • David

    I have always tried to fly Delta out of SFO or OAK and never have a late or cancelled flight. Can’t say that about United or American.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    You are so right, Chris, nearly impossible to give up status at UA, like it or hate it. It is so easy now for me to maintain my Silver … United flies everywhere from SJC or SFO. I find the post-merger UA gives me so much more flexibility … I connected through IAH so many times the TSA guys would wave at me … now I can fly non-stop if I want to … and the premium economy for those short flights is great.

  • JC

    That’ll never happen as long as UA is around, but it’s nice to dream :)

  • JC

    Yes, but it’s not a directed attack at UA. DL feels that EWR is essential to its TATL strategy (as it should), and with the JV, such routes are metal neutral (as you pointed out).

  • Haggie

    If I had a choice between Delta or Greyhound, I would seriously consider taking the bus.

  • Douglas

    I agree with Chris – if you buy DL code share versus China Eastern / KE ticketed they are not junk. Thought as I have found in Atlanta, the fare is much cheaper on KE and many times the flight itself is not available on

  • Douglas

    Not sure how one can compare AA to United either though, have to pick one.

  • flybizz777

    Hmn..DL is bringing it to UA territories…I think they are doing EWR to CDG using the AF route flown by Delta metal.

  • Anne

    I flew Delta recently and liked the plane, service, lounges, in-flight technology. But I won’t be back until they the SkyMiles at least MATCH’S United’s or American’s frequent flyer program.

    C’mon Delta- don’t be so cheap!

  • Chris McGinnis

    Thanks, Eric! Not sure if that’s a good thing or not when history repeats, but you are right on. — chris

  • Eric A

    This move reminds me of when Delta had the PDX international hub. Delta operated RJ’s to PDX to feed those Asia flights. At the same time Delta operated LAX-SFO hourly with 737-200 aircraft. History looks like it’s repeating itself.

  • SFTed

    I love Delta. Compared to United, it is so much easier to use at SFO. Hopefully, they will continue to expand on the West Coast beyond Seattle and the LAX Shuttle. Frankly, I’d like to see SFO become a major West Coast hub for Delta.

  • Chris McGinnis

    Hey Nick: Are they still junk if you buy (via the code share) a Delta-coded ticket on China Eastern or Korean? But I get your point on the redemption side.

  • Nick Aster

    Good stuff. Couple quickie points – The Delta partnership with China Southern and Korean Air are basically junk. You don’t actually earn thing useful in terms of mileage, but you can (theoretically) use Delta points to buy a free ticket on therm.
    Although Delta is definitely a more stingy program than United, it’s definitely better than Elevate!

  • JC

    Thanks! Love your blog and all its updates. Keep posting!

  • Chris McGinnis

    thanks for your astute commentary, Jason! — chris

  • JC

    DL also flies to SLC from SJC. Although DL is growing in the Bay Area, it’s probably most accurate to frame its growth as an emphasis on its west coast focus cities in LAX and SEA. But to establish itself in those markets, DL must connect with SFO for both flow and local traffic. The airline is focused on growing SEA into a major international hub (NRT, HND, PEK, PVG, ICN, HKG, LHR, CDG, AMS), but its existing codeshare with AS can’t provide sufficient feed. That codeshare was adequate with fewer overseas flights but given DL’s recent international SEA expansion, it needs to start providing its own feed. With assets already deployed for that feed, the carrier is also making efforts to increase its market share and presence in the local markets (e.g. SEASFO, LAXSEA). LAX will continue to serve primary and secondary domestic markets with a couple primary international markets (NRT, HND, SYD).