Delta Air Lines has come a long way since it began in Macon, Georgia, in 1924 as a crop-dusting operation. After a brief stint in Monroe, Louisiana, the airline moved back to Georgia and christened itself Delta Air Service as a nod to the Mississippi Delta. The upstart airline commenced passenger service in 1929 with flights around the South.
Today, the carrier employs more than 80,000 people around the world and is headquartered in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville, where it’s been since 1941.
Thinking of booking a Delta flight? Read this first
If you’ve never flown Delta or are thinking about booking a flight on the carrier again soon, here are some things to know before you fly:
1. Where does Delta fly?
The Delta umbrella, which includes its numerous partners and a regional affiliate service, Delta Connection, flies to more than 325 domestic and international destinations in more than 60 countries. Delta is the only U.S. airline to service six continents. You can download their route maps here.
2. What is Delta’s baggage policy?
The airline stipulates that passengers can bring one carry-on item onboard, plus one personal item for free. All carry-ons must be no larger than 22″ x 14″ x 9″ and be able to fit underneath the seat or in the overhead storage compartment.
Delta increased its fee for checked bags, going up to $30 for the first bag under 50 lbs., and $40 for the second under 50 lbs. The price matches some of the other carriers.
These fees may be waived for frequent fliers (see below) and holders of certain Delta-affiliated credit cards.
3. What are Delta’s premium seats?
Aside from First Class, Delta offers a number of premium seats, which are offered as part of its Premium Economy Class, Delta Comfort Plus and Delta Premium Select.
Premium Economy is a relatively new class of service that includes wider seats, noise-canceling headphones and better meal options. Meanwhile Delta Comfort Plus has up to 4 inches of extra legroom compared to regular main cabin seats. Premium Select seats, which come with wider seats and adjustable headrests, are only offered on select international flights.
In its third-quarter 2018 earnings call, Delta said that it added 3% more premium seats on its flights and saw more than 20% growth. The profits are allowing the second-largest carrier to offset rising fuel costs which have dogged other airlines. The airline also said that as it phases out its Boeing MD-80s aircraft, the larger Airbus 321s allow for 20% more premium seats, which means more money for the airline’s bottom line.
4. Delta has introduced branded boarding
As its economy fares continue to generate less and less of its revenue, the airline launched “branded boarding” on January 23, 2019. The new colors signal Delta’s six class fares (Basic Economy, Main Cabin, Delta Comfort+, Delta Premium Select/First Class and Delta One).
5. How do you get to Delta’s cheapest fares?
In addition to booking your flight early enough to take advantage of advance-sale fares, the best way to get an affordable Delta plane ticket is on their Flight Deals & Offers page.
Delta also touts its Basic Economy fares, which are billed as low-cost fares to lure price-driven customers away from competitors like Frontier Airlines. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that Delta Basic Economy seats have a ton of restrictions. This is what it says on Delta’s Basic Economy page:
When you purchase Basic Economy, you will typically enjoy our lowest fare, but seats will be assigned after check-in and you will not be able to change or refund your ticket after the Risk Free Cancellation period. Additionally, you will not be eligible for: paid or complimentary upgrades; paid, complimentary or discounted Delta Comfort+®; paid or complimentary Preferred Seats; or ticket changes including Same-Day Confirmed or Same-Day Standby travel changes, regardless of Medallion or other elite status. Checked baggage fees will apply, even when traveling internationally.
Money expert Clark Howard has said that Basic Economy was an attempt by major carriers to make flying “as miserable as they possibly could.”
One of his gripes with it is that the full-fare airlines typically hide such fares on their own websites but display them prominently on travel booking sites so they can appear in search results on Expedia, Kayak and the like.
6. You can rent a car on Delta.com
Unlike some other airlines, Delta.com allows you to rent a vehicle while you’re booking your flight. All you have to do is include your SkyMiles number and you’ll earn miles for as long as you’re in the car. And yes, you can book a hotel on Delta.com as well.
7. What about Delta’s SkyMiles frequent flier program?
Ranked as the #2 airline rewards program by U.S. News & World Report, Delta has become known for its SkyMiles Club membership, which has been up and running for more than 30 years.
As a SkyMIles member, travelers can earn miles for flying or other activities like shopping, ridesharing or booking a hotel or car rental. The good thing about SkyMiles? There are no blackout dates.
The SkyMiles membership is separated into two classes: General membership and Medallion elite. The Medallion program has four tiers that you achieve by reaching certain mileage thresholds: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond.
- Silver Medallion: You get priority check-in and boarding as well as complimentary preferred seats, waived baggage fees and priority status on any waiting lists.
- Gold Medallion: You get the lower tier’s benefits plus waived fees for same-day stand-by flights and expedited baggage service and SkyTeam lounge access.
- Platinum Medallion: You get all the lower tiers’ benefits plus the option to gift other members your Sky Miles. You also get crossover rewards like free Wi-Fi from Starwood hotels and more.
- Diamond Medallion: You get all the lower tiers’ benefits plus unlimited complimentary upgrades, complimentary Sky Club membership and more.
8. Delta has a Best Fare Guarantee
When fliers book a Delta flight, they’re not normally buying for economic reasons (that’s what the low-fare airlines are for), but Delta does offer one economic incentive: It promises to reward comparison shoppers if they find a cheaper fare on another site.
“We guarantee you will find the lowest Delta fares available online on delta.com — or your money back,” Delta states of its Best Fare Guarantee.
9. How do Delta customers view the airline?
When it comes to customer satisfaction, Delta came in tied for 4th place among major U.S. carriers in the American Customer Satisfaction Index report that was released in April 2018.