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Which Airline is your favorite for transatlantic flight?

I am flying to Paris next year. Flights offered from American, Delta, and United are all about the same price. I will pay extra for premium economy. Does anyone think that one of these provides a better flight experience?
TIA

Posted by
956 posts

Ive flown United and Delta (although technically the Delta flight was on AirFrance, which I believe is its international "partner"). I liked both. No real difference stands out to weight one over the other, so I would pick based on fare and schedule. However, AirFrance has been on strike now and then the past few years so you may eat to consider that?

Posted by
17720 posts

The only flight on an American (flag) airline that I don't remember as being terrible was on Delta (to Stuttgart), and that was in 2002, so hardly relevant. The worst trans-Atlantic flights have been on USAir (which became part of American) and United. If I had to chose, I would chose "none of the above".

you may eat to consider that?

"Eat"? Jessica, looks like you using an iSomething to post.

Posted by
3283 posts

I've liked Delta and Icelandair. I'd give Delta the edge over Icelandair because they offer more services (food and drink) If you are picking an airline for a better flight experience, watch for code shares. We were very disappointed with our return flight with Delta. It was a codeshare with KLM, and the food was only fair and there was only beverage service once.

Posted by
5010 posts

American, Delta, and United, the tri-opoly of US legacy airlines, are harder and harder to tell apart as time goes by - ticket prices are not the only thing that seem to be almost identical across them. I'm not sure that any one of them could be relied on for a "better flight experience."

Be sure you compare their "premium economy" seats (each has a different name for that). I'd check the seat dimensions very carefully for any flight I was contemplating booking (use seatguru.com as a source, imperfect though it is - be sure you check the specific aircraft type used on the specific flight and date you are considering, since there are many variations and the specific aircraft type can make a big difference). I'd base my decision on that, and (primarily) on the routing/schedule, because IMHO there's not a whole lot of difference between these three airlines (which have been engaging in an intense, anti-competitive "race to the bottom" for years since they snuffed out almost all of their competition via mergers and acquisitions).

Posted by
532 posts

We've gone to Europe every year since 2014 and always flown Delta. Only once was it actually Air France out of JFK (it just had a Delta flight number). We'll likely be using them again next year for flights to Paris via Atlanta. Atlanta isn't my favorite airport, but last I checked Delta had 3 flights to Paris each day (so more flexibility) and they have flights that have Premium Select which is better than their Economy Comfort (wider recliner seats, noise canceling head phones, better meals, priority boarding, etc) but not as fancy or expensive as Business.

If we flew from SLC or Minn/St Paul the choices of flights or seats would be less. I like those airports but twice have had to deal with problems because there are fewer options. Once Delta's regional carrier cancelled our flight home from SLC 2 weeks before our trip and last year they kept moving our departure from SLC up so much that we had to move up our departure from home so early we had a 6-7 hour layover vs 2.

Posted by
303 posts

I see that you are from Ohio. We live in the suburbs of Cincinnati and always fly Delta to Europe. They have direct flights from CVG to CDG which eliminates the need to layover in Atlanta or JFK. We choose Economy Comfort and have always been very happy with the experience. The food has always been top notch in our opinion. We even prefer Delta for domestic flights after suffering through a few United flights. For us there is no other choice but Delta.

Posted by
1515 posts

For my Cross Atlantic Journeys to Europe over the years, I have flown on Lufthansa, Swiss, and Turkish airlines. Those 3 are tops in my book. IcelandAir is slowly becoming very popular currently flying to Europe with an option to have a layover in Iceland.

Posted by
858 posts

I live near Philadelphia, so American is usually my best bet, and they have been fine on transAtlantic economy. Their Premium Economy is new, and pretty nice! I managed to snag a decent price last year when they introduced it. Roomy, edible food, pleasant. Would do it again for the right price.

Posted by
712 posts

Thanks for all of your replies.

@Lee: what airline do you use? I fly out of Ohio, so it decreases the value of flying on a non American (flag) airline. For example, I flew Turkish Airlines recently. The flight from Chicago was only $750ish dollars, but connecting from Ohio jacked up the price to $1600. I am not willing to fly the same day on two different tickets and another day away from work and a hotel room negate any savings of flying over 2 days. I also find the "plus" seats worth the money. I was miserable on the 12 hour flight home on TA.

@Dave: I agree that looking up each flight on seat guru is smart, that has saved me a few times.

@cj: I will definitely make sure that any Delta flight isn't a code share, due to looking at seat guru.

@Barb: I got so excited for a minute after reading your post. Renting a car and driving the four hours to Cincinnati might be worth it to get a direct flight. Unfortunately, the flight is only $100 less, but I am going to consider doing that.

@Rjean: I will look and see what the options for Swiss and Lufthansa are. I felt cramped on Turkish Airlines and I can't afford their business class (they don't offer an in between).

Posted by
712 posts

@Liz: One of the possible flights for me is American. I think thru Charlotte on the way over and Philadelphia on the way back. Thanks for sharing your experience.

I definitely get jealous reading about those of you that live near international hubs. But then again cost of living here is low, so in the long run paying extra for flights isn't so bad.

Posted by
1643 posts

We just flew “premium economy “ on American to Rome and it was the best ever. Ohioans too, and Delta has been the most frequent, but this was good. The plane type makes big BIG differences. Safe travels.

Posted by
317 posts

So, along those lines, which aircraft do you prefer in economy or premium economy for the flight to Europe?

Posted by
2078 posts

Airbus 330 or 340. The seats are 2-4-2, no dreaded middle seat, and we are a couple. We get these on American, and Lufthansa's one flight from Philadelphia (there was a period they switched to a747 for this flight, but appear to have switched back.A 767 will do if we must as it is 2-3-2.

Posted by
2061 posts

We fly Delta from SeaTac for convenience, comfort, route and consistent great customer service. We did fly on Air France to Paris several years ago. As mentioned up thread I check seat guru as well.

Posted by
6543 posts

My wife just got back from flying into London Heathrow and home from Barcelona. She went on Delta and said that they've really made some changes recently to make their European flights much more pleasant.
We're flying into LHR non-stop out of Nashville the last of March on British Airways connecting to Berlin.

Posted by
672 posts

Delta 80% of the time and United 20% of the time, had excellent experiences with both

Posted by
17720 posts

@Lee: what airline do you use?

Lufthansa. I've flown round trip on Lufthansa to Germany 6 times out of 11 trips. Never had a bad experience on Lufthansa. For Robin's first trip to Germany, I used miles and could only fly Lufthansa one way (to FRA) and had to come back from MUC on United. She immediately noticed the difference in service on Lufthansa over United.

I know Lufthansa cannot fly direct to Paris, so I don't know what I would do in your case (I've never flown Air Chance, so I don't know for sure it's better than US airlines). I have flown British Air and Swiss Air, and those airlines were noticeable better than US airlines. I did fly NWA (now part of Delta) once (2000) and it was good back then.

Posted by
2023 posts

We fly Delta usually but sometimes they put us on Air France or one of their code shares. The best flight ever was on Virgin Atlantic. It was about two years ago and I suppose it has some ties to Delta. The food was very good--real dishes and utensils and placemats and cloth napkins. We were seated in bulkhead (lucky) and they even provided foot rests. Not a single complaint about that flight. Restrooms were clean during the entire flight. Our first flight to Europe was on United and it was fine. The only time we fly American is to Dallas or Miami.

Posted by
2029 posts

Virgin Premium Economy, Virgin Economy, the now-defunct Open Skies Business, United Economy, British Airways Business, American Business, Iberia Business. None of them have been that much better or worse than the others. Overall, I can't complain.

Hey - you're flying to Europe!

Posted by
3144 posts

I have been flying on Delta since Continental merged with United. The Delta miles I have makes it my option for transatlantic flying and I'm quite happy with Delta especially with the cost savings and the stellar service they provide for disabled passengers.

Posted by
2041 posts

United and Lufthansa are both part of Star Alliance, one of the three major global airline alliances in which member airlines work together to provide an allegedly "seamless" experience across two carriers. Those people earlier in the thread that mentioned being on Air France on a Delta ticket? Air France and Delta are partners through Sky Team, one of the other alliances.

So... as long as you buy the ticket through Lufthansa (and not an aggregator like Expedia or Travelocity), United should treat you fine... or at least as fine as they treat their own passengers. Sometimes there are small hiccups... like Delta couldn't check me in recently at my home airport (GSP = Greenville/Spartanburg, SC) or at Atlanta for the Amsterdam --> Berlin Tegel leg of an itinerary that was operated by KLM but purchased through Delta; the KLM staff at Atlanta and the KLM transfer kiosk at AMS also were not able to do this, so I had to go to the KLM service desk once at AMS to get my boarding pass.

I always fly Delta (50 transatlantic flights in the last 5+ years) and other than 1 grumpy flight attendant on 1 flight, I have zero complaints. I feel like I'm "home" when I get on a Delta jet to head back across the pond. Also... Delta recently announced an initiative to improve the economy cabin experience on international flights (detailed here) that has now been implemented. So at least one US airline is bucking the "race to the bottom."

The best flight ever was on Virgin Atlantic. It was about two years
ago and I suppose it has some ties to Delta.

Delta owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic.

Posted by
75 posts

I'm surprised people prefer US-based airlines. We are so far removed from the days of Pan Am, TWA, and Northwest -- US airlines that specialized in quality international service. If you like a 30-inch seat pitch and 17-inch seat width in economy (777s have been refitted with 10 seats across instead of 9), the possibility of crossing the Atlantic on 767 (or, occasionally, on a narrow-body 757 if flying from the east coast), limited food and beverage options, etc., then US carriers are perfect.

Delta's effort to improve transatlantic coach is like the Doublethink "increase" in the chocolate ration (from 25 down to 20 grams) in Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four". Economy passengers had hot towels and a choice of meals 30 years ago! The "welcome drink" in coach upon reaching cruising altitude actually allows a reduction in staffing: serving everyone a small portion of the same drink requires fewer flight attendant duty hours than running an initial beverage service with full, individual choice.

I choose major foreign carriers whenever possible. Lufthansa is my favorite, with Air France a close second.

Air Canada is a hidden gem, offering competitive US-Europe fares via Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and occasionally Calgary, as well. Their service is closer to European standards, and many of their fares allow a free stopover in Canada.

For those who live in small towns, keep in mind that the major European carriers all have alliances with US carriers for your domestic connection. Even though both partners might offer the same itinerary at the same fare, try to buy your ticket from the partner that operates the transatlantic flights. This lets you manage the part of your itinerary that matters, with less hassle. For example, it's easier to select seats, special meals, etc. on a Lufthansa-operated flight (seats if seat selection is possible with your fare) when the ticket is issued by Lufthansa than when it is issued by United with a codeshare Lufthansa flight number. Ditto for making changes once you are in Europe.

Posted by
7286 posts

For me, it’s the plane, not so much the airline that determines my best experience. I have found that the Dreamliner is the best for me. I fly San Francisco - Paris about every year, the last two trips on a Dreamliner. I feel physically better during and after a flight and have no jet-lag because:
The cabin is pressurized lower than other planes (except the A350) at 6,000’,
more fresh air is pumped in during the flight, it has natural lighting, more head room, and much more leg room in regular economy class seats than any other plane in that class of seats.

Posted by
919 posts

Unless your in business class, lately I've found that all carriers-even European ones are about the same. I've had good and bad flights on all of them internationally. I've found it's also the particular flight crews on the day. Some are great and others really just hate the public and try to interact as little as possible.

Posted by
2988 posts

Sometimes it is the little things that color your image of an airline.

An Air France flight where my legs hurt from having the seat in front reclined into them for 9 straight hours and a poor choice of food offerrings (never, ever serve Lentil Salad at the beginning of a 9 hour flight- the whole flight smelled of "eau du outhouse" by the time we landed) have colored my feelings about this airline in a strong manner.

Honestly, most flights probably go well. Most people probably enjoy them, but I will be hard pressed to fly Air France again.

I would look for the best deal on extra legroom seats and make that my choice.

Posted by
4450 posts

vandrabrud, what are the routes you re looking at? I find the various airlines to be much of a muchness. However, where I connect and the length of the layover can make a huge difference.

Posted by
7684 posts

I like Iceland Air. The seats are the most comfortable. I like that the plane is smaller with the one aisle configuration as you load and deplane so much faster. Am happy to bring my own food and I like that quick transatlantic hop (7 hours or less) from Seattle or Portland to Iceland. My personal limit of hours on a plane is about 8-9 hours. I prefer having 3 quick flights to one long one.

Posted by
974 posts

We like Aer Lingus. It is the only airline that flies to Europe from our home airport (Hartford - BDL). Also, you can go through US customs and immigration in Dublin on the way home.

Posted by
996 posts

I have not flown on United in years, so I cannot offer any opinion there. With Delta & American, I can.

I think American has slightly more comfortable seats, but - and for me this is a big but - when issues arrive, I have found Delta to be far superior at re-ticketing flights, offering a hotel room for a missed connection, etc.

Of course, not every flight has issues, and no two people have the same travel expectations. I lean toward Delta these days (and its partners such as Air France), but somebody else may have had a wildly different experience from mine.

All else being equal, I would look at the key factors for me - times/dates for when I want to fly + cost. I'd select my top two or three flights/carriers from that list and then try to narrow them down.

Posted by
4140 posts

Non-budget European airlines (not code share) are always my choice. They are all better than anything US-based, IMHO.

Posted by
712 posts

I bought my tickets today.
I got CLE-CDG and CDG-CLE "premium select" on Delta for $1600.
That is what I paid on TA round trip Istanbul in economy.
I am happy with the price and the layovers.

Now I need not to look at the pricing anymore.

Thank you for all of your input.

Posted by
47 posts

Vandrabrud,

I booked a similar deal on Delta, PS fare. MSP-AMS-LIS multi-city, and glad to have the choice not to connect thru CDG (unless Delta messes with the flights between now and next May). MSP is my hometown airport.

My one and only tatl was through Delta & KLM, and feel very fortunate for that choice to connect through AMS. Overall, a good, uneventful flight experience.

Posted by
12135 posts

To answer that question specifically, I say British Airways without a doubt. I always fly Economy, non-stop, be it with Air France, BA, United, Lufthansa, ie, the dirt cheapest price available just to get over there without regard to comfort. For that reason BA is always satisfactory to enjoyable.

Posted by
500 posts

OP-

Please do yourself a HUGE favor and ignore 90% of the replies on this thread.
You indicated you want Premium Economy - a fact ignored by 80%.

There are HUGE differences in the Premium Economy cabins between the airlines....differences of up to 3 inches in seat width, which is substantial. Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy seat at 21 in is wider then United’s 20 in lay flat Business seat (but United’s does lay flat) but sadly no direct flights to Paris that I am aware of. United’s Premium Economy seat is just a cheapo coach seat with a little extra leg room- better then pure coach but nothing to brag about. Norwegian’s business class in reality is a Prem Economy cabin with a great price. Very Nice but that airline has an interesting financial future...be aware of risks before taking them.

Air France uses (still?) a seat in Prem Economy regarded by many (me and most Internet reviewers) as painfully horrible. NO recline whatsoever- it does a very slight slide pivot thing that just killed my lower back. Be very careful of code sharing; book one airline but end up seated in another; and code shares are NOT alike. As Gomer Pyle would say: surprise, surprise, surprise.

You really need to review each airlines Premium Economy seat cabin in detail. They are all different.

Posted by
772 posts

United’s Premium Economy seat is just a cheapo coach seat with a little extra leg room- better then pure coach but nothing to brag about.

This is true of UA's Economy Plus, but they are rolling out an actual premium economy cabin ("Premium Plus", they call it) in their 787-10's and some 777's.

Posted by
6 posts

I've loved Delta and Icelandair. I'd give Delta the edge over Icelandair in light of the fact that they offer more administrations (nourishment and drink) If you are picking an aircraft for a superior flight understanding, watch for code shares. We were baffled with our arrival trip with Delta.

Posted by
178 posts

We prefer to take European airlines when we can . . . for transatlantic flights, we've had good experiences on KLM, Luftansa, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic. My niece, who is in the airline industry, also gives nods to Condor Air, and my daughter liked Air France. The only one we give a "meh" rating to is Alitalia. My husband, who is Italian, has flown them more and says the only thing they do well is the coffee.

Years ago we flew Alitalia home from Rome, and were travelling with a baby in a bassinet. On normal airlines, they give you the bulkhead seat which has hooks to hang the bassinet in front of you. Not on Alitalia-- they said to put our baby on the floor. Okay, so we flew 9 hours with our feet on the wall, which was comfortable enough, but the flight attendant came by and curtly told us to put our feet down. We laughed and said, no, we weren't going to step on our baby for the rest of the flight. It's not a terrible airline, but it's not as good as the other Euro ones.