In the interests of maintaining elite status, being able to accumulate enough miles to actually book an award ticket, and having a good chance at a pleasant customer service experience, I’ve been flying American, Continental, and United this year. There’s a limit to my loyalty, however. When it came time to book my return ticket to New York last week, those airlines wanted about $400 for a one-way. Amtrak would have been around $130 (Edit: One-way). Jetblue was around $120 (Edit: One-way). To see if I could do any better, I plugged in my entire roundtrip into ITA and found a Delta roundtrip for $157 all-inclusive. In terms of cents-per-mile, it’s a terribly high price; but in terms of New York to Washington, it’s a respectable fare.
My Friday evening flight out of New York was canceled out around noon due to expected thunderstorms so I wound up on Amtrak anyways.
When I called Delta to cancel my segment inbound to Washington so I could get a refund and take Amtrak instead, I got a human being within a minute. With American, I generally get a human just as quickly. Sadly, with United and Continental, I’ve spent 30 minutes on hold a few times this year, even as an elite. (Based on the discussion on a FlyerTalk thread, I shudder to think what non-elites face.)