American vs Delta vs United: From ‘bizarre food’ to ‘well-designed’ seats, travel experts test the business class cabins of the three biggest U.S airlines on flights from Heathrow to New York

  • The London-New York air corridor is the most lucrative in the world
  • So how are American, Delta and United ensuring they reel in the big bucks on it?
  • The Points Guy UK finds out in a fascinating business-class battle…
  • A crucial part of the investigation was the time it took for fizz to be delivered 

They’re America’s three biggest airlines and all offer services between London and New York, the biggest money-spinning airline corridor in the world.

But how are American Airlines, Delta and United ensuring they reel in the big business-class bucks for this route?

Travel experts from The Points Guy UK (TPG UK) find out by comparing the business-class cabins of each carrier on flights from London Heathrow to New York and New Jersey, a video investigation that included timing how long it took before a glass of fizz was served after boarding.

DELTA 

Head of TPG UK Nicky Kelvin put the Delta posh seat (above) to the test

Nicky paid £1,123 ($1,323) for seat 8D on a Boeing 767-400 to JFK Airport

Head of TPG UK Nicky Kelvin put the Delta posh seat to the test, paying £1,123 ($1,323) for seat 8D on a Boeing 767-400 to JFK Airport (inclusive of a business class flight from Paris to London and a return economy flight).

He loved the fact that he could use the ‘exceptional’ Clubhouse of code-share partner Virgin Atlantic at Heathrow and described the check-in process at the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class wing he could also use as ‘private and exclusive’, with ‘no queuing at any point’.

On board, he said the food was ‘plentiful and delicious’ and the service ‘top notch’. The crew were ‘attentive, efficient and hilarious’, he revealed, and for the ‘Champagne timer challenge’ delivered bubbles in a mere two minutes and 29 seconds.

Nicky said that his seat ‘didn’t provide much space when in the fully flat position’

Nicky described the food on his Delta flight (above) as ‘plentiful and delicious’ and the service as ‘top notch’

Regarding the seat, Nicky told MailOnline Travel: ‘This aircraft did not feature Delta’s newest seat, the Delta One Suite, which was disappointing on this premium route. And it didn’t provide much space when in the fully flat position. This would have been more of an issue, though, on a night flight if I was trying to sleep.’

AMERICAN AIRLINES 

The American Airlines fancy cabin was reviewed by Liam Spencer, who paid 65,000 AAdvantage miles plus £254.06 ($299) tax for seat 7A on a Boeing 777-200 to JFK Airport.

He said the food was a ‘real highlight’, telling MailOnline Travel: ‘Fresh prawns with an array of dips made for the perfect starter, and the ice cream sundae was the best dessert I’ve ever had on a plane.’

The American Airlines fancy cabin was reviewed by Liam Spencer (above)

Liam Spencer paid 65,000 AAdvantage miles plus £254.06 ($299) tax for seat 7A on a Boeing 777-200 to JFK Airport

He liked his seat, too, describing it as ‘spacious and comfortable, with no shortage of storage options’, adding: ‘Even in a lie-flat position I had plenty of room to spread out and stretch my legs without feeling cramped and the bedding and pillows provided were incredibly soft.’

It wasn’t a perfect experience, though. Liam said the crew ‘could have been friendlier’ and managed only a ‘so-so’ Champagne delivery time of 21 minutes and 25 seconds.

The seat, meanwhile, ‘was showing a few signs of ageing, with the fabric on the headrest starting to pull away from the seat, giving it a slightly tacky appearance’.

Liam liked his seat, describing it as ‘spacious and comfortable, with no shortage of storage options’

Liam said the crew ‘could have been friendlier’ and managed only a ‘so-so’ Champagne delivery time after boarding of 21 minutes and 25 seconds

The American Airlines seat ‘was showing a few signs of ageing, with the fabric on the headrest starting to pull away, giving it a slightly tacky appearance’


The food on Liam’s American Airlines flight was a ‘real highlight’. He told MailOnline Travel: ‘Fresh prawns with an array of dips made for the perfect starter, and the ice cream sundae (right) was the best dessert I’ve ever had on a plane’

He added that while the winged headrest ‘provided some privacy’, the suite didn’t have a sliding door, something that ‘would elevate the product to the next level’.

UNITED 

Putting United’s premium product under the microscope was Ben Smithson, who paid £2,109 ($2,485) – inclusive of a business class flight from Brussels to London and a return economy flight – for seat 8L on a Boeing 767-300 from Heathrow to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

Putting United’s premium product under the microscope was Ben Smithson (above)

Ben paid £2,109 ($2,485) – inclusive of a business class flight from Brussels to London and a return economy flight – for seat 8L on a Boeing 767-300 from Heathrow to Newark Liberty International Airport

He was highly impressed with the ‘Polaris seat’, telling MailOnline Travel that it was ‘very well designed with high-quality materials and style choices’, adding that they are ‘holding up well despite heavy use’.

Ben also loved the Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, describing it as ‘among the best in the industry’. The slumber package comes with a ‘gel pillow’, which Ben said was ‘great for staying cool while sleeping’.

On the downside was an entertainment screen that didn’t tilt and ‘some bizarre food combinations’ that Ben ‘would not want to eat again’ – and ‘painfully slow drinks service taking well over an hour’. 

Ben said that he experienced ‘some bizarre food combinations’ (above) on his flight

The United Polaris suite is ‘very well designed with high-quality materials and style choices’

However, he noted that it was the first ever international flight for some of the crew due to shortages, which might have explained the ponderous deployment of beverages. 

Still, when it came to bubbles deployment, they upped their game with a time of five minutes and 17 seconds.

For more information on travel tips and tricks, sign up to The Points Guy UK. Click here to see the full-length video of the U.S airline business class battle.

Ben, Nicky and Liam giving their verdict on their business-class flights

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