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Southwest vs. Delta: Which One to Choose?

Trying to choose between Delta and Southwest for your next flight? Our comparison of Delta vs. Southwest has got you covered.

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By Eglė

Published: Oct 12, 2023 min read

Southwest vs. Delta: Which One to Choose?

Can Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines really be seen as rivals? While Southwest made its mark as one of the pioneer low-cost carriers in the U.S., Delta has consistently positioned itself as a full-service airline catering to premium travelers. So, is Southwest truly superior to Delta?

Diving into the airline industry and comparing Delta and Southwest, one might wonder: Can two airlines be any more distinct from each other?

If you're in a dilemma over which airline to choose for your next journey, or if you're doing a last-minute cram session for tomorrow's assignment (tsk, tsk) – this Delta vs Southwest overview is for you.

Is it even fair to term Delta Airlines and Southwest Airlines as competitors? History portrays Southwest as one of the pioneering budget airlines in the US, while Delta has traditionally flaunted its status as an upscale carrier, catering predominantly to premium flyers.

However, the clear demarcation of the past, reminiscent of the 80s and 90s, has started to blur recently. Southwest has evolved into an industry trailblazer, steadily encroaching on the customer bases of legacy airlines like DeltaUnited, and American, especially on domestic U.S. routes.

I admit, even I opted for Southwest over Delta on a recent jaunt. So, comparing Delta and Southwest is definitely valid. It might not be as direct as an Allegiant vs Frontier face-off, but it's quite close.

Delta vs Southwest: Highlighting the Contrasts

At a glance, many would deduce that Delta and Southwest are polar opposites in the aviation landscape. And, honestly, it's a pretty accurate deduction.

But let's delve deeper. They're among the top carriers in the US, each with their unique approach to customer service. While similarities are scanty, disparities abound.


  • Both boast fleets surpassing 700 aircraft.
  • Atlanta and Los Angeles serve as key operational bases for both.
  • They both have top-notch in-flight entertainment, arguably the best among major U.S. airlines.
  • Journeying to Hawaii? The experience on Southwest is almost on par with Delta's economy class.


  • Delta embraces the hub and spoke system, while Southwest thrives on point-to-point connections.
  • Diversity marks Delta's fleet, whereas Southwest remains loyal to the Boeing 737.
  • Delta spans 50+ countries with its vast international routes. In contrast, Southwest's overseas itinerary is more limited, focusing on about 10 neighboring countries.
  • Delta's cabins flaunt first class and premium economy seats, while Southwest champions a one-size-fits-all economy class.
  • With a rich tapestry of international partners and a key role in the SkyTeam alliance, Delta's global network is expansive. Southwest, however, prefers solo operations, devoid of joint ventures or affiliations.
  • Southwest's open seating policy stands out, allowing passengers to pick seats upon boarding. Delta lets travelers choose seats during booking.
  • Southwest is unique in offering complimentary checked bags in the U.S., including special items like skis or surfboards. Delta, however, levies charges on checked luggage.

Clearly, the differences outweigh the similarities. While Delta aspires to be a universal choice, Southwest keeps things straightforward, delivering consistent services at competitive rates. However, the rise of ultra-budget carriers like Spirit and Frontier means Southwest no longer always holds the title for the most economical option. The times, they are changing.

So Which One To Choose??

The line dividing Delta and Southwest has gradually blurred over time. Both airlines have grown to provide commendable services across popular destinations. Yet, how do you pick between the two?

Reasons to Fly Delta:

  • If globe-trotting is on your agenda, Delta's expansive international network is a boon.
  • Business class travelers can indulge in domestic first-class luxuries, especially when the company foots the bill.
  • Regular flyers with a keen interest in accruing status and points within a global airline alliance should lean towards Delta.
  • For those who value in-flight entertainment on sizable screens, Delta doesn't disappoint.
  • Delta lets you reserve your preferred seat when you book.
  • Craving more gourmet in-flight meals? Delta has got you covered.

Reasons to Opt for Southwest:

  • Budget travelers, rejoice! While Southwest might not always be the cheapest, it frequently undercuts Delta in pricing.
  • Want to avoid labyrinthine airline hubs? Southwest's point-to-point model reduces the likelihood of layovers at colossal hubs.
  • Enjoy the flexibility of picking your seat as you board? Southwest is your go-to.
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Oct 12, 2023

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