Commitment Issues: Should I Be Loyal To American, Delta, or United Airlines?

All of my travels begin and end in Omaha, Nebraska. Omaha's Eppley Airfield is a small regional airport, so service on American, Delta, and United Airlines tends to be limited. Southwest Airlines currently offers the most non-stop flights out of Omaha, but unfortunately their loyalty isn't going to get me complimentary upgrades to first or business class.

At the beginning of the year I flew Delta Airlines to New York and Orlando.  In those two instances Delta just happened to be my cheapest option. I wasn't looking for any glitz or glam, I just wanted to get from point "A" to point "B" for the least amount of dollars and cents. I'm usually a very diligent thinker, but for some reason I just assumed that trend of cheap tickets would continue. You know what happens when you assume right? You make an A** out of "U" and "ME"....

Flash forward to April and I'm now reconsidering my initially loyal commitment to Delta. The more time I spend on Google Flights, the more I realize Delta isn't always my best, or even cheapest, option out of Omaha.

Being the quantitative statistician I am, I immediately started crunching the numbers. I live by the old adage "numbers never lie." What else would you expect from a former baseball player? So deciding what airline to pledge my loyalty to should be no different. I've decided to summarize my findings. If Omaha serves as your home airport I'll save you the trouble of wasting half a year before realizing whether you should be loyal to American, Delta, or United Airlines.

I broke my research down into three categories: Non-stop Flights To & From Omaha, Average Round Trip Ticket Cost, and Partner Airlines. I believe these are the three most valuable components for determining whether American, Delta, or United suits you best. So lets dive in!

Non-Stop Flights To & From Omaha

American Airlines

American currently offers non-stop service from Omaha (OMA) to:
Los Angeles (LAX)
Phoenix (PHX)
Dallas (DFW)
Chicago (ORD)
Charlotte (CLT)

American Airlines' non-stop routes from Omaha, Nebraska

American Airlines' non-stop routes from Omaha, Nebraska

Delta Airlines

Delta offers daily non-stop service from Omaha (OMA) to:
Salt Lake City (SLC)
Minneapolis (MSP)
Detroit (DTW)
New York City (LGA)
Washington DC (DCA)
Atlanta (ATL)

Delta Airlines' non-stop routes from Omaha, Nebraska

Delta Airlines' non-stop routes from Omaha, Nebraska

United Airlines

United's daily non-stop service consists of routes from Omaha (OMA) to:
Denver (DEN)
Houston (IAH)
Chicago (ORD)
Newark (EWR)

United Airlines' non-stop routes from Omaha, Nebraska

United Airlines' non-stop routes from Omaha, Nebraska

Average Round Trip Ticket Price

The next piece of evidence I collected was the average round-trip ticket price. For an even comparison I averaged out the prices for each of these flights throughout the 30 days in September. September is about six months away and isn't really a peak season for travel, so my calculations should be relatively close to the median.

American Airlines

Omaha (OMA) to:
Los Angeles (LAX) $363
Phoenix (PHX) $294
Dallas (DFW) $272
Chicago (ORD) $222
Charlotte (CLT) $339
Total $298

Delta Airlines

Omaha (OMA) to:
Salt Lake City (SLC) $365
Minneapolis (MSP) $304
Detroit (DTW) $343
New York City (LGA) $266
Washington DC (DCA) $259
Atlanta (ATL) $362
Total $316

United Airlines

Omaha (OMA) to:
Denver (DEN) $201
Houston (IAH) $438
Chicago (ORD) $226
Newark (EWR) $324
Total $297

Partner Airlines

Partner airlines are the biggest key to earning elite status on any airline. Partner airlines allow you to fly around the globe while still getting credit towards your AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles, or United MileagePlus account. I'm sure it's probable, but no one earns status by exclusively flying domestic.

American Airlines

American is a member of the One World Alliance. These 15 airlines serve 1,011 destinations in 154 countries.

Delta Airlines

Delta is a member of the Sky Team. The Sky Team services 1057 destinations in 179 different countries.

United Airlines

United is a member of the Star Alliance. They serve 1330 destinations in 192 countries.

Final Analysis

And my winner is (drum roll please)...AMERICAN AIRLINES! The biggest selling points for me were the great destinations like LAX, DFW, and ORD. These routes are perfect positioning flights for future premium cabin award redemptions. It also doesn't hurt that American offers one of the cheapest round trip fares on average. The icing on the cake was American's membership in the One World alliance. One World offers some of the best airlines for both trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic flights. Now everyone's criteria isn't going to be the exact same as mine. It's your job to look over the information and decide which airline best suits you.

Where do your loyalties lie? American, Delta, or United?