Photograph by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
For decades, airlines have battled for a piece of the Atlanta market, where more than 75 percent of the airport’s traffic comes from Delta and its SkyTeam partners. Southwest nabs another 9.5 percent; the others just nibble at the edges. That said, a few arrivistes are looking to create some turbulence. How they stack up against the titan of the tarmac.
Delta Air lines
Among the perks: Speedy security line at ATL? Thank Delta. Last year it spent $1 million to innovate bag and bin routing, and another $4 million to help TSA staff more checkpoints.
Most luxe seat: Suites on Delta One come with doors, plus the requisite flatbed, noise-canceling headphones, and Kiehl’s toiletries. On the menu: H&F Bread Co. and Storico Fresco.
The rub: When the Fox Theatre hosted Qatar’s ATL launch party, Delta withdrew its more than 20-year-long sponsorship of the theater.
New kids on the block
Arrived: June 2016
1 destination (Doha, Qatar)
Among the perks: Connections. From Doha, fly direct to nearly 150 far-flung cities—like Chennai and Addis Ababa—many of which used to take Atlantans several stops to reach.
Most luxe seat: The 777 from ATL offers a flatbed with massage settings, “sleepsuits,” and Giorgio Armani toiletries. Dining—menus by Nobu Matsuhisa—is on demand.
The rub: Qatar’s official carrier has been criticized for being unfairly subsidized by its oil-rich government, and human rights advocates have accused it of worker abuses.
Arrived: May 2016
1 destination (Istanbul)
Among the perks: More connections, to a slew of destinations across the world, including 110 cities in Europe, 35 in Asia, and 49 in Africa. Turkish flies to more countries than any other airline.
Most luxe seat: Yes, this 777 features flatbeds, but the food is the highlight. Passengers can pick dim-sum style from Turkish specialties. The tea selection is sublime.
The rub: Terrorism and political instability in Turkey last year sunk the country’s international arrivals to a 25-year low.
Arriving March 2017
1 destination (Boston)
Among the perks: Boston, anyone? Look for rates on that route, and any other cities JetBlue adds, to tumble. Next up? If plans hold, flights to New York (JFK), Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale.
Most luxe seat: JetBlue’s not about luxury; it’s about economy, and this leg doesn’t offer business class. Still, JetBlue is known for being the U.S. carrier with the most legroom in coach.
The rub: JetBlue has long been chasing Delta, with the low-cost carrier stating that Atlantans have spent “decades being underserved by high-fare legacy carriers.”
Plane photographs courtesy of the airlines
This article originally appeared in our January 2017 issue.