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I flew on the 2 largest US airlines in 2021 and couldn't believe how much better Delta was handling the pandemic over American

I flew on the 2 largest US airlines in 2021 and couldn't believe how much better Delta was handling the pandemic over American

Flying on American Airlines and Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.
Thomas Pallini/Insider




American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have taken two very different approaches to the pandemic.




Delta has been blocking middle seats since April 2020 while American never embraced the policy.




I took three flights on both airlines in 2021 to see how the two were handling social distancing in the skies.




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American Airlines and Delta Air Lines were the two largest airlines in the US before the pandemic, each generating billions in revenue each year and boasting the largest fleets of any global airline. Both offered similar products with the choice between the two coming down to factors like customer preference, price, and loyalty.The divide between them widened during the pandemic, however, thanks to one key factor: safety. While Delta blocked middle seats through for most of 2020, American filed its planes to capacity as early as the summer. I flew on both carriers in June 2020 on my first trip back to the skies since the pandemic began and found Delta to be a far sight better than American, largely because of the former's above and beyond approach to safety. But as we enter a new year in aviation's recovery, I wanted to see just how the two were faring nearly one year since COVID-19 upended aviation.I took three flights across both airlines on a recent trip, flying from New York to Miami on American and then from Houston, Texas to Los Angeles via Salt Lake City on Delta. The result was surprising, especially as the US continues to see record COVID-19-related deaths and a slow-going vaccine rollout. Here's which one handled pandemic flying the best in 2021.

My first flight on American took me from New York to Miami on one of the airline's most popular routes. Florida has become a travel hotspot due to lax restrictions and airlines are angling to take advantage.

I flew on the 2 largest US airlines in 2021 and couldn't believe how much better Delta was handling the pandemic over American

Flying on American Airlines during the pandemic.
Thomas Pallini/Insider
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