Delta is the favorite U.S. airline of a panel of people in a pretty good position to judge: frequent travelers.

USA Today polled 246 of its “Road Warriors” on which airline they preferred, and Delta beat its competitors with 82 votes. American Airlines finished second with 56 and Southwest came in third with 41.

Delta's commitment to its most frequent fliers has had an impact, USA Today wrote Monday.

"I have had trips into LAX (L.A.), DTW (Detroit) and ATL (Atlanta), where due to flight delays, Delta personnel met me as I deplaned, escorted me to the tarmac, put me in a Porsche SUV and drove me to my connecting flight," said Grant Helmendach, an executive in West Union, S.C. "In every case, I made my connecting flight and avoided a travel disaster."

USA Today also quoted Blair Feld, a Washington-based consultant who was about to miss his connecting flight in Detroit on the way from Chicago to Washington last year.

He sprinted to his gate, which was closed when he arrived. The gate agent took his information, made some phone calls and then something amazing happened, he told USA Today.

"Then they reopened the gate door, rolled the gate back up to the plane, reopened the plane door and let me hop on the flight. I was very impressed and relieved. The guy I sat next to just looked at me and said, 'Who the hell are you?' "

Feld has Diamond status with Delta, but even before that, he was a fan. "They seldom cancel flights," he said.

Other Road Warriors cited Delta for the product it offers to all customers.

"Delta has consistently good crew and good technology," says Dan Winkowski, who does sales support in Los Angeles. "Delta's routes are also well-done."

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