I just came back from traveling to absolutely two different countries – by time zone, by culture and by the direction of the flight. I spent almost two weeks in Germany and less than two weeks in Argentina, with a day in between – with returning to and taking off from New York City.
Having traveled quite a bit over the last few years, I kept asking the same question: What’s wrong with the American airlines? And when I say it, I mean pretty much every single American airline out there, with just a few exceptions, like JetBlue and Virgin America airlines.
I travel often and often – to international destinations. In the last couple of years, I’ve been to France, Germany – twice, Spain, Sweden, Mexico, Aruba, Switzerland, Russia, Canada and Argentina. And it happens often that I get whatever tickets I can get at the lowest possible price, which, by the way, ends up to be not at its lowest since I don’t buy it way in advance.
I flew American Airlines, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, KLM, JetBlue, Delta, Aeroflot (Russian airline), Croatia Airlines, Ryanair (European budget airlines), and AirFrance – just to name a few that I could remember. However, if I could choose any airlines, out of all available ones for domestic and international flights, I’d only fly the Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Virgin America, and you know why? Because they still care about the condition and quality of their amenities and services they provide to the passengers, including the Economy class customers.
I often think – why is that the Singapore Airlines, the airlines that have been voted one of the best airlines in the world, why is that even after earning the grand status, they continue to provide a great service? How is that they could afford to have more leg room between the seats for their passengers, why is that they have the means to provide good quality food onboard and excellent entertainment? Why is that their flight attendants are willing to go beyond to satisfy a customer’s demands, even the ones, who sit in the economy department of the aircraft? Why is that they still smile and check on your comfort – from drinks to food and blankets – throughout the long hour flights?
Just last month, I flew the Singapore Airlines from JFK, New York to Frankfurt, Germany and I could not believe the quality of the service they provide – starting from the check-in officers to the flight attendants’ services onboard. It’s the first time in my life when the long 7-8 hour flight from USA to Europe didn’t feel like a long and exhausting flight, but rather like a 7-hour lounging time by the ‘pool’ with a tropical drink Singapore Sling with about 40+ movies – international and American – to choose from, not to mention the other entertainment – from documentaries and shows to games and music? Why is that they give out the menus with breakfast/lunch/dinner they serve that includes about 20+ various drinks they offer – from Bailey’s to Screwdriver? Why the American airlines can’t do it?
It happened that my neighbor on the Singapore Airlines flight to Germany was a German gentleman, who, after a few shots of their signature drink Singapore Sling, told me that he’s never ever flown such a great, comfortable flight in his life. Even Lufthansa cannot compare to it.
I was flying to Germany to spend Christmas with my parents, and for the first time in my life, I actually witnessed the aircraft having the Christmas decorations inside the cabins. It was lovely and set the right mood for the passengers like myself, who were traveling to spend Christmas with the families and/or other loved ones.
A few years ago my parents flew the Singapore Airlines for the first time and they now swear by it. They were the ones who encouraged me to fly it and book my meal online. Not expecting anything out of it, I went to the check-in option online and chose a ‘seafood meal’ choice. I thought to myself: “What the heck, it doesn’t cause me anything to try…”
You can imagine the surprise I got, when the time came to eat onboard. The flight attendants came to my seat and said: “Ma’m, you’ve ordered the seafood meal, right? Here you go…” And handed me the meal before anyone else in the cabin was served. I couldn’t believe it, because we – and I’m not afraid to loose the noun ‘we’ – here in America have already forgotten, what a good service feels like, because in the last few years the local American airlines took a turn to the worst – remember all the news stories about the rude flight attendants, the absolutely awful food, if at all, and the ridiculous mini pretzels and peanuts the American airlines serve to their passengers throughout the flight? Try to ask them twice for the wine on the long-distance flights – they’d give you a stare…
This is why, believe it or not, so many American airlines don’t want to fly long distances, unless they absolutely have to for the long-distanced locations. That is why the break up the flights to have connecting flights – it excuses them to not have to serve full meals, but, rather instead, to serve absolutely awful, unhealthy, and tasteless small meals.
Even the Croatia airlines that offer flights from Zurich to Dubrovnik, Croatia – an hour long flight, offer juices and sandwiches on board. They seem to care.
The American airlines should take it as an example of a good service – otherwise, I see more and more of what’s happening – the Americans who’ve gotten already exposed to other, better, foreign airlines, chase the flights down to fly those instead of ‘supporting’ the local airlines. Unless the American flight attendants learn how to be good, polite and attentive to the passengers, unless they learn that to substitute a pathetically looking warmed-up croissant with a mini sandwich with cheese and ham on a good slice of bread would not cost them a lot of money, they’d be loosing money and competition to the foreign airline services. They also should understand that the very cold temperature they keep in a cabin makes the passengers wear layers of clothing – doesn’t make it a cozy flight. On my flight on the American Airlines from Buenos Aires to New York City, I literally was sitting in my winter parka coat!
So, here’s an advice to you, my dear friends and travellers. If you are booking a flight overseas, and what looks like a European airline, from KLM (Dutch airlines) and Lufthansa (German airlines) to Air France (French airlines) and Aeroflot, make sure that they are of ‘pure breed’ before reserving a ticket, because I see more and more European airlines being ‘operated’ by the American airlines, and, unfortunately, having been traveling quite a bit, I can attest to you that once a European/foreign airline becomes “American”, the quality falls down by a lot.
I’ve been tempted to write about it for a long time, as I’ve grown intolerant to the services of the American airlines. I have been going out of my way to fly any other kind of airlines but the American, because I’ve been observing the degradation of the quality of the services the American airlines have been providing, hoping that it would change over the years, but it hasn’t – it only gets worse.
I’ve experiences both rude flight attendants and disguising food options that would leave me extremely uncomfortable and hungry during the long flights that the only thing would be left to do is to cram my legs against the close-by seat of the passenger in front of me to my chest and try to sleep in an absolutely cold cabin after taking the sleep-induced pills in order to avoid the awful foods and bathroom runs.
When I used to express my frustration with the American airlines to my friends and family, some of them would say: “Well, what do you expect, they are almost bankrupt, they don’t have the financials to provide the services you are expecting…” Really? How then you’d explain the prices on the domestic flights that go as high as $550 for a flight from New York, NY to Houston, TX, when I could fly the Singapore Airlines for $800 to the foreign country? I could never accept such answer, because, you know why? I doubt the flight attendants and the pilots for the Singapore Airlines earn more than the ones from Delta, but they still manage to offer an immaculate service that makes a passenger very loyal and satisfied – the long-term affect that keeps on manipulating the decision you make towards the airlines of your choice.
All in all, I applaud to the Singapore Airlines and I hope they’d continue to provide such great services, because, them and me are now going to be ‘friends’ for as long as I would be visiting my parents and friends in Europe, hoping they’d start offering services to more destinations, if not within the USA.
Lufthansa and Aeroflot are two other airlines that still offer good services for the long-distance flights. Especially, Lufthansa, so, before you decide to book a flight on the United from USA to Russia, just because you’ve never flown the Russian airlines, think twice, because the Russians offer endless alcohol options and better meals, which you can’t say the same about the American airlines…
What’s your favorite airline(s)? What airline(s), in your opinion, should change? And, most importantly would you give up comfort for a lower priced ticket?