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7 Reasons Why “Terrible” Flights Aren’t Actually All That Bad These Days

Although flying sometimes comes with frustrations, there’s plenty in the way of in-flight improvements.

As the summer travel season heats up, it is very easy to find problems in the modern passenger experience. According to an Airlines for America projection, an average of 2.4 million Americans will take to the skies every day, with even more flyers expected during the Independence Day weekend. As a result, flyers contend with not only crowded airports, but shrinking seat space and seat pitch throughout the economy cabin as well.

However, even the most jaded travelers can take a little delight in some of the little luxuries that come with the modern flying experience. In the 2015 J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Survey, overall passenger satisfaction has increased with both legacy carriers and low-cost carriers.

As we prepare to travel over the Independence Day holiday weekend, we at FlyerTalk, with help from the Associated Press and our friends at Frugal Travel Guy, have found some ways the modern flying experience isn’t bad. Here are seven ways the modern flying experience has improved overall.

1 — Baggage Guarantees

With the institution of JetBlue’s checked luggage fee, Southwest Airlines is the only American carrier to still offer free checked luggage to all passengers. However, two airlines are stepping up their baggage game by offering baggage unloading guarantees. Alaska Airlines guarantees their bags will be delivered to the carousel within 20 minutes of landing. Delta Air Lines offers a similar policy, offering 2,500 SkyMiles for flyers who don’t receive their luggage in time.

2 — Suitcase Delivery

If on-time luggage delivery isn’t enough, the busy flier can opt to have their luggage delivered directly to their home or hotel. Five airlines, including all three legacy airlines, have teamed with Bags VIP to offer luggage delivery. For an additional $30, flyers can have their bags delivered anywhere within 40 miles of their destination airport within four hours or less.

3 — More In-Flight Entertainment Options

In addition to improving the luggage experience, many of the major airlines have invested more money in their in-flight entertainment systems. Southwest offers in-flight entertainment options to be delivered to passengers via Wi-Fi, while Alaska Airlines is rolling out a very similar experience for flyers. Meanwhile, United Airlines is upgrading the in-flight entertainment on smaller aircraft, announcing a plan to offer entertainment on regional aircraft.

4 — Better Dining Options

Flyers on Virgin America this summer will experience a special menu in both economy and premium classes. Ordered straight through the in-flight entertainment system, travelers can enjoy a number of locally-sourced premium meals aboard their flight.

5 — More Ground Experiences For Travelers

It is not just the in-flight experience that airlines are improving. Flyers are also noticing an improvement in the airport experience as well. United has announced a new menu for passengers in United Clubs, with a full roll-out of renovations. In addition, American Express has opened more Centurion Lounges for American Express Platinum cardholders, including lounges in Dallas, San Francisco, and the newest in Miami International Airport (MIA).

6 — Better Loyalty Rewards

Even with the many devaluations, frequent flyers are finding more ways to be rewarded for their airline loyalty. In a recent informal survey, flyers identified Southwest as their favorite frequent flyer program for their abundance of miles. In addition, travelers appreciated the lenient policies for award travel, including no change fees for award bookings.

7 — Improved On-Time Performance

Finally, although aircraft are getting more crowded, at least travelers are getting there on time more often. According to Flight Status, the best performing airline in North America (Alaska Airlines) was on time over 87 percent of the time. In addition, of the top eight performing U.S. airlines (including the former US Airways), the average on-time rate was just under 80 percent.

No matter where you may be traveling this summer, all of us at FlyerTalk wish you safe and happy travels – as well as a fun Independence Day weekend!

[Photo: iStock]

Comments are Closed.
wavery83 July 6, 2015

Ha. Agreed! These changes are such tokenism when all pax are asking for is health and safety compliant legroom! I think you only need to see the tags on the lefthandside to see which airlines are indirectly sponsoring this article!

glennaa11 July 6, 2015

I'll join the chorus. None of these so-called improvements means a thing when you are squished in a tiny seat with no pitch. And of course few people have access to lounges. So those changes mean zero to most travelers. This piece does sound like something written by the airlines.

switch007 July 5, 2015

Just curious: how much did the mentioned airlines pay for this article?

wavery83 July 5, 2015

Agreed. Total PR nonsense! The economy experience gets worse each time!

weero July 4, 2015

I do not recognise any of these assertions presented here. Airline food on the US legacies I flew the last 12 months have reached an all time low. All new 777s are armed with terrible 3-4-3 seating and the newer 787s come with 3-3-3 chairs. I have yet to see SQ,TK,CX style IFE on UA or AA and in my last 12 months, I have experienced twice as many severe flight disruptions than in my entire life before. Sure that is all anecdotal but I believe the 'facts' listed here aren't even that.