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Does poor in-flight sevice cause you to avoid USA airlines?

Does poor in-flight sevice cause you to avoid USA airlines?

Old Jan 15, 13, 8:06 am
  #1  
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Does poor in-flight sevice cause you to avoid USA airlines?

On a recent 20,000 mile journey to Asia recently on multiple airlines, I noticed something very curious about the flight attendants who work for USA airlines: they never smile. Ever. Flight attendants for Asian carriers (as well as at most other foreign airlines) are often smiling and at least pretend that they're really glad to be working your flight and serving you. USA flight attendants seem to be just punching the clock. There's almost no friendliness, despite America's well-earned reputation as a friendly people.

And, of course, unfriendly cabin staff is only a small part of what's "wrong" with flying USA airlines. The food and drink is almost always worse -- especially in coach. Like I recently flew a 4-hour redeye flight on Thai Airways in coach where I received 2 meals, numerous offers of beverages, hot towels, etc. (perhaps this was one flight where I might have wanted LESS service to get more sleep!). No $7 charge for an alcoholic drink, either. Good service on a USA-operated redeye is now unimaginable.

Finally, USA airlines tend to have older -- and therefore worse -- int'l aircraft. At SFO recently, as a boarded my largely entertainment-free UA 747, I saw an entire fleet of largely entertainment-free UA 747s. No foreign carrier (except perhaps Iberia?) has so many int'l aircraft with poor entertainment systems.

So does this comparatively poor in-flight service cause you to book away from USA airlines when you travel internationally? I certainly do, especially if I can earn/burn miles at the same rate within the major alliances.

All this is very different from 20 years ago, when I preferred USA airlines, if for no other reason than a belief in improved safety. Now, nobody seriously worries about their safety on any major int'l airline.

BTW, there are still some advantages in flying USA airlines. At least on the ground. They seem to have better reservation systems, and I still might have more faith in them sorting out irregular operations. For example, there are int'l airlines -- LAN sticks out in my mind -- that do very well in the air, but not so well on the ground. Still, given the level of inflight service, I'd always prefer to fly LAN over AA. And that's pretty much true everywhere in the world where there's a choice between a USA airline and a foreign carrier.
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Old Jan 15, 13, 8:23 am
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on short flights, i fly us. i like the rjXXX's, and the crew is excellent. on tatl, i usually fly UA, and i am very impressed with the crew, the food, and find the wines ok. the rcc's are terrible.
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Old Jan 15, 13, 8:29 am
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Yes.

The majority of the trans atlantic or trans pacific flights I booked over the past two years were on foreign carriers using USA airline frequent flyer miles. the best deal possible
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Old Jan 15, 13, 8:39 am
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I live near MAN in the UK, and compared to the sheer, heart-busting, stress-inducing hell of connecting at LHR I would much prefer to fly into the US on one of the UA flights from MAN to EWR or IAD and continue onward from there. I get my booze in the lounge and have my entertainment on my iPad.

Smiles from the FA's? Don't care. I'm either asleep or watching a movie.

Bad meals? Don't care. I've usually eaten at the airport.

I've often been told that I could fly to the US via FRA, DUS or MUC with LH but it's honestly not that much different when you're in Y. Besides, as a *G I can usually spring a seat in Y+ on UA free of charge. Even if I have to pay for it it's still cheaper than LH.
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Old Jan 15, 13, 8:47 am
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I bring my own entertainment and have never had a problem where "flight attendants seem to be just punching the clock". I also don't buy the concept that an older aircraft is a worse aircraft.
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Old Jan 15, 13, 8:49 am
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Originally Posted by TrueBlueFlyer View Post
Yes.

The majority of the trans atlantic or trans pacific flights I booked over the past two years were on foreign carriers using USA airline frequent flyer miles. the best deal possible
what is better about the deal? i fly tatl from dc,, and it is hell fuguring out what ba is doing and lh and os want at least $500 in fees.
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Old Jan 15, 13, 8:52 am
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Yes, yes and a thousand times yes.

I have the misfortune to have a UA F booking EWR-FRA coming up and I am dreading it... <shudder>
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Old Jan 15, 13, 8:57 am
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Originally Posted by roberino View Post
I live near MAN in the UK, and compared to the sheer, heart-busting, stress-inducing hell of connecting at LHR I would much prefer to fly into the US on one of the UA flights from MAN to EWR or IAD and continue onward from there. I get my booze in the lounge and have my entertainment on my iPad.

Smiles from the FA's? Don't care. I'm either asleep or watching a movie.

Bad meals? Don't care. I've usually eaten at the airport.

I've often been told that I could fly to the US via FRA, DUS or MUC with LH but it's honestly not that much different when you're in Y. Besides, as a *G I can usually spring a seat in Y+ on UA free of charge. Even if I have to pay for it it's still cheaper than LH.
I used to actively avoid AA out of MAN, even if it meant flying west to fly east, because the on board crew were at times so unfriendly and nasty. Great thing is about MAN is you have great connections to AMS, FRA and CDG, not just LHR so it is the ultimate choice airport.

If you tell a crew member you've just had the worst airline breakfast ever, you'd expect to at least get an acknowledgement or an apology that their service had fallen short - instead I got a snark back which just compounded the effect the appallingly bad breakfast had had of my impression of the airline - first and last time I took the AA 767 out of MAN. CO were marginally better - newer planes, better IFE and I liked the heated pizza in the middle of the night - really good as a through the night snack, even if it didn't have the charm of KLM's noodles - but their service was unmemorable. I guess thinking back, I'm not sure if I ever felt I was a person travelling on some US airlines (and with some crews - one of the best flights I ever had was a RJ from SEA to YVR on Regional and a cabin crew member who made the flight so special I told her how great she was as I left) in Y. Just a thing that had to be shovelled food... I have my gripes with some of the European airlines (AF, could you please not vanish in the middle of the night for hours on end and refuse to answer bells) but I was less of an object on airlines like KLM and LH and CX.

It's been some considerable time since I flew a US airline - I've avoided the US because of their immigration policies, and I avoid US airlines going to Canada because I don't want be forced to reclear in the US when I should be in international transit. So things could have changed, but my overall impression is not fond.
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Old Jan 15, 13, 8:57 am
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Due to contracts at work we are highly encouraged to book through United. However, if I can codeshare across to LH for European trips (ie if it is not to much more expensive than UA operated flights) I will.. Being gold and having no international upgrade instruments.. and Having a young family (=no chance of paying co-pay on points upgrade) means zero chances of upgrade on United on international legs. So being a Y flyer I find LH's economy product to be vastly superior.. Hard soft and in between!

Biggest difference is service! Closely followed by food and beverage and then closely followed by condition of aircraft..

And LH clubs (Business and Senator) make United Clubs (and any USA based lounge) seem little better than the terminal.

Complete with Franziskaner by Cyclogenesis_au, on Flickr
I know I got there at a quite time but I had a phenomenal stay at the tower lounge in FRA. Arrived, had a very nice shower. Went out and had a hand made sandwich, poured myself a beer and enjoyed the most amazing view of FRA airport where widebodies are the order of the day!


D-ABVK Taxing (Planespotting heaven!) by Cyclogenesis_au, on Flickr
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Old Jan 15, 13, 9:04 am
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On some early 2012 long haul flights in Econ - 10+hrs - I found myself comparing DL vs KLM and found that the KLM FAs where more engaging, attentive and easy going + the food was better + the drinks flowed with them coming around many many times checking in for coffee, tea, cognac, beer, wine, water, etc...
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Old Jan 15, 13, 9:13 am
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For coach, has anyone recently compared legroom between the USA carriers and the foreign airlines? It didn't seem to me that Economy Plus on UA was materially better than ordinary economy on most foreign airlines -- even the Asian ones, where you'd think they might give you less room because the average pax would be a little smaller.
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Old Jan 15, 13, 9:45 am
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
For coach, has anyone recently compared legroom between the USA carriers and the foreign airlines? It didn't seem to me that Economy Plus on UA was materially better than ordinary economy on most foreign airlines -- even the Asian ones, where you'd think they might give you less room because the average pax would be a little smaller.
Ah! The evergreen "Asian people are small" stereotype. Music to my ears and just one of the wonderful additions to the Best of Flyertalk album 2012, only available from LifeTime Trading!
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Old Jan 15, 13, 9:57 am
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Two factors keep me on US airlines (unlike in the past): E+ and the ability to pre-select seats.

The service generally isn't as good, the food is worse, but even if E+ isn't available, I try to avoid flying any airline that doesn't allow me to choose my seat at time of booking.

I got a nasty surprise last year (twice): flew EWR-DEL and SFO-PVG on UA. Overhead monitors (!) on 11+ hour flight and lame tiny monitors with 9 tracks of 'video' that all started at the same time. The entire loop (longest movie) had to finish before the movies re-started, no rewind, and half the movies were kids movies (only a handful of kids on the flight) and the other half were very lame comedies.

I flew PmCO on the EWR-DEL route a couple years ago and IIRC, AVOD was available - where has UA put those planes? What is up with 11+ hour flights with overhead monitors? Worst of all, it's not like it was a bargain fare compared to non-US carriers.
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Old Jan 15, 13, 10:24 am
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The security paranoia of US airlines does result in my having a tendency to book away from US airlines as much as makes sense for my circumstances. When flying from overseas to the US on US airlines, the dog and pony show is worse than with various other airlines.

.... the in-flight service aspect of US carriers has gotten worse since the flight crew's "we are primarily her for your safety and security" attitude took over as it has since 9/11. The in-flight service aspect is a factor in why I choose other airlines, but in-flight service has taken a dive just about everywhere I fly frequently.

There are some aspects of US airlines that do attract more of my business than would otherwise be the case: the "loyalty" programs and the more relaxed cabin baggage practices.
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Old Jan 15, 13, 10:52 am
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Originally Posted by roberino View Post
Ah! The evergreen "Asian people are small" stereotype. Music to my ears and just one of the wonderful additions to the Best of Flyertalk album 2012, only available from LifeTime Trading!
Um, not sure what your problem is, but Asian people are smaller than Western people. About 4 or 5 inches shorter on average, according to common scientific knowledge.

http://www.disabled-world.com/artman...ht-chart.shtml

That's kind of a big deal in terms of comfort on airplanes, no? I mean, if you were running an Asian airline, wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that your pax would need less legroom than, say, a Dutch airline (generally regarded as the tallest people in the world)?

And I don't want to get into the "weight advantage" that Americans unfortunately have over the rest of the world.
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