Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Impressions of a Frequent Flier

This year I have traveled extensively and had the opportunity to experience on board service of several airlines on different flights (Ultra long, long, medium and short range) and different classes.

Here are some of my impressions

Ultra long range (12 to 16 hours) on Emirates, and any other airline for that matter, economy is not a joy if it was not for the inflight entertainment system (ICE). ICE makes all the difference, I am not a movie goer but with ICE I have seen 5 movies during one flight, a personal record, and still had 7 hours to sleep.

For some reason Emirates always serves the last meal on the flight too close to the arrival time, and results in the cabin crew really hustling to secure the cabin sometimes up to a few minutes from landing. And if you are sitting in the back you will never get your first choice when it comes to meals.

However, long and medium range flights on Emirates Business is a gourmet experience that stands true to their radio advertisements. I had my best steak ever on an Emirates flight.

Business class service on long and medium range flights of American Airlines, is an enjoyable although sometimes a very slow service depending on the flight attendant serving your side of the cabin. I understand there are laws and rules to prevent discrimination based on age and/or BMI, but please let us be reasonable here, having one's meal when the other side of the cabin is halfway through their siesta is not nice. The inflight entertainment system is adequate.

On the other hand a BA flight to Dubai during a UNITE strike day is a bloody awful experience. Minimum crew on the B777 (8 out of which 6 are of minimal experience). The service in Business left a lot to be desired, lucky it was a night flight and most of the passengers were asleep.

Willy Walsh should be grateful passengers are still flying with BA. Of course, I had better experiences on BA flights but this one was memorable.

Royal Jordanian's Business class on short flights (2 to 3 hours) is a relatively good experience. The flight attendants sometimes lack the sophistication and finesse of their counterparts in other One World carriers. The food is good and the crew are friendly and actually smile at you most of the time and I like it, but then I am biased (ex RJ).

As for Regional travel in the USA whether with American or Continental, the best you can do is nap. The seamless service and experience that we were promised in the 70s and 80s did not happen and it will never happen you can not compare a B777 to an EMB145. Service is not the issue. It is the feel and look of the aircraft that throws you off, the Majors need to look again at their regional feeders.

However, the one thing that EMIRATES surpasses all the others is the ability to deliver your bags in a reasonable time no matter where the aircraft is parked at Dubai airport. On Business class I found my bag on the belt and I use e-gate. Kudos Emirates

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