Excuse me for slightly offtopic message. It’s really non-technical, but might be interested for discussing and stimulate people to use this blog for other things too…
I am not a typical aero traveller. I never fly for vacations, Egypt and Turkey are out of my regular routes. I am not so particular for the service: rarely drink alcohol during the flight, almost never sleep onboard, don’t use lounges and so on. Airplane for me is like a bus, I need it to be ontime, have enough place for my legs, be careful with my luggage and so on. And I like friendly people, clear routines and reasonable answers.
Although I am not typical, I have quite experience with some different aero carriers and it might be good idea if I share it with others. Frequent travelers may append my observations, other people could use it planning their business and private trips.
So, my rating of avia companies is like following:
1. Finnair. It’s very careful to passengers, everything is convenient, accurate and predictable. Like all Scandinavian people, crew is always polite, smooth and well speaking English. And I was impressed that even on board of the very small aircraft (a bit bigger than the normal van) the service was the same to Boeing-767, including English (although it was domestic Finnish flight). I see nothing I can claim to this company expect… costs. My old dream to visit Rovaniemi with my family was ended on reading Finnair price list.
2. Swiss. Accurate and convenient, aircrafts are clear and looking new, good meal. AVRO aircrafts for Germany domestic flights are comfortable enough and, it’s important, always arriving ontime.
3. Rossiya (ex-Pulkovo). Initially I expected nothing good fr om Russian carriers (and finally decided I wasn’t so wrong), but “Rossiya” is looking like normal European company with appropriate level of service. Nice stewardesses , not bad crafts, good meal… I saw nothing I can say “oh, it’s like always in Russia”. The only problem is Pulkovo airport. Even smallest Turku airport is better fr om my perspective than Pulkovo-2. Even after re-construction.
4. Lufthansa. It was the most frequent carrier for me and I treat it as ‘zero mark’ for all flight companies. They never fail seriously, except delivering “Miles-and-more” cards. My one is travelling to me more than a year, it was issued three or four times, at least officially, but I don’t see it yet and don’t believe to see in future.
5-8. US Airways, United Airlines, Delta, American Airlines - I can’t say anything special about these companies, they’re very regular and very similar to each other. I don’t see any evidences of the rumors about domestic US flights, it seem the same to domestic flights in Russia if you are adopted enough to the specific of US life style. Socks of some fresh latin immigrant are not too clear and not smelling good… but you’ll see the same picture everywhere with only change of the person’s face.
9. KLM. I have to thank KLM for the first experience of sleeping in the airport. It was my first aero travel, we were going to business trip to Tel-Aviv and had to spend 6 or 7 hours in Amsterdam due to connected flight delays. For sure, nobody of us had Schengen visa. While we stayed there overnight, one of colleagues didn’t leave bar and finally he was drunk enough to lose his passport in Ben Gurion airport. Sure, I don’t think it was provoked by KLM too, but since that moment I had no chance to update my impression.
10. Air France. My understanding, French and Russian people are very similar to each other. At least nowhere in Europe I saw as many stupid things as in France. Air France is not an exception. My first flight with them was the most impressive one I ever had. First of all they missed my luggage and it was travelling to Seattle while I travelled to Chicago. They found and returned it in a week. I had no chance to get compensation as AF staff in Chicago didn’t speack English (in US), at least they didn’t speak English about the lost baggage . But… the crew members alerted me about my bag isn’t on the aircraft even before we left Paris, so they have good enough tracking system. The problem was I had a device of $8K in my baggage and it was only an instrument of it’s class in the company. Finally I spend more than a week in Chicago working on things not being a goal of my trip as I had to wait this instrument… and thinking what to do if it will never return.
The return from this travel was even more impressive. I had quite short connection and certainly my first flight was delayed. I landed in Paris in 5 minutes before flight to SPb should take off and asked security guy how to find my gate. “Oh, you should go to that door”,- he said,- “and you’d better run”. It was the only moment in my passenger’s career when I ran through the airport area between buses, special vehicles and small aircrafts from one external door to another. Finally I came to the gate 10 minutes after deadline, found a door keeper and asked wh ere’s the flight to SPb. “Oh, don’t worry”,- she said,- “It is delayed for 2.5 hours”.
Since that moment I had several trips with Air France and each one were surprising me with something extra ordinal. The best surprise was when they had no economy seats due to overbooking and gave me a seat in business class for free. It allows me reducing the number of my claims to AF, although other surprises were not so nice.
11. SAS. When I travelled SAS , it was not worse and not better than Lufthansa. However since that moment they stopped providing meal except for additional costs even on transatlantic flights. I believe company with so greedy approach has to be downshifted in my list.
12. Aerosvit. I don’t want to say anything bad about Ukrainian airlines… Except it was only flight when I had to be a detail of the airplane. I suspected something strange when saw that some parts of cabin equipment are assembled with using black screws for cardboard definitely not being there when Boeing released this vehicle. And I didn’t make a mistake, one of panels was falling to me just after we left the take off lane. Fortunately it was not to heavy, I caught it and held all the time while take off. But it seems Aerosvit understands the problem: just after horizontal flight starts, cabin attendee found a technician with screw driver and big box of black screws and he fixed the panel even before we landed in Kyiv.
13. Transaero. Oh… Why I was under impression that to be a stewardess you have to be good (Okay, not bad) looking, smile and polite? Transaero attendees are always gloomy, their exterior is… no, I can’t said these words about ladies and passengers are definitely a big problem for them, they’re always thinking how to eliminate. Transaero staff woke up my reminiscences about employees Soviet shops: “take what I give you or go away”! If you consider the song they’re always playing through the craft speakers: “you’d only fly with Transaero”, you’ll have very non-solid impression about this company.
I will update this list as much as I will gather new impressions about new aero carriers. Dnieproavia and S7 are in queue.
By the way… I forgot British Airways. It’s to be put somewh ere around position 7 or 8. Being regular European aircompany, it is extremely expensive. It’s only disadvantage I found, but it’s important, isn’t it?