Do you prefer one airline over another?

Unlike the popular new American television show Pan Am, which depicts how glamorous and actually enjoyable air travel used to be, flying for today’s non-millionaire masses is neither. When it comes to choosing an airline, I usually base my selection on two factors, one being cost, the other, schedule. However, with the costs of air travel always increasing, I realized it would probably be prudent to stick with one airline when flying, so that one day a ticket could be paid for entirely with frequent flyer miles. Although I’ve had some grievances with them lately due to schedules being changed, contributing to supreme annoyances on my end, United Airlines is the airline I decided to work with towards my end goal with. Now having merged with Continental Airlines, they literally fly around the world. I had accrued a lot of points with them last year when I traveled to Europe and we booked our Hawaii trip (flights, hotel, and rental car) through their vacations department, so my dream of traveling to Asia on a free ticket is slowly inching towards happening. For now I wanted to share the following experiences, a mixture of good and bad ones, that I had with these three airlines:

1.) Iberia Airlines
The flag carrier airline of Spain, I flew on them to Madrid when I studied in Spain for the semester and I would never want to fly on them again. On the way over to Spain, passengers were not served drinks for the first three hours due to slight turbulence. I didn’t understand how for that long a period, the flight attendants couldn’t have come around with water for passengers on trays like they do on shorter flights when a beverage cart is not necessary. Coming back was even worse though. What was supposed to have been an eight hour flight from Madrid to New York turned into a 13 hour flight. Within 100 miles of New York, storms forced the flight to be diverted to Boston’s Logan Airport, where we ended up sitting on the runway for two hours. When we finally landed at JFK Airport, we sat on the runway there for 40 minutes, as there was no gate for us. My grief with Iberia is that during the entire ordeal, passengers were told virtually nothing. If there was ever a time I felt like I was having a panic attack, it was on that flight, when the bathrooms started getting backing up, and there was no water. Β The attendants also “disappeared” rather than attempting to keep passengers as sane and accommodated as possible. I found that lack of service on Iberia’s part to be terrible.

2.) British Airways
British Airways always receives excellent ratings from fliers and is it any wonder? They are a terrific airline. After the September 11 terrorists attacks in 2001, many airlines drastically cut back on features and changed how they did things, thus resulting in unfavorable opinions from air travelers, British Airways still seems to be an airline people actually enjoy flying with. Although I’ve only flown on them once (on my first ever trip to Europe in 2003), it was a wonderful introduction to transatlantic flying; if only other airlines could take notes. Almost a decade ago they had personal TVs on the back of all seats (including the economy section) and that for me is a huge plus when traveling on long flights. Not all planes do even today. Watching Bend it Like Beckham multiple times equated to utter happiness for me.

3.) US Airways
A lot of people seem to hateΒ  US Airways, especially those traveling through Philadelphia International Airport, one of its major hubs. Personally, they’re no worse or better than a lot of the other major American carriers. Having grown up in Philadelphia, I flew on them a lot and if I were to compare them to American Airlines, an airline that I flew on when traveling to Argentina in 2007, US Airways would receive a more favorable review. Yes, they were the ones to temporarily charge for non-alcoholic drinks and those utterly fabulous lumpy pillows and scratchy blankets for passengers in economy, yet they saw the error of their ways after receiving unhappy feedback from customers. Since then, they’re a 21st century airline constantly out to make a buck wherever they can. Truly, what airline isn’t doing that in today’s times?

Is there one airline you prefer over another? If so, why? Is there any airline you absolutely would never fly?

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  • Reply
    Sponge for Knowledge
    November 13, 2011 at 4:54 am

    I don’t do a lot of flying, but Lufthansa and Alitalia were especially pleasant when I went to Italy for the first time. I think a lot of it had to do with the passengers though– as the people were remarkably less annoying and more patient than any of the US flights I’ve ever been on. Surprising? No. Our baggage got lost in Rome though with Alitalia– also not surprising. We planned for this– packing a couple sets of extra clothes for our villa stay in Sorrento.

    I love reading your posts– you’ve got lots of great information.

  • Reply
    the red headed traveler
    November 13, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks for your kind words!

    I’ve never flown on Lufthansa but have heard WONDERFUL things about them. I wish they had a hub where I live. I’m the same way, I always pack a couple of days provisions in my carry on since you never know where your luggage will end up (or not get to at all!).

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