Well THIS isn’t totally unexpected

The list of winners from the World Airline Awards was announced recently – and nobody in North America was even CLOSE to being at the top of the list.  Then again, I’ve flown almost every single US based airlines, and can tell you there’s really nothing to compare to an overseas airline and their service.  Hell, the 7 hours I spent on an overnight flight from Abu Dhabi to Geneva in coach beats any amount of time I’ve spent in first class for a bunch of US airlines.  ::cough:: US Airways… United…  ::cough::

The top five airlines are:

  1. Qatar Airlines
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. Asiana Airlines
  4. Cathay Pacific
  5. Thai Airways
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Hey American Air – How about you buy your namesake?

I had an interaction with user47 on Twitter a couple of weeks ago over this tweet:

As you can tell, I wholeheartedly agreed with @user47 – a company like American Airlines (the name alone just screams American unity) looking to buy foreign planes is really disingenuous.  We have a fine aircraft maker here, and the Boeing 737 is the best selling airplane ever.  But it looks like American wants to go with Airbus.  And that sucks.

I partially choose airlines based on their aircraft.  Alaska Airlines, “Proudly All Boeing” isn’t just a slogan.  They were the launch customer for the 737-900, and are all Boeing 737 in their mainline service.  While I liked Frontier, who started out with a fleet of 737s, they’re an all Airbus airline now.  And honestly, I tend to avoid them.  Same thing with United, though now that they’re merged with Continental, and are considering replacing original UAL Airbus flights with Boeing, I may go back to them.  They just have to get their customer service straight.

So American?  Do the right thing.  Don’t order Airbus; order Boeing.  But who am I?  Just an aviation geek that plans their flights around aircraft and service…

UPDATE 07192011 @ 15:31: Apparently Boeing is doing a big-old reacharound to American to try and get the business, and not let Airbus walk away with the whole order.  Woohoo!

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So Alaska Air Wants To Stay Independent

At least according to something the CEO just said.  He wants Alaska Air Group to be independent while others consolidate themselves out of existence.

I think it’ll happen, but there’s a catch.  And that catch is, there isn’t an airline CEO with the gumption to try and out-size United Continental.  Let me explain.

Back when Delta and Northwest went to merge, that was huge.  Until then, American was the largest US airline, followed by United, then Delta and the rest.  Overnight, Delta became the largest, with American shrinking to number two.  Then came United and Continental; honestly it was just a matter of when, not if, once Continental jumped SkyTeam and went with Star Alliance.  See, United wants that old “feeling” back, but it couldn’t get there with a merger with US Airways.  Honestly, the government did United a favor, saving them from an arranged marriage with the ugly stepchild of the big-boys.  Say what you want, but US Airways is lowest in the consumer ratings.

So who’s left that’s independent of the big boys?  US Airways and American.  US Airways is global, but like I said – ugly stepchild.  American did the honest and respectable thing by staying OUT of bankruptcy and keeping promises to their people and the world by being obligated to the debts they have.  And how are they rewarded?  By having a stock price that is in the toilet, and being so unattractive to the market because they decided the honorable thing of not filing bankruptcy.  (Remember United did it like THREE TIMES in a very short period of time!).  The only investment/takeover that they can even get is from some guy who’s now under investigation by the SEC.

So here’s the thing.  American needs to make themselves over, and US Airways needs to get out of the gutter.  I don’t think that they’d ever merge; it’s just too different.  But I do think, if one of the CEOs gets enough gumption to want to compete with the big guys, they’re going to go for not one, but TWO takeover targets: Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Air.  Here’s why:

Alaska is big in the West; probably the biggest carrier up and down the West Coast.  They have 10% of their market in Hawaii; they went in to an already saturated market, established themselves, and are making a profit.  Who wouldn’t want to have those routes and that much liesure traffic that always seems to be there?

Hawaiian Airlines.  Sure, they’re up and down the West Coast to Hawaii, and they’re the dominant player there.  But they’re also making a major push into Asia.  And every airline CEO will tell you, if you want to grow, Asia is the market to tap into.  Hawaiian is doing just that.  But can they do it with a moniker of “Hawaiian”?  Not as successfully as if the name were “American”.  See where I’m going?

I would never see Hawaiian and Alaska hooking up.  But I could see them being taken over (Alaska probably through a hostile takeover, Hawaiian through some big wheel & deal).

So who knows…  The CEO of American has got to be itching to do something to compete with the big boys, and US Airways could do with a thorough identity makeover.  It could happen!

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Almost nose to nose

Almost nose to nose here at the N terminal at SeaTac. What a big, beautiful girl, despite the livery.

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The “ugly girl”?

Wow.  You know, for all that is wrong with US Airways, it’s weird that the CEO of Continental apologized for calling them “the ugly girl”.  I mean, there is honestly so much more that could be used.  First off, they’re not called US Scareways for nothing.  Sure, they have the hero, Sullenberger.  But every time I’ve mentioned having to fly them, people always ask if I’m going to be landing in a corn field.  Funny, I have no idea where the corn field idea came from (after all, it was a United DC10 that crashed in Iowa, leaving parts in a corn field nearby), but it just goes to show.  Not a lot of good press for US Airways.

But being called the ugly girl?

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Just fitting for AirSnark – Survey of the 11 worst airlines

Oh, what a snarky way to start the morning.  Huffington Post has put together a survey of “America’s 11 Worst Airlines” based on the 2010 Airline Quality Ratings.  The authors of the study do state that airline service has gotten better over the last year.  Here’s my take on the listings:

#11, US Airways: I avoid them like the plague, mostly because I don’t fly Star Alliance.  Last time I flew them, I did manage to wrangle a first class upgrade – but no drinks.  Seems a US Airways flight went “dry” because someone got a PAX drunk and they got a DUI.  Who the hell can fly US Airways and NOT drink?

#10, American Airlines:  Wow. They’re only #10 on the list? I have so many horror stories from AA.  Like being trapped next to a 600 pound passenger on an MD80 in the exit row. If that plane had gone down, we wouldn’t have been able to push his fat ass out the window exit – he literally would not have fit! I had to spend my time standing in the back of the plane, because he took up too much of my seat.  American’s response? NOTHING. Literally – they refused to respond.  Their customer service has to be the absolute WORST of any airline.

#9, ExpressJet: Nothing really to say about them. A regional carrier, so they have that against them. They tried to grow to do regional and stand-alone, but it was the wrong time.

#8: Alaska Airlines: Now I TOTALLY disagree with this one.  Of all airlines I have EVER flown, Alaska has to be my favorite.  Their dedication to passengers is second to none.  Something is up with this study – oh well!

#7: Mesa: Wow. Cutthroat yes (they were the ones that basically put Aloha out of business). But with sleepy, overworked pilots.  Besides – who wants to travel Hawaii (their subsidiary “go!” is all-Hawaiian) in tiny regional jets?

#6: United Airlines: I started avoiding them a while ago because of customer service.  Due to equipment malfunction once, Alaska Airlines put me on a UAL flight back home.  Standing near the gate, I was probably five feet from a gate agent, talking to flight crew.  No small talk between these people – it was “These customers make me crazy”, “I hate these people”, blah blah blah. They literally bad-mouthed the people they were flying for about 20 minutes, then put on fake smiles and boarded us.  And this wasn’t in a small, rinkydink airport – this was SFO.  Yeah, UAL deserves to be on this list – but WAY higher up in the listings.

#5, Sky West: “I don’t care how we do it on other airlines. This is how we do it on MINE.”  Yeah, that cheery, chipper attitude was just the tip of the iceberg when I flew them last, as a Delta Connection customer.  The flight attendants actually went through each and every seatback pocket and if they found ANYTHING of yours in it, they made you move it.  Didn’t matter – magazine, iPod, iron lung.  “This doesn’t go here. Move it to your own luggage or put it away elsewhere!” was the nasty decree.  Yeah, never again.

#4, Delta Airlines: I have mixed feelings about Delta.  The old Northwest is now gone, forever integrated into Delta.  And when that was gone, so was a lot of the reason to fly them.  I remember one flight leaving PDX.  As we were taxiing and the video was going, some woman got up, got her bag down, and started unpacking and repacking it.  The flight attendants just walked past her, not saying a thing.  At least the woman sat down before we took off.  On another flight, HALF of the airplane electrical just went out (lights, individual reading lights, television displays).  The flight attendants said it was “normal”.  WTF? Plus, with Delta’s call center outsourced to India (which it was the two times I called about four years ago), screw that!  The last Delta flight I took, their systems were so screwed up that they gave us free WiFi. Not because they were nice, but because they somehow couldn’t charge for it due to a glitch.

#3, Comair: Flew them just recently.  Eeh.  Cabin crews could use an attitude adjustment.  I need to fly them more to make more of an opinion.

#2, Atlantic SouthEast Airlines: Never flown them, so no opinion.

#1, American Eagle:  Let’s just sum this up with one experience I had a few weeks ago.  Gate agent: “You’re going to have to move row 4 to the back for weight and balance”.  Flight attendant, “Uh, yeah”.  Gate agent: “Do you need me to help?”.  Flight attendant: “Don’t worry about it”.  Gate agent left.  Flight attendant read her magazine some more.  When given word, she shut the cabin door.  Being in row 3, I heard the whole thing, and saw row 4 was ready to move.  Flight attendant did not even react; she played the audio of the safety briefing, did her walk through, and sat down. Row 4 stayed where they were and were never moved.  Thank goodness we had no issues on the flight.  But being THAT nonchalant about people’s safety? Yeah, that’s a load of crap!

So head on over to Huffington Post, and rank these airlines yourself!

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