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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 11:12 AM
Original message
When Fliers Avoid The Domestic Route
The Wall Street Journal

When Fliers Avoid The Domestic Route
Where They Have a Choice, Fed-Up Travelers Pay More To Take Foreign Carriers
By DARREN EVERSON
November 27, 2007; Page D1


(snip)

Mr. Barbosa, who moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., from Singapore for business school last year, says he is used to what he says are the cleaner lavatories and more-attentive flight attendants of foreign airlines. He finds it humorous that airport announcements in the U.S. say flights are departing "with service to" their destinations. "What do you mean 'with service?'" he says. "You don't get any service with U.S. airlines.".. Even though the airlines seemed to perform well during the recent Thanksgiving holiday, many consumers still feel burned by the rampant cancellations and baggage snafus of the summer. Some are also turned on by the swankier perks offered by foreign carriers, particularly in the premium cabins. Other fed-up travelers simply say that employees of foreign carriers seem happier -- and so treat fliers better.

Foreign airlines do have an edge when it comes to lavish airport lounges and other perks. Virgin Atlantic's Revivals Lounge (for business-class passengers) at London Heathrow has heated floors in its showers. Lufthansa's new two-level lounge in Munich, Germany (reserved for first-class passengers and elite frequent fliers), offers a gourmet restaurant, cigar lounge and chauffeur-driven transportation to the aircraft. Foreign airlines have also been much quicker to deploy lie-flat seats in the front of the plane. British Airways says it has had flat beds in business class since 2000, and in first since 1996. Air France and Singapore also already have lie-flats in business class, as does Air New Zealand, which can be flown round-trip directly between Los Angeles and London. Among the domestic airlines, United introduced its flat beds Nov. 19, saying it is the first major U.S. airline to offer 180-degree lie-flats in business class on overseas flights. American has been installing lie-flats on its Boeing 767-300s and 777s, but they are angled in business class.

Some industry observers say domestic carriers are catching up to their foreign competitors service-wise. United this summer introduced new appetizers and entrees in first and business class, including citrus-cured smoked salmon and apricot curry braised lamb medallions. Continental this month set new first-class menus for flights throughout the U.S., Canada and some Latin American and Caribbean destinations. Domestic carriers also are stepping up amenities in their coach cabins and airport lounges (which are generally open to first- and business-class customers, and in some cases to other travelers for a fee of around $50). United is adding an increased number of LCD screens for its in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems, which the airline says will provide clearer pictures and better reliability, plus seats with new, ergonomic bottom cushions. Continental is installing new IFEs on its Boeing 777s that have the interactive Berlitz World Traveler foreign language program -- on which passengers can take language lessons -- which Air France and Singapore also have. American also has spa-like showers in its recently opened lounges at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and has showers in several other major locations, including Miami and Rio de Janeiro. (Many foreign airlines already have this amenity.) Delta Air Lines -- the PGA Tour's official airline -- has putting greens in many lounges, including Atlanta and Los Angeles, plus Nike putters available for use.

(snip)

Among foreign and domestic airlines, most of the attention-grabbing improvements are in the front of the cabin, not in coach. "Business class is now the battleground," says Michael Boyd, president of Boyd Group Inc., an aviation-industry advisory group. Also, coach travelers hoping for more leg room won't generally find that on foreign carriers. The amount of space in coach is virtually the same across all airlines -- 31-to-32-inch seat pitch (the distance from any point on one seat to the same point on the seat in front or behind, according to SeatGuru.com) and 17-to-18-inch seat width, although Singapore's giant new Airbus A380 has 19 inches of width in coach.

Beth Pelfrey of Anaheim, Calif., has other issues with domestic carriers -- cleanliness issues. She says that the lavatories are consistently malodorous and unclean... So she plans to drive to next year's gathering -- even though it's in Tulsa, Okla., a 1,250-mile trip from Anaheim, one-way -- and to fly British Airways on a trip to England next spring. The cleaning schedules of domestic airlines are similar to that of their foreign counterparts. Air France deep-cleans its planes every five weeks; US Airways says it does so every 30 days, mopping the floors and disassembling the seats to clean them thoroughly. Austrian Airlines washes pillows and blankets after each flight; Continental says it replaces pillows, blankets and headrest covers after every long international flight, and that it also vacuums the floor.

(snip)



Corrections & Amplifications

British Airways' trans-Atlantic flights to and from the U.S. aren't valid for mileage accrual or redemption in American Airlines' frequent-flier program. This article stated that frequent-flier members of American, an AMR Corp. unit, can accrue miles while flying on British Airways, but failed to note that some British Airways flights aren't eligible.
URL for this article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119612001772904529.html (subscription)


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katmondoo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 11:24 AM
Response to Original message
1. For the last 8 years every time I fly I get sick
The last time was in May of this year even with a mask ( I did feel a little foolish putting a mask on but) I think it helped some. I came home only with a slight fever for a few days. Not as bad as other trips.
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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 11:28 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I do as "Monk" does (the TV character)
I have those toilettes and wipe everything around me - arm rests and the tray - especially the tray. Even the lamp switch and the air nozzle.
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Romulox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 11:32 AM
Response to Original message
3. How many of us can afford to fly First or Business Class overseas???
You don't even get PEANUTS or a SOFT DRINK on a coach coast to coast flight any more! :wtf:

This sounds like another one of those "How can I retire on only $4 million???" type threads...

:nopity:
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spinbaby Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 11:50 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. You have a point there
What I want to know is why there is no option for something between crammed-in-like-a-sardine and hedonistic luxury. It's like what the American economy is coming to--rich or prole with nothing in between.


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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 11:55 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. Not just cramped, but dangerously cramped.
The seats are small enough to be painful for me, and I'm 5'2". They put people at a real risk of blood clots and other serious complications of being stuffed into a tiny space and unable to move around, especially when you're stuck on the tarmac forever and ever and security's so crazy you can barely even get up to walk to the lav anymore.
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