Tag Archives: flight

Why I will NEVER Fly American Airlines Again (And Why You Maybe Shouldn’t Either)

10 Sep

 

The whole thing was bad from the get-go, but Skip down to “Flight” if you want to see the big reason why I’ll never fly AA again.

Date:

Summer 2016

Airline: 

American Airlines (Dallas to Seoul) 

 Pre-flight Interactions:

Sucked!  I booked my flight around March because my university reimburses it then. Between March and June, the flight had been changed twice.

The first time, the layover where I catch the international flight was shorted to 1 hour by AA. 0_0 Seriously, one hour? That’s not even according to America Airlines’ instructions!  Spent HOURS (as in more than 10) on the phone trying to contact them and get that figured out. 

For my flight to the States, I was supposed to fly from home to Hong Kong to Dallas to Saint Louis.  Cool.  But then I randomly get a call from China Southern – the flight to Hong Kong has been moved to the next day. Meaning that I would miss all connecting flights. So I call China Southern – can’t talk to them because I have to talk to Orbitz  since they hold the tickets. Call Orbitz, and I’m told to talk to American Airlines. Since they changed the ticket earlier, they now hold the ticket. Orbitz can’t do anything, AA has to make the fix. Call AA and I’m told they can’t do anything because Orbitz has locked the accounted. Go through hours and hours on the phone back and forth only for them to decide that China Southern is uncontactable and American Airlines agrees that the flight has to be fixed. They’ll get me to Hong Kong a day earlier, but I have to pay for the hotel for TWO days until my connecting flights. Uh. . . . No.  That’s not okay. I bought my tickets on time. Paid for my tickets. Have not changed my tickets. This is all on the airlines and it’s going to cost me food and drink in HONG KONG (expensive city!) for two days. Nope. Not okay. So here is AA’s response (one week before my flight). Well, how about this – we’ll refund your tickets, the money will get to you in about 4-6 weeks and you just buy new tickets. Uh WTH?!? I leave in two weeks. A) I won’t get the money in time. B) What kind of prices am I going to get two weeks ahead of time? Try to have a discussion – AA HUNG up on me before I could talk to them that time. Took SO MANY HOURS straightening the whole mess out.I had to fly out a day late and go through LAX instead.

Only good part – apparently AA pulled some strings because I was Pre-Checked through TSA out and back.

Baggage Allowance:

 

I took three suitcases, a carry-on suitcase, and my backpack.

I paid $100 dollars for my third suitcase. I got two 50lb suitcases for free.

My carry-on was light because of the third suitcase. I just had my camera, hard drive, and some extra clothes in it. No one weighed the carry-ons, but I made sure mine fit requirements in case.  Last year, Air China was weighing carry-ons so I like to be safe.

My backpack just had my laptop in it and fit under the chair.

Flight ~ Here’s the REALLY BAD PART

1. Our flight had a grand sum total of 8 movies on it. Several of which were R rated. None of which were for children. Not one cartoon, Disney film, etc. We had 38 cub scouts on the flight. 16 hours in the air. Only movie anywhere close to decent for them was “Captain America – Winter Soldier.” Imagine how well that went. 

2. In our row of 4, two of the entertainment machines were broken.

3. As we took off, one of the flight attendants start cussing and dropping the F-Bomb like it was nothing. Around 38 cub scouts. Of course, one of them later was asking me what F*** meant. Put me in the oh-so-fun position of having to say “Ask your parents. I don’t think they want you to know.”

4. Taking off, the overhead compartments started opening. No seriously, we’re going up and the doors started popping open – about 4 of them that I could see in our compartment. Straps and bags started falling, and customers had to unbuckle and try to close them while we’re still pointing upwards. The flight attendants did nothing. Ignored it. Not even an apology later.

5. WORST OF ALL – Two of the cub scouts, 8-9 years old Korean boys, sat next to me. Only one spoke English. Darling kids, were very quiet, well-behaved, and just played golf on the screen or watched Captain America (over and over again) the whole time. Spoke respectfully, and were generally amazing. Even gave me their “business cards” – 😛 I loved them! Then this one flight attendant starts verbally and physically abusing the poor boy on the aisle seat for the WHOLE flight. When he asked for soda with his meal, like all the other kids, he was told “You will thank me later for this. I know these things. So no. You need to drink water. I might bring you a soda later.” Of course, she did not. He woke up maybe 1 minute after she passed our row during the meal. She was two rows in front of us. When he tried to politely get her attention – “You’ll just have to wait. That will teach you to learn to stay awake when you’re supposed to. You need to wake up when I come. You need to learn to wait your turn now” She wasn’t even going to bring him a meal! On a 16 hour flight! Later, he had his earphones in and was watching Captain America – she was behind him and started asking him a question about what drink he wanted. He didn’t immediately respond so she yelled and jabbed him. Started going on about “kids his age can’t hear a thing over the stupid things in their ears.” Told him he needed to pay attention to her when she talked to him. All of this in English – he didn’t understand a world and just started stuttering in Korean and looking to us for help. I tried to calm her down and ask him the question, and finally told her to just give us a minute. We had no way to even explain to him why she was yelling. It was scaring his friend and he kept asking me “Why is she so angry? What is wrong? We do not understand?” Throughout the flight, she shoved him several times telling him he was too far in the aisle “This is MY space. You have to stay out of MY space.” Later, she acted like she and I were commiserating – ”I just can’t believe them.” Rolling her eyes. I’m like – lady, I’m WAY more than half way to filing an official complaint on his behalf. The WHOLE flight was like this. It was so horrific, the poor kid next to him (and me) reached over wrapped his arms around him and pulled him into his lap holding him, patting his hair, and holding his hand out to protect him and pull him closer every time she came near. For about 12 hours of the flight he just held him and patted him and kept him as close to him and away from the aisle as possible. Seriously. . . a kid felt like he needed to shelter another kid from the woman. I did my best to help them. Gave him my soda, gave him the snacks from my food tray, got him food from my side of the aisle, let him and his friend sleep on my shoulder, woke them up whenever we saw her coming, and I tried answering for him as soon as she asked so she didn’t mess with him. But still. I’ve never wanted to report someone so badly in my life. They did NOTHING wrong, and certainly didn’t deserve that. What an impression to leave them with – such an exciting adventure, only to be ruined by her ugly behavior. No one deserves to be treated like that.

 

Luggage Retrieval:  SUCKED!

 AA was supposed to book my luggage clear to my end destination – I specifically asked when I was at the airport. Get to Korea and I’m told that no, they didn’t do that. Took 4 hours of running from desk to desk before AA finally fixed it. No apology, just a “well you have to tell us these things” and bad looks. Duh! I did ask! Then we had to lug around 6 suitcases and two backpacks, because we couldn’t check them in again until the next day due to the mix-up.

Overall Conclusions

 

Okay, I’d like to give the airline the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they really did just mess up the first ticket change. Would have been nice to have that fixed pretty fast, but hey. 

Didn’t appreciate the problems with the second ticket change. Really didn’t appreciate their refusal to even attempt to work with me. 

Did not approve of the fact that they totally screwed up my luggage.  I very specifically verified that it was all checked to my final destination, and the error was on their part. Had they been willing to quickly fix the issue – maybe volunteered to cover storage costs while I was in Korea – it would have been fine. Instead, despite Korean Air repeated asking them to work it out over the phone and rather than sending one of their people UP to the counter to fix the issue, they sent me on a wild goose chase all over hell’s-half-acre in ICN airport trying to get to them. Did not appreciate that at all.

Certainly did not enjoy the flight itself. If we can have the Melissa McCartney “Boss” movie, couldn’t we have had a child’s movie. It would have made so many customers a LOT happier if there was something to entertain the children.  

The food sucked – Korean Air and Air China both serve better food.

But worst of all was the attendants’ behavior. It wasn’t just one – there were several.  And of course a few were really nice, but they didn’t make any effort to help when the doors opened and suitcases could have hurt people.  They were really rude to the children and snippy about how some of them were GASP! sleeping on the floor! And then the cursing and rudeness to those two boys. I wanted to cry.  I wanted to hug them both, give them cookies, promise them adults are really a lot nicer than that, and cry.  I don’t know if it was racism or just a dislike of children, but it was a consistent feeling I got from several of the attendants. I did not appreciate it at all.  If it was my child, there would have been a show like no other.  If this is the kind of person AA hires for their Transpacific flights, then I really don’t want to contribute my money to a company like that. People, even those in economy class and the cheap tickets, deserve to be treated with normal human dignity. And that was not given to that little boy at all.  So, even if I have to pay extra – I’m flying Korean Air or Cathay Pacific from now on.  

 

**PS – it is worth noting that while American Airlines was horrific, Korean Air was AMAZING as usual. As soon as I knew there was a problem with my luggage, I ran to the Korean Air desks. They immediately directed me to a short line of 1 person and I was quickly helped. The girl spent 2 hours calling around trying to help me, and quickly got everything handled on their end. The only problem they had was with American Airlines’ side of things.  They were polite, lovely, kind, friendly, and efficient as always. My Korean Air flight the next morning was a DREAM.  The difference was pronounced.  And while I almost always go for the cheaper option in flights – this permanently made up my mind. Sometimes, a little customer service is actually worth the extra money.  Especially if children are involved.

Aer Lingus “Study in Ireland Program”

20 Jul

For my first return post, I thought I’d share a nice deal offered especially to Study Abroad Students!

According to their website, AerLingus (an Irish airline) is offering students studying in Ireland a special deal this summer through their “STUDY IN IRELAND Program.”

They’ll be offering “special airfares and a free date change to their return flight.” I like how it says you can change your return flight. Probably because so many students fall in love with Ireland and just want to stay a little bit longer (I know I did!).  Actually, it says you can even move the date of your return flight up (but who would want to?!?).  

The offer is for travel to or from Dublin or Shannon, Ireland on the following dates:

  • August 17-December 20, 2016 (Fall Semester)
  • January 6 – May 30, 2017 (Spring Semester)

Flights include those to/from Boston, Chicago, Hartford (as of Sept. 2016), Los Angeles, New York, Newark (as of Sept. 2016), Orlando, San Francisco, Toronto, and D.C.  Only individual students studying abroad get this special plan. 

However, the website also offers “special fares for Family & Friends Interested in travelling with or visiting the student while in Ireland (fares based on availability).” Awesome! Your best friend could come and visit you too!

For more details about the specifics and limitations, you can use the following resources:

If you try this program out, let us know how it goes! Excellent? Good? Bad? Terrible? Pass it on!

DISCLAIMER: This website is not affiliated with Aer Lingus in any way. My and my website are not responsible for anything AerLingus does or the program they are offering or anything else. I’m just letting you know what the website says.

Use a “Fake” Location to Get Cheaper Plane Tickets

14 Mar

I tried it with a flight from CGO (Zhengzhou) to SEL (Seoul). The flights in CNY were $5 cheaper, which isn’t much in USA terms, but since I get paid in RMB that’s basically a $30 savings! **DB

“Use a “Fake” Location to Get Cheaper Plane Tickets”

by Erica Ho via “MapHappy

poshero-mhv2

I can’t explain airline pricing but I do know some plane tickets can be cheaper depending on where you buy them or, even better, where you appear to buy them from. This is all about leveraging foreign currencies and points-of-sale to your advantage.

For reasons I never quite understood, every time I tried to book a domestic flight in another country, the prices were always exorbitant. But, say, once I was in Bangkok, that same flight that was once $300 would fall to $30 almost inexplicably. This phenomenon is because a ticket’s point-of-sale—the place where a retail transaction is completed—can affect the price of any flight with an international component.

Most people don’t know there is a simple trick for “changing” this to get a cheaper flight on an airline’s website; it’s how I managed to pay $371 for a flight from New York to Colombia instead of $500+. Though it can be used for normal international flights, it often works best when you’re buying domestic flights in another country. (Point in case: A Chilean friend once told me Easter Island flights were much cheaper to buy in Santiago instead of abroad.)

To demonstrate how this scheme works, we ran a one-way search from Cartagena to Bogotá—two cities in Colombia—for June 17 on Google ITA, Kayak and Skyscanner. To keep things simple, I’ll ignore a VivaColombia flight that Skyscanner found because Google ITA and Kayak do not include smaller airlines in their searches. Instead, we’ll be comparing two large airlines that fly this route, LAN Airlines and Avianca.

Unsurprisingly, Kayak takes a U.S.-centric approach. Going the path of least resistance, a Kayak search shows that the cheapest flight on LAN is $116 and the cheapest flight on Avianca is $137. If we run this exact search in Google ITA with New York City as the point-of-sale, we see those exact numbers. Skyscanner returns similar results: the cheapest flight on LAN is $114 and on Avianca it is $136.

Where to change point-of-sale in Google ITA.

Though Skyscanner actually has the best prices, let’s not stop there. Instead of using an American city as the point-of-sale, let’s use Colombia as the point-of-sale, something that can only be searched for in Google ITA. You actually don’t have to tweak a thing because the departure city is usually set as the default for this option — that said, it’s possible to change this to any place in the world you want. The main difference is we’ll get the price in Colombian pesos and that’s *exactly* what we want.

Prices shown in Colombian pesos.

In this new search, the cheapest flight on Avianca is 116,280 COP and the cheapest flight on LAN is 173,820 COP. That of course means a lot of mumbo jumbo to most people, so let’s convert that over to U.S. dollars. The same Avianca flight now approximates to $61.59 while the LAN flight is $91.96. In short, you’d be saving $22.04 on the LAN flight and $74.41 on the Avianca flight by simply paying in a different currency. The price difference between the cheapest flight in both the U.S. and Colombia search is $54.41. That’s how much you’ll end up saving just by comparing the flights in different currencies. . . . .

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Video

Awesome Lightning Show on the Flight Home!

2 Jul

Airline Reviews: Air China

26 Aug

 

Date:

2014

Airline: 

Air China (China Air)–International and Domestic (2 flights ~ IAD to PEK and PEK to CGO).  

Plane:

Boeing 777Boeing 737

Pre-flight Interactions:

My university paid for and arranged the flight tickets, so I have no idea how that process went down.  We just got the e-ticket confirmation and got ready to go.  

The best part of Air China though came on the transfer from United to Air China in Washington, DC.  You can read all about the horror story with United here, but long story short I accidentally checked the carry-on bag that had my passport in it at the request of United. Upon realizing the issue, I spent 2.5 hours being given the run-around by United as to where my suitcases were and how to access my passport.  Finally, I abandoned the idea of getting any help from them and went to the Air China desk.  I was instantly directed to the manager (it took about 4 minutes from reaching the busy counter for them to get me through to someone who could help ~ great timing), to whom I explained the issue and asked if they could tell me when they received the suitcases from United so I could find my passport in them.  The manager informed me that the plane would be leaving shortly, but that if I went ahead and checked in and went through security, she would personally bring the bags to my gate (since the bags had been through security I couldn’t touch them, but she would let me point to the pocket where it was).  

I hurried on ahead and made it to the gates with no time to spare. They were actually holding the plane for us to run ahead, they had my passport in hand already when I got there, suitcases were on the plane, and I was escorted through all in about 10 minutes.  The entire interactions with them (outside of security) only took about 25 minutes, so much more satisfying than the 2.5 hours with United where I hadn’t gotten anywhere.  The flight attendants / employees were amazingly gracious about the whole situation, and everything was far less stressful than my experience with United had been.  

Baggage Allowance:

Carry-On ~ 21″ x 15″ x “7 at less than 11 lbs.

Checked ~ 62″ linear (70 lbs for First/Business; 50 lbs for Economy)

On international flights, First/Business Class customers get 2 free carry on bags, and Economy gets 1.  We were each carrying on us a carry-on bag, a full backpack, and random odds and ends (I was lugging a pillow in a suction bag, a book, my drink, etc.).  Luckily, we did end up checking our carry-on bags clear through for free due to United’s original lack of space in their compartments.  United wasn’t actually going to pay for that later (DC United didn’t want to pay for what Denver’s United had promised to cover), but after we spoke with Air China, they called up a manager who worked it out and got the carry-ons checked clear through—another area where Air China pulled through when United failed.  

On international flights, First/Business Class customers get 2 free checked bags that can weigh as much as 70lbs each; Economy customers get 2 free check bags weighing 50lbs or less each. 

Boarding:

Boarding was a little touch-and-go, perhaps through no fault of their own.  I already described the whole thing about boarding in DC, the rest of which went pretty well.  The poor flight attendant guy didn’t realize that I was packing a couple layers of clothes (trying to save on weight 😛 ) and attempted to give me one of the seat belt extenders.  He really was very discreet about it all, and was attempting to be kind.  When I showed that I didn’t need it though, it got him flustered, and our trip went a little downhill from there.  It probably didn’t help that he later accidentally walked into the bathroom on me when the lock didn’t quite click correctly or that the bad turbulence made him and me crash and spill my drink on me.  Honestly, I don’t think he could have handled it any more pleasantly than he tried to do and none of it was his fault. It really just wasn’t our flight 🙂  
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Airline Reviews: American Airlines

20 Feb

This one was SERIOUSLY NOT GOOD!

Date:

2013

Airline: 

American Airlines (AA)–Domestic (1 flight).  

Plane:

Boeing 737

Pre-flight Interactions:

This is where everything went VERY wrong on the part of American Airlines.  I ordered the tickets via CheapTickets.com, so the process was fairly simple.  They didn’t show up on the AA list before my flight though, so I had to have the email confirmation in hand.

MAJOR PROBLEM:

I was coming in from Seoul, South Korea and originally planned a three hour changeover from Korean Air international to a domestic American Airlines flight at LAX.   When the Korean Air flight had to go north to avoid a pretty large storm, it changed my changeover window to 1.5 hours. 

Still, according to the airline website, you need to arrive about 1-1.5 hours ahead of time for a domestic flight anyway, so I wasn’t actually late at all.  Since AA had access to my itinerary and the flight records, they would have known that my planed would arrive in time.  Figuring everything was okay, I showed up at the check-in counter only to be told I’m not on the flight list.  You can imagine the trauma that brought forth–my bags were scheduled to be put on the plane, my family was waiting on the other end for me to arrive, and suddenly I’m not there.  

Immediately I start asking questions; I had the confirmation number, I had the itinerary, I was on top of things. So what the heck went wrong?  I was shuffled off to a customer service kiosk,fwhere I waited in line 10 minutes trying to explain to VERY RUDE employees that I was now in a hurry.  They told me to just “wait my turn young lady” (very condescending btw), and then informed me that I had been deleted from the system. It wasn’t an accident at all–AA deleted me on purpose. Unable to answer my questions or resolve the issue, they sent me across the building to another kiosk with less than 45 minutes remaining before my plane left. After another 10 minute wait, I’m told that since my flight was late, they  had removed me from the roster. LATE?!?!?!  Since when?!?!?  I had a whole hour (as recommended by their directions) before I was supposed to leave on the AA plane! The only reason I was late now is because someone took me off the roster!  I was FURIOUS with them; they had no right to give away my seat when I showed up on time according to their own guidelines.   Finally, they said they thought they might be able to slide me in last minute, but I’d have to run and I wouldn’t get the seat I’d chosen. I was left with 20 minutes to get through security and run to the gate.  No apologies were offered, no discount, nothing to make up for the stress.  I arrived as the last people got on. While I made it onto the flight, this is one of the worst examples of service I have seen with an airline.

Baggage Allowance:

First/Business Class customers get 3 free checked bags all the time, but it differs for economy depending on your destination. You can find all the rules here, but generally you get a personal item (I always make it a backpack because it counts as a purse but is bigger) and a carry-on.  If you want a checked bag, they cost around $30 each for the first 2. I prefer airlines with at least 1 free checked bag.

Boarding:

Yet again of the bad.  I arrived at the desk rushing up to ask if I had been added or not, and was yelled at because “you should have been here earlier, we’re boarding now, so you need to hurry up if you want to board”  (not the most polite response I’ve ever gotten).  Realizing that if I wasn’t on the flight, my bags might not be on the flight I attempted to ask about my luggage. Their response “Ma’am you need to get in line now.” Finally, I was obviously upset and a lovely cleaner woman stopped and asked if I was okay. After explaining my problem, she patted me on the shoulder and hurried off to stop the pilot walking by. She brought him over and he informed me that it should be okay (Thank you both if you read this; you saved me a great deal of grief).

In Flight:

I’ve yet to be impressed with AA flight attendants–their concept of customer service is one of the worst I’ve experienced. Food is horrid and there is little of it; drinks are hard to come by. There are few amenities, and the only entertainment was a tiny tv at the front that you couldn’t really see and the microphones were broken.  Trying to sleep didn’t work because the flight was cramped; and I ended up crushed in the middle when I wanted an aisle seat.  We still arrived late.

Only positive–for the first time since I’ve been flying with them, the AA plane had a fairly smooth ride.

Luggage Retrieval:  

My luggage wasn’t where I was told, and no one was available to tell us where to go.  I was happy though to find out it arrived on the plane.

Overall Conclusions

HORRIBLEThis airline was extremely and unnecessarily problematic due to bad business  practice on the part of American Airlines.  Given the significant issue over my retracted ticket, I would have expected at the least helpful kindness and patience from their staff. That was not forthcoming.   I was also expected some kind of apology or reparations for my aggravation, and they acted like I was the problem and that I should be grateful they were working with me to fix it.  

For Comparison’s sake, I once arrived at a Korean Air flight check-in fifteen minutes before boarding.  They rushed me through check-in, grabbed my bags, and hurried me through to my flight with 2 minutes to spare. Plus, they were exceedingly polite in the process.  AA FAILED. I will avoid them in the future.

Airline Reviews: Korean Air

17 Feb

Date:

2012, 2013

Airline: 

Korean Air–International & Domestic (8 flights).  

Plane(s):

Airbus A330-200, Airbus A332 (no longer used?), Boeing 737Boeing 777-200.

Pre-flight Interactions:

I prefer ordering Korean Air tickets via Orbitz or other online systems because their website is fairly complicated.  One nice element is that it comes in a multitude of languages–English, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, etc.  It isn’t always so difficult to look up flights, but it can be difficult to compare them via their home site.  There isn’t a lot of explanation as to what exactly their “Skypass” does for you, although I’ve signed up since the beginning. As far as I can tell, it just gets me through the check-in a little easier because I can have everything easily accessible online.  They say that you can pre-check in via the web and just use their machine at the airport, but it has always failed for me.  I might be using it wrong or not qualifying, but the instructions are confusing.   It helps if you have ticket in hand, along with your itinerary, and your passport. That is enough for them to get started.

However, the personnel are amazing at their jobs. I can’t say that I have ever had a single complaint with them. Their English is superb, they get me through the lines quickly and efficiently, they have people standing around waiting to answer questions, and they are charming at it. They seem to have an unending line of patience because I can honestly say I’ve never seen the less than lovely.  For all that I stumbled through on my first couple flights, they were fabulous. They always verified that I knew what I was doing and where to go, they actively came around the counter and led me to where I needed to go next, and they even worked with me the day I was late for the flight check-in.  I can’t speak highly enough of their service.

Baggage Allowance:

The deal is that if you are flying internationally (and I often am), all airlines must honor the baggage requirements/allowance of the airline with the longest flight (if tickets are all bought together–not separately). I always try to get Korean Air’s baggage allowance if traveling.  

First/Business Class always get 3 free checked bags, but it differs for Prestige and Economy depending on the destination.  You can find all the rules here under At the Airport–>Baggage.  Generally, Prestige gets 2 bags, while Economy gets 2 bags for to/from America and 1 for anywhere else.  You also get a personal item (I always make it a backpack because it counts as a purse but is bigger) and a carry-on.   Small tip, if you are stopping in other countries during our trip, buy all the tickets at the same time as you purchase your flight back/from the US. It gets you the 2 bags instead of 1.

Boarding:

Amazing. There are always 2-3 people at the gate waiting to answer questions and handle problems.  They are extremely efficient at the process, working with children and the elderly first, then everyone else. Everyone is divided into groups and you just wait your turn, making the lines more manageable. The flight attendants greet you at the door, check your ticket, and direct you to your seat. If you need help (have kids, strollers, elderly, etc.) one of them will come with you to help you settle in.  They never complain about weirdly shaped baggage or oversized items; they simply gather them all up to be dealt with quietly.  Your seat already has the amenities there including a blanket, pillow, slippers, and water bottle.  They are eternally polite in getting everyone situated, it’s a smooth process that eases both adults and children.  

In Flight:

The best part about Korean Air is their customer service and amenities. Domestic is a little rougher because you don’t get the televisions or as many amenities, but I really appreciate having the water bottle already in hand.  They arrive quickly when the button is pressed, and return promptly with your requested items.  I once watched a flight attendants rock and walk a screaming baby for nearly an hour while the parents tried to sooth their other kids, and she acted like it was no big deal.  They serve drinks and food to First Class first of course, but they move quickly and you don’t have to wait too long. The food is generally amazing (cakes, puddings, salads, curry, baked chicken, etc.), and it is actually a full meal.  They offer soda, wine, water, juice, milk, etc. free generally, and usually come buy with snacks a couple of times. The seats are pretty well spaced with lots of leg room so I never feel crunched up (Domestic less so, but still better than AA), and they are comfy too.

By far the best part is the tv screens each chair has for international flights. They offer music (International, Korean, American, Country, radio, etc.), Television shows (European, American, Kdramas, comedies), Movies (dozens of films are always there including tons of kids films), tourism information, flight information, maps, even Video Games.  Kids are entertained for hours, and I rarely see any making a big fuss on these flights.  They can even compete together in the video games since the tvs connect for them.  Some have plug-ins for USB cables too, which is nice if you have an I-pod or laptop.

Then there is of course the flying. I have run into some very late flights with Korean Air, but we were avoid a big storm hitting Korea and China so it couldn’t be helped. They are very careful about safety measure, demonstrating the procedures in case of emergency. They always alert you when the seat belt lights come on and explain the issue. Generally there is also an apology.  They have been turbulent but not scary. It’s nice that the pilot comes out and thanks you as you walk off the plane too.

Luggage Retrieval:  

This usually goes pretty well. I had one flight where my luggage wasn’t where they told me, but I’m not sure whose fault that was. My suitcases ended up in first class, so I had to hunt to find them, and then they changed the location of retrieval which confused things. But my suitcases always made it back, and I’ve never had anything break.  

Overall Conclusions

I attempt to always get Korean Air if possible. To be honest, customer service is one of the most important things to me when choosing an airline; flying is stressful enough without having to deal with grouchy workers.  So, I particularly appreciate their customer service and amenities.  It helps that they sent me up to Business Class once after they had an opening and I slept at their feet the whole night before.  I was also touched by the flight attendants relating to me personally.  I once lost my boarding pass and the woman rushed all over helping me look and figuring out the process of what to do.  I spent several minutes talking to one flight attendant as we waited buckled in for take-off (storm delays)  with him describing everything I should see, talking about where I was from, etc.  He then caught back up and wished me a good trip when we were leaving.  That’s just how kind they are.  Flying Domestic is less fun because the planes are more cramped, older, and offer less entertainment, but it is still as nice as I’ve found elsewhere. 

The only negatives I see with Korean Air–They are almost always more expensive and I don’t understand enough about the Skypass for it to be doing me any good.  Also, my miles are going to expire before I reach the upgrade, and I’m within reach if I could just afford one more international flight 😦

Airline Reviews: American Airlines

16 Feb

I should have done this ages ago, but I kept finding other cool things to talk about.  So this is a tad late, but better late than never!  (And I’ll update it next time I have to fly with them).

Date:

2012

Airline: 

American Airlines (AA)–Domestic (2 flights).  

Plane:

Boeing 737

Pre-flight Interactions:

I ordered the tickets via Orbitz, so the process was fairly simple. My flight almost immediately appeared on the AA website as registered and confirmed.  The website is easy enough to use; I actually went ahead and registered a membership with the airline, which simplified things.  You have to keep either the “Record Number” or your AA number on hand if you want to look anything up though.  I did have to call them with questions, and I was less than pleased.   Although the questions were fairly simple (arrival times, baggage capacity), they redirected the calls several times and put me on hold repeatedly.  When I finally got someone, they were abrupt and short. Hung up  on me before I finished all my questions.  

Baggage Allowance:

The deal is that if you are flying internationally (and I was), all airlines must honor the baggage requirements/allowance of the airline with the longest flight (if tickets are all bought together–not separately). I flew AA across country and took Korean Air to Asia, allowing me to abide by Korean Air’s baggage allowance.  Still, the difference wouldn’t have been that significant.  

First/Business Class customers get 3 free checked bags all the time, but it differs for economy depending on your destination. You can find all the rules here, but generally you get a personal item (I always make it a backpack because it counts as a purse but is bigger), a carry-on, and 1-2 checked bags (flights to/from Brazil and Asia are 2; rest are generally 1).  This is pretty nice compared to other US airlines. 

Boarding:

Once again the flight attendants and staff were gruff and short with the customers.  They offered far too many sighs and rolling eyes.  They stalk the aisles snarling at people trying  to put stuff in the overhead, and pushing the customers out of their way.  You can’t ask questions or they act like it’s a huge burden. The first flight, they actually yelled at some people whose stuff wouldn’t fit.  I wasn’t much impressed either time.  No sense of customer service–it’s obviously a job they dislike.  

In Flight:

Still not terribly impressed with the service–it sucked both times.  The food was awful, the snacks were nuts and water.  The first time I had to ask for a water half-way through and was huffily/snottily told “We’re working on it, you’ll just have to wait!” It took nearly half-an-hour before I got anything. Kind of a problem when I was trying to take my medications.  Second flight a baby next to me started crying and the attendant ignored the mom when she asked for a blanket.  The baby had been asleep for forever before it actually showed up.  It was annoying because in the interim, we could see the flight attendants standing around drinking coffee and chatting.  The amenities on the plane aren’t very good either; I had to stick with my ipod. 

The flight itself sucked big time.  The plane was cramped, and we were all smashed against one another.  Plus, I understand that flights aren’t always smooth sailing, but both of these were heart-stoppingly scary. Once, the plane’s humming stopped and the plane actually fell quite a ways. Not like moving downwards deliberately, we literally came up out of our seats (with the belts on) and hit hard when it stopped.  Then pilot missed the landing twice and we had to circle around. Even when we made it, the landing was extremely bumpy. The guy next to me said he’s taken that flight dozens of times and it had never been that bad.  I could maybe have understood that, but they never reassured us or said anything about turbulence. A couple times the seat belt lights (which stayed on most of both trips) came on without warning or comment.  It was especially a problem after the whole plane dropping from the sky thing. I would have appreciated someone telling us that nothing was wrong with the plane.  I was late arriving both times.

Luggage Retrieval:  

This actually went pretty well. My luggage was where they said it was, and it was easy to grab and move.  Nothing was broken, and the cases came out of it okay. I have big suitcases that often end up on bottom, so it’s always a good thing when they survive the journey.

Overall Conclusions

This is definitely not my favorite airline to fly with.  The website/baggage allowance/other mechanics of the system were fine, but everything else was awful.  The flight attendants were rude at best, unkind and problematic at worst.  Their concept of customer service was non-existent, and it was obvious. The flights were too bumpy and nauseating–I’ve flown the same trip with other airlines and made it fine.  Overall, I was sick and unhappy when it was over and I would avoid them in the future.

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Taking to the Skies

10 May

Taking to the Skies

Flew Chicago to San Francisco today on the first leg of my trip and I love this picture of the skies. Click on the picture and it will take you to the others I shot 🙂

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