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U.S. Inferior To The World In Terms Of Air Travel?  
User currently offlinec5load From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 917 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6760 times:

Mods, first of all, if this has been posted before please delete and, if any of you can think of a better title, please change it, thanks.

It can't all be blamed on 9/11 for the reason that it seems to me that we have become inferior to the rest of the world in terms of air travel. I will admit that we have come a long way in luxuries and amenities, but the European and Asian Airlines still seem to have the edge. I find it hard to believe that it has always been this way. Yeah, we have the 77L and 744 for long range, but other international airlines seem to have those plus more and have far more luxurious accommodations.

If I am wrong in my thinking, please tell me and I will ask the mods to delete this.


"But this airplane has 4 engines, it's an entirely different kind of flying! Altogether"
34 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinecatiii From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 3092 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6760 times:

Quoting c5load (Thread starter):
t seems to me that we have become inferior to the rest of the world in terms of air travel.

Inferior in what way? I don't know of many, if any, other comparable countries that have the vigorous competition and service levels in terms of frequency and cities served as the United States.


User currently offlinec5load From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 917 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6698 times:

Quoting catiii (Reply 1):
Inferior in what way?

I guess in terms of quality and modern equipment. Maybe it's just the American people not wanting high quality, but the newest aircraft the US airlines have taken delivery of is the 77L for DL (of new aircraft type). But it seems the international airlines of wide variety are taking delivery of a new Boeing or Airbus every month.



"But this airplane has 4 engines, it's an entirely different kind of flying! Altogether"
User currently offlineDAL763ER From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 570 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6654 times:

I would give up all the amenities on European flights (although not many) for in-flight Wi-Fi which is pervasive in the US.


Where aviation is not the side show, it's the main show!!!
User currently offlinePlaneWasted From Sweden, joined Jan 2008, 540 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6628 times:

Many Europeans travel with Ryanair, they have much lower standards than the US airlines. And in Sweden, when flying our national carrier SAS, you usually travel on an MD-80. And not even soft drinks and coffee are for free. A cup of coffee cost about 3$!

User currently offlineseabosdca From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 5839 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6597 times:

The economics of the U.S. airline business are far more challenging than those in the parts of the world that always feature cutting-edge fleets and hard products.

We have the world's most brutal domestic market, with long stage lengths, tough low-fare competition, a culture of frequency, and bargain-basement consumer expectations. We face challenges internationally as well, in large part because we have so many destinations and no natural central hubs. An LH or AF can consolidate in one hub and send huge equipment to our largest destinations, while we don't have that luxury in most markets. (This is why we operate so many TATL 757s and TPAC 767s and A330s -- something unique to us.)

Not all of this is bad. Air travel is much more accessible to more of the people here than it is in many parts of the world. Our airlines are very competitive economically on world markets, despite high labor costs (and relatively good standards of living for the workers). But it makes it hard to drop billions on new equipment every ten years.


User currently offlinemham001 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 3723 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6588 times:

The perception probably stems from the higher end airlines around the world vs those in the US. They don't compare.

User currently offlineAaron747 From Japan, joined Aug 2003, 8289 posts, RR: 26
Reply 7, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6588 times:

Quoting c5load (Reply 2):
I guess in terms of quality and modern equipment.

Compared to most of developed Asia, US carriers cannot maintain equipment condition and quality to the same standards due to a couple of important factors - namely the inability of some Americans to use things in a respectful and non-destructive manner, and the inability to hire staff who will take pride in relatively menial work and reliably clean and maintain things to a standard necessary to keep things in more or less the same condition they were installed.

This is a cultural difference more than anything else, and is very difficult to overcome. If you need proof, go to a luxury shopping center in the US and then visit same in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. You will find similar architectural stylings, expanses of glass, high-quality stone walkways and the like, but if you look closer, you will notice scratches, inoperative light fixtures, missing bathroom toilet paper, dented doors, graffiti repair, and other signs of disrespect, neglect, or disrepair on the US side.



If you need someone to blame / throw a rock in the air / you'll hit someone guilty
User currently offlineSOBHI51 From Saudi Arabia, joined Jun 2003, 3551 posts, RR: 17
Reply 8, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6588 times:
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Quoting catiii (Reply 1):
I don't know of many, if any, other comparable countries that have the vigorous competition and service levels in terms of frequency and cities served as the United States.


Europe is about as big as the USA compare the services between them.



I am against any terrorist acts committed under the name of Islam
User currently offlineAA767400 From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 2401 posts, RR: 26
Reply 9, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6560 times:

Remember that many Asian/Middle Eastern countries have different laws. They can hire, and fire whoever they want. Hence why you see younger, and more appealing employees at carriers like SQ/EK/CX etc. Add to that, that people value their employment. You can seem them take pride in their job, and only do it for several years before going to something else. Once you hit 30-35, you're gone. Many of these airlines keep things fresh. American carriers have employees who feel entitled, and don't leave because they're protected by unions, and laws in the U.S..

The Middle East is in the right place geographically for transiting, and being near oil reserves. They have access to that oil, and have more money to spend on new planes, and creature comforts. And again, let's not forgot about their laws. No unions, and contract employees. After a couple of years, you're gone. And can fire any bad apples not providing the service that is required.

Europeans have a different work ethic. I find them sometimes better than American carriers, but sometimes can lack warmth in their customer service. They have better inflight products, but don't raise the bar with customer service like Asian carriers do.

The United States has the kind of airlines, and competition that they have because of it's laws, and it's culture. Could it be better, sure. But at the moment, I don't see anything changing anytime soon.



"The low fares airline."
User currently offlineCharlieNoble From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6495 times:

I don't know much about what drives quality of in-flight service...maybe Americans just don't want to pay for it so the airlines don't compete on it.

But as for fleet age issues, you could just as easily look at that another way: the fact that airlines in the US can get such long service lives out of their equipment safely is a testament to their thrift and the quality of their maintenance programs.

If the dollars worked out in favor of constantly renewing the fleet every 5 years like some do, you can bet our airlines would do it.


User currently offlineGSPSPOT From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3105 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6480 times:

Air travel, rail travel, water travel.... UGH. I tend to be a "small government" type of person, but firmly believe that a robust, efficient and multi-faceted infrastructure is VITAL to economic progress. In that regard, the U.S. is rapidly and sadly falling behind.


Finally made it to an airline mecca!
User currently offlineYYZRWY23 From Canada, joined Aug 2009, 561 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 6451 times:

Quoting c5load (Thread starter):

An interesting opinion, and you aren't entirely wrong, depending on your perspective. In North America, it seems that consumers prefer frequency over quality. What I mean by this is, I would rather be able to leave when I want then to have the most comfortable seat, or the nicest aircraft interior. That is at least my perspective.

But here are other things to consider.

Quoting catiii (Reply 1):
have the vigorous competition and service levels in terms of frequency and cities served

Big item to consider. There are very few countries in the world that have the level of competition as the United States. There are so many cities to serve, as so many willing to serve it, that frequency becomes more important. For example, a luxurious wide-body will fly you from SIN-HKG (two very large cities), at a 6x frequency per day. AC offers YYZ-YVR (of comaprable value in terms of economic activity) at 9x daily. The equipment used by AC isn't at the same level of luxury. but it allows me to choose from 33% more times than the consumer going SIN-HKG. I prefer this. I want to leave when I want. It seems that in Asia and the Middle East, consumers care more about the on-board product and will make concessions with their departure and arrival times.

The United States is by no means inferior to air travel. I think the United States is superior in some cases. The vast amount of choices consumers have to travel by air has more value to me than 5000+ movies on a flight. I have always felt that way, but a 19 year old citizen of the UAE may be appalled by the on-board amenities and services on a US or Canadian airline in comparison to Emirates or Etihad. But that consumer only gets a few choices per day to travel, I get many more.

Just my 0.02.

YYZRWY23



If you don't stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them.
User currently offlinec5load From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 917 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 6393 times:

Quoting YYZRWY23 (Reply 12):
The vast amount of choices consumers have to travel by air has more value to me than 5000+ movies on a flight.

Very true, but with the airlines constantly merging, it looks to be heading in the direction of two very large powerhouses and one still seemingly LCC (DL, UA, and WN). So we wouldn't have as large of a choice as we do now.



"But this airplane has 4 engines, it's an entirely different kind of flying! Altogether"
User currently offlineseabosdca From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 5839 posts, RR: 6
Reply 14, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 6338 times:

Quoting c5load (Reply 13):
it looks to be heading in the direction of two very large powerhouses and one still seemingly LCC (DL, UA, and WN).

A couple little operations called AA, US, and B6 might be a bit surprised to hear that...


User currently offlinetharanga From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 1867 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 6220 times:

Are total labor costs much different between the US, Europe, the Middle East, Singapore, etc? Meaning, the total cost of employing a F/A, a ramper, a gate agent, etc? Including pension, and whatever other social obligations.

Also, for a flight of comparable costs (fuel needs, etc), are yields much different around the world?

[Edited 2011-02-14 18:06:16]

User currently offlinerealsim From Spain, joined Apr 2010, 663 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 6219 times:

Quoting SOBHI51 (Reply 8):
Europe is about as big as the USA compare the services between them.

Europe is a single market for domestic travel and that's why Ryanair, Easyjet or Air Berlin have many bases in different countries, providing domestic services. And the "future" is also a single international market.

One thing that Europe has that the US should seriously consider is the competition from high speed rail. We can see every major European city being linked by these services, and that represents an additional competition to airlines, being forced to improve their service. Of course the US is huge, but cities like DCA-PHL-LGA-BOS, DAL-HOU or LAX-SFO should be connected with a high speed rail at 218 mph or 350 km/h.


User currently offlineYYZRWY23 From Canada, joined Aug 2009, 561 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 6206 times:

Quoting c5load (Reply 13):
So we wouldn't have as large of a choice as we do now.

Even though you do bring up a good point, it is one different from what I was trying to portray. You are speaking in terms of different choices in terms of airlines. Which, while decreasing a bit, is still a very competitive environment.

I was speaking to choices in terms of frequency. Even with UA and CO tying the knot, they will still have more frequencies on big city pairs than the 6x frequency of some Asian carriers to equivalent Asain city pairs (SIN-HKG example). On AA, there are 10x JFK-LAX to choose from, almost double the offerings of SQ. And that is just AA, then there UA, DL, CO(EWR), B6.....you get the idea.

USA air travelers still get way more choice in frequency than many places in the world, but don't get the best IFE, seat, or mood lighting.

YYZRWY23



If you don't stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them.
User currently offlinec5load From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 917 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 6149 times:

Quoting YYZRWY23 (Reply 17):
I was speaking to choices in terms of frequency.

Apologies, I meant to address that, but never did. I see your point as well, I would much rather have multiple times to choose to fly rather than try and catch one of the three or four segments a day.



"But this airplane has 4 engines, it's an entirely different kind of flying! Altogether"
User currently offlineCharlieNoble From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 6149 times:

Seems like an awful lot of cultural generalizations being made in this thread.

Assuming for a minute that the generalizations were 100% true, I think they account for a small portion of the differences between the perceived relative levels of 'quality'...compared to market forces, the regulatory environment and the workplace/compensation structures in place.

Quoting Aaron747 (Reply 7):
the inability to hire staff who will take pride in relatively menial work and reliably clean and maintain things to a standard necessary to keep things in more or less the same condition they were installed.

And according to the Peter Principle, as soon as companies find one of these hard-working people they promote them to middle management where they prove to be ineffective LOL.


User currently offlinezhiao From United States of America, joined Jan 2011, 428 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 6055 times:
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Who cares? Overall the quality of our service industry/customer service is the best in the world. Airlines are one exception. Just walk into Best Buy and compare that to the top electronics store in Italy (for example). No comparison.. Trust me, living in Europe, you take for granted the high quality of customer service that they have in the US. Want to return a bad product in the US? Fine. In some others? Forget it, they will take forever.

[Edited 2011-02-14 18:15:24]

User currently offlineAaron747 From Japan, joined Aug 2003, 8289 posts, RR: 26
Reply 21, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 6012 times:

Quoting CharlieNoble (Reply 19):
Seems like an awful lot of cultural generalizations being made in this thread.

Culture is important - anyone with experience running a business knows this well.

Quoting CharlieNoble (Reply 19):
the workplace/compensation structures in place

Compensation structure is clearly not the issue. Starting pay for rampers is about $10.50/hr in Japan. Flight attendants are female therefore they can be paid on a lower salary structure.

Quoting tharanga (Reply 15):
Are total labor costs much different between the US, Europe, the Middle East, Singapore, etc? Meaning, the total cost of employing a F/A, a ramper, a gate agent, etc?

I can't speak to other places, but pension obligations are common for some job classes in Japanese companies. The entire airline industry is unionized in Japan but pension obligations are small owing to the country's national pension system that is paid into as a portion of every employee's check. Japan's system is similar to SS in the US but is more generous in some respects. Labor costs are somewhat lower in Japan for this kind of work due to lowered thresholds for liability insurance, workers' compensation, and no need for the company to make large contributions to employee health care coverage. As noted above, the pay scales are not any more generous than they are in the US, and in many cases are lower.



If you need someone to blame / throw a rock in the air / you'll hit someone guilty
User currently offlineInnocuousFox From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 2805 posts, RR: 14
Reply 22, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 5991 times:

Quoting GSPSPOT (Reply 11):

Air travel, rail travel, water travel.... UGH. I tend to be a "small government" type of person, but firmly believe that a robust, efficient and multi-faceted infrastructure is VITAL to economic progress. In that regard, the U.S. is rapidly and sadly falling behind.

If it was that vital, someone would be willing to pay for it. If someone were willing to pay for it, then someone would have been willing to make it purchasable. That goes for all travel services. Travel infrastructure such as roads still, in large part, need to be govermentaly run.

I think the pervasive point early in this thread was "define quality". Not only do different people have different preferences, but different cultures do as well. Also, there are different types of services for different types of markets. Most of the impressive quality things that people speak about for the international customers would be ridiculous to offer broadly in the US simply because the average stage length is under 2 hours. For some people in the US, a 90 minute flight is not much longer than their daily commute to work on a bus, car, or train.

Therefore, the only comparison that is valid is between the long-haul international flights and their peers abroad. That said, what is a comparable offering for UA, DL, CO, AA, etc. traveling from the States to Europe, Asia, or the Middle East? It certainly doesn't look like my 757 from OMA to DEN or DEN to SFO. Why? Because it doesn't need to. Pack in an extra 30% more people and save me some money on my ticket in the process. (Of course, I'm Premier Elite on UA so I'm getting Economy+ anyway.)



Dave Mark - Intrinsic Algorithm - Reducing the world to mathematical equations!
User currently offlinetharanga From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 1867 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 5952 times:

Quoting Aaron747 (Reply 21):
As noted above, the pay scales are not any more generous than they are in the US, and in many cases are lower.

I was looking in the other direction - if everybody's paying roughly the same fuel costs, aircraft acquisition costs, and so on, but yet airlines in some parts of the world can operate profitably with nicer product, even with rigorous competition, then I wonder if there are some costs which are simply lower outside the US. Labor comes to mind. But as you point out, labor costs are much more complicated than just salary - you've got pension, health care, comp, various other social insurance.


User currently offlinetharanga From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 1867 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 5928 times:

Quoting InnocuousFox (Reply 22):
If it was that vital, someone would be willing to pay for it. If someone were willing to pay for it, then someone would have been willing to make it purchasable. That goes for all travel services. Travel infrastructure such as roads still, in large part, need to be govermentaly run.

I don't understand what you're trying to say. Your last sentence seems to diverge from the first ones.


25 CharlieNoble : I think you missed the point that I was trying to make, but that's fine. I disagree with the notion that some sort of European/Asian cultural superio
26 Post contains images Coal : Man, this is so true. It's not politeness but having the customer first. Politeness and warmth is here in Asia (well, more so in SE Asia than, say, C
27 Aaron747 : I find a lot of service hopelessly deficient in these areas compared to what I've experienced in Asia as well. But maybe that's because I'm not wealt
28 rwSEA : I've been living in Europe for a little over a year now; in my opinion, the air travel experience in Europe is far superior. Here's my reasoning: - Fi
29 longhauler : American carriers give Americans what Americans want. If Americans wanted "extra" service, with cabin amenities then those carriers not offering it wo
30 Bogota : Absolutely agree, I do not understand why people in the US put up with delays, put up with huge queues at security, put up with huge lines at immigra
31 Post contains images CharlieNoble : Yes, there is a certain politeness and respect between people and attention to detail that one finds in Japan that is not as prevalent here in the US
32 mdavies06 : I found that all in all travelling in the US is different but in many ways are not inferior to airlines/airports in other parts of the world. Price -
33 tennis69 : One example of how inferior air travel is in the US; our airports. One word sums it up - UGLY.
34 Flyingsottsman : Everything these days is all about cost cutting, making money in an ever cut throat world, in order to save money they need to trim, cut costs and if
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