If I were to try and pinpoint the reason why the reputation of America West seems to be sinking fast, I would lay the blame not so much on their consumer ratings numbers, but rather the INCONSISTENCY of their service. Take the trip that I took last year as an example. All aspects of the services offered were appalling beyond belief. It provided the story that I posted here awhile back that essentially tore them to shreds. Then take the flight I took a few months ago. That was markedly better, but still abysmal compared to how they were just a few years back. Now take the little sojourn I embarked on yesterday and today. Even THAT had mixed service.
First, the basics. My outbound flight (LAX-LAS) was on an old livery A320 (N639AW), flight number 2874. My return equipment was a new livery 757 (N906AW), flight number 2104. (I was originally booked on flight number 2109, but I opted for an earlier return home.)
Arriving at LAX somewhat early at 1445 for my 1630 flight, I went to the check in counter. I was amazed before I even encountered any AWA personnel due to the fact that there were at least 5 agents working. The line moved exceedingly briskly, which seems to be a lost art. Time to walk up to having my boarding pass in hand: less than 5 minutes. Considering that there were about 2 dozen people in front of me, that is no small achievement, and should not go unnoticed. So, kudos to the staff working the ticket counter at LAX yesterday. Their efficiency, speed, and above else, their courtesy should entitle all of them to some kind of commendation letter being placed in their files. I was greeted with a smile, a nice attitude, and she even thanked me (by my name!) for flying with them today.
Having more than an hour to kill before boarding, I then just wandered around the airport for awhile. I had my camera with me, but I didn’t take too many pictures, as it was partly cloudy. Finally, it came to boarding time. We were boarded quickly and professionally. There was no stampede, and we took off on time.
Once airborne, the F/A’s did their usual rounds of drink and snack. They were very friendly, responsive, and one of them was a blonde that had a smile that could have lit up a coal mine. The Captain came on the PA and informed us that there were some high winds in LAS, and that we can expect a rough approach and landing. Boy, he wasn’t kidding! That Airbus shook and bumped as though it could do the Jitterbug! Not quite a white knuckle special, but enough to rattle my nerves quite a bit. In light of these conditions, I was amazed at how smooth he set the plane down on the runway. I was expecting a couple of hard bounces. That was one of the softest landings I can remember. Upon deplaning, I stopped by and thanked him for getting me here safely. He told me “Your welcome and thank you for stopping by and for flying with us”.
Friends, he said that in the most humble and sincere tone of voice I have ever heard. Unless he was a gifted actor, I will go to my grave believing that he was truly flattered by my thanking him for doing what he is supposed to do.
In closing, this flight was nothing short of fabulous. If every America West flight was like this, they would be fighting Continental for title of number one in customer satisfaction.
Now, getting back to my opening statement, lets look at my return flight. After the flight up I had yesterday, one would think that one will be experiencing similar service again.
Well, that didn’t quite happen. While there was nothing BAD about it per se, it did illustrate my point of inconsistent service. First, the gate agent was a bit brusque at the boarding gate. She didn’t come outright and say so, but I had the impression that to her, we were a burden that crawled out from under a rock to ruin her day. Then, we sat mysteriously idle at the gate for at least 10 minutes before pushback. The door was long since closed, no luggage was seen to be still loaded, and no explanation for the slight delay was offered. Then, the F/A’s were about as sterile and antiseptic as they come, one of them, Rachel, in particular. They weren’t rude or impolite by any means, but every time they walked past me, the temperature seemed to drop about 20 degrees. Those are the inconsistencies they need to iron out if they ever hope to recapture that rapport they once had with the travelling public. My outbound flight proved that great service is indeed possible, so why not make an effort to adopt it on each and every flight (or at least as many as possible)? For those of you who have been reading my posts for some time know that I have lots of praise for Continental, and little for America West. If they can discipline themselves to have more flights of the #2874, you will see me writing a lot more nice things about them.
Yes, as a result of this trip I do have a lot more nice things to say than I did after last years disaster. And yes, I will be taking them again next time I go.
Other highlights of this trip:
First, by sheer coincidence, some of my family that I don’t get to see a lot was up there. So I hooked up with them, and at night, we drove around town, stopping at many of the casinos, hanging out, and having a good time.
The weather was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold, and not a cloud in the sky.
I was ecstatic when I arrived back at McCarran this morning to see N185AW sitting there. I indeed waited for it, and got my long coveted shots. It rolled past me in gorgeous sunshine at 0800, and Matt was a very happy man! They are being developed as we speak.
I got more familiar with the new Concourse D, something that I’ve put off the last few times up. Many other great shots were taken, mainly of National.
Speaking of National, they seem to be getting big. I counted no less than 8 aircraft. Does anyone know what the actual count is?
Now, a few other questions/comments:
Does anyone know what’s going on with Terminal A? One of the satellites has been entirely closed off, and there seems to be all kinds of construction on the tarmac next to it. I also noticed that all the jetways were removed. What is going on?
I happened to notice a 737-300 parked over at the Executive Terminal. It was white, with what looked like green stripes a la old Transavia or Germania. There were no tail markings. There were no titles that I could see, and I couldn’t get close enough to get the reg number. Does anyone have any information?
Has Champion Air gone scheduled? Between the 2 days, I saw what had to be at least 10 flights.
Terminal C is undergoing some renovation. Half the gates were torn apart, and it looks like some new (very long I might add) jetways were installed.
I saw a Virgin Atlantic 744 yesterday, and a JAL 744 show up today.
Well, it's been a long 2 days. Methinks I will take a nap now, pick up my pictures in a few hours, and check back later on for replies!