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Poor Service In The USA...what Is Going On?  
User currently offlineUSAFHummer From United States of America, joined May 2000, 10685 posts, RR: 51
Posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 4168 times:

Hi all,

I want to make a comparison now between two trips I made...


The aircraft was an A319 and A321

Inflight time for both legs was about 2 hrs. 30 mins a leg

Time of flights: going was a morning flight and coming home was an afternoon flight

Food: one drink service and a small box containing a sandwich, cookie, carrots and dip.

IFE: none whatsoever at any portion of the flight, unless you count the safety videos


Ansett Australia SYD-CNS
The aircrafts were a 767-200 and 737-300

Inflight time was 2 hrs. 40 mins each leg.

Time of flight: both were morning flights.

Food: A drink service followed by a complete (but cold) breakfast.

IFE: Free headphones, full audio availability, music videos playing as we boarded the aircraft and were at the gate, followed by a full feature length film.

My point here is that why is there no IFE (notably movies) on flights under 3.5 hours here (On both US and UA this has happened, but UA had audio service that flight was PHL-DEN-PHL)...I fly the PHL-FLL-PHL route often and I am running out of ways to keep myself occupied...why cant us airlines provide that for us??

I hope I came across clearly on this one, I am not sure about it...I will clarify if no one understands this...


Chief A.net college football stadium self-pic guru
23 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineCV990 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 4067 times:


I understand you very, but very well. I also had my taste with USAirways this summer. I had an Air Pass with the following flights:


I'm not gonna pick the first too flights because it's too bad to talk about them, but I'll pick the last one because I can compare with another that I did during the same period of travel, so here we go:

Flight: STL / PHL
Airline: USAir
Aircraft: EMB145
Duration of flight: 2H 10 Min.
Service: one box with a some kinda of a bread, a cake
a yougurt.... and a coffee!!!

Before that, to get to USA and Canada I flew with BA from Faro ( where I live, in the south of Portugal ) to Heathrow, and now see the difference:

Flight: FAO / LHR
Airline: BA
Aircraft: A321-231
Duration of the flight: 2H 40 Min. ( just + 30 Min... )
Service: Pretzels with 1 Gin Tonic, Hot meal ( chicken with rice and salad, desert ) with 2 bottles of wine, coffee with a cognac.

Can we even compare this? No way, those guys are ages from the rest of the world I presume!
Good point USAFHummer

User currently offlineTango-Bravo From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 3813 posts, RR: 26
Reply 2, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 4049 times:

Hopefully I'm wrong, but IMO you will eventually see service in Europe and "down under" decline to the level typically seen in the USA. The effect of the price-driven marketplace that has come to dominate air travle in the USA has not taken hold to the same extent in Europe and elsewhere -- yet. It will within a few years, IMO.

User currently offlineAf007 From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 4037 times:

It will, indeed take hold. Since AF's semi-privatization you can almost see the decline by the minute.

User currently offlineUSAFHummer From United States of America, joined May 2000, 10685 posts, RR: 51
Reply 4, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 4006 times:

As of yet, I have only flown two non-us airlines, (NZ LAX-SYD-LAX, and AN SYD-CNS-SYD), so I dont have any other experiences to share, seeing that the LAX-SYD-LAX flights were ultra long...


Chief A.net college football stadium self-pic guru
User currently offlineLHMark From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 7255 posts, RR: 42
Reply 5, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3999 times:

I just went on a one hour flight. I had a PTV in my seatback, and got to watch the baseball highlights on ESPN the whole way down, a coke, and some pretzels. Thank you, jetBlue.

"Sympathy is something that shouldn't be bestowed on the Yankees. Apparently it angers them." - Bob Feller
User currently offline777fan From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 2546 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3997 times:

I have flown several legs from ORD to DFW, BOS, DEN and MCO on both AA and UAL.

On UALs 767, 757, 777 there was inflight entertainment.

On AAs 777 and 737-800s there was inflight entertainment.

All flights under 3 hours.

However.....on AAs MD-80s and UALs 727s, no inflight entertainment.

Not sure if it is consistant across the board, but I do believe it depends on what aircraft you are on whether you get IFE.



DC-8 61/63/71 DC-9-30/50 MD-80/82/83 DC-10-10/30 MD-11 717 721/2 732/3/4/5/G/8/9 741/2/4 752 762/3 777 A306/319/20/33 AT
User currently offlineZbeeblebrox74 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3979 times:

Interesting tidbit to add with respect to inflight service. I recently found out the actual price of airline food. Here in Newcastle we have a shop that sells food at wholesale prices, including actual frozen airline meals!! Complete in the same packaging you would see on a plane in Economy/Coach class. Their price: 25p each (about US$0.35) and that's for either 1.) penne pasta, or 2.) chicken with broccoli and pasta in a white wine sauce (currently available). If that is the actual cost per unit of preparation, then what is keeping those lazy bastards from serving a proper meal on flights??!! I mean, all that's left to do is heat the stuff up inflight (can't cost that much) and serve it with a breadroll, a drink (already provided) and some cheap plastic utensils and voila, a passenger with a reasonably satisfied appetite. Total extra cost to the airline can't possibly exceed US$1. So say for a 737 carrying 100 pax, that's at the most an extra $100 spent per flight. If that extra money eats into profit margins too much, then that company's business plan leaves to be desired  Smokin cool

User currently offlineILUV767 From United States of America, joined May 2000, 3142 posts, RR: 7
Reply 8, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3978 times:

On a 2.5 hour flight that is not shuttle on United, passengers will get full audio (except on 732s), full can of soda, and a boxed snack.

On planes equiped with Overhead video, a short subject is shown. Headphones are free of charge.

On some flights within that time frame a meal service will be conducted.

I L U V 7 6 7

User currently offlineAirnewzealand From New Zealand, joined Oct 2000, 2549 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3975 times:

It is because down here in Aussie and NZ, we donot have heaps of airlines to compete against, therefore, standards cannot be dropped. In the US, they see it as, 'if one airline drops there standards then all the others can follow'. That is why your service etc, on flights is not great anymore. It probably was at one time.
The service in Aussie and New Zealand, will never decline, because people in these countries have come to expect great service, with a hot/cold meal on 1 hour flights.
Here is what was recently being served on a AirNZ flight about 1 month ago...
Flight time...45-60 mins
Meal... Stirfry Chicken, done in a butter chicken sauce, sitting ontop of Rice, with a dessert cake following later. Fruit was also optional. Menus also handed out. Free Wine, Alcohol, spirits and Soft drinks throughout the flight.
Also a difference is, we have more FA's onboard our aircrafts compared to US carriers!! On this flight we have 4 Economy class Flight Attendants and 1 First class flight attendant. I donot know what First Class get, but imagine it...Look what economy get!! Aircraft is a Boeing 737-300 (733) or 737-200 (732).

User currently offlineFlaps From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 1535 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3963 times:

I would really like to see a comparison of the fares charged on all of these flights.

User currently offlineHepkat From Austria, joined Aug 2000, 2341 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3954 times:

We had this discussion here a few months ago. I suggested that the reason American airlines' services suck is quite simple; for Americans, air travel is no longer a luxury activity, it has become a necessity, quite like taking a bus.

Here in Europe, air travel is still seen as a bit of a luxury. When you want to travel to another country or city, the first place you call is the state railway. In the U.S., distances are greater and the rail network far less developed than Europe's, so therefore the first call goes to the local travel agency. Because there're so many airlines, and the competition so stiff, airlines will cut services in order to offer the cheapest ticket. Americans are interested in the cheapest ticket, not the best service.

Also, remember that in the U.S. there is no national carrier. There are no state subsidies and no national reputation to maintain. Compare this to Europe where every country takes much pride in their national airline. Many are still at least partly state owned and subsidized. They can afford to spend more to maintain higher service standards without having to answer to angry shareholders. In the U.S., it's a pure capitalist free market in force - he who makes the most bucks while outdoing their rivals stays in business. For those who don't, no matter how mighty, how proud, how many 747's they fly, (we take a moment here to remember PanAm, Eastern, TWA and the countless others) simply go belly up. There is no government rescue, no saving grace, no pity.

In Europe, your typical 2 hour flight usually crosses over half a dozen different countries, therefore, most flights are international. International flights, by their nature, HAVE to have higher standards, customers have higher expectations. In the U.S., you can fly 8 hours and still be on a domestic flight in the same country.

Unfortunately, I don't know enough to comment on Australia/New Zeeland, but I can bet it has to do with you guys not having as many carriers and competition as the U.S.

User currently offlineUSAFHummer From United States of America, joined May 2000, 10685 posts, RR: 51
Reply 12, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3932 times:

Hmm...I never thought about the lack of competition over in the antipodes...thats a very valid point, and one that never came to mind, but still....2.5 hours without any IFE is a disgrace for US (the airline)...it appears that the other USA majors offer some form of IFE when applicable on flights of similar length...


Chief A.net college football stadium self-pic guru
User currently offlineIAHERJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 677 posts, RR: 6
Reply 13, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3931 times:

Continental has inflight entertainment on most 737 flights over one hour. Seinfield and other sitcoms are shown along with audio entertainment. The airline hands out headsets that can be purchased but re-used again and again. They are actually well built. The MD-80's and the 737-500's lack entertainment. Select 737-300's have entertainment. 757's and up are equiped with entertainment of various levels.

Actually flown: EMB-120 EMB-145 B717 B737 B757 B767
User currently offlineAWA22 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (14 years 8 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 3879 times:

When I went to Australia I Flew from ASP-SYD on QF, the service was great, the fares were great only 13.50 RT I love the airline biz.........

User currently offlineDarrell From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 236 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (14 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 3849 times:

Here is a little comparison:
On Aug 8th I flew American Airlines from PDX to SJC. I was upgraded to first class (I asked and they said yes!) Never hurts to ask I guess. Anyway, 1 hour and 45 minute flight, in first class, got Orange Juice and nothing else. This was a 9:02 am departure.
3 days later, retuned to PDX from SJC on Alaska Airlines. Departing in the afternoon. Sat in coach, had 2 glasses of wine, a sandwich, pretzels, a newspaper, and a diet pepsi. Big difference. Guess which airline I'll be flying next time?

those who have no vices have very few virtues
User currently offlineOverlord From Portugal, joined Jul 2005, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (14 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 3836 times:

ROTFLMAO. You guys kill me. USAFHummer can't find anything to do for 2 1/2 hours, so US sucks. (Try reading, or sleeping, maybe? Hint, hint?), then Darrell chooses his airline over Orange Juice. Amazing!!!

User currently offlineMcdougald From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (14 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 3830 times:

Hepkat and Tango-Bravo make excellent points. Europe and North America are drastically different markets.

In North America, the airlines essentially fill the same role as trains do in Europe -- transportation for the masses. This reflect the fact that in the U.S. and Canada, taking a trip home at Christmas to visit mom and dad can often be anywhere from two or three hundred miles to two or three thousand miles.

And there's the lack of a safety net: North American governments will do much less (or just nothing) than their European counterparts to prop up a failing major airline, no matter how prestigious. Witness the fate of Pan Am, Canadian, Eastern, Braniff, TWA and so on. Thus North American carriers have to be much more cautious about keeping their costs and debt loads under control.

And Europe is still roughly at the point North America was at circa 1980: it's only just starting to reorganise in the face of a rapidly changing industry. The discount carriers will very soon be putting a lot of pressure on Europe's flag carriers to trim their costs, and there will be growing pressure for consolidation as well. This may well be accelerated if a major carrier, such as Sabena and/or Swissair, ends up going under; it would have the same shock effect as the 1982 Braniff shutdown in the U.S., which drove home the point that the rules had changed and that it was up to the carriers to fend for themselves.

User currently offlineAesch From Canada, joined Apr 2001, 68 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (14 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 3815 times:

US airlines have no sense of service what so ever. The FA's are all old, espacially when you travel in first class. After that, in the middle of the flight if u are thirsty, you ask for a drink, it feels like you bother them a lot. I have stoped taking US airlines due to their service. Also, they tend to be just as expensive as foreign airlines on international routes.

User currently offlineBA DC-10 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2001, 145 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (14 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 3804 times:

Problem with US airlines are that they reflect the standards they have on domestic flights onto international flights...its why BA flights to North America have loads of Americans/Canadians...I think its quite funny how Americans get excited about getting a cold meal on a 3 hour flight, I know of flights lasting an hour where u get a full hot meal.

And those predicting standards will fall in europe...no they won't. Quite simply there is a different travel culture in Europe. People don't expect to be slung into a cattle box for 3 hours and occasionly fed...they expect good service.

To be quite honest, I believe the service is better on european low cost carriers than a lot of full priced American ones (just my opinion) And service on full priced european carriers far outdoes comparatively priced US carriers.

Also theres the pride issue...most carriers in Europe were started by governments and have became the 'pride of the nation,' poor service, especially in northern european/scandinavian markets becomes a national scandal.

User currently offlineAWA22 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (14 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 3798 times:

The passengers are part of the problem in the US they want low ridiculous fares but at the same time they want all types of amenities well you can't have both. The low fares carriers are also part of the problem they come in with low fares and offer no meals or movies and the major full service have to cut service to compete with the Southwest type airlines. Maybe all the airlines should just go the Southwest way no food, no movies.

User currently offlineSSTjumbo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (14 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 3793 times:

US Airlines, once again, remind me of Starbuck's coffee, bitter and overpriced!!!

User currently offlineN202PA From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1577 posts, RR: 3
Reply 22, posted (14 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 3790 times:

The passengers are part of the problem in the US they want low ridiculous fares but at the same time they want all types of amenities well you can't have both.

American air travel is a particularly price-sensitive market, for the reasons that have been explained above.

I see nothing wrong with wanting low fares, when those fares are coupled with a quality product. Frankly, I cannot afford to spend $300-$500 to get where I am going, and cannot afford to spend ridiculous amounts of time on a bus or train.

That's where airlines like Southwest, AirTran, ATA and jetBlue come in. These airlines are not trying to gouge me--rather, they recognize that I am willing to give up a meal and frequent flyer miles for a reasonable fare that I can afford. What's wrong with that? These guys are fighting for travellers like me, and if they happen to make a profit at it (which is precisely what Southwest has done for decades), bully for them. They scratch my back with a good product that I can afford, and I scratch theirs by coming back to them every time I need to go somewhere they fly.

I don't understand what the big deal is about having the airline provide a meal on a flight, anyway. Nine times out of ten, I'd rather buy something at the airport (or bring it from home) and carry it aboard. They provide the drink and usually some sort of snack like pretzels or Biscoffs, so I can have a full meal without paying the airline for one. Besides, those of you that complain now about service being lower here in the U.S. are probably the same ones who refused to fly MGM Grand Air and UltraAir (among others), who offered a luxury product--at luxury prices. They died because there is no market for premium air service in this country. Deal with it.

Carry your meal on the plane. Bring a book or a CD player. Or just enjoy the scenery out the window. All of these are viable options for food and entertainment on American flights. Or, at the very least, carry your business to airlines that suit your needs better (such as international airlines on overseas flights). For example, one of the reasons why I only fly AC to Canada is that they mostly offer either meals or generous snacks on their flights. However, if given the choice of a lower fare on the same route, I'd definitely pick Southwest, jetBlue, WestJet, etc.--even if it meant giving up those amenities.

User currently offlineMcdougald From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (14 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 3781 times:

N202PA and AWA22 are right. Passengers say that they wish airline service was the way it was back in the '70s, when they advertised their hot meals served on real dishes, brand-new planes and 36-inch seat pitches. Just like the way they say they want politicians to tell the truth.

But if I were (God forbid) a politician and went to the poorer parts of Canada and suggested that the federal government economic development subsidies paid into these regions over the years have largely been a waste, and that they would have been better invested to help cover the cost of moving families from Cape Breton Island and the southern coast of Newfoundland to more prosperous parts of the country, there would be folks outside stringing up a noose from the nearest tree.

Likely the same thing would happen if I were an airline CEO, promising to restore '70s-style service. But with one catch: at '70s-style fares, adjusted for inflation.

What people forget is that the airline business operates on some pretty tight margins. Even in a decent year, an airline's net profits might translate into an average of less than $10 per passenger. In a tight year, little details like seat pitch or meals might make the difference between profit and loss.

Ultimately, you get what you pay for.

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