I am in NYC for work and never having flown FL or the 717, decided to do a quick day return to Chicago to break my virginity on both.
II > Pre-Flight:
a) Before Airport: Booking was easy using FL's online site at www.airtran.com. I made a mistake online and their toll-free support was helpful and quick in getting my basic problem fixed.
b) At Airport: Checkin at EWR was pretty straightforward using FL's kiosks ... though, these can ONLY be used if you dont have any checked baggage. As the pictures would show, their operations at EWR is skimpy and this is reflected on the limited ground support. What really bugged me about their check-in process is that once you have selected a seat (either online or at the kiosk), you cannot change it without speaking to an agent. EWR security was brisk and soon I found myself at the Concourse A gate. Concourse A at EWR is pretty spartan and there are limited eating and drinking options.
Agent at the check-in was good and soon I made my way to my first FL and my first 717.
Upon entering the plane, I was greeted by 2 friendly FL agents. I was surprised at how small the 717 felt. I dont know if its 717s in general or FL's configuration, but it felt very cramped. Making my way to the back of the plane, I was seated next to a young Jewish-American returning from 2 months in Israel. I was impressed by his maturity in our conversation regarding current Israeli offensive in the region.
(wonder how many people buy stuff from this...)
a) Service Schedule + Impressions: Push back was on time, and soon we were on to the WINDY CITY (and, where I had spent 4 years doing a damn PhD.). There were no safety demonstration videos and it was good to see the crew make the announcements. In my over 2 million miles of flying, I have never figured out why they mention how to buckle a seat belt after the aircraft has started taxing out. I mean, aren¡¦t seat belts supposed to be work before. I digress. After initial pushback, we were number 35 to take off ... which resulted in a 36 minute hold, and enabled the flight to reach on schedule ... 2:36 was the padded flight time. After cruising altitude, crew came to distribute free headphones for listening to XM and to take home. Crew came soon afterwords with the drinks trolley and I was served a pretzel bag (which had these fun FL cheesy jokes) and a can of Diet Coke. The crew were surprisingly jovial and smiled throughout it all. The male purser even asked if I wanted the can. On U.S. carriers, small friendly gestures such as the same, left me with a smile. Soon thereafter, I reclined my seat and let my iPod take me away to a different world.
b) Aircraft + Seats: Air Tran's 717s were clean and the blue interiors were soothing to the eye. However, I found seating to be on the cramped side.
Seat Recline + Angle View:
It¡¦s a domestic American flight, so no real meal presentation.
d) Inflight Entertainment:
The 717s are equipped with XM Satellite radio and the choice of channels was impressive. Sound using the provided earbuds was above average. Air Tran's inflight magazine (GO) is informative and contains the basic information.
(See Meal Service For Inflight-Magazine Picture)
FL¡¦s crew truly left me impressed. They were all smiles and joked with the passengers and seem to genuinely be happy doing their job. The return crew was the same.
Chicago Midway continues to be convenient ¡K but not the best in terms of airport planning. Air Tran uses the remote gates A4B and this is FAR from the baggage reclaim area. Security lines on the return flight were long and if the flight had not been delayed, I would have surely missed it. Shopping options have expanded at MDW, and the food court is the generic mall-type food you will find in most of the U.S.
My first 2 flights on Air Tran have left me impressed. Of course, I cannot judge FL globally, but within the U.S., their service seems to have been a notch above the average. Their crew definitely stood out with the genuine warmth of service. Along with punctual service, it satisfied my need to be transported from point A to B without stress. I do wish their online and kiosks were better equipped and could do basic things such a as seat change. I would fly them again without hesitation.
Crew Service: 8.5
Food: 5.0 (standard default score, when served only peanuts)
Beverages: 5.0 (standard default score, when served only beverage)
Amenity Kits + Others Freebies: 5.0 (standard default score)
On-Time Record: 10.0 OVERALL IMPRESSION: 6.73
(Scores are based on comparison with other airlines in THAT class of service ¡V No comparison of Y vs. F for example)
Other Non-Trip Pictures:
(Scene at MDW):
(Scene at EWR/VS to LHR):
Tmarch291 From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 147 posts, RR: 3 Reply 1, posted (6 years 9 months 2 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 17568 times:
It's nice to hear a report once in a while about AirTran, the airline that everyone gets confused with ATA. (I admit, before I was an aviation buff, I confused them too) From your report AirTran seems like a good airline, they got the job done and they had good crew service too.
Now I have a few questions...
How much did you pay for your ticket?
and, Did you notice if they served food on their J class?
Mbmiles88 From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 7 posts, RR: 0 Reply 3, posted (6 years 9 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 17525 times:
First of all, AirTran does not serve any food in business class. All you get is bigger seats, more snacks and free alcohol. Second, to the OP, AirTran does not fly out of the US so their is no "global" service to rate.
Tbear815 From United States of America, joined Jun 2003, 704 posts, RR: 5 Reply 5, posted (6 years 9 months 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 17455 times:
Mi amigo, muchas gracias,
I really appreciated reading this report. I've been around a long time and this particular report made me realize the expectations of "flying" and the reality of "flying." How corporate philosophies and management styles have evolved in the 50's-80's and then 80's-today are amazing. Things can never go back, but to be creative is to look to the past for growth and inspiration.
This report shows an airline that is trying hard. With the right direction, FL has incredible potential. I've not yet studied their system, but intend to poste haste! Your report hit all the "spots" for my criteria. You're right up there with Chris and Fraser!
Vatveng From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 892 posts, RR: 1 Reply 12, posted (6 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 16459 times:
Glad you enjoyed my favorite airline. I've always felt the 5-across seating felt less cramped than 6-across on the 737, even though the seat pitch might be the same. The seats on the 717 feel a bit wider than 737 seats.
United319 From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 513 posts, RR: 0 Reply 13, posted (6 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 16408 times:
Legally I must first say, that my opinions in now way are related to the opinions of AirTran Airways or its affiliates...
This is the kind of stuff that us FL employees love to read, we need reinforcement like that. Thank you for choosing AirTran Airways, and well be glad to see you again on another flight. Yes the 717 is an amazing plane, it always smells nice, its the quietesed mainline jet ive ever been on in my life, and you cant feel a bump, it certainly is my favorite domestic aircraft by boeing along with the 757. AirTran made a good choice by making it the backbone of our fleet.
ExFATboy From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 2974 posts, RR: 9 Reply 16, posted (5 years 2 months 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 13591 times:
Cool report...I just flew AirTran last weekend and was very happy with them. And I've shopped at the "Jersey" store! Forgot to pack a pen for one flight and got a cow-motif "Moo Jersey" pen there - still have it!
And I prefer the 717 (a/k/a the MD-95 to us grumpy gits ) to AirTran's 737s...