Topic Author
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U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Sat Sep 01, 2001 11:58 am

This question undoubtedly has more than one answer and answers that are neither correct nor incorrect, but here it goes. Why such a difference in service between U.S. carriers and International carriers?
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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Sat Sep 01, 2001 12:24 pm

I think it has to do with the American concept of service. We have a different outlook, more equalitarian then say European or Asian. They see themselves in "service" mode, Americans do not. We are all there "together".
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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Sat Sep 01, 2001 12:46 pm

Non-US carriers let you sit jump seat.
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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Sat Sep 01, 2001 12:46 pm

I wish I had a concret answer for you. I'll tell you when I fly to another country (Leaving the US), I always fly the national carrier of the country I am visiting. Not only is the service better but I like to fly on large 4 engine aircraft. I like the 747, A340 and IL-62. Can you believe that Contenintal is stuffing people into a 757 and sending them across the Atlantic?! The 757 is a great plane for a 1-2 hour domestic flight but not for 8 hours across the ocean. US carriers tend to us 777s and 767s. They are great for SFO-JFK or similar domestic routes.

Not to mention, flying the national carrier of the country I am visiting, you experience a little bit more of the culture of that country.
Bring back the Concorde
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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Sat Sep 01, 2001 5:28 pm

In my opinion one of the possible reasons is that in US taking a plane to fly somewhere is almost like taking a bus. This kind of transportation is very common. Once it's common it's loosing the "upper class" character. Nobody expects great service on the bus - no need to provide it on the plane.
In Europe it's still kind of "an event". It's special so people expect "special" service.

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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Sat Sep 01, 2001 6:02 pm

Excellent post Jerek, but unfortunately you are very correct. In days past and even a few years ago flying in the US was still a worthwhile event. Now there are some people that think that flying coast to coast in the US is a God given right and it has even been said within this website. The low fare airlines of today looking to make a quick dollar here and there to get somebody on board have encouraged those sleeping in the bus station to get on board more and more. I can attest for myself how flights were delayed pushing off the gate because a bus to plane transplant passenger was in the lav shooting up with his needles and wouldn't come out until he was finished. Let me remind you as we here at the airlines have been trained, "Don't just stick your hand down in the seatback pocket in front of you because you may come out with something more than somebodys chewed wad of gum stuck in your hand." Comments???
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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Sat Sep 01, 2001 6:56 pm

Especially on the routes over the north atlantic the service of the major US carriers is comparible to most of the european carriers, sometimes better (if you take Iberia over the atlantic you'll know what I mean)
It is not comparible to the service SQ, CX, MH and TG provides to their passengers.
The main reason for the big differences in service on domestic routes is the fact Jarek mentioned, and by the way take a look on the fares european majors have on domestic flights, it is more expensive to fly Frankfurt Hamburg then Frankfurt-JFK.
Using the plane in europe is not like using train or bus!
BA DC-10
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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Sat Sep 01, 2001 7:07 pm

As has already been said, flying is so common in America, there is nothing special about it, so the service is nothing special. In my experience...domestic services in the US are not as good as European airlines domestic/regional services. In fact some (esp Alaskan Airlines) are quite bad. I don't really know why this is, maybe the American public do not expect more???

Personally I would always fly with a non-american airline if possible...I find it to be a much more comfortable atmosphere on non American airlines. Don't know exactly why!?

I agree about the 757's, are CO having a joke sending people across the atlantic on a 757?? My nearest airport (BHX) has a continental 757 to NYC and a 767 to BOS. Personally I would rather drive for 2 hours and catch a BA744 from LHR :-P

RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Sun Sep 02, 2001 12:24 am

The difference is because North American passengers are more sensitive to price than to service. You get what you pay for, and people in this part of the world don't expect to pay much.

As Jerek mentioned above, it really has become like taking a bus. Perhaps the airlines had no choice but to become a high-speed intercity bus service because of the realities that countries like the U.S. and Canada face as vast countries with mobile populations, low population densities and widely dispersed cities. (In Europe or Asia, it's rare for grandparents to have to travel over 1,000 miles to see their grandchildren. In North America, it's not unusual.)

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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Sun Sep 02, 2001 1:00 am

I think that one of the most important reason why US airlines are being perceived as less (I haven'y flown an US airline so I can't say that the service is less) is that airline employees of US airlines are less likely to get in touch with passengers from a different culture. As most European (and also Asian) air travel is international the airlines are used to carry passengers with a different cultures and adapt their service to the different cultures. US airlines fly mostly domestic and maybe don't completely understand another culture (allthough I must admit that this sometimes also counts for non-US airlines).

One final remark. I must say that the US airlines are doing very good right now and increased their service level. My view is that airlines like American, Continental, Delta and United are catching up very fast.


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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Sun Sep 02, 2001 6:33 am

Notdownnlocked -- I'm sorry that the US has made air travel affordable so everyone can travel about the country -- not just the rich and famous.
I know you must hate sitting next to a grandmother on a plane finally able to afford to visit her grandkids for the first time, or students able to travel home more easily during breaks. Not to sound corny, but America is about opportunity for all, particularly with regards to physical freedom and the ability to move. Fly first if you're interested in sitting with the elite, I'll stay w/ my fellow American in the back.
Finally, one of the reasons we have so much to talk about in this forum is that air travel is so prevelant in our lives, both in the US and abroad.
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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Mon Sep 03, 2001 5:25 am

I haven't read any "theories" on the subject, but in my mind, there are several factors:

1) The US has a large and comparitively wealthy middle-class.

In most countries only the rich can afford to fly. In these countries, there is simply no market for low fare carriers, because even the cheapest forms of air travel still can't make frequent travel affordable for the masses.

2) The US has an usually successful and competitive business sector. If there is a niche to be filled or a market to be served, it WILL be served. And quite frankly, that's exactly what the low fare carriers have done. They've recognized that this large middle-class population exists, and they've catered to their demands.

3) Compared to most countries, air travel's speed is a greater advantage in the US. The US has a large, spread-out population. And people in the US are particular time-conscious. We live in an industrialized society where efficiency is paramount. This means that air travel's speed becomes a great advantage, unlike in smaller countries, where the primary market for domestic travel comes from affluent business travellers with tight schedules. So once again, air travel extends is draw beyond business travellers/rich & famous. The US carriers are not just about connecting countries...the core of their market is domestic travel.

How does this apply to service standards? Well, I think in many countries, people expect "international" service levels on domestic flights. But in the US, it's the other way around. Most people are accustomed to short hops where they are mainly interested in getting on and getting off, so they don't expect as much from international service.

In short, air travel in the US is geared towards the middle-class, not the wealthy, and the onboard service standards reflect this reality. Most people who fly are only doing it to save time.
Topic Author
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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Mon Sep 03, 2001 6:25 am

Excellent points were brought up by all. Here is one thing I would like to add. Let's all be honest. The people that come to this site are, at least, enthusiasts of aviation, to some degree. We here have a greater appreciation of what goes on and how we would like to fly. 90% of the flying public don't care if they get a whole can of pop, or how lousy the food can be. They might say, "This sucks," but after that they don't care. Sometimes I think that we almost think about things too much, if that makes sense. Most people want to get from Point A to Point B relatively inexpensively and safely.
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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Mon Sep 03, 2001 6:59 am

One issue not addressed in the discussion is the fact that in North America being a flight attendant is a career. Most will stay on the job for much longer than Asian or even European stewards/stewardesses. being new to the job will make it easier to go the extra mile. The longer you are on the job, the more difficult it will become to offer that top notch service.
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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Mon Sep 03, 2001 7:29 am

On the long hauls, they are very similar for service. On domestic flights, it's different. For USA passengers flying that 1 1/2 hour flight that were paying $150 for, we don't expect trans-atlantic first class service, because for flying, $150 dollars isn't that much. Also, in the USA, people fly more for a few reasons:
A) The USA and Canada are big countries with spread out populations.
B)With the vast land, family is usually 1000-2000 miles away, whereas in Europe, it would be odd to live 200 miles away.
C) People fly more often because to drive from NY to LA, it would take about a week, if not more.

In the USA people fly more often as everything is spread apart whereas in Europe, places are closer together. In the USA, some domestic flights are 5-6 hours, whereas the longest european domestic flights aren't longer than 2 hours.

Therefore, people in the USA fly more frequently and it becomes less of an event, and more of a way of getting to your final destination and somehow, the service has gone down.

I for one wish the service would go up and only the majors(AC,AA,DL,UA) will offer you decent service, especially on the transcons.

Give me a break, I created this username when I was a kid...
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RE: U.S.Carriers V.s. International Carriers

Mon Sep 03, 2001 2:36 pm

I agree with most of the points made so far. One think overlooked is that most European airlines are still government-owned, at least partially. US carriers are private and very sensitive about the bottom line, and accordingly more peole onboard, less room, and FA have to service more people. And it is a matter of national prestige to provide a good service on an international flight.
In the US, everything is centered around money, and you are expected to tip for a good service at bars, restaurants, etc. And service at those places is really good because it is about money. A flight attendant does not get a tip even for exceptional service.
Mind you, waiters in Europe get salaries so they really do not expect people to tip even they provide good service.
Also, have in mind that most Europeans go on vacation when flying overseas, and you do not want to spoil people's vacation by offering them a crappy service.
It is true that flying in the States is more commonplace than in Europe but service onboard is more related to the culture of the societies.

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