767Lover
Topic Author
Posts: 3254
Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2003 6:32 am

Comparison Of US & CO On Mexico Trip

Sun May 27, 2007 3:18 am

We recently flew to Mexico for a holiday, and booked our tickets through Orbitz. Our outbound flights were on Continental, ATL-IAH-CUN and the return was on USAirways CUN-CLT-ATL.

Here's a brief overview of our experience on these two airlines.

CONTINENTAL: ATLANTA-HOUSTON

When I booked these tickets, the outbound flight from ATL was scheduled for 9:25 a.m. Two days before our departure, I received an email from Orbitz with a generic-sounding subject title, so I didn't bother opening it until the night before our departure when I was cleaning out emails.

Lucky I did. The email was actually our itinerary (though it didn't allude to that in the subject line) and I happened to notice that the departure time had been changed to 30 minutes earlier -- 8:55 a.m. This wasn't a huge deal except for the fact that we had already arranged for our airport transportation based on a 9:25 departure. So we had to make alternative arrangements etc. The alarming thing was that if I had not opened that email, we would have shown up at the airport 30 minutes later than we were supposed to.

When we arrived at the CO check in counter, I was pleasantly surprised that there was no one waiting in line. They had the self-service kiosks but plenty of people around to assist. In fact, one of the agents did the whole thing for us without us having to ask. Our boarding passes were printed out instantly and we were on our way.

When I booked the tickets, I did my usual little gamble of selecting a window and an aisle seat in hopes that the center seat goes unfilled, thereby giving us maximum space. It worked this time and we had the 3 seats to ourselves, which was perfect since we only had a couple of hours sleep the night before and we appreciated the chance to spread out and nap.

The plane itself (737-300) was immaculately clean and appeared to have fairly new ulphostery on the seats. I would guess it was only about 65-70% full, and I thought to myself that this is the benefit of flying on an airline that has virtually no presence in ATL-- you have plenty of space and no crowds at the check in line or gate.

This was my first flight on CO, and I was impressed. The service was friendly and efficient. We were offered a small loaf of banana nut bread which I didn't eat since I brought my breakfast on board.

CONTINENTAL HOUSTON-CANCUN

We had just under 2 hours in Houston for food, etc. before boarding our flight to CUN (on a 737-800). Agents did an efficient check of everyone's passport at the gate and we were loaded up for an ontime departure.

The crew on this flight really impressed me. They were friendly, efficient and seemed to really care about the passengers. Case in point: They came around with complimentary sandwich boxes (a choice of ham or turkey) and reminded everyone that "by the time you get through customs and to your hotel it could be a few hours before you get a chance to eat, so you might want to take this just in case." We didn't partake since we had a big lunch at IAH, but it was nice to get the offer of a free lunch.

The crew also made sure everyone received the necessary customs forms and that we filled them out before deplaning.

LIke the previous leg, the condition of the plane iself was very good.

Overall, my experience on Continental was nothing short of excellent, save for the unexpected change in departure time.

I would definitely fly them again.

USAIRWAYS: CANCUN-CHARLOTTE

Even though I had selected our seats when I booked the tickets, apparently this was a moot point and we had to have seats reassigned. The flight was full and the agent couldn't seat us together--not a terribly big deal except we were sharing a carryon bag so that was kind of a pain in terms of retrieving needed items during the flight.

Once we boarded we discovered that several couples had been split up. I guess they had a lot of trouble seating parties together. This proved to be the case on the next leg as well.

My initial impression of the inside of the plane was that it seemed a bit tired and outdated (this was a 757-200). Beyond an initial friendly greeting upon boarding, the crew seemed robotic and professional. We received a small package of peanuts. Because our flight time was scheduled to be just shy of 3 hours, a movie was shown (Music and Lyrics) but I didn't watch it.

The annoying part was that the crew didn't make a good effort to ensure everyone had their customs forms. I was napping during much of the flight, but my husband, seated in a different row, was awake the whole time and his row did not get them. Apparently they were passed out to a few rows but not all. My seatmates did not receive them either.

When I asked about it before deboarding, the F/A told me "they would give me one at Customs" in the airport. Of course, when I got to the customs area, the guy there said "you should have received one on the plane." Well, we didn't, so what now? I was directed to a table a little ways from the line and managed to get them there.

Overall, this flight wasn't terrible, but it was only about average. The experience didn't make me want to go out of my way to fly USAirways again, whereas the CO flights were that good that I would choose them over other options if prices were approximate.

USAIRWAYS: CHARLOTTE TO ATLANTA

We had about 3 hours to kill in CLT which was good because it took a LONG time to get through the airport. At CLT you are dumped into the front ticketing area after you get through customs, which means you have to go through the security process again if you have a connecting flight. Being that this was a Friday afternoon, the lines were incredibly long at security and the officials were telling folks to expect it to take 45-50 mins to get through.

Once airside, we found our gate. Once again, we were not assigned seats together so we approached the gate agent to see if we could switch seats. He sent us away because he was trying to get another flight out -- although there was no plane nor any passengers around so we weren't sure what flight he was referring to. Anyway, we took the seats we were assigned.

It was another unremarkable flight. Because the scheduled flight time was only 45 minutes, there were no snacks offered, only an abbreviated beverage service which the flight attendants barely got through before their time was up. They weren't particularly friendly -- they were just focused on doing the job and not really much more than that. As was the case with the previous leg, all communications were fairly robotic.

I'm not sure if this was a USAirways problem or an ATL problem, but it took forever for our baggage to arrive at the terminal. We waited for over 30 minutes at the carousel.

OVERALL

It was interesting to me to see the difference between 2 major US airlines flying similar routes. I have to say that CO far exceeded USAirways on a number of factors (listed in no particular order)

1. Condition/cleanliness of planes
2. Friendliness of staff
3. Ability to keep chosen seating
4. Complimentary snack service that was substantial (as in more than a small pack of peanuts)

USAirways exceeded CO in terms of sticking to the schedule.

CO will have my business again.
 
AY104
Posts: 451
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 8:35 am

RE: Comparison Of US & CO On Mexico Trip

Sun May 27, 2007 5:40 am

Thanks for a very well thought-out and descriptive comparison, without going out of your way to slam one or other of these carriers. Very objective, and I would imagine helpful to a lot of people having to make a choice of airline.
It is a shame about US. I constantly hear only negative remarks about them. I used to work for DL at YVR, and we handled American West for a few years. I took a few of their flights, and their Y service (never tried F) was one of the best I have had. Not really any frills or meals, just the attitude and attention of the crew in general, and the overall condition and attractiveness of the cabins. Not that US has taken them over, it looks like all that is a thing of the past, although I have not had a first-hand experience. From what I read in these forums, whenever I have occasion, I would certainly choose CO over most of the American majors except Southwest, which is my favourite.
Cheers,
AY104
The only thing a customer should expect for his/her loyalty is good service
 
767Lover
Topic Author
Posts: 3254
Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2003 6:32 am

RE: Comparison Of US & CO On Mexico Trip

Sun May 27, 2007 10:36 am

AY, thanks for the comment!

I did forget to point out one annoying thing about USAirways. They were really pushing their MasterCard, both during the flight and in the gate area. I felt bad for the F/As having to go around asking people if they wanted an application.
 
JetBlueAUS
Posts: 852
Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 9:15 am

RE: Comparison Of US & CO On Mexico Trip

Sun May 27, 2007 10:43 am

Continental is definitely one of the top-tier United States airlines. I've flown them a lot, recently and I have not had one bad experience. Never flown US Airways but I have flown America West (their merging partner) and I was not impressed.
Not all of us can be heroes, some of us can only stand on the sidewalk and clap as they go by.
 
ejmmsu
Posts: 1647
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 6:05 am

RE: Comparison Of US & CO On Mexico Trip

Sun May 27, 2007 10:50 am

Quoting 767Lover (Thread starter):
LIke the previous leg, the condition of the plane iself was very good.

Overall, my experience on Continental was nothing short of excellent, save for the unexpected change in departure time.

I would definitely fly them again.

This is probably an Orbitz problem and not a CO problem. In my experience, CO is very good about notifying me if there is a schedule change. (all my CO tickets have been booked on CO.com, or occasionally as codeshares on NW.com)

Quoting 767Lover (Reply 2):
I did forget to point out one annoying thing about USAirways. They were really pushing their MasterCard, both during the flight and in the gate area. I felt bad for the F/As having to go around asking people if they wanted an application.

The incessant hawking of the credit card, along with the tacky tray table advertisements strongly turned me off for US Airways. I fly NW a lot, so I don't need a lot of frills. However, NW is always very professional with their in flight service. US-east is a mess right now, and I wouldn't suggest it to anyone. However, US-west has always been ok, and as far as I know still is. I booked my sister on an OKC-PHX-LAX trip that she flew on today, and she called me and told me the flights were pretty good. However, the hawking of the credit card, plus the tray table advertisements would still make me think twice about the west side as well.
"If the facts do not conform to the theory, they will have to be disposed of"
 
tbear815
Posts: 689
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2003 12:14 pm

RE: Comparison Of US & CO On Mexico Trip

Sun May 27, 2007 12:28 pm

Tray table advertisements? It's been awhile since I've flown, but tray table ads are simply spam. That's about as low as marketing can go. It's like advertising over urinals......

 spit 
 
n710ps
Posts: 1117
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2006 7:09 am

RE: Comparison Of US & CO On Mexico Trip

Sun May 27, 2007 12:36 pm

I can tell you first hand that the seating issues were either because of your timing at check in for the first leg or it was because of that new system. My now ex gf is an agent for US at LGA and I have seen first hand what the system is like as well as earning my paycheck from shall we say a similarly related company.
There is plenty of room for Gods animals, right next to the mashed potatoes!
 
ejmmsu
Posts: 1647
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 6:05 am

RE: Comparison Of US & CO On Mexico Trip

Sun May 27, 2007 12:46 pm

Quoting Tbear815 (Reply 5):
Tray table advertisements? It's been awhile since I've flown, but tray table ads are simply spam. That's about as low as marketing can go. It's like advertising over urinals......

It is also my understanding that US plans on adding the tray table advertising to First Class as well. Even Tackier !
"If the facts do not conform to the theory, they will have to be disposed of"
 
CV990
Posts: 4224
Joined: Sat May 22, 1999 3:49 am

RE: Comparison Of US & CO On Mexico Trip

Sun May 27, 2007 4:58 pm

Hi!

A very good report that also reminded me the experiences I had also flying US and CO from USA to LIS. CO and US fly both the 757-200, CO flies out of EWR and US from PHL. CO service and entertainment was very good with good quality, US service and entertainment was poor and surprising...were in this world when you fly a transatlantic flight have an airline charging you $5 for earphones???? Only with US!!! The only thing in favour for US is the fact that our time waiting to leave PHL was around 10 minutes...with CO it was a long 50 minutes but.....if you have a good atmosphere a kind crew and confy seats that doesn't matter. By the way ( I don't know if this happens in all US 757's ) in my US flight the seats of our plane were incredible narrow!!! Not good!!!
regards
CV990, the Maserati of the skies!
 
agrflyer
Posts: 215
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:36 pm

RE: Comparison Of US & CO On Mexico Trip

Sun May 27, 2007 6:27 pm

I will fly ZRH-PHL-CLT-FRA-ZRH on US in August. I hope the service in envoy and first will be better. At least the ticket was not too expensive for this trip ( arount USD 2500)
Fall 2016: ZRH-TLV-ZRH on A3 or LX in Y, ZRH-LCY-ZRH on LX in Y
Spring 2017: ZRH-LCY-ZRH-SFO-LAS-LAX-ZRH on LX in Y,C and F
 
767Lover
Topic Author
Posts: 3254
Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2003 6:32 am

RE: Comparison Of US & CO On Mexico Trip

Sun May 27, 2007 10:49 pm

Quoting N710PS (Reply 6):
I can tell you first hand that the seating issues were either because of your timing at check in for the first leg or it was because of that new system.

Perhaps, but we did check in 90 minutes before the flight.
 
skoker
Posts: 279
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2006 5:49 am

RE: Comparison Of US & CO On Mexico Trip

Mon May 28, 2007 4:11 am

Quoting 767Lover (Reply 2):
I did forget to point out one annoying thing about USAirways. They were really pushing their MasterCard, both during the flight and in the gate area. I felt bad for the F/As having to go around asking people if they wanted an application.

Don't feel bad, they make $50 for everybody who they can get to sign up.
 
ejmmsu
Posts: 1647
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 6:05 am

RE: Comparison Of US & CO On Mexico Trip

Mon May 28, 2007 9:58 am

Quoting Skoker (Reply 11):
Don't feel bad, they make $50 for everybody who they can get to sign up.

That incentive just pushes the FA's to be even more tacky about hawking the credit card. If I want a tacky salespitch from the FA's and the traytables, I'll just fly skybus and save about $200.
"If the facts do not conform to the theory, they will have to be disposed of"

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