We recently flew to Mexico for a holiday, and booked our tickets through Orbitz. Our outbound flights were on Continental, ATL
and the return was on USAirways CUN
Here's a brief overview of our experience on these two airlines.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
will have my business again.