From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

More observations of a frequent flyer

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In no particular order:

Delta is my favorite. I fly back and forth across the U.S. a LOT, and my schedule changes at the drop of a hat. They do the best job of getting me from one side of the continent to the other. For Europe? SAS, hands down. For Asia? Korean Air. Delta’s biggest shortcoming? Their baggage handling in Seattle is the pits.

Least favorite? United. Their gate crews are like prison camp guards, and they are utterly unresponsive to passenger concerns.

Alaska tries REALLY hard, and they are great for short-haul flights in their home-base of the northwest and Pacific coast. Great airline for Mexico and Alaska. However, their planes were outfitted for short hops (3 hours or less) and now that they’ve started flying some really long-hauls, it’s easy to feel like “cargo” rather than a “passenger”. On the other hand, they’ve become VERY responsive to passengers lately. (Note, I said “lately”.)

For all of the airlines, their short-haul, prop and commuter-jet flying partners (ASA, Horizon, etc.) generally do a MUCH better job on all counts than the legacy-airline parent companies. Wonder why that is?

Southwest wins the “we are what we are” award. They don’t try to be all things to all passengers. They have a niche (coach-only, no reserved seats, bare-bones snacks, short-haul flights, identical 737’s) and it works for them. They fill up nearly every seat, and they make money. Their biggest corporate problem: Ironically, they have a very low percentage of the higher-paying business flyers. They’re actually trying to address this problem, because from a long-term cash-flow perspective, it’s a very big deal. I hardly ever fly Southwest, because I’m hardly ever doing a short-haul, unless it’s a leg of a longer trip.

Written by johnkilpatrick

April 16, 2011 at 9:29 am

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