Having lived on both sides of the Atlantic, I am no stranger to the world of international air travel. On a recent roundtrip journey between Paris, France and Dallas, Texas I flew separate airlines each way. While some may say that all airlines that fly a given route are basically equal, my experience proved to me that this is not the case.
So often we assume that there are certain conditions that simply come with international flights. After all, every airline has been forced to make cuts due to the poor economy, and as customers we should naturally expect to feel the effects of this on things like convenience and our comfort. Furthermore, many of us tend to put up with certain negative aspects of an airline because we assume that they are either all the same, or we have a loyalty to an airline we often fly with.
After flying from Paris to Dallas with American Airlines, and then Dallas to Paris with British Airways two weeks later, I would suggest that it is entirely worth breaking free from those airlines who have made international travel more and more uncomfortable. On my outbound flight (American Airlines), I experienced what has become a ‘normal’ flying experience. Seats that seem to get narrower with each flight, and rows that have most definitely been pushed closer together. The food was once again sub-par, and the flight attendants were far from polite and helpful (the elevated tone of their language towards passengers within five minutes of the plane leaving the gate probably didn’t help their case). I was slightly disappointed that on such a long flight the seats were not fitted with entertainment systems, but rather that I and the people in the several rows surrounding me shared a small television. Once I had landed, I didn’t have particularly negative feelings towards the previous nine hours I had spent in the air, but I was more or less apathetic.
My flight back with British Airways however, reminded me that international travel can actually be enjoyable; it doesn’t have to be spent cramped and merely bearable. Despite flying on a holiday, I found the staff to be extremely friendly, from check-in, to the flight attendants, all the way through walking off the jet bridge in Paris. Additionally, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of leg room I had, despite being in economy. When the food came by, I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of the meal I ate. Never did I think I’d say this, but I would have happily eaten an entire second tray of food if given the chance. Despite flying all night with little sleep (at no fault of the airline, but simply because I find it nearly impossible to sleep whilst traveling), I got off the plane feeling refreshed and completely satisfied.
As you look to book your next flight, think twice about automatically choosing the airline you always choose. Find one that you are satisfied with, that you actually enjoy being on. If all passengers settle for mediocre service, comfort, and amenities, the standards will never rise. Realize that there are still airlines in the industry who go beyond simply stating in a slogan that they aim to please, but instead prove it through their actions.