The past two weeks I’ve been doing a little bit of travel. I only get about a once a year out of state trip usually so this two-fer was unusual for me. Husband flies about 4-6 times a year minimum. I decided to try something a little different. Usually we fly Virgin America. We’ve had horrible experiences with South West (they love to cancel a flight right out from under you and over-book.) and Continental (a story for a longer blog post than this.)
The last two times we’ve flown out of New York with Virgin the plane was very hot and the staff clearly wanted to be anywhere but serving a bunch of worthless travelers. Last time they had tunafish on the menu. If you think your co-worker heating up fish in the lunch room is bad, imagine smelling tuna on a hot plane for 5+ hours. Yucko!
Hey, I get it, the job is hard but I’m paying for a service. I can give my money to anyone! Virgin isn’t the only plane in the sky! That’s why this time I decided we would fly different airlines and try different seat-types to see who we really liked more and give Virgin some competition!
I flew from the little pea-sized airport here in town to Seattle on Alaska (coach). Alaska for me was fine. Mostly because I have no legs to speak of and the flight was so short. Even though it was coach the attendant came by several times offering cookie-snacks and drinks. I rather like the tiny planes too, you can really feel everything! It’s as close as I’ll get to real flight. It doesn’t hurt that our cute little Snoopy Airport is the cutest airport in the whole world. It’s a very stress-free-TSA experience.
My hubby followed me to Seattle a few days later on Delta out of San Francisco. (Main Cabin Select wanna-be) Husband said the attendant was even less friendly than our Virgin America folks. Also they did a strange roll-call requesting to see tickets after everyone was in their seat. The size of the Main Cabin Select seats were not spacious and the snack offering were poor. The complimentary drink promoted for this seat selection was not offered in flight. A delay in the flight was not the airlines fault but unlike Virgin, they did not explain the reason for the delays or provide good communication.
We flew from Seattle to New York through American Airlines, first class. It didn’t meet my expectations. We were offered water on take-off, not even offered soda/juice/coffee, certainly no booze. The meal was packaged crackers/bread and slabs of three cheeses and some seeded red grapes. We were offering a beverage with the meal. The attendant cleared our trash, offered a refill and then vanished. It wasn’t until breakfast was served, packaged muffin and yogurt with granola, that he offered another drink. At the time I was thinking ‘well, maybe first class is just extra leg room’, which my 4’10 self has no need for. My knees don’t ever hit the seat in the tightest coach flight. Hubby though, 6’2 found the chair very uncomfortable and couldn’t get comfortable enough to nap. The drop-down TV played mostly promotional commercials and the one-size-fits-all single movie (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2).
I felt really cheated. In Virgin coach, I can get drinks anytime I want. Sure, I have to pay for booze but even if I buy 10 at 15 bucks a pop that’s an extra $150. I can buy a better meal at $25 and watch two movies of my choice at about $25 – So far I’m only at $200’ish and I’m stinking drunk and I’ve seen two movies I want and have someone attending me and eat better quality food that doesn’t take like plastic. Better yet, I would pay far less for my ticket than the ‘first class’ American Airlines offers. While the attendant wasn’t rude, he didn’t attend.
On the way home we flew Virgin America, first class. Now this is way more than I expected. Cozy seats with electric adjustments for legs and recline. There was even more room for my stumpy legs, my toes couldn’t even touch the seat ahead of me. They provided complimentary eye-covers and ear-plugs and headphones for the movies. Movies! Plural! Because on Virgin you have your own TV setup where you can pick out what you want to watch. In coach you pay for them, but in first class you get whatever you want. Like Captain America, Civil War and X-Men Apocalypse and lots of other choices. (And normal TV and a map of the US so you can see what you’re flying over!) The attendant offered real drinks prior to take off and checked on us through the flight any time our glasses were empty. The first meal was three courses. Salad, chicken with greens, mushrooms and mashed potatoes followed by rhubarb crumble. Tasted pretty good actually. The nuts were mixed nuts rather than peanuts from the American Airlines flight. Towards the middle of the flight we were offered snacks like chips and candies/cookies.
Our attendant was kind, friendly and generous. Even the other attendants on that flight seemed more bright-eyed and smiling. I didn’t see a single laser scowl.
So, overall, despite the grumpy, sometimes snarky flight attendants on Virgin, I think they are providing a superior product. Clearly they are the brand to try to beat for the other airlines.
I am open to other opinions though. Am I being too harsh? Are we slaves to what the majority of airlines put us through? (Isn't TSA bad enough?) Should we try to fly a different airline than the ones listed? Come on competitors! Get on your A-game here!