With the amount of flight time I experience throughout the year, as well as strong opinions I seem to have about how travel days should go, I figured I would put together a little summary of my airline conclusions.
Of course, when you fly more than you drive, you’re going to have a fair mix of good & bad airport luck.
It has practically become a pass-time of mine to publicly review (via Twitter @kaitsexton) the services of each airline that I’ve become a rewards/mileage member of. I mean, I know how my travel experience is supposed to happen: Pre Check, an on-time departure/arrival, luggage arriving to proper destination in a timely manner. I usually start an appropriate commotion toward any airline who denies me the above.
I primarily fly with Delta, American Airlines, United, and Southwest. Here’s some feedback on my experiences (not first class, I’ll get there one day):
Delta is my favorite— especially for their 30 minute baggage guarantee. They typically have friendly service from employees and hardly any issues to fix. On a lucky day, getting bumped up to Comfort + (aka more leg room, comfy seats, USB/outlets) is an experience anyone would be thankful for. I do feel, however, that since the wealthy people often ride Delta, there are less chances for upgrades if you’re a regular person like me.
American Airlines is pretty good… but there are (more often than I’d like) days where they cancel/delay my flights, forcing me to re-book a flight with another airline or wait around all day until they can get me to my destination. Other than that, I have an American Airlines AAdvantage credit card and American is my boyfriend’s favorite airline. We have a lot of miles saved up with them. They’re generally cool, but I often end up in the middle seat. Not my favorite airline, but also I’m not complaining flying AA.
United is an emotional roller coaster. It seems like they’re always fixing big issues. Right now, United gets the brownie points on my list because they have saved a few recent trips with day-of flights available, and they also bumped me up to first class earlier this summer!!
On the flight I was surprisingly upgraded on, there was an issue with the plane, causing us to make an emergency landing, 1.5 hours later, at the same airport we departed from. I wasn’t mad (bc I was in first class, obv), but they gave us extra free snacks, kept me in first class for the second-attempt flight, and apologized to customers by gifting mileage plus members a couple thousand miles. I’ve seen fair efforts to fix things when they let customers down.
Lastly, Southwest. This airline gives me the most issues— but I have to give props to the PR/Customer Service department as well.
Southwest sucks because you have to check in 24 hours prior to your flight, and the order of passengers checking in allow everyone to pick their own seats on the plane. If you miss the 24 hour check in time by a minute or two, you’re already in the last wave of people choosing your (probably middle) seat.
Baggage may be free, but Southwest constantly loses/delays my luggage (especially whenever I fly into the Memphis International Airport).
I have horrible luck with them— but I can conclude that they will help you out after some convincing. Recently, I had a 5:00 am trip cancelled because Southwest didn’t bring any of their planes to the Denver airport. I missed important meetings at work that day, had to catch a last-minute United flight, and then had Southwest refusing to release my bag to me for over two days.
I spent a day on hold with no answers. As an upset customer using her social media vengeance to fight back, I made sure to cause a public uproar (of tweets) about my horrible travel day. Word-of-Mouth has so much power these days!!
The Twitter Team replied to my concerns with a contact email specifically for reimbursements due to lost luggage. Southwest gave me a complete reimbursement of the clothes I had to buy when they held my bag, and they also sent me a $100 voucher for one of their flights in the future.
We’re cool now.
Frontier. If you notice that I didn’t include this airline in the first place (even though I do have a mileage account) it’s because it’s the worst airline and I avoid taking it. The prices for this airline are the lowest in exchange for a lower-quality experience, but you don’t actually save any money. Luggage costs double what any other airline charges, including paying an additional fee for a carry on bag, as well as your non-complimentary drinks on the plane. The seat backs are uncomfortably thin, the staff is un-amused, and the flight change fees are non-negotiable on Frontier. Avoid this one or travel very lightly!
In conclusion– every airline sucks sometimes and it’s unfair to hold grudges. But, we can plan accordingly via past experience and know the airlines that will have your back when running into specific issues.
Safe travels to everyone, good luck booking your next few flights!