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International airlines, in my experience, continue to outdo airlines based in America in customer relations—and services.

I don’t mean you can’t find nice or professional American airline flight attendants or agents. Of course you can. What I mean is that overall, international lines work harder at the little things to make flying more pleasant, or at least make it less onerous.

Here are a few examples:

--International airlines serve better and more food, hands down, especially Air France.

--International airlines offer more choices of free newspapers.

--International airline staff, in my experience, less often invoke the trump word “security” to keep you from doing something they don’t want to deal with—like using a nearby restroom where no one is waiting as opposed to the restroom in your section where six are waiting.

This happened to me today on Delta. I’m a Platinum mileage traveler, was sitting 10 feet from a restroom between sections and the flight attendant jumped me with “Sir, where is your seat?” Never mind no one was waiting there while several waited for the “appropriate” restroom. She still said I couldn’t use the restroom in front of me: why? Because of “security.” Did you get that? If I'd used this restroom it would have constituted a security risk. Right.

--International airlines suffer these things too--but American airlines in particular charge exorbitant bag fees, set up innumerable disqualifiers to discourage people from redeeming earned miles, and present mileage clubs that really don’t offer much in the first place.

--The kicker for me was a 4.5-hour delay in Memphis last Saturday with Delta. OK, it happens. But for this one—no explanation, no apology, no amenities, nothing. Later this week I received an email apology and feedback form. Maybe I’ll send them this blog.

One last thing that doesn’t matter much in the scheme of things but it’s interesting. International airline staff members are better dressed, actually, often dressed-up with sport jackets, ties, and a polished attitude to go with it.

I think American airlines could learn a few things from their international peers.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

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