With the advent of budget carriers, everyone has come to expect the lowest common denominator in service from any airline they fly. Food? I’ll bring it with me from home. Drinks? I’ll buy an overpriced bottle of Coke in the terminal. Friendliness from the flight attendants? A distant, happy memory. But really, with the budget price I paid for my ticket, I’ll grin and bear it.
It can be very frustrating when you haven’t paid a budget fare but you still feel like the airline is treating you like you have. Take my recent flight home from Sydney on Qantas. Qantas’ systems couldn’t handle a leap second and crashed spectacularly, causing knock-on delays for the entire day. My flight was delayed by 2.5 hours and it seemed touch-and-go as to whether we were going to depart at all because we were the only flight that hadn’t been assigned a gate.
The departures board at Sydney Airport. The only apology Qantas ever gave us.
That’s all fine — delays happen and I was prepared for it with a laptop and plenty of photos to process. What I didn’t appreciate was Qantas’ complete lack of acknowledgement of the inconvenience they were causing us. All I wanted was an apology, but not once did the flight attendants or the captain mention the delay. It was a complete lack of regard for the customer — customers that had been extremely well behaved — and reflects poorly on the airline as a whole.
On the flip side, there are occasionally anomalies, times where I have a fantastic flight no matter what the price I paid for the ticket. And then, sometimes there are just standout airlines, those that time after time do their best to make your flying experience as good as it can be.
But really, what makes one airline better than another? Sure, friendly flight attendants and lack of stinginess with things like pillows and blankets helps. Making an effort to show that you care about the customer through words and cabin manner can’t go astray. I certainly appreciate when the pilots manage to avoid all turbulence, but that’s more a case of a good flight path and some good luck than anything.
If I had to name a favourite airline, I would hands-down say Air New Zealand. Why? They take a bit of a quirky approach to showing the customer that they still value their business by making hilariously entertaining safety videos. Every airline has their own variations on safety videos, but really, what could beat Richard Simmons telling you to “stretch and slide, yeah! You’re a giraffe!”
Had I not already caught Rugby World Cup fever by going to the Australia vs. USA game in Wellington, I would have caught it from this safety video that I saw on my flight home:
And getting flight crew to do a safety video in nothing but body paint? Awesome:
If you’re running out of budget a bit, you can always create a mashup of the best bits of previous videos:
These safety videos actually kept me watching, whereas I usually start zoning out once I’ve worked out exactly where my closest exits are. Plus, they put me in a great mood to start the flight. It’s something small in the grand scheme of a long-haul flight, but to me, videos like these show that some airlines still do care.
I'm Kristin, a Texan born to an American father and English mother. I've been living in Australia since 2008. My first plane flight was when I was three weeks old and I've been hooked ever since. I never feel quite right unless I have a plane ticket (to anywhere, whether it's Sydney or Sweden) booked in my name. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.
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I'm Kristin, a Texan born to an American father and English mother. I've been living in Australia since 2008. My first plane flight was when I was three weeks old and I've been hooked ever since. I never feel quite right unless I have a plane ticket (to anywhere, whether it's Sydney or Sweden) booked in my name!