If you're a frequent traveller, you'll probably be flying with all kind of airlines around the globe. But what if you don't know what kind of airline would be the best for you to choose? Yes, you're perfect holiday could start a little less perfect if you end up with the “wrong” airline. I'm not just choosing my flights depending on just the rate. No, flight duration and airline are just as important. I had all kind of experiences and a ten hour flight can feel twice as long, if you're ending up on some kind of outdated plane.
The best flight experiences, I've ever had, was with companies from the United States. Delta, American Airlines or United for example. More legroom, friendly crew, great in-flight entertainment system and a very good service. Right before my first flight with an United States airline, I got told that they're very rude and that the airplanes would suck but I've never had this experience. I've always enjoyed my flights.
My two worst experiences, on the other hand, were with one of the biggest Spanish airlines and one pretty well known airline from Germany. But let's start with the Spanish one.
The cost for the flight was really good as well as the flight duration. We started on time at our departure location in Munich and ended up on time at our destination. So, there was nothing wrong with the time table as well as the luggage transportation – everything arrived in one piece – but the airplane itself was the most horrible one, I've ever witnessed.
It must have been straight out of the eighties since the walls and the lights of the airplane were so yellowed, it must have already been in use when it was still allowed to smoke on an airplane. The lights itself looked like some kind of seventies light pipe. I am a small person, just 5.3 ft, but even I bumped into the back of the seat in front of me with my knees while just sitting there in an upright position. My best friend is 5.7 ft with longer legs than mine, just imagine how she had to fold up herself to fit in there not very comfortable. The seats itself were worn out, I was sitting on some kind of metal frame, and the fabric itself may once have been grey but was covered in yellow spots – disgusting. The tray table of my friends seat was broken, mine was very unsteady. One light above our heads didn't work. The airplane itself smelled somewhat sweet, like something had gotten moldy in one of the restrooms. After our take-off we had to wait three hours until we finally got some water to drink. After another two hours, we got something to eat. Well, at least it was supposed to be something to eat. It tasted horrible. When I walked back to the crew to get something more to drink, they just gave me a very annoyed look and rolled there eyes since I've obviously interrupted their nice chit-cha. Apologies, I didn't mean to destroy your lovely conversation by being so rude and trying to safe us from dying of thirst. But the worst thing is yet to come.
No in-flight entertainment system! It was a ten and half a hour flight. I envy every single person, who's able to step onto an airplane, sit down, fall asleep and wake up when they arrive at their destination. I can't do it. I am able to sleep maybe five hours or something but then I'm awake. Usually, I entertain myself with some movies or whatever is shown but if you got nothing, not even a airplane magazine, ten hours and half can be very, very, very long. But hey, at least we arrived in time and with our luggage!
My second, pretty poor experience with an airline was completely different. It was an alliance flight. Starting in Berlin with said German airline and then changing to American airlines in Milan. We started in time, everything was fine as well as the airplane itself but when we arrived at Miami, I wanted to re-check-in my luggage – as you have to do it at most of the airports in the United States – and it didn't show up. One of the the airport employees told me that my suitcase probably had been checked through to my destination, so it wouldn't even show up here and I got onto the aircraft and to San José but it didn't show up there either. At first, I suspected that something didn't work out in Milan since we had to change the airline companies there but I got told, that it never showed up there. And so it was gone – for whole ten days!
Ten days without everything.
Lucky me, I had some friends in Costa Rica who could help me out with some clothes but it was like my luggage had never even existed. American airlines was really friendly and tried to help me as much as they could but then they told me, that they tried to contact said German airline and that they got all cocky and just didn't want to talk to American airlines. Telling them, that it wasn't their problem and that they didn't want to co-operate. Due to the time difference and their horrible service times, I wasn't able to get in contact from Costa Rica and so my mom had to call at the service center of the German airline. They told her that I never boarded the flight in Berlin.
I never left the city, even when she showed them the ticket with the attached bag tag, I've send her via whatsapp, they said I never boarded the flight.
Even more interesting. Apparently, I'm not existing, as well as my luggage.
American airlines had to send out a special team that was searching all airports, I've approached during my journey and then they finally found my luggage. Guess what, it was still in Berlin at Tegel airport. It never left Germany and it turned out that the lovely German airline screwed up while distributing the suitcases from the terminal to the airplane. They just didn't want to take the blame. I never even got a simple sorry, apart from never getting refunded the money I had to spent on things like body wash. After six weeks of trying to get in touch with anyone, I just gave up. I knew I shouldn't have but I was just tired of getting angry all over and over again.
Now I'm avoiding this airline as much as I can and if I have to take it for short trips, I'm trying not to check-in extra luggage. So, be careful if you'll book a flight with said airline. They may be cheap but so is their customer service.
Small tip if you're booking flights with budget-airlines: be careful what you pay for. They may be cheap at first sight but they want to add up all several things like reserved seat, more luggage, some weird insurances. Ryanair for example. Not a bad airline at all.
On time, cheap and nice crew but you have to pay for your seat. If you don't, it is first come, first served. You have to “fight” with other people on the plane for your seat but it doesn't really matter where you sit, if you just flying to England or Ireland for example – so be careful and save some money.
The most modern airplane, I was ever on, belonged to Aeroflot. Another ten and half a hour flight from Havana to Moscow. The aircraft looked like it was straight out of the manufacture. All shiny and new and so damn clean, you could've eaten from the floor. The seats where soft and very comfortable. There was enough legroom as well as enough space for hand luggage. There was a tiny package waiting for each one of us, including the usual pillow and blanket as well as stickers, that could be put on your back rest, telling the stewardess to either wake you up for dinner or leave you asleep.
A sleeping mask and even slippers if you had to use the restroom and didn't want to put on your shoes. The in-flight entertainment system was the newest one I've ever seen, with great movie and sound quality. Outside, at the bottom of the airplane, was a camera mounted and so we could watch take-off and landing of the aircraft.
The food was good as well. There was only one thing, I wasn't used to.
If you're flying with Delta or any other American airline, they continue their service until the turbulences are so heavy, you're not able to stay on your feet. During the flight to Moscow, the crew stopped at every little bump and we had to put our seatbelt back on. If you need four attempts until you finally get something to drink, it can be kind of annoying but hey, safety first, right? The crew seemed to be nice, I can't really tell since they spoke in Russian most of the time but it didn't really matter either. The aircraft itself was so modern, it compensated for everything else.
Most friendly and also very modern company, I've booked a flight with, was Copa Airlines. One of the biggest airlines in Panama. I've never met a crew as funny and friendly as them. They even upgraded my friend, I was traveling with, and me to business class for free on our flight from Liberia to Punta Cana - without us asking for it - and took very good care of us.
Those were the best and the worst up-in-the-air-experiences of my life. I've spent a lot of time above the clouds with lots of different airlines and I can definitely assure you, your journey into your adventure will affect your whole trip.
So, just have in mind, to keep your eyes open for what you're flying with. Asian airlines are usually always great, American airlines also – as mentioned - but you better check twice if you're using some kind of budget airline.
Until then, happy traveling.