Frankfurt – Day 19; Airline Customer Support

Heading home at last!  It was a great trip, but long…I left Bangalore on Thursday at 2:00 AM, heading for Frankfurt, then Boston, and a final leg to Charlotte.  This completes my “around the world” tour and I am looking forward to being back with the family.

A few notes for those who may be traveling internationally (and perhaps the airlines will see this at some point):

1. United Airlines Customer Support (SFO to SID): This part of the trip was one of the best.  US based airlines often get bashed when compared to those in other countries, but here are the facts (from my perspective):

  • The seat was top notch.  United Airlines 747-400 seats lay completely flat to create a bed that even side-sleepers can use.  It was a little narrow, but for a normal size person, not an issue.
  • Customer service  was very good, the food was great, and United Airlines business class entertainment choices were bigger and better than other flights on the “around the world” tour.
  • All flights were on time.
  • This was a 14.5 hour flight so I had plenty of time to experience United Airlines!

2. Singapore Airlines (Sidney to Singapore)

  • Singapore Airlines customer support is the best.  These people really understand how to make customers feel welcome and are very focused on attending to every need.  I also noticed their flight attendants are neatly dressed, and look very professional.
  • Singapore airlines business class seating is not the best.  They advertise the widest seat, and this is certainly true, however the foot rest is too close to the seat to stretch out your legs if you are 5”11” of more.  The seat however does turn into a full length bed so this would be fine for a side sleeper during a night-time flight.  I flew during the day, Sidney to Singapore for 9.5 hours and was ready to get out of my seat long before the flight ended.  This was the Airbus 380.
  • Another problem with the Airbus 380 was, my computer bag on wheels did not fit in the overhead!  If you’ve flown on the 747-400, which is a smaller plane, you know that the overhead bin is giant!  Not the case on the 380 – but the customer focused crew did immediately resolve the issue by moving it to a nearby closet.
  • The food was excellent as well as in-flight entertainment (but not as broad a selection as United Airlines).
  • I then flew their 777 to Bangalore which was just as great, but a short flight in comparison.

3. Lufthansa (Bangalore to Franfurt and Frankfurt to Boston)

  • I had heard that Lufthansa was the best airline to fly, but that was not my experience.  It was good, but third on the list for me.  We flew 747-400’s on both legs which I Really like.  9.5 hours from India to Germany, at night, however this seat is not like the United Airlines seat.  While it does stretch out, and is plenty long, it is far from Horizontal.  If you are a side sleeper, you’ll be tossing an turning all night because this is a recliner that is sort of flat, but only on your back.  I took Tylenol PM which knocked me out for a few hours regardless of the seat.
  • The Lufthansa customer service level was also third on the list.  They didn’t offer to hang up my coat, which is a norm for most business class flights, and they didn’t seem turned into customer needs.  It was almost like being back on USAirways, but not as rude.  The second leg was a definite improvement, so I assume it was just that first crew having a bad day.
  • The food was limited if you don’t like weird stuff, and the in-flight entertainment was definitely limited in comparison to United Airlines or Singapore Air.
  • Everything else was fine and I would fly them again over USAirways.

4. USAirways.

  • As I mentioned, I flew through Boston to avoid flying USAirways overseas.  I’ve done the USAirways international flight before and have vowed to not do it again.  I was shocked back into reality as we waited to board in Boston.  The gate attendant was downright rude with one lady who couldn’t hear one of the announcements over the speakers.  The customer was polite in asking what it was, but the gate attendant made some rude remark and marched off.
  • We flew the Airbus 320 back to Charlotte – After 16 hours of flying and having been up for over 24 hours (at least not having a bed or even full reclining seat to sleep in) the first class seat on USAirways was miserable.  However, I was grateful to not be sitting in the cattle car section which advertises less leg room than any other major airline.  And if you want to sit toward the front, you’ll pay an upgrade fee even through the leg room is the same.

Well, there you have it…choose your airline carefully when you do have a choice, which in most cases I really don’t.


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