One of the main considerations of travel when booking is how you are going to get there, course it is. In most cases to go anywhere internationally you have to fly and away from the stresses and strains of the airport check in malarkey, is the carrier you’re flying with. What do you consider when you’re booking a flight?
With me it’s both value for money and how I am treated as a Customer. I don’t mind sometimes going from A-C, just to get to B. My favourite airline is British Airways, however, they don’t have a great rep in the UK and as I travel the world, I’m learning a lot about the carriers and if I could give one bit of advice, don’t believe everything you read when you’re checking out carriers reviews on-line.
I’m a hypocrite of course, cos I am now going to tell my thoughts and feelings on the flights I’ve had to date, including a couple of Doozy mini crisis’s I’ve had so far.
So, my first flight from London to Beijing was a lengthy one, but I used my Avois points to upgrade and got a great deal. BA were, as always superb and still remain my number one, but only just. Not cos they have been bad, one or two others have been that good. A short hop of 90mins took me from Hanoi to Bangkok and for nothing more than $90, Qatar gave me a healthy baggage allowance, seat booking, meal preference and a tip top experience, hence why I used them again from Phnom Penh to Saigon
One of my biggest concerns travelling across Asia was the carriers, their fees and extra charges they try to whack on you and how the carriers were rated, formed a base on who I booked with. I got a business class ticket with Air Asia for like $10 extra from Bangkok to Siem Reap and one of the benefits was flexible ticket changes, which was needed when I turned up to the airport a day early (What a phud!). The good news was they got me on the flight that day at no extra cost – wow!
Now Vietnam Airlines are one of the better rated carriers, but not in my book. Shambles at check in, all packed like sardines on a bus with no AC, for about 20 mins for a round trip to the plane, which was across the road, 10 second walk away. So were beeling as we get on the plane and guess what, no cold air on the plane, absolutely tragic. They had a hefty boy, who was really polite and jokey. He was wearing a shirt and you could see the sweat dripping from him and the wet patches on his shirt as he put cases up in the overhead bins. Not a great overall experience to be fair and I had them booked again for Hanoi to Da Nang, so I was dreading it that much, I upgraded for $20 to Business. It was fairly basic to be honest and I begrudge the fact that they put you on a separate bus for Business class, then proceed to have it turn up in between the two economy buses, so there is no benefit bar a bigger seat.
My trip to Hong Kong was with HK Express and to be honest, they are fairly middle of the road. Late taking off and late getting picked up. Apart from that…meh. It was getting off Hong Kong, where I experienced my issues. Delta was in my opinion, before flying with them, the BA of the USA. A brand I would associate with quality. When you book a flight with Delta, unlike United or American, who promote a fly only (no bags or little carry on) option or main cabin, you have a variety of options from basic, main cabin, comfort+ for that extra bit at little more cost and first class. I add a *please note, to the first class option for my reasons to follow.
I was up early enough on Sunday, at the bus stop at 7.50am for the 8.05am A35 from Tong Fuk to the airport. 11hk$ in hand, it’s half past and no show, so I panic a little. I phone the hostel dood, he calls and taxi and it comes sharpish – we’re on our way. I arrive, print off my boarding gate pass on the machine, but I have a bag to drop, so I hit that counter. Now I have my Esta for the States. When I land, I want to take in a hockey game b4 I go to South America and back for my coast to coast trip, so my plans have been fairly loose, purposely so I can be flexible. The lass at the counter says I will be refused entry to the US unless I have a flight to the UK booked? If she puts me on my flight, I would be refused entry and sent back and they would get in trouble. ‘Poppycock’ I say in response. She says come with me, takes me to another desk, where there is now two clowns telling me, check in closes in 20mins, if I don’t have a UK flight booked, I’m not getting on. Fuck!
I ask to be allowed through, so I can go to the lounge, look at flights and book one and they point blank refused! ‘Do it now’ I’m told and despite my concerns with no wifi access, they’re not budging. You could chuck a lump of coal up my ass at this time and guaranteed in that 20 mins you would have a diamond. The second counter clerk says use Honk Kong free airport wifi, really good 😃. We both spend the next 10 mins on my laptop and mobile trying to get HK Wifi to work with no joy. I laugh and say what now, he shrugs his shoulders. Despite feeling disgusted, I access my Vodaphone data (£6 a day), click on Skyscanner and in a sad attempt to lighten the mood, choose the 4th of July as my date to exit the states. Cheapest flights on Wow air, no frills is £156.66 and I pay for it. At this point I will note I have been forced to enter my American Express Card details on a public network by Delta and despite showing the booking confirmation right on the 20min limit, there is a further 10 min debate before I’m allowed to proceed, with no help to get through security or the likes, so I’m giving it the big home alone to the gate.
***Here is the interesting note. If I had no bag to drop, I would have been checked in, with a boarding pass and able to go through security and into the States***
The flight itself was good. 11h 50min long and the extra leg room and booze were needed, appreciated and worth the cost. They gave the two boys in my row, the pre ordered meals at brekkie for the two behind in error and when discovered, took responsibility, duly apologised to all parties a couple times and while it may not impact on me, the knock on effect did – I was not offered a breakfast! All delta comfort were given and they moved down the cabin. The lass asks if I want a beverage I say yes, coffee please, but you have you forgot something else?, clearly with nothing on my tray. ‘Like what’ comes the reply, hand up I say ‘forget it, just a coffee thanks’. She pours the coffee, moves on and as the boy next to me apologises, she thinks she may have been an arse, asks if I was missed with the breakfast, I quickly reply ‘Yes, but if it’s a hassle, not to bother.’
Now I’m a nice guy. If your in my seat somewhere at a gig or footie match, I will say so, ask to check seats and tickets and only then politely ask you to move. If you then don’t or say ‘ let’s just bunch in’, then and only then, do I raise my voice, tell you to beat it and move before I move you. This delta lass gave me a scrunched up face, hence the attitude! It was a good flight even if it did not start well. We get to Seattle and I can’t hold my tongue. The US immigration boy is chatty, what’s my job in the UK? , where am I going to next etc, so I ask him about needing to have a specific flight booking confirmation. He asks when I plan on going home. ‘4th July’ I say. ‘I could give you a flight number I know for that date, but have not booked, but I have one cos they made me book one. Do I need to prove it?’ and he confirms no, it was not necessary to have a ‘return home’ flight booked.
I expect a high level of service from banks, mobiles, airlines and companies I pay for my business. Why shouldn’t I? If you don’t meet my expectation, I will complain and while I don’t necessarily seek compensation, it’s the nature of the beast. I know, I work in customer services. Listen, we adhere to mobile firms terms, banks terms (fees, overdraught and bank charges, mobile charges and plan increases), including sky, broadband and phone. They hit you hard when they need to so if they don’t meet a basic level of service for what I’m paying them – they’re getting hammered. I told my buddy Gordon Mann I got a 35min journey time taxi to the airport and despite paying the tolls, the taxi cost £8. I gave the driver what would be £10 and I kid you not, he looked like he wanted to hug me. I was leaving tips of 33p to me and you in Cambodia and they’re giving it big licks when they see me the next night.
Over in Asia, it’s all about service. Two people on a bus, one to drive, the other to pay for tickets and make sure you get off at the best stop. Back home, we cut costs and have the driver do it all, giving less of a service. Same for tuk tuk, pennies, but sooo helpful.
Anyway, back to Delta. I have first class booked, San Fran-Seattle-Chicago. It puzzles me when you come to bag drop and security, Delta specific security. They take one Priority, then one economy. One Priority, then one economy. The second economy line to the left has no queue. I see no benefit to my significant cost of ticket, especially considering I don’t get lounge access and the Liverpool game is on. Ffs!! Wifi works tho, so good and on the flight was brilliant. The chap serving me was soo nice, well chatty, saying ‘Do I detect a brogue accent?’ He is a nice guy and i am well looked after, making me feel somewhat more positive. This leg got a 4/5 for Delta, a lot better than they’re 2/5 from HK.
Just my experiences folks, if it helps you then fine, if not, it’s what’s in my mind.