U.S. airlines don’t make the grade? Imagine that

This might qualify as the least-surprising survey finding in the history of surveys.

OK, maybe I exaggerate, but not by much.

Business Insider has rated the top 20 airlines in the world. None of them — zero — is based in the United States of America.


I looked at the list and counted four airlines on which I have flown: Cathay Pacific, Thai, Japan Air Lines and Lufthansa.

I’ll stipulate that I do not consider myself a seasoned world traveler, but I have been blessed with opportunities to fly abroad. Some of the air travel has been quite pleasant; some of it has been, well, quite unpleasant. Almost without fail, the unpleasantness has occurred aboard U.S. airlines.

I won’t detail the terrible service I’ve experienced. I’ll tell you two quick stories.

My wife and I flew to Copenhagen, Denmark in June 2006. We stayed there a week and then flew home. Our first leg on the return flight was aboard a British Airways flight from Copenhagen to London Heathrow Airport. The service was fabulous, top-notch; the flight crew was gracious, kind, attentive, cheerful … all the things you expect on a flight.

We disembarked at Heathrow, then caught a cab to Gatwick Airport across town, where we boarded an American Airlines flight from London to Dallas-Fort Worth. The service then was, well, not nearly at the level I just described on that first leg. The flight crew was decidedly less gracious, kind, attentive, etc.

Welcome back to reality, right?

The second quick story involves a flight from Delhi, India, to Tokyo, via Bangkok. This was in 2004. I boarded the flight in Delhi, flew six hours aboard a Thai Air flight to Bangkok. The crew could not have been more gracious. I changed planes in Bangkok and boarded a Japan Air Lines flight to Tokyo.

I took a sleeping aid to help me catch some shut-eye for the next six- or seven-hour flight. I settled back in my seat. The plane took off. After a while, the flight attendants began serving a meal. I declined my meal and went to sleep.

When the pilot announced we were beginning our descent into Narita Airport in Tokyo, I awoke to discover a pillow under my head and a blanket tucked under my chin. I have no recollection of how they got there — therefore, I only presumed the flight attendant tucked me in.

I do not believe that would have happened on a U.S.-based air carrier.

Thus, the survey doesn’t surprise me in the least.

0 thoughts on “U.S. airlines don’t make the grade? Imagine that”

  1. In all fairness the geographical location of US doesn’t really make it worthwhile for them to compete with other airlines. Domestic travellers have to use local airlines (and there is a huge domestic market) plus it’s not practical for most foreign people to transit in the states. That’s something for European and Asian airlines to capitalise on.

    It’s nice to be treated well on an airline but it would be downright wonderful to be treated well in an airport… Delhi airport specifically… http://acollectionofmusings.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/the-indian-airport-chronicles-delhi-edition/

  2. Thanks for sharing your link about Gandhi airport in Delhi. Airport security there was a nightmare, as memory serves. Took us forever and a couple of days to get through. I thought we would miss our flight to Thailand. Once aboard the Thai Air bird, though, service was great. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. And thanks for reading the blog.

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