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.