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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Flying the Friendlier Skies

I just got home after a little over a week in China. I love flying some of the airlines in the Far East because the flight crews are generally ridiculously nice to you and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. In many cases the cabins & seats are more comfortable, have more amenities and are just better looking, too.

Don't get me wrong, I'm speaking in generalities here - there are a couple airlines in Asia that could certainly give their US counterparts a run for the money when it comes to lack of customer appreciation and/or inefficiency. On the whole, though, most Asian airlines could teach some of the US airlines a thing or three about customer service and comfort. To be fair, I fly primarily one carrier here in the US [ not naming names, but they are based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area ], so my benchmark here in the States may not be exactly representative, but I suspect it's not far off.

On the way home I flew All Nippon Airways (ANA) for the leg from Shanghai to Tokyo, and it was great. The friendliness of the crew aside, the seats were amazing. You could adjust them to about 73 possible positions including an 180 degree recline for sleeping, but the best part was they had a lumbar massage feature built in!

In addition, there were several other simple but awesome design features (mirrors in over head bins to make sure you got everything, built in privacy dividers, individual adjustable snake lights in each seat for reading without lighting up your neighbors seats, built in steps for reaching items in overhead bins, etc) that let you know they 'get' air travel from a customer's perspective. If I did have one thing to put in their suggestion box, it would be to make the leg rest extensions just a little bit longer... apparently I must be in the 95th percentile for height of average travelers in the Far East. All things considered, though, ANA rocks! I hope you're taking notes, American.

Oops... I'm not naming names.

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