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A Lesson in Choosing an Airline

I travel fairly regularly for work. I fly about 15 trips per year and other then a very occasional flight on Delta, I always use US Airways. Due to price I decided to fly a discount airline, Air Tran.

The first leg of my trip was very good. I was impressed with the customer service. The people working the gate and the flight attendants were much more friendly then was I was accustomed to.

The seats were much nicer. They are wider and softer then the ones on US Airways. They were also cleaner. Then they really made me happy. In addition to offering high speed Internet on the plane (something I never have had on any US Airways flight) they offered free XM Sirius Radio.

When I checked in on my return flight, I commented to the man at the ticket counter how impressed I was with the airline and that they had a new customer.

Then it happened. I knew it had to be too good to be true. I am waiting for my plane when the announcement comes that my flight was delayed. I do not blame Air Tran for this. Every airline has delays from time to time. But I learned a very important fact about traveling a discount airline.

If you have to be somewhere at a specific time, you may want to use a major airline. These small airlines do not have a lot of flights to offer if you miss your connection. In fact, I was put in danger of missing a meeting that I am leading where there will be over 100 attendees.

They would not offer me a flight on another airline nor did they offer me frequent flyer miles, a free flight, an upgrade, or anything else. While the plane may be nicer and the employees may be friendlier, the airline is not equipped to handle issues when they arrive.

I still would recommend Air Tran to friends, family, and colleagues, but beware that if an issue arises, you may be stuck without a lot of options nor be compensated for your lost time.

A Lesson in Choosing an Airline


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