*All photos are of my own*
Airlines. They are all out to make the most profit possible, just like any other company, but why do we as the customer see them as ruthless? Maybe it’s their plethora of terms and conditions which they love to catch us out with, the hidden extra charges, poor service and even bad value for money. We all have some airlines which we vow never to fly with again, but how many of us actually keep that promise? I’ve had my fair share of experiences with different airlines and here I am going to detail a few of them, I invite you to comment down below with your own experiences in relation to mine!
I’ll update this post when I fly with new airlines / have updated experiences with previously flown airlines.
British Airways: Now, British Airways I generally disapprove of. Despite this, I am a member of their Executive Club programme, why? Because I can’t escape it. It’s so great to be able to use avios on hotels and car rentals, and more often than not I keep stumbling upon some good fares on British Airways now on European Flights. It’s just a continuous circle that keeps making me use them! I have actually had some good experiences with BA, For example back in 2013 we flew to Dublin for the weekend with them, we had the same crew both ways, they were friendly, recognised us and provided us with great service and good value for money. However every other encounter with them I’ve had has been bad. Take example, my trip last year from Toulouse back to Heathrow, the flight was delayed, the pilot lied about our arrival time multiple times, changing from ‘on-time’ after departure to an actual 1 hour delay on arrival. Furthermore the crew did not enforce any priority disembarkation for people with tight connections due to the delay and they let people storm in front of those that needed to be off quick. Another flight, was from Luxembourg to Heathrow whereby some of the crew were very rude and snotty towards economy passengers, which I don’t understand why BA hold themselves as so prestige as if they are still ‘The Worlds Favourite Airline’. Their standards have dropped, all legroom now down to 29″ in Short-Haul economy, major cutbacks in catering, which will soon be Buy On Board, and they are now more low-cost than ever! British Airways in my opinion are on a constant decline and there is very little now to differentiate them between easyJet or Ryanair. Furthermore, I have had several issues with their slow, and rude customer service team on several occasions.
easyJet: I have only ever had positive things to say about easyJet. Their fares are low, planes relatively comfortable and they don’t try to be anything they’re not. easyJet is an open and honest airline, with friendly, down to earth crew. I’ve experienced them several times and have never had an issue. One thing I’d like to mention is that they handle delays very well, while in Luxembourg waiting for our BA flight, the easyJet flight to Gatwick was delayed by several hours and instead of hiding away like most crew, the captain of that flight frequently came around the departure gate area and spoke to passengers individually about updates, which is very commendable. Also they have a very useful app!
Ryanair: Although they used to be very ruthless with the way they went around things with hidden charges behind their low prices, they are now having to rapidly change to become much more customer friendly with less hidden fees and better service. I love Ryanair’s low fares, such as £10 per flight, of which we have availed of frequently, because it’s so cheap in comparison to other airlines. We always stay within the rules, and as such we have never had any problem or delay. The crew aren’t rude, but not warm either, just standard which is fine. Yes, their buy on board menu is overpriced, but you don’t have to use that, there are many options in the airport! Their re-branding is going well, trying to become more customer friendly, but it’s not a massive change if I am honest. Booked with them for another city break next year too! Cheap but not so cheerful, eh?
FlyBe: I’ve only had one experience of them so far, but I have another flight booked with them in the near future. In terms of my experience they were on-time, clean and I like the fact they use smaller regional aircraft like the E195, E175 and Dash Q400, With a 2-2 seating arrangement. Their BoB menu is reasonable and they have a base from Birmingham along with an expansive network across the UK. If you research online, they are notorious for delays, so I’d look into your chosen flight’s history before booking, but overall I’ve had no personal issues so I give them the benefit of the doubt where possible.
Norwegian: My favourite European Airline. They are low cost, they have free wi-fi onboard, which runs at very reasonable speeds, they use modern Boeing 737-800 aircraft with sky interiors too. They also run an expansive route network across Europe, with many flights from London Gatwick and Birmingham too, so check them out, they may offer the best deal, and are sometimes even worth paying a bit more for! We’ve never paid more than £30 per way with them.
Thomson Airways: Frankly, I don’t know why you would fly with Thomson Airways unless you booked as part of a package holiday, they don’t tend to offer cheap flights alone. Their legroom on short-haul flights is abysmal and they operate a buy on board service, with high fares. It doesn’t have many positive factors to mention really, other than the fact their on-time record is ok. I’ve never had a chance to fly their long-haul aircraft, such as the 787 Dreamliner, which has received mixed reviews from others.
Thomas Cook Airlines: This is going back a long time now. Back when I flew with them they still operated 757-200 aircraft, and although the legroom wasn’t good, I generally enjoyed my experiences, but that’s because I was young. They are now fully upgrading their fleet to Airbus 321 aircraft, with brand new interiors, so it would be good to try them now in the coming future. Their fares are quite mixed, you can sometimes find a good flight only deal with them.
Monarch Airlines: Now a fully scheduled airline, they offer very good flight only fares, on their A320 and A321 aircraft. Although legroom isn’t amazing there is plenty of opportunity to upgrade to extra-legroom seats in the front 8-10 rows at prices which sometimes aren’t that expensive. They sometimes have very long delays that last 24 hours+ but when things go to plan, they really aren’t that bad. We had a long delay once, on our Luton to Palma flight, but fortunately for us, we needed that delay and the customer service team were very accommodating about our situation, I’ll detail more about this in a future blog post! I’ve also flown them from Birmingham to Barcelona for a cruise, and they were totally ok then, so I have no reason to put anything against them.They’re booked for a city break next year!
KLM: The national dutch airline. We’ve flown from Birmingham to New York JFK via Amsterdam with them. Their short-haul service isn’t that bad, included food and drink which is fairly decent, crew are friendly to an extent. On our long-haul flights we were in economy comfort, and experienced the 777-200 (Newly Refurbished) in a horrible 3-4-3 layout which is very narrow and we unfortunately had a rude passenger behind that thought it was funny to kick the seat for the 6 hours (Yes this was a normal adult!). The crew on this flight were extremely helpful when a travelling companion felt ill, and they were attentive and gave a remedy. On our return we flew a 747-400, and the check-in agent split us up despite our assigned seats and put a random stranger right in between us, despite the fact there was many other spare seats and rows on this flight! The crew were poor and hid away for nearly the whole flight, along with taps with no water and an out-dated product. My main issue with KLM was that they overbooked our AMS-JFK flight and took our spare seat which we paid for and refused to offer compensation, filling the seat. Their customer service can be very cold, We wouldn’t fly long-haul with them again, but short-haul definitly if the price is right. Well, we tried this recently, but they cancelled our flight and moved us to Air France instead.
Air France: Air France is another one of my favourite airlines, mainly for the fact it’s their customer service! Our first flight was from Paris Orly to Strasbourg, and we got to the airport but realised it was cancelled, and they offered to put us up in a hotel and fly us out the next day, but we said we’d make our own way on the train instead and claim it back, they gave us written confirmation, and we paid our own way to Strasbourg, while liaising with the twitter team. Within a week of our return, they had refunded us for the flight, paid for our train tickets and hotel in Strasbourg as we couldn’t pick up our car rental that night. Along with this they gave us £250 each in flight vouchers as compensation, despite the fact that the flight only cost £40 each, so they were very friendly about everything. We have also flown with them from Strasbourg to Lyon (On their subsidiary Hop!), where the crew member gave us double drinks and snacks and was extremely friendly. In terms of customer service at home, they moved us to another flight on two occasions which costed hundreds of pounds more than our original ticket, just because our itinerary after being changed, didn’t suit us. Despite being under no obligation they are generally understanding and will meet you half way on things. I will keep flying Air France as they seem reliable and actually have a good customer service team!
Air New Zealand: I have flown with Air NZ on their NZ 1/2 service from London Heathrow to Los Angeles (Rtn) – We had two different experiences, the outbound flight had issues with US Immigration ESTA System, and we had to do manual I94 forms (Remember them!), although it was handled very well and we departed on-time. The crew were friendly, chatty, and were very pro-active in their job. I thoroughly enjoyed this flight experience. In comparison on the return flight NZ2, The crew were poor, clearly inexperienced and weren’t representing anything that we saw of the amazing NZ1 crew. I don’t know what it is, but crew’s always seem to be worse on return flights for some reason. It wouldn’t put me off flying Air NZ again though, I enjoyed their product, food and outbound crew! I highly recommend them.
Virgin America: For domestic flights within the USA, I highly recommend Virgin America for reasonable fares, a fun attitude towards doing things, modern cabin’s on their A320 series aircraft with personal entertainment, mood lighting, live tv, and free beverages. I thoroughly enjoyed my return flight with them from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
Aer Lingus: Another one of my favourite airlines! They offer very reasonable fares, they have comfortable aircraft, and great crew. I love flying in and out of Dublin Terminal 2, which is another benefit of flying with them. Furthermore, they offer the benefit of US Pre-Clearance which saves a lot of time. I would highly recommend Aer Lingus. We’ve had several encounters whereby, other airlines have diverted or cancelled flights due to bad weather but Aer Lingus has flown us on a bumpy flight, but with a professional and smooth landing, that can only be mastered by them! Luck O’ the Irish 😉
Iberia: I’ve only experienced them once on a flight from Lisbon to Madrid, although it was on one of their recently refurbished Long Haul A330 aircraft. It was nice, and pretty comfortable, especially for a short flight, but from reviews, their standard short-haul aircraft have very poor legroom. Furthermore, the buy on board menu was very expensive. I would fly with them again under the right price. No real issues.
Vueling: The Spanish low cost carrier. Notorious for abysmal legroom, yet they still manage to get the customers through an expansive route network. I flew with them on a late night flight from Gatwick to Paris CDG, and although it was slightly late, we had a good experience. Why? Because we were moved to row 3 at the front for weight distribution, which on this brand new A320 with Sharklets, had power ports and extra legroom. Furthermore, there were two drunk girls in front of us in Row 2 which were very rude to the crew, playing music out loud, and were pushing things to the limit. Extra credit to the crew, for just keeping things under control and not delaying the flight any further meaning a possible night stop in Gatwick, and just getting on with things.
Travel City Direct: I flew them way back to Florida when they had their own aircraft and flights, I flew on a 747 or ‘jumbo jet’ as I affectionately called it when I was younger. I don’t remember an awful lot, but the aircraft was old and only had that main projector in the middle to watch. Ah, the olden days! Furthermore, none of the headphones worked on the return flight which meant for quite a boring one, but overall, I didn’t really have much to say being so young! Now they are just a middle man for selling holidays and all their flights are done through Virgin Atlantic.
Icelandair: I flew with these guys only in 2016! I’ve been wanting to fly with them for a long time! Both flights were on-time which is always a positive. When we got on the aircraft (757-200) in Manchester, the APU was defective and so forth a very hot and uncomfortable flight ensued, made so much worse by my horrible cold at the time! Credit to the crew, they were open and honest, and the CC came round with free beverages around 6 times in the flight to ensure everyone was ok. It was very commendable for a 2 hour flight. On the return flight, check in at Keflavik’s self service airport was easy, followed by another flight on the same aircraft! (Luckily with the APU working now). Standard Icelandair flight with good entertainment options (Personal IFE). I didn’t purchase any food on the airline as the options are quite expensive. The return flight was essentially empty and I was offered a free upgrade to business, unfortunately I was with a college group and made the informed decision to stay with the group, which I regret to this day! Crew are friendly, they fly the 757 (My favourite aircraft), are generally on-time. No complaints, happy with them. Although there are cheaper options to Iceland!
Swiss: I have only ever flown Business Class on Swiss. They always offer a cheap upgrade which I can’t resist and is generally always worth the money paid for a non-status passenger. Their check-in is efficent, their lounge is full of great eating options, from curry to haribo! And it has plenty of seating! Their boarding process is quite disfunctional, but crew are friendly, legroom good, plenty of space and a full hot meal even on short secotrs! I have always been impressed by Swiss! And don’t forget that priority baggage, a necessity at Heathrow.
Thanks to everyone for reading my experiences of different airlines! Once again, comment down below if you have your own personal experiences you want to share 😀