Air Tran Among the Tops in Airline Service – Really?

Boy does that get my goat!

The Annual Airline Quality Rating Report was released yesterday. Now, I don’t fly very often but when I do fly, I like to know how the carriers stack up in quality of service so each year when this particular study is released, I pay attention. My old standbys from days gone by – Continental, American, even Delta – can’t compete with the newer low-cost airlines, the Jet Blues of the world, including Orlando-based Air Tran…and where it ended up on the list is what shocks me the most. Let me tell you my Air Tran story.

Last summer, I flew Air Tran from Raleigh-Durham to Los Angeles by way of Atlanta (maybe THAT was the trouble?) for a fundraiser I was co-hosting. The flight from RDU to ATL was an hour late so when we touched down in Atlanta, I was going to miss my connection to LAX by a mere 11 minutes. That in itself didn’t make me happy but when I went to reschedule for the next available flight, there wasn’t a seat to be had until a flight for LA scheduled two hours later! If you do the math, I’m now 3 hours behind. So, I waited. Once boarded on the new flight out, we then waited another 45 minutes on the tarmac before we could lift off. I usually expect that in Atlanta so I wasn’t surprised but still, again, do the math. I’m now 3 hours 45 minutes behind schedule.

And that was the flight out. The return wasn’t much better.

I was supposed to fly out at 10:05pm Pacific time. The flight didn’t leave until nearly 12:30am (over two hours later). Again, this meant that I was going to miss my connection so when I finally arrived in Atlanta, I discovered the next available connection that which I could actually be scheduled on was twelve hours later. Imagine me at this point, fuming at the fact that I may have to sit in an airport for 12 more hours never mind that I had waited over 2 hours for the flight from LAX to ATL to begin with. Again, do the math. That would make it 14 hours total waiting in an airport. I shouldn’t have to wait that long, especially when there are several alternatives available, including another carrier if needed. But, was I going to pay a one-way ticket on another carrier? Oh hell no! The only other choice I had was to fly stand-by on each flight going out from the time I arrived in Atlanta until the time of my newly scheduled connection. I did. It took two different connections before I was finally called for a stand-by seat. I lucked out but still, that’s not the point.

By now, if you haven’t discovered where the frustration lies, you are missing the boat…or in this case… the flight!

The Airline Quality Report is based on four elements – on-time arrivals, involuntary denied boardings, mis-handled baggage, and a combination of 12 customer complaint categories (courtesy of USA Today). My flight pattern definitely fell under the (not) on-time arrivals category and probably a few of the “12 customer complaint” categories. Thankfully, I only had carry-on baggage the entire experience so I didn’t have to worry about mis-handled baggage but could you imagine? My bags (on the way back, especially) could’ve ended up in Fargo, North Dakota! Ok, maybe that’s stretching it.

Needless to say, I will never fly Air Tran again; not at that risk. Yet, I have friends that swear by the airline but I tell ya what – it’s like going to a restaurant. If your service is bad the first time around, do you go back? I don’t. Give me a good experience (it doesn’t have to be perfect) and I’ll give you my business. Simple as that! Air Tran…not good. In fact I would say it was downright horrible. I think you get the picture.

How ’bout you? Ever have a bad flying experience? Leave a comment and maybe I’ll use your thoughts in a future post.

Smiles,

Lisa 🙂

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