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Cheers for domestic and international carriers: Fly the friendlier skies

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Photo: JetBlue
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on December 10, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, American, Continental, frequent flyer, fuel, JetBlue, Korean Air, legroom, low-cost airline, Midwest Airlines, Molly Feltner, onboard flight entertainment, security, Southwest.

You weren't all doom and gloom. All the legacy carriers and many of the low-cost and regional carriers earned at least one jeer from survey takers, but many of you also praised certain U.S. airlines, most notably Southwest, JetBlue, Midwest, and Continental.

Southwest

Although Southwest's status as the friendly low-fare airline may change due to recent changes in its boarding process and fare structure, the airline currently stands as one of your favorites:

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    "I fly Southwest only and the service is ALWAYS excellent"

    "The best experience is with Southwest. Friendly, good timing, easy check-in, etc."

JetBlue

JetBlue, which offers more legroom in coach than any other domestic airline, was singled out for its comfortable seating:

    "I found JetBlue to have the most comfortable and wider seats. My husband has never been comfortable on any airplane, but I've guaranteed him that once he flies JetBlue he won't want to fly anything else again!!!!"

Midwest

After being named the number one carrier in the country by Zagat for the sixth straight year, Midwest Airlines, not surprisingly, got high marks:

    "Midwest Airlines remains far above any other domestic airline."

    "Possibly the best airline in the air is Midwest Airlines. I am hoping they expand their routes."

Continental

Continental, OAG's Best Airline Based in North America four years running, was the only legacy airline to receive multiple compliments from respondents:

    "I always fly Continental and flying with them has been almost problem-free this year. They are also still serving meals (not just pretzels) on some flights, which is rare."

    "I had very pleasant experiences with Continental Airlines. Two gate agents and one station manager helped me on three separate trips. It was very surprising that they went out of their way, but there it was—nice people working for an airline."

International airlines

Amongst the flood of criticism for American carriers, respondents repeatedly lauded international airlines, both specific carriers and in general, as models for what U.S. airlines should be.

    "Flying with Korean Air was a reminder how good the service should be in our domestic airlines."

    "We now prefer to travel with foreign airlines. They give free food and beverages, including alcoholic drinks, and are friendlier."

    "Non-U.S. airlines give much better onboard service and are more efficient. U.S. airlines are very crowded, with few to no services."

Next year

We hope you'll have more positive news to report in 2008, but the airlines and the government have a lot of work to do to make sure next year is better than this one. Legal protection that empowers travelers, lower fuel prices, adequate airline and airport staffing, a new air traffic control system, and sensible security measures are all needed to help alleviate the problems of the air industry. Next year, we'll continue covering these topics, seeking your input on the issues, and searching for ways to help you get more out of your flying experiences.

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