International airlines: Compare and contrast.

8 11 2011

photo credit Sean MacEntee

Over the last almost three decades I have managed to get in a little bit of travelling. Not a lot. Not nearly enough, but some.

This is my opinion and experience of the various airlines we have flown internationally with, keeping in mind that some of these assessments date back to the mid-1980s.

1985: British Airways. I flew from Australia to London via Singapore and Bahrain, and return. Five minutes out of Perth I spilled my rum and coke (I was young, I didn’t know better than to mix spirits with coke), which wasn’t replaced. Bahrain was a refuelling stop at which we were disembarked to walk up and down the airport in front of the armed guards, then frisked before returning to the plane. (Female passengers were frisked by a female officer out of sight of the men.) My first flight – sad I know. Generally OK.

1994: Air New Zealand, to New Zealand and back. Upgraded courtesy of a friend’s frequent flyer points and sat in first class on the way back. Poached salmon, champagne from a real glass, with real china and cutlery. Fabulous!

Dumping fuel into the Indian Ocean - the beginning of a saga

1995: Qantas, Australia to Harare. Return journey via Johannesburg. Halfway across the Indian Ocean we had an engine failure. The pilot dumped fuel into the ocean (I have a photo of it somewhere) and turned back to Perth, where we sat on the tarmac waiting for a new engine to be sourced. For nineteen hours. In our airplane seats. The cricket was in Perth and apparently every hotel room was booked. Eventually they found somewhere and bussed us an hour out of town so we could have four hours sleep, then get bussed back to the airport. Only to find they had lost someone, so they need to unpack the luggage and removed that person’s suitcase. By this stage we were zombies, too tired even to complain. Yes, it was better than crashing.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, from the air

1995: Air Zimbabwe. Between Harare and Nairobi, and Harare to the Victoria Falls. First experience with this airline, the back of the seat in front of me came off in my hands. Hmmm. So long as nothing else falls off. However on the flight to Victoria Falls, we had left our tickets in the hotel room. By the time we got back to the airport with the tickets we had missed our flight so they put us on the next flight. There were apparently some dignitaries on board so as we arrived at Victoria, they got permission to do a couple of circuits over the falls. Spectacular views of the falls from the air! BYO food, if you are hungry.

1997: Singapore Airlines. Australia to Cairo via Singapore. Very very tall, very very slender air hostesses. Excellent service, complimentary Singapore Slings.

1997: Air Egypt. Various places within Egypt including Cairo to Abu Simbel. Like Air Zimbabwe, these planes appear to be a little worse for wear, but generally no problems. I believe it was also BYO food. Short flights, got there without incident, happy.

1998: Singapore Airlines. Australia to Orlando, Florida. Again, great service, very elegant staff. Still the days before personal electronics in the back of the seat, but all survivable.

1998: Some US airline, the memory of the name escapes me. We flew from Orlando to LA, via Washington. I know, not a very direct route. Anyway, it turns out it was Thanksgiving and the plane was almost empty so they let us have a row of seats each and served us the first-class meals, turkey and champagne. Very nice. Given a preference, I would fly every trip lying down. Sigh.

2011: Singapore Airlines. Australia to Paris and return. Again, excellent service, free Singapore Slings. Full electronics in the back of the seat kept the kids (and us all) occupied. Not quite sure why we had to be woken at 3am local time on the return flight, particularly when the children were so difficult to get to sleep in the first place.

2011: Air France. Paris to Naples. Children disappointed that they didn’t have the electronic games that the international flights had. They have already become connoisseurs of international airlines, it would seem.

All in all, no serious incidents, certainly no crashes (touch wood). A lot of discomfort, but some serious long-haul flights were accomplished.

I seriously need some more comparisons…..




4 responses

9 11 2011
Foreign Exchange « Mud Map to Life in the Modern Age

[…] In about 1995 we travelled to Kenya. Due to an engine failure halfway across the Indian Ocean, a diversion, a nineteen hour wait at Perth airport followed by a mad rush to make sure we still made all of connecting flights in Africa, we arrived in Kenya exhausted, jet-lagged and generally very sub-standard. (The story is expanded here.) […]

10 11 2011
Six reasons why an International Driver’s Licence is a waste of time « Mud Map to Life in the Modern Age

[…] you enjoyed this post, you might like some of my other travel posts: Caves of Lascaux International Airlines: Compare and Contrast Sorrento – an afterthought A childhood dream Tom Tom Abroad Share […]

17 11 2011

Think I’ve booked with Singapore AL for India trip- awesome!

17 11 2011

We really liked Singapore – children loved the individual back of seat electronics – movies, tv shows and games. Enjoy!

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