Wednesday, March 14, 2007

US Airline Woes

Delta used to be my favourite airline. Their BusinessElite seating was one of the best some years back. I thought they had the best Frequent Flyer program and also the best selection of wines. Their lounges are among the best I have seen in the USA (of course, they are still way behind if you compare the local airline lounges in Singapore and Hong Kong).

But times have changed. While the Asian airlines thrive and keep upgrading cabins and service-offerings every year, the large US airlines (United, Delta, Continental, Northwest) have been trying to stay afloat. The last six months seem to have been good and profitable; however, I think they still have a long way to go before they can compete with the Asian airline companies. Here's an article from USA Today that discusses the troubling signs.

The average age of planes owned by the big four American airlines varies between 17-11 years! The problem is, even if the US airlines find money to upgrade their fleet, the only two suppliers of airplanes - Boeing and Airbus - have an order backlog all the way to 2010. And guess who's been ordering planes by the dozen all this time:the burgeoning airlines in India, China, Middle-East and Far-East Asia.

I flew to Orlando and back with my family on Delta with mixed feelings knowing I may not fly with them again any time soon.

BTW, when you fly business on Delta, they usually put you on First Class in the local US connections; I don't know of other airlines that do this. On the negative side, most Delta flights from India connect via Paris, which is probably the worst airport in Europe!

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