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Raving, Not Ranting, About Air Travel

Carol Sottili

We're all used to the travails of flying. Delays, cramped planes, random fees, missed connections -- you know the drill.

But it may not be a bad idea to share when things go right. Last week, I flew to San Jose, Costa Rica from Reagan National, connecting in Houston, on Continental Airlines. And it all not only went like clockwork, I felt as if I had been transported back in time.

The airline fed us on each leg of the flight, for free, in economy, and the food wasn't bad. From DCA to Houston, we got Honeynut Cheerios with 2 percent milk and a ripe banana. From Houston to Costa Rica, it was a fajita wrap with fresh chips and M&Ms. We watched a movie, "Diminished Capacity", which was $1 if you needed to buy headsets, or free if you had your own. On the way back, we got a breakfast sandwich with fresh mango on the San Jose to Houston leg, and a turkey sandwich with chips on the Houston-DCA flight. And I finally got to see "WALL-E."

The flights, which came complete with smiling flight attendants, reminded me of days past, when travel by air was just a little bit special. I was glad I didn't wear sweat pants.

By Carol Sottili |  November 17, 2008; 7:53 AM ET  | Category:  Air Travel , Carol Sottili , Monday Raves
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I know they've had their problems, but I want to rave again about an experience I had on US Air last year. On a flight from DCA to Orlando, I had an awful stomach ache, which later turned out to be a ruptured appendix. The flight wasn't full, so the flight attendant moved the passenger across from us to first class so I could lay down across three seats, brought me a damp towel for my forehead, and was in general a wonderful and caring person.

I've written to the airline's head honchos to let them know how that one good experience wiped out any number of minor delays and inconveniences. It would be nice to think that the way I was treated was in line with company policy, and not just because I was lucky enough to have that particular flight attendant. I'm sure it was the latter, but I hope stories like this will make the airlines review those policies.

Posted by: crunchyfrog | November 17, 2008 8:42 AM

I'll throw a plug in for USAir as well. A couple of years ago we were flying home from Myrtle Beach to Denver with our two kids on a code share through United, so we weren't able to reserve seats. Both flights were full and the gate agent went above and beyond to get us two sets of two seats together.

Posted by: dennis5 | November 17, 2008 9:40 AM

wait, why not sweatpants? There's no reason to not be comfortable while you get good service, that's the lesson of the last 30 years of evolution in the service sector.

Thankfully most things are "no jacket required" even for world-class service. Though old people still seem to artificially correlate formalness of dress to quality, go figure...

Posted by: omarsidd | November 17, 2008 12:09 PM

Funny, I've done quite a number of flights - about 15 (cross-country and Europe) - and I have never encountered a rude flight attendant or counter person. If the planes left late, they all made up the time in-flight. I've never had a complaint outside of a couple bags that were roughed up a bit. (Hmmmm, I hope I haven't cursed myself!)

Posted by: charlie62 | November 17, 2008 1:17 PM

omarsidd: I don't think that Carol, traveled in a cocktail dress, or wore clothes that were uncomfortable for her. Personally I think sweatpants are OK, if you are going to the laundry room in an apartment complex. But I would never even think of going to a convenience store wearing them. Is it really that uncomfortable to wear regular clothes, when out in public? I'm only 45.

Posted by: rja112 | November 18, 2008 12:56 AM

Also in response to omarsidd's post, I didn't get the impression that Carol felt she wouldn't have had such great service if she'd been in sweatpants. I don't think she meant you have to dress in a suit every time you travel, but IMHO, dressing sloppily shows a lack of respect for both yourself and others around you, and I take this into consideration especially when I travel, almost as a way of expressing appreciation for good service (that I hope to receive). Besides, as rja112 said, comfy and neat don't have to be polar opposites. I'm in my mid-30's.

Posted by: nonfrequentflyer | November 18, 2008 10:27 AM

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