Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A Tale of Two Airlines

I had to take two long flights last week. One on Alaskan Airlines and one on Nortwestern Airlines. I've long had a deep dislike for Northwest. In my extensive experience-I once lived in one of their hub cities-their planes were the oldest; their Flight Attendants (FA's) the ugliest; and their In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) the poorest. It richly deserved its reputation as "Northworst Airlines." Alaskan Airlines, in contrast, has an excellent reputation. I was thus dreading my long transatlantic flight from Amsterdam, and looking forward to my Alaskan Airlines flight to the West Coast. Boy, was I wrong.

Alaskan Airlines, I discovered, does not deign to serve its transcontinental passengers anything resembling a full meal. All we got on a 6 hour flight was a crappy sandwich. The IFE comes as a small portable DVD player that costs 10 bucks. But the particular feature of the Airline that pissed me off was the little Christian verse they include on each meal tray. I know this is America, where God-fearing zealots control the government. But inflicting Christianity on a captive audience of fee-paying passengers is just too much.

Northwest Airlines has finally bought some new planes. The planes they run on their domestic routes are still for the most part cruddy. But my transatlantic flight from Amsterdam was on a new A330 Airbus. More importantly. Northwest now has the best IFE currently available in Coach. You get to choose from about a dozen movies that you can play, pause, and rewind at your own pleasure. The wine was free; and the food wasn't bad either.

UPDATE: Here's some more from a column in Salon last year on Alaskan Airlines' Infliction of Christianity:

If you're inclined to send a complaint Alaska's way, be prepared for the following:

"The meal prayer card has been a simple tradition on our flights for over 20 years. The quotes have application across many Judeo-Christian beliefs and are shared as a gesture of thanks which reflect the beliefs of this country's founding as in the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, Pledge of Allegiance and every U.S. coin and dollar you handle. Alaska Airlines is an international carrier with very diverse customers, and we have no intentions of offending anyone or their beliefs. An overwhelming majority of our customers have indicated they appreciate the gesture, and those who don't are not forced to read it. We do appreciate hearing from you, and look forward to welcoming you on board another flight in the future."

Site Feed