We all have our favorites.
Perhaps we got lucky and they treated us well.
Perhaps we have the glory of status and they have to treat us well.
Ultimately, though, many agree on which airlines aren’t so wonderful. Sadly, too many people think U.S. airlines aren’t the best.
The latest ranking of airlines around the world — ones that fly internationally — comes courtesy of AirHelp, a company that helps you get compensation when an airline owes you.
It ranked the airlines across on-time performance, quality of service, online consumer sentiment and, quite naturally, claim processing.
I squint down the Top 10 list. I see Qatar at the top. I see no U.S. airlines.
But I’m an optimist. So I go to the next airlines on the list, the 11-20s.
I see Hungary’s Wizz Air. I see Italy’s Air Dolomiti. I see no U.S. airlines.
It’s not until I reach number 23 that I see American Airlines.
It’s not until number 37 that I see United Airlines.
It’s not until number 47 that I see Delta Air Lines.
This, says AirHelp, puts United and Delta in the bottom 50 percent of airlines worldwide.
Naturally, such rankings enjoy their own skewings and subjectivities.
At heart, though, when you travel around the world, how often do you hear people from other countries say how much they admire U.S. airlines?
Yes, they make jokes about their own country’s airlines, especially when those airlines’ employees go on strike.
Too often, though, U.S. airlines have the same image as U.S. cars. They suffer from a lack of imagination and a severe lack of the human touch.
Of course, many of the world’s airlines are, just like their U.S. counterparts, occasionally frightened of budget competitors.
Some creep toward becoming a touch indistinguishable from those budget airlines.
Yet still these surveys come out and all too often rank U.S. airlines poorly.
Why, there are budget airlines here ranking far higher than any from the U.S. Norwegian Air, for example, comes 12th. The UK’s FlyBe leaps in at number 14.
I contacted American, United and Delta for their reaction. The first two didn’t immediately respond.
A Delta spokesman told me, however: “While survey methodologies may vary, what remains consistent is Delta’s industry-leading operational performance, customer service and complaints. All of which is the result of the hard work of Delta people.
Of course, these U.S. airlines have been happy with the profits they’re making. Indeed, American’s CEO Doug Parker insists that American will never make a loss again.
But might at least some of the big U.S. airlines have something to gain from improving their service?
I confess that when I’m flying across the Atlantic, for example, I wouldn’t even consider flying a U.S. airline.
There are certain touches that many European airlines offer that simply make them better. Attitude is certainly one of these things.
Perhaps, though, the U.S. airlines don’t really care about their images so much.
As long as the money gets made, they’re happy.
Coincidentally, the International Air Transport Association just lowered its profit forecast for 2018.
Even so, almost half of the world’s airlines’ profits are expected to come from, oh, U.S. airlines.