The Airline Test

Here are some observations on my personal experience with three different airlines in July 2009.

At Qantas, they do not seem to stock copies of magazines aboard the aircraft, whether for domestic or international flights. This is a far cry from travel expectations on long haul flights or those above three hours in duration. Perhaps the current global financial crisis has dictated cuts in such basic services.
I did love the user-friendly navigation logic of Q on-board entertainment, better than that of Singapore Air (SIA). Your personal remote control for movies, audio and the like also rests in a more ergonomic way than that for either Malaysian Airlines (MAS) or SIA.

The stiff upper lip is still well alive and kicking in some Qantas cabin crew members - some individual staff members have perfected the art of saying goodbye or thank you to disembarking passengers by looking at the ceiling and not at the customers. However, the demographics of the Flying Kangaroo staff in the air are beginning to reflect the crowds on a Melbourne or Sydney CBD street. Although MAS crew are beginning to perhaps level the playing field by also smiling at non-Caucasian passengers, the best vibes of welcome for every customer are still sent by the beaming smiles of SIA cabin crew. The reality of joint code sharing between two or three airlines on a single consolidated flight may be the best thing to infuse the best of a service culture amongst airlines in alliance.

Qantas does not even print a menu booklet for some passenger sectors on domestic flights. On the other hand, the airline is conscientious to supply gluten-free, dairy free and organic stuff once you have made requests ahead of the flights.

The state of Qantas toilets made me think I was in some crowded city suburb. They no longer meet the standards met only ten years ago - wet, unkempt and perhaps not cleaned on a regular basis for flights of more than three hours.

I applied a simple test on the flights I took on the three airlines recently. This was me asking simply for a pack of playing cards. On the flight from Sydney to Perth, the Qantas crew member said they do not supply such things on domestic flights. From Perth to Singapore, they did not have stocks aboard. The MAS crew were so busy trying to serve rolls and drinks even on a 45 minute haul between the nearby cities of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. When I made the same request on the flight from Penang to Singapore, the lady instinctively gave me three packs instead, surpassing my expectations. And yes, I can confirm that SIA staff members politely look at you when talking to you - they take it to heart that they are in a service industry and business.

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