The Best and Worst American Airlines of 2012

With the year 2012 coming to a close, and not speaking in apocalyptic terms if you’re into that thing, the annual holiday season is in full gear. You know what that means – more people are flying, and ticket prices are climbing. And because it’s the holidays the last thing flyers want are delayed/cancelled flights, lost baggage, and poor customer service. So, which airlines can we trust? Let’s find out.

If you plan on traveling to the eastern or midwestern United States, consider flying AirTran. They only received the best AQR (Airline Quality Rating) score for the year. With its main hub located in Atlanta, Georgia at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, AirTran has the best reputation for handling baggage, “with only 1.63 instances occurring per thousand passengers.” [1]

Before we continue let us first understand what Airline Quality Rating means. A statistical study conducted jointly by Dr. Dean Headley, professor at Wichita State University and Dr. Brent Bowen, professor at Purdue University, AQR scores are based on 15 elements in four major areas that focus on airline performance aspects important to air travel consumers. These areas include on-time arrivals, involuntary denied boards, mishandled baggage, and a combination of 12 customer complaint categories. [5]

The second best airline title goes to Hawaiian Airlines, who performed well in all four criteria. Their most reputable quality is getting people to their destination on time. “The highest of all the airlines surveyed, the airline had 92.8 percent or flights arrive on-time last year.” [1] Not only that, but Hawaiian airlines has never had a fatal accident in its entire 83 year history – making it the oldest US carrier to hold such a distinction. [2]

Besides having a few publicized incidents involving one emergency landing and one panic attack ridden Captain, JetBlue was ranked 3rd best airline by US news. The airline was able to lower the number of customer complaints, and they also have an extremely low denied boarding rate. [1] Their slogan says it all, “You above all.”

The best major carrier airline goes to Alaska Airlines. In the last year they’ve garnered a high on-time rate, and low number of denied boardings. Another plus?–this marks the fifth consecutive year that Alaska Airlines has won the J.D. Power Award; an award based on customer satisfaction, product quality, and buyer behavior. [3]

Plan on traveling with your pets? Then it’s probably best to avoid Delta Airlines. Though they received fewer costumer complaints this year, Delta is “responsible for the highest number of in-flight pet deaths in 2011.” [1] However, Delta had denied any animal mishandling and reported that several pets had medical issues prior to flight, some had to be euthanized after self inflicted injuries in their carriers, and one dog died before boarding due to respiratory complications. [4] The moral of this story? Get your pet checked out by a veterinarian and familiarize your animal with their carrier before your trip.

US Airways’ AQR score dropped due to fewer on-time arrivals, mishandled baggage, and customer complaint rates. At least they managed to reduce the number of denied boardings. Though, it may be safe to say US Airways has had it worse. Do you recall the flight from New York that made an emergency landing in the Hudson River, because a bird went through one of the engines, causing dual engine failure? Yeah, that was US Airways.

To see the complete list of America’s Best and Worst Airlines of 2012, just click this link:


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What the Flight Attendant is Thinking About You When…

…you can’t figure out the lavatory door.
“It says PUSH; clear as day.”

…you stand up to use the bathroom but you’re trapped by the beverage cart.
“This thing weighs nearly 300 pounds, you can’t wait five minutes?”

…you push the call button at inappropriate times; like when they ask if a doctor is on board, before running down the aisle with the first aid kit.
“Not the best time to ask for an extra bag of pretzels.”

…you don’t have a diaper for your child.
“Well, there are sterile pads in the first aid kit!”

…you poke or grab them as they walk past your seat.
“Would you grab your waitress? There is this thing called the CALL button.”

…you leave your carry on hanging out of the overhead bin because you just can’t figure how to make it fit.
“Yes, I would love to solve the complex jigsaw puzzle you’ve created.”

…you come up to them and tattle.
“They’re not sharing the arm rest? Unfortunately, doubling as a preschool teacher does not come with my salary.”

…you don’t acknowledge them.
“We greet and bid farewell to hundreds of travelers every day. Why do only a few of you show us the same courtesy?”

Source: A big thanks to Reader’s Digest for supplying this great read –

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Everyday Items You Can’t Bring on the Airplane

Remember the time when you could sneak all the Mountain Dew you wanted past TSA; and you didn’t have to undress to your skivvies; and your friends and family would join you at your gate for one final farewell? It’s getting harder and harder to remember those days. That is if you can remember the last time you flew prior to 9/11.

And though it’s been 11 years and everyone is well aware how drastically airport security has changed since then, it’s still easy to overlook and forget what is to be expected of us. And that expectation lies in what we bring on board. TSA will give you a seemingly endless list of prohibited items, many which pertain to the category of concealed weapons and fireworks, but what about our everyday items? What about my hairspray? My shampoo? My cold medicine?

Let’s sort this out right now – here are the biggest “no-no’s” when it comes to packing your carry-on:
– Razors
– Nail clippers
– Nail files
– Pocket knives
– Eating utensils
– Cigarette lighters
– Liquids/Gels/Aerosols

But, one of the biggest “no-no’s” also happens to be the most befuddling – Liquids/Gels/Aerosols. If you only plan on taking a carry-on to your destination, you should know all of the rules and regulations that come with your decision in order to pass TSA with flying colors. You don’t want to be stuck at security having to throw away all of your toiletries saying, “What? These rules have been in effect for eleven years?!”

When it comes to L/G/A, it has to be in a 3.4 ounce or smaller container. I know what you’re thinking, “but I can roll up my tube of toothpaste and make it look like there’s only 3 ounces!” Yes, because TSA was born yesterday. Sorry, but it’s best to take a travel sized.

But I’m sick and need to take cough medicine! Again, TSA regulates you can take 100ml or 3.4 ounces worth of liquid or gel medication. If you’re extra paranoid TSA will confiscate it, ask your doctor to write out your prescription, and notify your airline before departure. What about other prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, you ask? These are exceptions, as is baby formula.

And to make it less of a headache for all, try to fit all of your small liquid containers into one, quart-sized, zip-top bag. Travelers must remove these items from their carry-on and place them in a bin for x-ray screening.

So if you plan on taking larger quantities of L/G/A, you will have to pack them and check your luggage. Or you could always purchase what you need after the screening checkpoint.

For international flyers, there is one everyday item that airlines encourage you to bring – a pen, for like, filling out your customs form. That’s kind of like forgetting to bring your pencil to school. You should know better by now.


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America’s Best and Worst Airports

Based on an airport survey conducted by Travel and Leisure, they asked readers to rate America’s 22 major airports in seven categories: “flight delays; design; amenities; food and drink; check-in and security; service; and transportation and location.” [1] Many of the worst garble up the same complaints: poor design and chronic delays. The opposite is true for those ranked best. Many have refurbished old terminals and added amenities for flyers – like Charlotte, who also garnered top marks for WiFi access. Let’s see who made, or didn’t make the cut.

According to readers, the worst state to fly to and from is New York. La Guardia and JFK both made the worst list. La Guardia was readers least favorite, failing in the categories of design, check-in and security and amenties. [2]

And if you’re looking to avoid a bad flying experience all together, readers suggest you bypass Philadelphia and Los Angeles Int’l. Both are hindered by their “outdated infrastructure, overcrowding, chronic delays, and demoralized staff.” [3]

The airport ranked best for on-time departures? Baltimore. And chances are you won’t wait long in TSA lines; readers rank Baltimore 4th in check-in and security. [1]

For those parents traveling with children, ensure your family trip to Disney World will be fantastic by flying to Orlando. Ranked No.4 best overall, readers find Orlando to be the best airport to pass the time – ranking it No.3 in WiFi access, No. 2 for shopping, and No. 1 for their kids’ zones and luggage trolleys. [1]

But Minneapolis wins the title for America’s Best Airport. Readers love the options at this mini-mall of an airport, and also gave it high marks for design and cleanliness, baggage handling, staff communication, and airport location. Minneapolis also takes the No. 1 spot for ease of check-in and security. [1] So, is there a catch? Well, readers did rank it 11th with their lack of WiFi offerings. [3] But hey, you can’t have it all, can you?

For a full list of winners and losers please see below. And happy travels to you, wherever you may be going!

1. Minneapolis (MSP)
2. Charlotte (CLT)
3. Detroit Metropolitan (DTW)
4. Orlando (MCO)
5. San Fraoncisco (SFO)
6. Baltimore (BWI)
7. Las Vegas (LAS)
8. Seattle (SEA)
9. Denver (DEN)
10. Miami International (MIA)
11. Phoenix (PHX)

1. La Guardia (LGA)
2. Los Angeles (LAX)
3. Philadelphia (PHL)
4. New York (JFK)
5. Newark (EWR)
6. Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
7. Washington Dulles (IAD)
8. Boston (BOS)
9. Houston (IAH)
10. Atlanta (ATL)
11. Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)



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Top 10 Tips for Air Travel

All your bags are packed, you’re ready to go, a taxi is waiting outside your door… Now you’re ready for air travel! But you still have a ways until you reach your destination, with the possibility of hick-ups that could damper your trip. Want to hear how to turn your flying adventure into smooth sailing? Then check out these ten tips to improve your air travel experience.

10] Have all of your documents prepared. Be certain that the name on your reserved ticket is how it appears on your ID card and, if you’re flying abroad, keep that passport handy. For some countries, you’ll need a visa. And for others, you’ll need at least two blank pages available in your passport for clearance. [3] Know where you’re flying to and what their regulations are. You don’t want to be stuck stateside when you’ve been planning your tropical getaway for months.

9] RSVP a good seat. If you’re riding coach, don’t get stuck in the middle! Choose your seats in advance in an area of the plane that offers more leg more. This will improve your flying more astronomically. Where’s the best place to sit? In an aisle seat near the back of the plane; you just might get a seat with no one sitting next to you. [2]

8] When it comes to your luggage, make it stand out from the others. US Airways customer-service supervisor Chris Gossner advises, “When passengers use the ribbons and bows, they can be torn off in the transporting process.” [1] Instead, opt out for the typical black, and pick a bright colored or patterned luggage. Now you’ll spend less time gawking at baggage claim.

7] Organize your carryon to make it checkpoint friendly. If you plan on bringing an array of electronics, keep them together in one layer; for snacks, another layer. This way, when it’s your turn to clear security, you’ll spend less time rummaging through your bag, and so will the TSA. “When things are tossed in haphazardly or jumbled together, we spend more time determining what they are [from the X-ray] and have to manually check bags,” says TSA spokesperson, Sterling Payne. [1] Besides, we don’t want to be those people holding everyone else up, do we?

6] Double check your bags before you leave for the airport. No one wants to get held up at security because they innocently forgot about the nail clippers hiding in the side pocket of their luggage!

5] BYOB – bring your own blanket. Those airline blankets appear clean in new when tucked into a sleeve of plastic, but former US Airways flight attendant, Sarah Scott says to, “steer clear of the blankets and pillows. They’re only washed when they look dirty.” [1] Good thing the Wings Flying Hoodie is made of 100% cotton and comes with a detachable inflatable pillow. Now you’ll stay warm and the neck support will help you obtain better in flight sleep.

4] Stow your carryon near your seat. No matter how tempting it is to throw your bag in the first overhead compartment you pass, just, don’t. People will then be forced to migrate down the plane for an open bin. This only slows down the already slow process of boarding and de-boarding the plane.

3] Whoops, you missed your connecting flight and now there’s a line of angry flyers crowding the desk agent. You’re probably better off calling your airline’s 1-800 number. You’ll be able to speak with someone faster and someone less frazzled than that poor desk agent. [3]

2] Ask for help. You’d be surprised how more quickly you can reach your destination when you simply ask for help. Does security look backed up? Ask someone if there’s any additional lines you can go through. Was your flight cancelled and you’re stuck at the airport all night? Most airlines should offer complimentary hotel room for your inconvenience. Ask any desk agent with your airline what your options are.

1] Above all else, remain calm. Children will cry, flights will be delayed or cancelled, over bookings will occur – but try to roll with the punches. Courtesy and a smile will get you much further, and quicker, than a short temper. Have a pleasant flight!


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