The worst plane ride I have ever been on with bad seats, literally walk forever to get to the gate, and no pillows.
In reality, they are all a necessary evil - they all suck!
All the passengers were instructed to go to baggage claim, re-claim our bags, then pick up a transportation voucher for a cab ride to LAX, where we would catch our flight to PHX.
After a 50 minute ride, we started arriving at LAX and the USAirways reps did not understand why we were there. After trying to explain it to them and telling them to contact USAirways at BUR, they decided to let us through security with out BUR boarding passes. Of course they did not tell security this information immediately.
Then we all get to the gate, at which they decide to re-issue the boarding passes so they all say LAX-PHX. Meanwhile the clock is ticking for all of us to catch the final connections from PHX.
Needless to say, everyone missed their connections, and after an argument with the agents, we all got hotel rooms. The next morning I was on a flight and arrived only 6 hours later than originally scheduled.
I have had a habit of flying airlines that would end up going defunct. My first trip to Florida was on Pan-Am. My subsequent trips were on Eastern. When Eastern disappeared, I flew TWA everywhere. I now happily fly jetblue, so they better watch out.
I feel that the airlines, for the most part, are all adequate. There are inherent problems with the industry that befall all the carriers. However, for the most part, they get the job done.
Any time I can, I avoid flying. Air Canada has a track record with our family. We fly at least once a year with them, and with the exception of one vacation, they have screwed up every time. They almost always lose our luggage. Their flights are almost always delayed.
Sometimes, when we fly in January or February, one of the engines freezes or the wings will have too much frost for takeoff. We're in Canada, damnit, don't they have methods for preventing this?
Once they emergency-landed the plane because a kid dropped his iPod in the toilet, asked a stewardess for help, and they thought it was a terrorist threat.
I generally flew Air Tran and Southwest from Orlando to the Baltimore/DC Metro Area and I can't really complain. They're both budget carriers and as long as you go in with budget expectations, you'll be fine.
At the time my youngest was under 2 years old and we were to fly out of an airport whose policy is that you should be there at least 90mins early. I live 45 mins from the airport so I would have to have left my house around 4:30am. I called Delta to explain that this was unacceptable and they told me there was a 12:01pm flight that they could move me to...3 minutes later than my original flight. Luckily we switched.
So I asked them why they didn't notify me and they told me it was their policy to wait until about 30 days before the flight before they notify you. I kept checking and noticed that about 2 weeks after I switched my booking that the flight was full. Had I waited for them to notify me I would have had no choice but to take the early am flight.
I asked why they wouldn't have moved me to the flight 3 mins later and they said since my original flight was in the AM that the system automatically re-books another AM flight...I have flown Southwest in the 4 flights I've taken to FLA since.
While I am not a fan of Air Tran, the tickets were still very affordable. I got what I paid for I guess, but when you don't pay much, don't expect much.
I would go ballistic if I saw some schmoe baggage handler throwing around a guitar of mine like that. In fact it's likely that I would be detained for being a "terrorist threat" in the terminal while I "talked" to management. The solution for this band? Shockproof foam lined flight cases instead of regular cases. Of course I'm sure that they've already looked into that by now. Better to make things idiot-proof and save the aggravation.
I wonder if United responded to this at all.
I do, however, have an Airtran horror story. I was flying from Tampa to Portland, ME around Memorial Day weekend a couple of years ago, and we had to switch in Baltimore. Our flight up was on a Thursday. We made it to Baltimore just fine, but thanks to a 20min rainstorm, our flight out to Portland was delayed for a couple of hours and then eventually cancelled. Airtran said they'd rebook us.
We ended up renting a car and driving the rest of the way to Maine, and after lots of complaining, got reimbursed for the rental as well as refunded our leg from Baltimore to Portland.
From now on, if I'm flying to Maine (where my family is from) from FL, I will do my best to get a direct flight. Jetblue and Airtran sometimes have them, but it's seasonal.