Friday, August 12, 2005

The best thing about first class on America West

I got to fly America West on six flight legs in a week, a round trip between Oakland and Flagstaff and a one way trip from Oakland to Milwaukee. Thanks to my friend Joanne, the Milwaukee trip was first class. It turns out that first class doesn't get there any sooner, and the best thing is the Gourmet Snack Mix from King Nut. (Though King Nut sounds like people who would be going to my my high school class reunion.)

Another nice thing about sitting at the front of the plane is that you can hear the other passengers cussing about how they are never going to fly America West because their last flight was late, as if the flight attendants on their connecting flight can do anything about it. The FAA publishes on-time data for the airlines, and their airlines print the on-time percentage for their flights on your itinerary, so it seems unreasonable to me for anybody to be upset when a flight that is usually late turns out to be late the day they take it.

Not only is everything on America West just late enough to be annoying, but it is the kind of airline that forgets to load the breadsticks. But red wine goes well with brownies. Still it's not quite as good as the chocolate chip cookies on Midwest Express to all passengers, not just those in first class. But I guess Midwest charges for wine now that they're Midwest Airlines. I still think Midwest Express sounds better.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Why America West flights are always late

Flying on America West this weekend, I found it remarkable that they could have a bunch of things running ten to 15 minutes late. I actually did make it from Oakland to Flagstaff on time, but our flight leaving Oakland was late because our plane was about 15 minutes late coming from Las Vegas. This meant I had to run through the Phoenix airport to make my connection to Flagstaff. Once on the plane, it sat at the gate until it was 15 minutes past our departure time for no apparently good reason. But thanks to schedule padding and good wind, we arrived on time.

I thought to myself that ten to fifteen minute delays are a result of sloppiness and poor management more than anything else. Sure enough, I found this article in the Arizona Republic to support my hypothesis:

America West Airlines fell far short of its on-time goals in July, but the airline is going to give employees a bonus anyway.

Jeff McClelland, chief operating officer of the Tempe-based carrier, said in a memo to the airline's 14,000 workers Thursday that the $50 payout is a thank-you for their hard work in a summer of packed planes and record heat. The payments will be made next week.

So if it looks like you're working hard, that's more important than results. I hate jobs like that.

The most serious transportation problem on the trip was when BART was shut down for 20 minutes on Thursday morning because someone got onto the track between Bay Fair and San Leandro and BART Police had to chase them away.