Everyone talks about bad airline service. But what about good service?

The nation’s newspapers, web bloggers, and airwaves are full of stories about the plummeting state of flying. Every day, my e-mail in-box fills with airline horror stories. So I wonder: am I the luckiest person in world? For me, air travel is not that bad.

I’ve flown 132,000 air miles this year, and on balance, my inconvenience factor has been relatively low. (In fact, I find navigating the Southern California freeway system much more stressful.) And after a recent Sunday in Las Vegas betting on losing football teams, I can certainly eliminate the chance that I’m just lucky.

In view of my betting misfortunes, I must surmise that I am doing something right. So what’s that? I’m choosing quality travel partners that know the meaning of service.

Here’s an example. Moments into my flight last week, the pilot informed us that we were going to be delayed due to a small aircraft landing without its landing gear. As the Cessna 172 was being cleared, flight attendants served refreshments in both first class and coach. Not only that, they also served free drinks. To everyone. In both cabins, passengers were treated to complimentary wine, beer, or cocktails. During our taxiway delay, the pilot updated our status every 15 minutes. Best of all, even with the delay we only arrived at our destination 10 minutes late.

This brilliant experience is the polar opposite of what those daring souls flying discounters endure. The most horrendous stories come from passengers who have been delayed or inconvenienced. Discount airlines offer little in the way of remorse or compensation. (And yes, these customers are getting exactly what they paid for.)

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of fight delays on full-service airlines without any added compensation. But they’ve been mostly due to weather—something no one can control—short in duration, and very few in number.

Based on my own experiences, I can’t understand the hullabaloo over the demise of air service. Yes, it is fashionable and certainly in-vogue to bully up on the airlines. But come on, I can’t be the only person getting quality airline service.

The secret to my providential service in the air is my strict adherence to seeking quality travel providers and maintaining loyalty.

If you think the airline industry has lost touch with its customers, maybe you should give it a try.
Joel Widzer is the author of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel—2nd Edition, a guidebook on traveling in high style at budget-friendly prices.