Air Travel Sucks (by BBFinance)

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Air travel sucks

As the US stock markets are closed on Monday, we can take the queue from the futures and Asian / European markets about the coming week. In any case, it is expected to be a red week. January option expiration, MLK week and mid-January seasonality, all points to a lower direction. And in any case, markets are over bought, over extended and need to be corrected. So at least for the next week I am bearish.

Since there is not much of analysis to do, I thought I will take this opportunity to write about various airlines which  I have had the fortune / misfortune of flying with. I travel a lot. So I have come across various airlines and sometimes it seems to me that the airlines are micro chromosomes of the countries where they come from. They represent the culture and economy of the originating country.

On a long haul, I would definitely prefer to avoid any American airliner. Be it American Airlines, Delta or United. These airlines treat their customers as dirt. The crews are mostly unhelpful and rude. Foods served are stale and positively unimaginative. At the end of flight, one is just plain happy that the ordeal has ended. No wonder these airlines cannot make money. I fly often between Toronto and Boston and even when it cost me more money, I fly by Air-Canada and avoid United or Delta like plague. I am not sure what is wrong with these American Airlines or why the staffs are so grumpy always or so unhelpful. They think they are doing us a favour by allowing us to fly with them. Arrogance and incompetence drip all over. But I do not think they really represent America. Or do they?

If I am flying to Far East, my favourite airlines are Singapore Airlines or Kathy Pacific. I prefer them over Korean or Japanese airlines. If I am flying to India, I would prefer Air India or Jet Airways. Air India is good when it takes off. The problem is, more often than not we are not sure if it will take off. If I am flying to Middle East, I would prefer Emirates over Etihad Airlines.

While flying to Europe, my favourite is Lufthansa followed by KLM. I do not understand why British Airlines charge more than other European Airlines because their service is not that great. I absolutely despise Air-France or Alitalia. Folks there are absolutely arrogant and revolting. At least you can expect food to be little better in Air-France but Alitalia is a looser in all counts. If you have the misfortune of flying with Alitalia, you might think that Italy is the armpit of Europe. The airports also say a lot about the country you are flying to.

The airport in New Delhi is one of the nicest and finest I have come across. It goes to show that India is trying to change for better. Changi airport in Singapore is also great and so is the Hong Kong airport. The Abu Dhabi airport is oh so average. But Milan airport represents a third world country twenty years back. It seems that Italy as a country has some serious identity problem. They know that they have lost it but unwilling to accept the truth. It is surprising that except Frankfort or Holland airport; most of the airports in Europe are stuck in the past. May be that’s what is the problem with Europe. They are stuck in their past. Even the regional airports in China are better than most of the major European airports.

For a business traveler, flying is the unavoidable pain in the ass. So over years, I have learnt that it is not worth saving few dollars to book a cheaper flight in some crappy airlines. It is important that you are treated with respect while on board. But flying with different airlines in different parts of the world possibly gives an advanced notice about what is happening with various countries. Which countries are on the rise and which ones are on decline. There is no better leading macro-economic indicator than the airlines.

Send your comments about your flying experiences and your favourite or not so favourite airlines. Let us amuse ourselves till we plunge in the market action from Tuesday. Thanks for your comments and emails and following me in Twitter. (@BBFinanceblog)