I recently traveled from Singapore to New York on Etihad Airlines. I chose Etihad for 3 reasons: 1. the price was right, 2. it is considered an excellent airline and has won many awards in recent years and, 3. there was only 1 short stopover between 2 fairly long flights. When I got to the airport in Singapore, I was impressed with the Etihad staff during check-in and I was further impressed at the gate and during boarding. The Etihad personnel were very quick and knowledgeable, and they made me feel “special.” That is one of the traits, and most lauded things, about this airline, and a main reason I chose to travel with them. When I arrived in Abu Dhabi, to change flights, I was disappointed with the airport, but I was excited to go on another Etihad flight. The first one had been very comfortable and the flight attendants were….well….attentive. They were comforting and doting, to say the least. It was a very nice flight. I expected the same from my second, much longer, flight. When I got to the gate (after an endless security checkpoint queue) I learned that the flight to New York was actually on Jet Airways, one of Etihad’s “partner” airlines. Etihad apparently owns a large percentage of Jet Airways, and uses them to fly some of their routes. Now, I was never informed that the flight would not be on Etihad, nor was I familiar with Jet Airways, so I had no idea what to expect.
First, let me say that Etihad invested in Jet Airways because the airline was not doing very well and needed money. Second, Etihad has a large percentage of the airline, so they are putting their name on something that they don’t have complete control over (and the airplane actually had the Etihad name in small letters under the Jet Airways logo). Furthermore, let me tell you that the plane was much older than the Etihad jet I had taken from Singapore. The upholstery was slightly tattered and the carpeting in the aisle was worn. The overhead compartments had large scratches and streaks on them. This was nothing like the brand new plane I had taken from Singapore! The flight attendants were friendly, but it was obvious that they had not been trained as the Etihad flight attendants had. They were a little “askew” in that they had slight wrinkles in their uniforms and they were not as upright and cordial as the Etihad attendants had been.
Apparently, when Etihad bought interest in Jet Airways, they doubled their Abu Dhabi – New York flights to 2 a day; using Jet Airways for the second flight. I took the second, later, flight, so I got stuck on Jet Airways. This airline is completely below Etihad in every way. It is a subpar airline that I’m surprised to see Etihad involved with. Etihad has build its reputation as a great airline, with awards to boot, yet they have hitched to this second-rate, old, unprofessional airline. The flight to New York was one of the worst flights I had been on in a long time. It is definitely up there in the top 5 worst flights of all time! I was stymied by the decision of Etihad to allow this lowbrow carrier to handle one of its longest and most prestigious routes. I guess that’s why they spring it on people at the gate….so they can’t run and change their tickets, they’re forced to subject themselves to the disgusting spectacle that is Jet Airways.
This is not the first time I’ve been the victim of the bait and switch. When I lived in Spain, I would do all I could to avoid flying with Iberia Airlines. Iberia has a reputation for being consistently late….late with departures, late with arrivals, late with baggage deliveries, just LATE. I guess it’s very similar to the Spaniards in that way (I have never been at a party or affair where a Spaniard has arrived on time). So, when I was traveling to the United States from Madrid one time, I booked flights on British Airways. British Airways had always had a good record of comfort and reliability, so I was happy with my decision to fly with them.
Much to my dismay, when I got to the gate at Barajas, I was informed that the route between Madrid and London (where I had a stopover) was being operated by Iberia (this was before that ridiculous Iberia-British Airways merger) and that the plane would be DELAYED! Really!?!? Delayed!?!? You don’t say!! It was Iberia, of course it was delayed!! We had a saying when I lived in Madrid…”if it’s not late, it’s not Iberia.” So, I was delayed almost 2 hours, missed my connection in Heathrow, got stuck there for 7 hours, finally made standby on the last flight out of Heathrow that evening, arrived at JFK without my bags (they had not made it on the flight), and went to Christmas with the family with no gifts. My bags arrived 3 days later. The same would happen to me 4 years later when I visited Madrid from Shanghai and booked passage on British Airways. The direct flight to London was wonderfully operated by British Airways, then I had a delayed flight from London to Madrid because it was operated by Iberia (again, I was not informed).
My question is this: why would British Airways, a rather well-respected airline, merge with Iberia, an airline known for delayed flights and bad service? I know the board of British Airways couldn’t see past the Euro signs at the bigger picture, but they prostituted themselves for extra money and more routes to an airline that was going nowhere and had a bad name (and rightfully so). The board at British Airways made a big mistake when they merged with Iberia, but that’s all behind them. I don’t think I’ll ever book on British Airways again if I go back to Spain, I know it will be operated by Iberia and I just don’t want that hassle.
I don’t like when the airlines do not share their codeshare agreements with the passengers. I once flew on USAirways to the US from Madrid. The flight was operated by Aer Lingus, and it said so right on my ticket! I expected Aer Lingus (and actually got a better flight than if it had been USAirways). A few years ago I flew to Cambodia from Singapore, I had to go through Bangkok. The route from Bangkok to Siem Reap was operated by Bangkok Airways, it said so on my ticket and I expected it. I guess it’s only when the codeshare partner is so grievously different than the proper airline that they “forget” to tell the passengers that their flights will be operated by that subpar carrier. It happened in Madrid and it happened recently with Etihad. British Airways and Etihad are good airlines with good reputations, but they’re tarnishing those reputations by allowing these crap carriers to do their routes for them. There is a reason people choose to travel on Etihad and BA, and NOT on Jet Airways and Iberia. They need to stop pulling this bait and switch before people start to switch…to other carriers!