Since I took my first independent flight cross-country to Phoenix, AZ and then my first transcontinental flight to England, I have been a tireless enthusiast of Delta airlines. The service by this airline has always seemed more professional and competent to me than most other airlines I have taken, judging from the sharp, pressed look of the attendants at the check-in counter, to the impressive range of beverages and snacks offered throughout the flight, to the usual timeliness and rarity of delays in flight scheduling.
However, in flying to Singapore, I had the chance to directly compare the services of a transcontinental flight on Delta Airlines (DA) to that of Singapore Airlines (SA), as the former airline took me from Atlanta, GA to Seol, South Korea, and the latter took me from Seol to Singapore. Much to my surprise, I found Singapore airlines to be quite superior, mostly because of the finer quality of all the finishing details. Upon entering the plane, a passenger might think that DA had superior quality seats, as these were covered in navy blue faux-leather upholstery, compared with SA’s thatched-looking gray-and-violet seats. However, after sitting in each seat for several hours, I can honestly say that my back and buttox much preferred whatever design SA used for its seats, because I did not feel nearly the same compulsion to squirm and awaken my limbs every sixty minutes on that flight, as opposed to on my flight with DA.
The next apparent difference between DA and SA was in the ages and appearances of the flight attendants. When I first entered the SA plane, I was initially struck by the amount of makeup each flight attendant wore; with their identical bright blue eye-shadow and fire-engine red lips, they looked like they were made up for a dance recital! However, the more I studied these attendants, the more I found their appearances more pleasing than those of the DA attendants. First of all, they were remarkably younger. All of the SA flight attendants were under thirty years of age, and the majority were female. Furthermore, their uniform consisted of a tribal Malay dress, which was beautifully detailed and patterned. It was all very unique, and I would be certain to recognize a SA flight attendant anywhere, as opposed to a DA flight attendant, who could be male or female, of nearly any age (ranging from thirty to nearly fifty years of age), and wore nondescript white blouses and navy skirts or pants.
The next bases for comparison are the amenities. The meals served on SA were tastier (spicy fish with rice and pickled vegetables compared with soggy gnocchi, limp spinach, and chicken in salty pasta sauce), the menu more professional-looking (a green, white, and gray cardstock pamphlet detailing all meals, snacks, and beverages that would be served as opposed to a single sheet of paper listing the entrée selections), and the dessert more appetizing (ice cream! versus saltine crackers—unless the refrigerated bun was supposed to be dessert, I couldn’t decide). Also, the video selection was broader and more appealing on SA (three episodes of House on SA versus one on DA; plus, I didn’t have time to watch nearly all of the movies that interested me during my flights to and from Singapore, but I quickly exhausted my options on flying to and from Atlanta, and not just because the flight was twice as long), and the console for viewing videos and playing games was significantly easier to operate on SA than on DA. (DA used touch screens, and although this may be more advanced technology, the remote control offered on SA was significantly easier and more precise in actual use.)
Finally, when it came down to the tiny details, Singapore was simply more thorough. On my DA flight to Seoul, my reading light was broken, which effectively prevented me from getting any reading done for that fourteen-hour leg of the trip, as we were required to keep the window shades down to emulate “nighttime” for the majority of the flight. Then, on my flight back, I was not given a menu so that each time the attendant came around to ask for our drink/snack/meal preference, I had to ask what the options were. (The attendant never looked happy about having to recite the list.) Last but most certainly not least, the earphones I was given on both my DA flights to and from Singapore never worked in both ears. I do not know whether this was due to the actual earphones or the earphone jack, but it was one more detail that made the flight seem longer and slightly less enjoyable. It makes me sound like a spoiled rotten brat to complain about these details, but they really are what made the difference for me between the Delta and Singaporean airlines.
Now, on to Midwest. I flew Midwest to Madison, WI for a job interview, and I can honestly say that these flights (I had a layover in Milwauke) were the most unique I have ever encountered. First of all, for the longer leg of the trip (to Milwauke), every seat in the plane looked as thought it were made for a business-class passenger. There was no front section portioned off for first class; the entire plane consisted of huge, cushiony, faux-leather seats that could probably have fit both me and an identical twin, had we been willing to squish. Then, when we were midway through the flight and it was time for the mid-flight snack, instead of bringing around small packages of salty, plastic-y tasting peanuts, the flight attendants wheeled a cart down the aisle and from it served each passenger two freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Hot-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies—on an airplane! Meanwhile, other airlines are charging extra for every checked bag. Some things never cease to amaze me.
In conclusion, I won’t say that one airline is necessarily “superior” to another. Delta has provided consistently good service, and I expect to continue using their services in the future, especially as I now have a SkyMiles account with them. However, when it comes to the details, I must say that I am supremely impressed by the thoroughness and professionalism of Singapore Airlines; I will certainly recommend this airline to anyone planning to travel to or around Asia, and I hope that the next time I travel to Singapore (when, not if!) I use this airline for the lengthier legs of my trip. And last but not least, Midwest certainly distinguishes itself from its competitors, at least in my mind. I hope enough people use this airline to enable it to continue providing such pleasantries as business-class-sized seats and chocolate chip cookies!