We complained, they listened, legroom is on the way

Airline passengers have complained about a variety of things over the years but some nagging topics rise to the top and just won’t go away, prompting airlines to do something about them. Eventually. Common to surveys of airline passengers and no big news to many frequent flyers, a great percentage of travelers said that limited legroom was one of their biggest gripes about air travel. When asked what airlines should offer to make the in-flight experience better, a high number lobbied for more legroom and requested roomier seats.

Delta Air Lines is in the process of making a $2 billion investment in its product and customer experience. In progress right now, Delta is renovating its Boeing 747-400 aircraft fleet to include full flat-bed seats in the Business Elite cabin and new “slim line” seats offering more personal space and individual in-seat entertainment throughout the Economy cabin.

“Our best customers want a full flat-bed seat with direct aisle access and the new Business Elite configuration our 747s provide,” Glen Hauenstein, Delta executive vice president told Travel News Daily.

Each 747 will have 48 Business Elite full flat-bed seats on the upper and lower deck of the aircraft with direct aisle access for every seat, a 110-volt universal power outlet, USB port and a personal LED reading lamp. Each seat also comes with a 15.4 inch wide screen video monitor with access to more than 1,000 entertainment options including more than 300 films, 88 hours of television programming, HBO and Showtime, 27 video games and more than 5,000 digital music tracks.

“The days of having to step over a sleeping customer in the seat next to you are over,” said Hauenstein. “These upgrades will make the 747 the premier aircraft in our international fleet and customers will immediately notice the improved experience.”

To date, more than one-third of Delta’s wide body international fleet have been upgraded and the airline’s entire wide body international fleet of more than 140 aircraft will be flying with full flat-bed seats in Business Elite by 2014.
Delta’s transition in Economy to a slim line seat provides customers with up to two inches of additional knee clearance. All seats feature a headrest with adjustable wings, height and tilt, USB power and a nine-inch touchscreen featuring personal on-demand entertainment, the same as BusinessElite.

Installing full flat-bed seats on Delta’s widebody international aircraft is a major component of the $2 billion investment Delta is making in its product and customer experience.

Customers also will see Delta’s investment in its more than 50 Delta Sky Clubs throughout the system, power poles at dozens of airports, mobile apps which include features such as baggage tracking and WiFi on more than 800 aircraft.

Flickr photo by Kentaro Iemoto@Tokyo

Airlines dominate Most Hated Companies list

This week, The Atlantic used The American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) data to compile a list of the 19 Most Hated Companies in America. Joining Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Facebook all with a score of 64 or more out of 100 are even lower-scoring American Airlines (63), United Airlines (61), and US Airways (61). Worst of all air carriers? Delta Air Lines scoring an ultra low 56 on the index.

On Delta, The Atlantic notes:

“Complaints include additional costs for food, beverages and baggage fees. The airline collected more than $952 million in baggage fees from flyers in 2010, almost twice as much as any other airline carrier.

Since acquiring Northwest airlines in 2008, Delta’s consumer satisfaction score has plunged. According to ACSI, a big merger in service companies usually have a negative impact on customer services in the short-term, because of organization issues. Delta’s rating dropped another 6 points this year.”

The results add to concerns noted by Gadling back in April when we reported on America’s Meanest Airlines after 2011’s Airline Quality Report came out. Those results:Meanest major carrier: United Airlines
Meanest regional carrier: American Eagle
Most complained about airline: Delta Air Lines
Most likely to be unsafe: Jetblue
Most likely to overcharge for bags: Delta Airlines/ US Airways / Continental
Most likely to bump you: American Eagle
Most likely to be late: Comair
Most likely to mishandle your bag: American Eagle

One wonders if there might be a link between companies that are hated and companies that are mean.

Are there any companies on this list that you hate? Tell your story in the comments section…

Flickr photo by Loren Sztajer

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Who was tops in Zagat airline survey?

The fliers are having their say, and Zagat is there to record it.

It’s time for Zagat’s annual Airline Survey, tracking travelers’ experiences with 16 U.S. airlines and 73 foreign airlines, and 30 U.S. airports. Each airline was rated on its comfort, service, food, and website.

These are the airlines to come in first this year:

Large Domestic (Premium class):
Continental Airlines
Large Domestic (Economy class): JetBlue Airways
Midsize Domestic (Both Premium and Economy):
Virgin America
International (Both Premium and Economy): Singapore Airlines

Any guesses on the top-ranked airport? Portland, Oregon. And the worst? LaGuardia, New York.

The full survey goes on to list everything from best luggage policy, to best in-flight entertainment, to quips from the ‘write in’ portions, such as “Treats occasional fliers like dirt, and treats frequent fliers like a better class of dirt.”

In total, the survey gathers the collective consensus of 5,895 frequent fliers and travel agents, who took 97,600 flights altogether in the past year.