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|| News Item: Posted 2002-05-27

Road Warrior: All the Airlines Suck...Almost
By Mongo

Photo by
It's that time of the year again for Mongo's AAA column.

No you motor heads, not the Automobile Association of America! I'm talking about Mongo's Annual Airline Assessment.

If you've been a faithful Sports Shooter reader, then you already know that it's a forgone conclusion that I think United is the most f**ked up of ALL the major airlines. They've gone from having a bad flight once and while, mixed in with some good flights, to mediocre flights all the time. You can tell the morale of the employees is low and it shows from check in counter to the in flight service. Their once highly vaunted Red Carpet club rooms (which they charge an arm and leg for membership) have reduced their operating hours.

I'm no fan of Delta either. The Atlanta fortress hub is poorly managed and the wait times for check in and security are ridiculous.

I could whine about American airlines as well, but I don't want to belabor what we all already know.

Airline travel is no fun anymore.

There is some good news on the horizon though.

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The first ray of sunshine is an old name in aviation, Frontier airlines. Based out of Denver, this was one of the first "low fare" carriers and had all but disappeared from the radar screen for several years. Well I'm happy to say they have re-emerged as a serious player.
Recently I had to make a quick trip to Denver and the greedy weasels at United wanted $1100.00 for a roundtrip ticket!

I called Frontier and was able to get a fare of $485.00!

Same destination, less than half the price, this is a no brainier. Mileage Plus be dammed.

Check in at LAX was a little weird, cause they only have (1) counter, and a small staff. How small? Well the guy that checked me in at the main terminal was also the agent at the gate!

The plane was brand new, nice shiny interior, seating comfort about the same as coach on any other airline.

The flight attendants were cheerful, friendly and funny. (If you're old enough to remember the PSA shuttle flights between SFO and LAX you know what I'm talking about)

The big surprise came when I was flying back to LAX.

The flight was scheduled for 8:50pm but when I got to the gate the sign said the flight was delayed till 10:00pm, a weather delay on the inbound flight. The gate agent was very apologetic and then announced over the PA that Frontier would buy dinner for the passengers because of the delay.

I could not believe my ears, I mean we're only talking about an hour delay, and Frontier is going to buy us dinner? They handed out meal vouchers that were good at any of the restaurants in the terminal.

Wait, it gets better.

As we boarded the plane, the gate agent apologized for the delay and then handed each passenger a $50.00 voucher good on any flight!

As we were getting settled in our seats, the Captain of the flight came back through the cabin and apologized to the passengers for the delay!

I gotta say in my 25 years of flying, I have never had an ass-kissing as good as this!

This is one airline that actually gets it. They really do value their customers.

Frontier is now the second largest carrier out of Denver International Airport, with service to 31 cities in 19 states (pretty much every MAJOR city across the country).

Good value and good customer service like this has me waving goodbye to the "unfriendly skies of United"

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Another ray of hope in the dark morass of transcontinental flights is newcomer, JetBlue. If your universe revolves around New York, you can escape the clutches of American and United with this upstart carrier.

Let's start with a last minute roundtrip airfare from NY to LA for $512.00 vs. $2263.00 on United. Bend over and spread'em: that's a 441% difference in airfare!

The planes are new (ahhh smells just like the inside of a new car) they have TV's in the back of each seat with a Direct TV feed. (Yahoo! No more "edited for airline use" movies.)

Another bonus, if you're flying in and out of LA, you get to bypass the cluster - f**k of LAX and travel through a more civilized gateway, Long Beach airport. Situated halfway between LAX and Orange County, this quaint retro style airport lets you get in and out with a minimum of fuss. No crowds, no long lines at the rental car counter, no long lines at security, and taxi drivers that actually know where the hell they are going.

(Mongo Johnson worked as the transportation coordinator for several Alex de Renzi's films in the early '70s. His recent film credits include several award-winning films, including "Big Daddy", "Little Nicky", "The Wedding Singer" and "The Water Boy".)


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