23 June 2007

A Rant and a Vow

I'll begin with the vow:

I, Global Librarian, hereby vow that I will NEVER fly Swiss Air for a transatlantic flight ever again unless it is a dire emergency and I have NO OTHER CHOICE!

Now for the rant:

Swiss Air Sucks!

I have flown quite a lot in my years upon this earth. And I have flown many, many airlines on those trips.

But my top three absolutely worst flying experiences have been on Swiss Air. It just so happens to be the three times I have been on a Swiss Air flight over the Atlantic. And one of those times was even with an upgrade to business class, which one would think would be better. But I can honestly say there are three other airlines I would rather fly coach than Swiss Air's business class.

Here's why...

Reason 1: No one over the height of 5'7" should ever be forced to sit in Swiss Air coach. There is no room. The rows of seats are incredibly close together. So close that you could easily do dental work on the individual sitting in front of you once their seat is fully reclined. They are literally in your lap. And because my legs are so long (36" inseam), the seats are so close that the angle is wrong and I cannot stretch my legs under the seat in front of me.

And the width of the seats is smaller as well. Now, I will admit I am not as thin as I could be. Ideally a woman's BMI (Body Mass Index) should be between 19-25 and mine is 28. But obesity is BMI 30 or higher. I should not have to wedge my ass into the seats. True, I have the wide child-bearing hips that all of the women in my family have, regardless of their weight. But c'mon already!

So I sit wedge between the armrests with my back pressed against my seat and my knees pressed into the seat in front of me. After about an hour of this, the painful muscle spasms begin.

Business class is better. At least I can shift every now and then. But Swiss Air's business class seats are only a bit larger than Continental's coach seats. And Swiss Air's seats are old and lumpy, thereby causing back issues on long flights.

Reason 2: The food they serve is horrendous. On the flight to the US I was in business class. I literally could not eat anything they served. It tasted so terribly to me that I felt nauseous. I was so hungry that at one stage my blood sugar dropped very low and I started to shake. I explained I had blood sugar issues and asked them for some protein. They found me a couple of packets of peanuts, which at least stopped the shaking. The only thing they served that was edible was the ice cream cones for dessert. And the flight attendants scooped noticeably larger cones for the male passengers than the female passengers. Bitches!

Reason 3: You have the fly through Chicago O'Hare when flying anywhere in the Midwest.

Yesterday I decided they should just implode that airport and start over fresh. It is so poorly designed. As Chicago grew, they kept adding on to it with little thought for logic or flow of passengers. If changing terminals, which the vast majority of passengers must do, you need to exit through security and take a train to the next terminal and then go through security once again.

This means that you have substantially more people needing to go through security than would happen in other airports. Which leads to lines like this:

We were told the line should take 15 minutes or so. In actuality the line took over 45 minutes!

We were nearing the end of the line and the exceptionally long wait when we saw the sign informing passengers that there are no restaurant options on the other side of security. We could have used that information earlier in the line and had some dinner before the wait. By the time we saw the not-so-helpful sign, we did not have time to wait in the line a second time. On the other side of security you have the option of chips, candy and a small selection of nasty, soggy sandwiches that have been sitting in inadequate coolers all day. Fabulous.

Reason 4: It is extremely difficult to use frequent flyer miles. There are many rules that are not explained well. Even the Swiss Air employees do not understand them. When we ask question via telephone or in-person at the check-in desk they frequently say they do not know and have to make a telephone call to ask someone. And when we have asked the same question, we are usually given a different answer the second time. And on those rare occasions when you are actually able to use miles, an excessive number of miles are required. Much more than any other airline with which we have frequent flyer status.

Reason 5: Swiss Air does not have little air spouts above the seats. I suspect it has something to do with the odd belief in Europe that breezes are bad for you. But when the airplane is so warm that you have sweat rolling off of you while sitting still, you could use a little breeze on your face.

Especially when the person sitting next to you stinks. The only time I have ever smelled anyone worse is at the library with the homeless people who had obviously not bathed in a very long time. And at least there we could explain that their smell was offensive to others and they needed to go to the shelter for a shower and some clean clothes before they could return to the library. We even had a number we could call and someone from the shelter would come and get them.

The person I sat next to would have been asked to leave the library. He smelled that bad. And I had to sit next to him for 9 hours because the flight was completely full and there were no other seats available. My only respite came when I went to the restroom. Which I did repeatedly. And since I had the window seat, he had to move for me each time. He probably thought I had a bladder infection or something. I didn't have to pee, I just needed a break from his stench.

By the time I got off the airplane earlier today I was starving, in severe pain due to cramps and muscle spasms, had not had even a minute of sleep, and had been assaulted by a horrific smell for 9 straight hours.

I was literally in tears.

And that is why I will never, ever fly Swiss Air on a transatlantic flight ever again.


Kirk said...

While I never had as bad an experience on Swiss as you described (other than being assigned the last row of seats on the plane, with the least legroom, despite flying with a baby and having premier frequent flyer status), I never found Swiss to be anything special. It evidently used to be top-notch, but ever since going bankrupt I guess things have gone downhill.

Then again, United has also gotten much worse, and Lufthansa is hit-or-miss. The only airlines we were 100% satisfied with were Singapore and ANA, and somehow I don't think it would be worth the extra effort of flying from Europe to the States via Tokyo or Singapore!

At least today we're flying on Midwest Express, where we should have relatively large seats and fresh-cooked chocolate chip cookies...

GLD said...

Sorry for your troubles, I do think that this should be forwarded to Swiss Air. I will be happy to do so for you. And it would also be nice if everyone who reads this also complained to Swiss Air. The only problem is that Swiss Air doesn't care until their revenues drop.

Global Librarian said...

I love Midwest Airlines! Although you only get the cookies if you departure time is after 10 am. Regardless, they are fabulous and I wish they would start making transatlantic flights. I'd book in a heartbeat!

Also, I sent the blog posting to Swiss Air Customer Relations. I'm interested to see what response, if any, they have to it.

Marcy said...

We've flown Air France to the states and back several times, as they're the most direct flight from Geneva to San Francisco, but I'm really starting to dislike them strongly. They have the same problem with the seats that you mentioned-- they're TINY. Last time we flew, my husband (who's 6"1') could not see the bottom half of his movie screen b/c of the way the person in front of him was leaning back. And I sewar the only way for me (in the middle seat) to get out into the aisle was by stepping ON the seat next to me, b/c the legroom was that piss poor.

At least their food is decent, though.

You have to go through security all over again when stopping over in Paris, too. Sucks. But at least the lines always seem to move fast.

Expat Traveler said...

I must say, I'm overly joyed to be driving to California this time..

The joys of stopping, stretching and eating whatever food we want and taking as long as we want...

But of course we aren't going over any body of water requiring more than a bridge...

The Big Finn said...

Welcome to the club of people who will not fly Swiss other than on a SHORT intra-European flight (...and only if they absolutely must!). Oh, and regarding complaining to Swiss: FORGET ABOUT IT! At one point, Mrs. TBF had about a zillion miles on Swiss, was INVITED via a letter from Swiss to give input, wrote a long e-mail regarding her concerns/complaints, and...never received any sort of acknowledgment whatsoever. Swiss just doesn't seem to care.
Oh...and here's another good one...
Mrs. TBF's boss recently flew from the U.S. to Zurich on Swiss in FIRST CLASS and couldn't get water during the night because the flight attendants were...SLEEPING IN THE FIRST CLASS SEATS THAT WERE NOT BEING USED BY PASSENGERS.
It's too bad. The old Swissair was GREAT. The current Swiss SUCKS!!!
I've flown to Chicago four times this year, and each time has been on BA (once with Mrs. TBF's miles and three times by paying). Let's see that comes to about CHF 4,000 that has gone into BA's coffers instead of Swiss'. Yeah...BA's not perfect, but they're 1,000 times better than Swiss!

The Big Finn said...

Just thought I'd reinforce my earlier comment....

Swiss...YOU SUCK!

Bruce said...

Same Same for Me.. My Wife was in Germany for 9 months on a work project. Booked a SwissAir flight from Dulles to Zurich... The Flight from HELL began at Dulles with the Plane 2hours late and no place to sit in the terminal.

I'm 6' tall 200 lbs, and You are absolutely right. The seats are the Most cramped seats I've ever been in.. My knees jambed up against the seat in front of me, and with them reclined all the way back, their headrest was less then 12 inches from my nose.

The food was awful, and not edible, the Flight attendants were some of the most un-friendly and rude people I have ever met. They obviously had little or no training. I'm sitting in the Isle seat (thank god), and the person next to me wants a cup of coffee. Instead of handing the empty cup to the Bitch flight attendant, where she should place it on a tray, fill it, then pass the tray to the person. The Idiot Passenger holds the Cup over my lap and the Even Stupider Flight attendant proceeds to dump Hot coffee all over my lap.

The flight was so late in Zurich, I missed my connection to Frankfurt. I had to layover 6 hours in a shitty terminal, with Asshole SwissAir employees sneering at me, 15 dollar hamburgers, and no place to sit.

My Flight Back??? I took the SwissAir Tickets, tore them up and tossed them in the garbage. I booked a Luftansia flight back to Dulles, and it was very nice. It was worth the extra 1100 dollars not to have to fly that piece of Shit SwissAir Airline again.

I agree,

To SwissAir and It's employees:....YOU SUCK

Anonymous said...

Swissair is dire, not to be relied on at all. Service standards appear to have disintegrated, its the universal drive for money at all costs at the sacrifice of responsibility.

samim said...

SWISS (air) suck, completely agree. All the mentioned points are true plus there unbelievable inflexible attitude makes traveling with them a real pain. And this is coming from a swiss person.