Friday, January 21, 2011

Who to Fly to Brazil, and in What Position

As packing for our return to Rio begins, I started thinking airlines. Oh, the airline you pick is as important as the condom people. There are some things you just shouldn't skimp on when it comes to quality.

Take American Airlines's from the US to Brazil and vise versa for instance.  It blows like your slutty stepsister.  I don't have enough room in my blog to explain my distaste for this airline.  I know they are the cheapest, but sometimes you have to spend a little more just based on principal.

Where does my hatred for AA come from?  Well, their service sucks, their seats suck, and basically everything sucks without anyone getting off. I just don't see the point in partaking in that kind of madness.

But the straw that broke this camel's back was on a flight back to Brazil from San Diego. I had a stop off in Houston and a layover. No biggie.  Once we got flying again, I popped my international-I-was-childless-and-could valium and was ready to float home.

Imagine my surprise when we started landing.  I thought, "Wow, Either Brazil has gotten closer or that was some damn good valium."

Nope, upon questioning I was informed that we were landing in Miami.  I told the stewardess that she must be wrong because I was not informed of this in San Diego when I checked in, nor did my old fashion envelope sized tickets say anything about an additional stop.

Oh, but didn't I know that it's American Airline's policy that they can add a stop if it is not a significant change.  I'll ask you, do you think my having to deboard and wait through an hour and a half layover was a significant change?  I sure do.

I was informed by customer service that they were in their rights to make that stop. I said "Dandy. And I am in my rights as a client to never fly you again."

Yeah so, I don't fly them.  I had always been miserable flying with them but didn't have a real reason to jump up to the next level. Well, the lack of apology did it folks. That's all it takes. A little, I'm sorry Rachel.  FYI American Airlines: Now it'd take 4 free tickets, international, thank you very much.  Call it inflation. Call it being an opportunist. I call it giving a second chance because I got free tickets. Hey, my heart ain't made of stone people.

But, back to reality.  If you are going to fly from the US to Brazil or vise versa, you should fly Continental.  I like them.  Of course it'll take like 2,000 trips to become elite.  That or I haven't gotten the special favors memo that shows you how to get bumped up more efficiently.  Not that I'm interested. Who's going to bump up a family with small children anyway?  That's why people pay to fly business and first.

Also keep in mind that United and Continental are sisters from other Misters these days. You can use miles and such and they work together. Pretty nice. This trip, we flew Continental from Rio to Houston and then United from Houston to DC.  Not too bad at all. Minus the 7 hr layover, but we saved like $1000 dollars. I can run around an airport with my kids for 7 hours if it saves me that much.

I also enjoy Delta. I find that Delta is good at giving more direct flights from the US into Rio. I know the stop in Sao Paulo isn't a big deal, but it's pretty sweet if you can avoid it.

And we must not forget Varig! I mourn the death of Varig. I'm telling you, they had super comfy seats, the flight attendants just rocked my world with kindness, and the plane was like an all night party.  It was Brazil in the air.  Not to mention, the food was better.  Oh well. You can't have it all, especially when executives are stealing from the company.

What airline do you prefer when you fly wherever it is you go?  


  1. We flew Air Canada to move here, I had never flown them before and I was so impressed! I thought it strange we had to fly north from Chicago to Toronto to then fly south but it was worth it. They even kinda sorta would have held the plane for us had it been on time and not eventually delayed. We weren't special (as in not in FC or Mileage people) and they offered to escort us to the flight to make sure we made it. That was all organized in the air before landing since they left 45 min late out of Chicago. Anyways, if I can I will now always fly them. But I am about to fly stand-by soon on AA to the US, not looking forward to that since I will be a luggage level citizen if I am lucky, I can only imagine...

    My favorite airline is Pluno, out of Uruguay... if only they flew international!

  2. Rachel,

    No subject could have raised my blood pressure more than bashing EVIL American Airlines...
    Let me explain that I have been flying them almost exclusively since 1989!!! That's 21 years of loyalty and counting...
    I did manage to become Executive Platinum over the years and I haven't flown coach in years...and even with all these perks, they have managed to make me mad beyond return...
    I still have nightmares about was really hard for me to get to the level I am now and I don't know how long it will take for me to learn all about a new airline and get upgrade to the same level I am with American...but I feel I need to let go from American Airlines...the abuse is relentless.
    I will seriously write a book about all my HORRIBLE experiences with them.
    I must say that on my previous job I traveled all around the world and international flights are a little better, principally if you fly Business or First...and the lack of children on site has to be the best perk of flying First or Business...I know, I know, please don't be mad at me...You know I am traumatized by screaming children who kicks the back of my seat for hours during the night, without any parental intervention...
    And my current job tortures me with 3 flights a month between Los Angeles and Boston, the flight attendants know me by name which is very nice, the service is very good, but their airplanes are literally falling a is pathetic...
    I hate the Boston to Los Angeles flight by the way, it feels longer than going to Brazil. It is 6 hours going and 5 and a half on the way back...It is only 5 and a half hours between Boston and London...I will take that flight any day...the planes are better too...
    Thank you for the Continental Airlines review. I think United/Continental will be the natural needed transition for me.
    I need to get rid of my drug of choice aka American Airlines and take the plunge ;)


  3. US is evil. Avoid them at all costs.

    They ran out of gas once on us and almost had to make an emergency landing.

    They overbooked their flights 3 days in a row by 25+people out of NYC.

    They read my visa wrong once, and didn't assign my seat until boarding as a result. I ended up in the last seat and they ran out of food.

    TAM is the new Varig. Super comfy, they treat you really well + give you free wine with your dinner.

    Air Canada is great, but they fly all NY/Boston flights through Toronto which means an extra 2 trips through immigration (you have to go through BOTH canadian and American immigration in Toronto.)

  4. Since United has a hub in San Francisco, we have been Frequent Flyers of United all along. We have flown to Turkey for free on miles, to Thailand for free on miles and to Rio several times free on miles (and our upcoming trip to Peru to get to Machu Piccu will include one free ticket on miles).

    Now - I don't like United, but then, I'm of the impression that all US airlines suck. Give me Air France anytime, or Luftansa.

    The best flight I ever had was from Aman, Jordan to Istanbul, Turkey. I have no idea what airline it was. But top shelf scotch was served from liter bottles the whole way - no charge.

    We each have our priorities.

  5. I flew Tam to Buenos Aires and they were great. Free drinks all the way! Like Jim said, priorities.

    I've never flown those airlines Jim but I did fly Iberia. HORRIBLE! The seats were so close together, you'd think all Spanish people were midgets.

  6. iberia is the worst in the world!!!

    I like Varig , United and Tam to fly to brazil / us.
    I was very surprised by tam last time!! in a very good way, good seats , food , movies and they gave me a cute little bag w/ toiletries.

  7. Varig rocked! I miss it so much. Everything about it was better than any US airline. The food was better and the service was second to none. I really liked the overnight goodies they used to give out including headphones, toothbrush, toothpaste and booties - little things make a brutal trip better.

    US air carries have so much suckage, I just don't know where to begin. Flying any US air carrier is like flying Air Amistad.

  8. Oh, don't even mention Varig! The demise of Varig marked many years of transition and hard times for us (my hub was a pilot for 17 years for Varig). I had SO many great flights, such great memories, great people, great service. The subject of the "old" Varig will spark tears in my husbands eyes, shared by many of his colleagues as well. It was a shame the govt. didn't help out in the end.

    Now we choose Delta, it's been just great and I find the flight from Rio to Altanta very good indeed. In fact, our last experience in August, leaving Rio, the pilot's announcement went as such "Hey, it's your Captain speaking, thanks for flying Delta, we hope you enjoyed your time in Rio, the best city in the World, what a gorgeous night to be flying, you'll see a beautiful moon", etc, etc. "oh and by the way free beer and wine for everyone, compliments of the cabin crew"...he went on and on, seemed like he was on a happy pill! But the whole crew is usually so nice and helpful, really good service in economy has been our experience. I've flown Continental as well and they were good too, but I prefer Delta (well and of course I have miles!).

  9. I flew US Airways on my non-stop flight from Charlotte to Rio. They are the only non-stop flight close to me. I have to drive an hour and half to leave from Charlotte but it beats having to leave from Atlanta and deal that mess down there. And they are based in Charlotte so the prices are very reasonable as well.

    I can't say that I've had any problems as I've only flown to Rio once (roundtrip) and I was by myself so...

    Of course the seats are terrible and the usual complaints but nothing major so far.

  10. I dearly miss British Airways and Virgin more so from when I used to live in Europe... I bet people who travel to/from Asia can show off on better airlines, but when you get Gü desserts ( in tourist, you know you're in for a good flight!

  11. We used to love Varig. We would pay more to fly them. But then, we have a friend who worked in the kitchen preparing meals in Rio. She would always put together a fantastic meal/snack/fruit tray for us which would be placed on our trays to the wonderment of those around us.

    LOL! Those were the days...

  12. Ciao, Rachel - I found you through Sara in Le Petit Village. Very cool blog! I feel you on the airline selections for overseas travel as I fly back and forth to Italy a couple times a year. I'm still giggling about "blows like your slutty stepsister" and will be sure to use that on my next survey if I don't get an upgrade transatlantic - because that describes the coach seating on some of these aircraft. Nice to meet you!

  13. Valerie, Nice to meet you too! Good luck on the upgrade!

  14. I have to say by far the best airlines I ever flew on were Japanese and Filipino. The seating for even intercontinental flights was very comfy and had plenty of leg room even for tall people. The staff was extremely nice and helpful plus there was refreshments even on 45 min flights including steamed scented hand towels to boot. The planes were new or like new and high tech. I was treated like royalty and felt like I had somehow mistakenly entered an exclusive day spa instead of a plane.