My review of Song Airlines (Delta’s low cost subsidiary)

travel

My former colleague, Mark Jen, recently wrote about his rather positive experience flying Song Air, the discount wing of Delta Airlines… and this reminded me that I hadn’t gotten around to the review I had planned to write last month.

The background:
I was searching for an inexpensive flight to New Hampshire to attend a Lindy Hop dance camp, but quickly discovered that there seemingly ARE no discount flights from San Francisco to New Hampshire, much less Burlington, Vermont. So, figuring I could at least catch a musical, visit some friends, and stay in a swanky hotel, I decided to fly into the more-discount-flight-options city of New York, NY. As it turns out, my friends were out of town, the musical was so-so, and the hotel was a disappointment. But I digress.

In the end, the cheapest AND most time-convenient flight available was from Song Air, so — at around $325 after taxes — that’s what I booked.

On-time performance and stupid airline behavior:
My plane was an hour late getting out of the gate for reasons I don’t recall. We were actually all sitting on the plane for that hour, and since this was a red-eye flight, I figured no sweat, I’ll just catch some shut-eye in the meantime.

Ah, but no, that’d be too logical. The stupid crew had other ideas, blaring really lousy alternative music crap through the main speakers during the entire waiting period. More specifically, they were playing stuff from a new album by The Wallflowers, with whom they apparently have some dumb distribution deal or something like that. How do I know? In their promos, they bragged how Song wasn’t just an airline, but also a record label. Oh joy. Just what I want. In an industry where airlines can’t even manage their flight schedules or other core aspects of their business, I want to see lots of footage of their execs and such hobnobbing and doing recording deals with lame music artists.

Well, fine, I’ll just request a pillow from the crew, maybe two, to press up against my head so the music’s less loud and I can sleep. Ah, no pillows on board, even for a red-eye (I was told that they’re too expensive to clean and store).

In-flight entertainment (for the trip home):
Strikingly mediocre… really a disappointment. Sure, they’ve got lots of TV channels, but no guide to help you see what’s on. You have to slowly and repeatedly scan through all the channels to get an idea of what’s being shown.

Trivia game? Sure, but not very well implemented. And pretty lame questions, nearly all about entertainment-and-sports oriented stuff (no science, no history, etc…) Oh, and no prizes. You’d have thought they could have thrown in a free beer or $1 off a sandwich to the winners, eh?

Movies? Yep, but you gotta pay. I think it was $5 a pop. What a rip.

Music? Sure. But EVERY fricking time I navigated to the music screen or one of a few other sections, I got a 1-2 minute stupid Song Air ad that could not be skipped or stopped.

In the end, listening to my MP3 player and reading a book ended up being much more efficient and pleasant.

Food:
Well, when they say that they’ve got honestly tasty food, they’re actually not kidding. The jerk chicken sandwhich I ordered was indeed delicious! Only downside: $7 or $8 (I forget), and it came with NOTHING else. Not even a cheapo bag of potato chips. So in the end, the sandwhich made for a scrumptious but not very filling appetizer. The salad my seat neighbor ordered (for the same price) looked a bit more filling… and, according to her, was also really tasty.

Overall…:
Compared against other airlines, Song Air was a reasonably priced option… especially given my relatively late (a few weeks in advance) booking, so I suppose I shouldn’t be quite so harsh in my evaluation. But — despite the fewer multimedia and food amenities — I still think Southwest is a more comfortable and friendly airline overall and if pricing between the two were similar for a given flight, I’d take Southwest. Actually, I’d probably pay $100 more to go on a European or Asian airline if they were available, because their flights are typically WAY better than any American airline I’ve ever flown… but I guess I’m not very likely to get an Air France flight from SFO to NYC anytime soon, eh? Bummer.

4 comments… add one
  • Mark Jen Oct 24, 2005

    Hi Adam! You’d rather take Southwest over Song if they were the same price? Hmm… that’s quite some brand loyalty they’ve built up for ya 😉

    Yeah, I agree that the music screen Song Air ad was annoying and movies/games at $5 each is quite the rip off. But then again, at least they’re trying. No one else in the industry is even really trying to differentiate themselves (unless you count not allowing customers to book seats as innovation :-P)

    Anyways, Ryan says that for a SFO-JFK flight United has “Premium Service” flights now where the entire cabin is Economy Plus & Business Class. Now that’s something I could get used to 🙂

  • Jesse Almeida Oct 28, 2005

    Greetings,
      Unfortunately the experience that we have had with song is very disappointing.  The relationship that they maintain with customers is very wrong example:
    We read the pricing policy that they have on the Internet in which they suggest that you purchase a ticket early and that the price would be lower. Based on the suggestion of the policy we purchased two round tickets to San Francisco for $673.80 confirmation number 5HSNUA. Talking to friends about the trip, I was told that they took us for a ride insisting that they will sell that same ticket for less as they have in the past.  With that I checked again on line and found that indeed they now sell that exact ticket for $160 less than a few days ago.
    I called reservations to find that MR Mark Rich insist that they would not honor the new lower fare structure with out a penalty fee.  I asked for Song to honor the lower fair because the Internet advertising was very misleading in pointing persons to buy early and save on the fare structure.  If that is the strategy then the public is being taken as fools. Your article is old but the tactics are new…maybe Jet Blue is not such a bad place to be, or at least one will not have to be walking around with a lowered head feeling as if age has taken it’s toll on one.

  • Dan L Nov 7, 2005

    I took a nonstop from Boston to SFO for $110 but that was booked pre-Katrina and 90 days in advance, loved it, compared to the usual cramped smelly older planes; the flight only had 40 people on it so I spread out all three seats- this is probably why they are ending song altogether next year.  I thought the entertainment center was great, and there is a way to line up your playlist and navigate to other screens except tv without seeing that bumping song plane listening to marley…

  • Keith Jan 9, 2006

    I think Song rocks.  Much better between the Northeast and Florida than Delta Express was.  I also think it’s as good as JetBlue, and you can at least purchase food if you want.

    Now they are ending it at the end of May.  I am bummed.  I flew regular Delta recently and Song was much better – I get to watch what I want, I get music, I get food if I want, I can track my flight, leather seats, they take credit cards, and so on.

    Delta better keep a similar model for us east-coasters to FLA or off to Jet Blue we go, Skymiles or not!

What do you think?