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.
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.
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.
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.