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Friday, February 03, 2012
Perspectives

Latin America’s Competitive Advantage

The interior of  a TAM plane flying between Miami and Sao Paulo. (Photo: Joachim Bamrud)

Latin American airlines  outshine their US counterparts in service and comfort.

BY JOACHIM BAMRUD

Latin Trade Magazine

While Latin America in general lags behind the
United States in competitiveness, it can actually boast a competitive advantage in certain areas. One such area is airline service and comfort. While some U.S. airlines flying Latin American routes typically offer poor service aboard old and run-down planes, Latin American airlines like Avianca, LAN, TAM and Copa all provide friendly service and modern planes.

Those factors place them at the top of the 10th annual Latin Trade Reader Survey of the Best of Travel in Latin America. These same four airlines topped the categories for Cabin Comfort/Service and Food & Beverage, with Avianca taking the lead.

Avianca,
LAN and TAM all offer personalized in-flight-entertainment centers for all passengers, unlike the TV hanging from the roof on U.S. airlines, with its one-size-fits-all programming.

Not only do Latin American airlines beat their
U.S. counterparts on international flights, but also on local domestic ones. I remember a short trip between Bogota and Medellin on Avianca where the airline still made time to serve us a meal and a good one at that. Even flying with one of Panama’s small domestic airlines, I was served a basic meal on a 50-minute flight between Panama City and the city of David. These carriers not only offer food on short flights, but friendly service as well.

In contrast, I have spent countless trips at lunchtime or dinner time without any food on
U.S. carriers (on domestic and even some “short” international flights), leaving me with the option to buy a cookie while surrounded by smelly food others purchased at the airport just before boarding. The service? What service? If anything the crew gives the impression that we, the passengers, are bothering them.

“I think the
United States lost its sense of service,” Avianca Chairman German Efromovich told Latin Trade last year.  “U.S. airlines have “become so crowded, it’s like riding a bus.”

As demand for travel to
Latin America grows, it’s good to know that the region’s airlines are able to offer a great alternative. And one that readers of Latin Trade appreciate.

This article originally appeared in the January/February issue of Latin Trade magazine.

 

 © Copyright Latin Trade Group 

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