American Airlines

Jet Airways // On the Run

I'm embarrassed to write this. Our flight back to the US from China was booked on Jet Airways, an Indian carrier I'd never heard of. When I found that out, I immediately called American to see if they could change it to one of their own flights. I thought of all the stories I've heard from well-traveled friends in remote far-reaching areas, so the images in my head were of a dirty, poorly kept plane with livestock running about. Okay, maybe not the livestock, but you get the picture. (Although, I do have a friend who flew in Russia in the 90's and there were chickens on her flight, so I'm not totally making this up.) I'd love to think I'm more open-minded than that, but that was my initial reaction. American couldn't switch us, so here I am, sitting in new-looking plane, in the nicest business class I've ever seen. After offering a glass of Dom Perignon, and a pair of pajamas (did I mention I'm in business, not first class), the flight attendant comes down with the magazine cart packed full of enough interesting material that I could fly back to China and still have magazines left over. I mean, there's actually too much space, and the crew, service, and food are first rate. Much nicer than anything American offers. So there's that.

If I had gotten my way, I would have had the same flight experience I'm used to, which is good, but not great. I wasn't open-minded enough to make it happen on my own, so fate stepped in to teach me not to judge a book by its cover, or rather, an airline by its country of origin. While American does score points for having such a good partner, on my next flight to the East I'll definitely be trying to get a seat on JET Airways.

See, American is just good enough to keep me coming back (which is a lot more than I can say for some of its competitors), but only because there isn't usually another viable option. That works for them most of the time because their industry is generally in trouble. But what happens when someone new comes along and makes a superior offering? What about your brand? Are you getting by with "good enough," or are you finding ways to deliver something special?