Having lived in Asia for two years, I’ve had the chance to fly with quite a few Asian airlines — 8 to be exact. All of my experiences have been great. I’ve also flown with a few airlines back in the US. On a recent flight back from Taiwan, I started thinking about the differences between airlines. I realized that there are many! If you’re interested in the differences between Asian airlines vs US airlines, keep reading!
One of the biggest differences that I’ve noticed when comparing Asian airlines vs US airlines is that Asian companies win when it comes to customer service! I’ve experienced great customer service when flying with US companies, but it doesn’t feel as forced and when flying within Asia, and bad customer service experiences are almost non-existent.
I think a huge factor is that customer service is a very ingrained part of the culture. It’s normal and expected to always provide above and beyond customer service. Customer service is important in the US, but I feel it’s more of a trained skill — rather than something that is truly always expected.
Almost all of the flights I’ve been on within Asia have been amazing in regards to customer service. Friendly faces, great attitudes, and above and beyond treatment to customers.
Food and Beverages
Another difference has to do with food and beverages on board. I’ve flown some “no-frills” airlines where you get a great ticket price, but have to pay for food and drinks. I’ve also flown some traditional airlines at great prices — that include food and beverages!
I recently flew China Airlines for a 2 hour 15 min flight to Taiwan. My ticket was one-way and cost about $250 USD. Even for such a short flight and a low price, we were provided with a meal and beverages were served. I had water, but I saw other passengers choosing complementary beers.
In January, I flew another airline — this time Jin Air. I was headed to Boracay round-trip for about $300 (this was a last-minute 4 night trip and I was excited to find a deal!). Even though this airline is known for running sales, a meal was also included on both flights.
Based on my experience, with US airlines, most shorter flights don’t included a meal. According to United Airlines, food is available on most economy flights over 3 hours, for an additional fee. American Airlines on the other hand offers snacks for a fee on most flights over 2 hours. If you’re on a longer flight to a destination outside of the US, meals are available for purchase. Economy customers can take advantage of included meals on flights to/from Europe.
Of course, food and beverages being included isn’t a must for me — but these little extra perks are appreciated and noted!
One thing that I don’t agree with is the difference in hiring discrimination. I think discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and age are not okay — and sadly likely happen all over the world! I’ve noticed age, gender, and appearance discrimination are very common within Asia.
Korean Air requires new applicants to be under the age of 27. China Southern requires women flight attendants to be single and under the age of 25. Asiana Airlines require staff members to always wear skirts and not wear glasses while in uniform. For Malaysia Airlines staff members, there are strict grooming and weight requirements in place. Women staff members must keep their weight in check by meeting a BMI within a 22-25 range. For a woman who is 5’5″ tall, her weight must fall between 130-150 lbs. It seems this is the norm in Asia.
While flying with US airlines, I’ve noticed less discrimination. I know that the US is not perfect and I’m sure staff members still sadly experience discrimination — but it doesn’t seem to be as big of an issue. While looking and acting professional is important, it seems there are less makeup, appearance, and age rules in place (and there shouldn’t be any!).
While I don’t agree with the hiring practices that many Asian airlines follow, I do love the great customer service and extras that are provided compared to that of many US flights. As you can see, there are differences with Asian airlines vs US airlines. This post certainly gave me a lot to think about — and I hope it did the same for you, too!