Pros: can't beat the prices, $35 upgrades, some good service, new planes, many non-stop flights
Cons: some bad service, late, cramped
Hehe...I just got back from Orlando (as in today), and I just sat down at the computer after taking two minutes to unpack. First of all, we had a great time in Orlando. Even though we were there only for the weekend, we still accomplished everything that we wished to. And the surprise this morning of seeing Saddam Hussein captured took my mind off the snow here in Rochester.
Back in late August, my wife and I decided that we would escape to Orlando this weekend just to have a relaxing time. We go there all the time. I checked online on several different airlines. $200 is a good round-trip fare from Rochester to Orlando, and many airlines offered it. However, I knew that AirTran had started non-stop service between the two cities, so I checked on their website.
Whoa...back track there. Non-stop service from Rochester to Orlando? Youve got to be kidding me.
AirTran is this really...how should I say it...weird airline. They used to fly only from Atlanta to certain cities throughout the East. However, AirTrans flights dont all go through Atlanta anymore. Actually, there are non-stop flights between Milwaukee and Floridian cities. Fly between Moline/Quad Cities to Orlando non-stop. You can go between Gulf Port/Biloxi and Fort Lauderdale without changing planes! AirTran is bringing a whole new generation to flying. Its called: getting from Point A to Point B quickly and easily.
Im sorry to say that I couldnt do this. The non-stop flight from Rochester to Orlando was $179 each way. That was way too expensive. So I found a fare for $59 each-way, but we would have to connect in Atlanta. At $118 and a few cents on top, I did not hesitate to book that flight.
Checking in at both Rochester and Orlando was so easy. My wife and I were flying with carry-ons, and we didnt need to check in any luggage. This enabled us to use the automated check-in kiosks which had no lines. We got to skip those long lines, and we confirmed our seats in minutes.
The kiosks are available in both airports and are easy to use. You can either insert your A-Plus Rewards credit card to verify your flight and get your boarding pass, or you can just punch in your confirmation number. The kiosk gave us our boarding passes for both legs of the journey. You can also change your seat if youd like.
AirTran used to fly old DC-9 aircraft. Most of them have been retired and have been replaced with brand-new Boeing 717-200 aircraft. AirTran has ordered another 10 of these aircraft and 100 Boeing 737 next generation aircraft (with winglets). Flights to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and one flight between Atlanta and Orlando are operated by Ryan International Airlines with the Airbus-A320 aircraft.
Its sad to say that AirTrans Boeing 717 aircraft are nothing special. First of all, they are very loud planes. The air conditioning - on all four different 717s that I took on my journey - was very loud. Also, the seating was extremely cramped in Coach. The seats were very small, and the legroom was horrendous. To top it off, there was this bar going right through the middle of where my legs were supposed to be.
The flights were about half full from Rochester to Atlanta and from Atlanta to Orlando. This meant that were were completely empty rows in the back of the plane. The flight attendants had no problem with us going in the back and laying down in the row. It was actually quite comfortable, and I didnt even have to wear a seat belt until we started arriving. Unfortunately, the flights were both sold out on the return. Actually the flight from Atlanta to Rochester was overbooked and they had to boot some people off.
The planes were not clean. Period. AirTran does not clean between flights. When we were in Atlanta going back to Rochester, we were told that the plane was being cleaned, then we would make an immediate boarding. Nope. When I got on the plane, I noticed rappers on the floor, napkins on the chairs, and even chip crumbs all over the place. All planes that I flew on had similar appearances.
Remember that you can upgrade to First Class for $35. You can make this upgrade at the gate or at check-in. I will say that First Class didnt look too luxurious. The seats werent even leather, though they were more spacious. However, as I walked through the aisle, I noticed that legroom was only two or three inches more. It seems that the only positive thing about flying in First on AirTran is that you get four free drinks (wine, beer, etc.).
The service was better than I was expecting. I had read a few of these reviews a few days before going, and a lot of them commented about rude service. I can see how AirTran may have rude service, but I - personally - was never treated badly on the plane. However, the crew members did seem a bit inexperienced sometimes.
When boarding in Rochester for Atlanta, the boarding agents were extremely friendly and helpful. The flight attendants on the flight were nice too and performed their jobs well. One went out of the way to find out what gate my connecting flight would be to since there was a gate change. One flight attendant was also really funny. When we arrived, they even wished us happy holidays over the speaker.
From Atlanta to Orlando, the crew was okay. They werent necessarily friendly or anything, but I heard them laughing as they were trying to figure out how to switch on the microphone to make an announcement. They were very attentive and polite, however, and they were all in all a decent crew.
From Orlando to Atlanta, we had two female flight attendants and one male flight attendant. The female flight attendants were taking care of Coach as the male took care of First. Both flight attendants were not friendly at all. They didnt smile and were only there to do their jobs. Their conversation was about how they would handle their next flight. I overheard as they decided to serve the drinks right next to my seat. Hmmm...
From Atlanta to Rochester we had a nasty crew. From my first impression, I thought that they were really friendly and funny. Apparently not. One of the flight attendants was being funny in the beginning, but then during the flight she turned into this witch. By the time we got to Rochester, she was actually yelling at someone to sit down. She wouldnt even let my wife go to the bathroom, but the friendly First Class flight attendant had no problem granting her permission three minutes later.
The ground crew members in Atlanta were all pleasant. We asked to be put on a flight leaving for Orlando 30 minutes earlier, and the personnel had no problem doing it quickly and with a smile. We were not charged extra for this and it seemed like the personnel was actually happy to assist us in this change.
The in-flight service from Rochester to Atlanta and from Atlanta to Orlando was excellent. We were given the whole can and a few bags of pretzels with no questions asked. On both returning flights, we were only given the glass and one bag of pretzels. There were about seven mini pretzels in each bag. But come on you guys - be realistic. With a feast that big, no wonder we got only one bag!
For those of you who care, the pretzels were salted.
Soft drinks, juices, coffee and tea are complimentary. Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Diet Sprite, Tomato Juice, Orange Juice, Apple Juice, Canada Dry Ginger Ale are all thats available. Beers and wine at $4 or $5 in Coach.
The in-flight service was done once for each flight, and long flights get pretzels too. AirTran does not serve meals as it would raise the fares. We were prepared, however, with Truffles and sandwiches. I also found some M&Ms in Atlanta for $2.75.
AirTran really needs to work on their timeliness. From Rochester to Atlanta we were delayed because one of the airplanes computers broke. Now I understand that delays do happen and the airlines cant do anything about it. However, we were not informed about this delay until after we had sat in the airplane for 25 minutes. We ended up getting into Atlanta about 30 minutes behind schedule.
From Atlanta to Orlando we ran 15 minutes behind schedule. We were not given a reason.
From Orlando to Atlanta, we departed about 30 minutes behind schedule. We again were not given a reason and had not been apologized to.
From Atlanta to Rochester, we were delayed once again. This time it was not AirTrans fault...well, actually - it kind of is. Many of the flights were delayed out of Atlanta because of bad weather. Our flight was delayed longer in particular because of a snow storm up here, and the flight crew was late arriving to the airport also. We arrived into Rochester at 5:50 - only 45 minutes behind schedule which is not too bad. However, we had to sit in the airplane an extra 30 minutes while on the ground because the gate was being used by another aircraft. The apologies were minimal.
AirTran occupies half of Terminal C in Atlanta along with four gates in Terminal D. All jet flights operate out of Terminal C while AirTran Connection operates out of Terminal D. Getting from one crowded terminal to another is easy. Atlanta has an underground moving walkway that connects each terminal.
Even though it sounds like AirTran is a horrible airline, it really is not. On the bright side, some of the personnel were friendly and professional. Also, the planes are brand new, and AirTran has some really, really, really low fares. Check out how low they are by calling them or visiting online. The kinks that AirTran has to work out is timeliness, their rude employees, and perhaps giving us a bit more legroom. The airline definitely needs to be more sensitive to their customers needs and wants.
Would I recommend them? Yes. I would recommend them over Delta, American or Song. However, I would not recommend them over Continental, JetBlue, or US Airways. But I would not hesitate to fly the airline again in interest to find a great fare.
Call your favorite travel agent.
AirTran flies to Grand Bahama Island, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Pensacola, Tallahassee, Tampa, Orlando, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Savannah, Gulfport, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Moline, Akron, Chicago, Flint, Minneapolis, Wichita, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Dayton, Myrtle Beach, Raleigh/Durham, Greensboro, Washington (Dulles), Washington (Reagan), Baltimore, New York LaGuardia, Newark, Newport News/Williamsburg, Memphis, Rochester, Buffalo, Boston, Bloomington, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.