Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Delta Airlines vs Tajik Airlines

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Just flying from New York to Dakar, Senegal, on Delta Airlines. Jeeez, what an airline! Could not believe the Terminal 3 in JFK, which is only just above Shcheremetova in Moscow in terms of ambience (ha, ambience!) and comforts.

Strange customs they have – you buy your duty-free and then they deliver it when you board the plane. First time I had been through that experience. I suppose there could be the appalling danger that someone travelling abroad might buy stuff for people not travelling abroad, and thus rob the system. So not knowing the drill I went to the passport checking desk at the boarding gate (third passport check at least), asking about my duty frees. They told me I would get them 'inside'. 'Inside where?' I asked, thinking of, for example, prisons (British slang for being in prison is being 'inside'). When I got on the plane, I was told.

So eventually off I trooped onto the plane, and on stepping on it did not see any duty-frees, and thought that maybe they hand them out later. But asked anyway, and just as well, I had walked past them on the way into the plane, between the final check and the plane doors. Wouldn't call that 'inside', guv...

Now, coming back to Tajik airlines and the comparison. Delta has the nicer seats which probably don't fold over. On the other hand, the plane gets tossed around in the air like a ping pong ball in a tumble dryer, whereas the Tajik Air planes were always, but always, rocksolid – you would barely know you were flying. Then again, Tajik Air would regularly run out of fuel at Dushanbe, necessitating a stop somewhere in Kazakhstan to pick up fuel to get to Moscow. The quality and presentation of food, on the other hand, about matches that of Tajik air; I don't think I have seen food similarly presented this side of the Iron Curtain – it was almost a sort of retro-chic, with a yellow plastic train with faux wood 'pannelling', plastic containers with heatsealed polythene lids...wish I had taken a photo. And at least Tajik Air would keep running round with soft drinks for the passengers on their four-hour flights, but I haven't seen anyone volunteering soft drinks for us (the wine with the meal came out of a milk-type container and was served in the cheapest kind of plastic glass possible...).

It's always good to know which airlines to push nearer the bottom of the 'favourites' list.