Mexicana airlines is in complete turmoil. Having filed for protection from bankruptcy, they are now fighting off a complete collapse as the unions refuse to allow restructuring and the management have axed services – including the Mexico City to London route.
I had the misfortune to use Mexicana to go to Mexico City from London last December. It was possibly the worst airline I have ever used in terms of service, aircraft, and overall experience. Imagine catching the 73 bus from Hackney to Oxford Circus in the rush hour and you get an approximation of what it’s like to travel with Mexicana… including the crowding and lack of any form of on-board entertainment, despite the long-haul nature of the journey.
I took an American Airlines return flight from London to New York last week and I encountered similar chaos on board – the crew wanted to charge me $7 for a glass of wine despite my ‘economy’ ticket costing $1475.30. The cabin crew were upset with me when I told them to take the wine back. But they had spent the entire flight calling me ‘special’ because I had ordered vegetarian food… somehow not realising that it makes me sound more like an asylum inmate than José Mourinho…
Airlines all over the world seem to be in chaos, yet surely they can see there are two basic business models. No-frills like Ryanair, where the service is cut to the bone so that the price reflects only a safe journey and nothing else, then the regular full-service airlines where a price comparison is still important, but value enters the mix… airport used, ability to select seats, quality of service… This is where airlines like BA can stake themselves out as leaders (if the unions don’t bring them down first) because they have the quality on-board service and innovative online services.
Having got used to ba.com allowing me to set my meal preference, choose a seat, and get my boarding pass before I even leave for the airport, I’m not really all that tolerant of companies like Mexicana who tell me that online check-in doesn’t work “because you live in London…” Will anyone be sorry to see them go?