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Q: James Fallows on Colbert Report - "Chinese airlines are safer than American airlines"?

James Fallow, journalist for the Atlantic, was on the Colbert Report two nights ago speaking about Chinese airlines. Here's what he said when comparing the two countries' airlines:

 

- Chinese had hot meals on all flights

- Chinese air hostesses were younger, and so prettier

- Chinese pilots had been trained by foreigners, and so knew what they were doing

- Chinese planes were somehow safer than American planes

- Security in Chinese airports was a lot less of a hassle than in America

 

Some of this I agree with, other I absolutely don't. What do you think of his assessments of Chinese airlines?

7 years 26 weeks ago in  Transport & Travel - China

 
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Chinese airlines are good but would not give them a big wrap.

 

Some flights I was only served some type of spicy cabbage thing on a 2hr flight. One point i disagree with is the security I find it one of the worst long lines, pat down for who knows what, if you are waiting for a friend/family member have to wait in the waiting hall not at the gate. 

 

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7 years 26 weeks ago
 
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he, he, maybe I will only agree with the one about the young pretty looking stewardess.  In USA, age discrimination is not allowed, so employers must hire persons of all ages and genders.

And security does not bothers me a lot.  In America you have some rights, here you have none, better do as told to do.

And before closing, why Chinese airlines buy Boeing planes?

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7 years 26 weeks ago
 
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My personal comparison:

Security:

US - Invasive, degrading and run by a bunch of power hungry morons.  And it is a complete slap in the face to the personal freedoms the country is supposedly built on.

China - Less invasive, run by people who are actually nicer than the US monkeys and faster.  Yes, if you mess with them you will be going down hard.  But in China, their actions are in line with the 'freedoms' of the rest of the country.

 

Flight Safety:

US - I think the US has the upper hand here.  Yes, you hear about more aircraft defects, but I think that is because the US is more open about problems, and generally puts safety first.  (It keeps lawsuit claims down.)

China - I trust the planes here less because I can't trust the companies to be open about problems.  Since lawsuit claims are so cheap here, safety takes a back seat to profits.

 

Stewardesses

US - Rarely do they have a personality at all other than, "WTF do the monkeys want now.  Don't they know their ticket price doesn't include service of any kind?"

China - Younger, cuter and actually try to be nice.  Though, they are pretty useless when it comes to matters such as seat stealers or obnoxious passengers.

 

Food:

US - The food, in my opinion, beats the 'hot' food on Chinese airlines hands down. 

China - On almost every flight I have been on, they serve the same 2 choices of food.  1) 'Beef' noodles that has a sauce that may have seen some actual beef from across the room.  And 2) Chicken & rice with mystery cuts of something that slightly resembles chicken.  But it does in fact have more meat than the beef noodles has seen in 3 months.

 

Anyway, that is my take.  Overall, the US wins out just a little when you take into account the actions of the people you are traveling with.

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7 years 26 weeks ago
 
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Fallows should remember Chiense pilots also forge their logbooks

I'm just glad that, cause I'm going to Canada I can fly AIr Canada, which internationally is awesome and far better than either the US or China.

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7 years 26 weeks ago
 
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As with most things, I can agree on some of his points, and others I would need further information to see whether I agreed or not. Let's take them point by point:

 

1. Hot meals: While it is true that American airlines have been cutting costs (and one of the first things to go is in-flight meals), it would probably depend on the individual carrier. My experience on Chinese flights is that at least they serve you something, be it spicy cabbage or a bun. On recent American flights, all we got was a small bag of peanuts. That being said, I usually refuse the meal, being no big deal for me. I paid to get from point A to point B, not to dine. I make it a practice of packing something edible so that if I do get hungry, I can eat something nutritious instead of the "cardboard-du-jour" that is called food.

 

2. Okay. Chinese flights have the pretty flight attendants sown up, hands down. When I took my wife on her first trip to the States last year, we were on an American carrier, and she was shocked that the flight attendants were the age of grandmothers. I explained to her along the lines of what HappyExPat stated above; that the U.S. has laws against hiring someone simply on the basis of looks, but that was really a "foreign" idea to my wife. So, yep, props to the Chinese airline industry for pretty young girls to serve me my cardboard meal.

 

3. I would hope that any pilot would know what they are doing! This is really an invalid point, because if you are trying to cement your argument with this, the inference is that American pilots don't know what they are doing, so, I think Mr. Fallows just threw that one in there to make it sound good, but it really is a moot point.

 

4. Chinese planes safer than American planes." Puh-leese! The Chinese are buying the majority of their planes from America. Again, an invalid point. For the sake of discussion, I would need clarification on the word "somehow."

 

5. Security at a Chinese airport is a lot less hassle, but does that make it safer? The goal is security, not convenience. There are pros and cons about the whole airport screening procedure, all the way from abuse of rights (unwarranted search and seizure laws), to time management, etc., etc., but in the end, I don't think they do enough. I won't get into the particulars of my opinion, and just leave it at that.

 

With all of that said and done, I'll add this caveat. I just got back from Seattle last week. And on every flight, filled with Chinese citizens going to and fro over the Pacific, on the Chinese airlines, as soon as the plane touched down and started to taxi, people immediately started jumping out of their seats trying to get their things out of the overhead compartments. The fight attendants had to yell at people to sit down! And some still didn't! So, while the mechanical equipment and the foreign trained professionals who use them may be compatible with American airlines, it is actually the lack of safe practices on the part of the Chinese people who are riding in the planes that worried me!

 

On the ground or in the air, it is still that "me, first," Little Emperor syndrome, combined with herd mentality, which makes life challenging in China.

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7 years 26 weeks ago
 
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I would also mention the decreased leg and shoulder room on domestic Chinese flights.  Obviously geared towards the typically smaller Chinese customer.  Uncomfortable for anyone of size though (not a problem for me!).

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7 years 26 weeks ago
 
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I avoid connecting flights through the USA. I find the immigration officers to be the rudest people I have ever met and I'm white. Last time I landed in LA I gave the immigration guy enough smart ass back, I was sure they'd strip search, but I don't like to take crap. When I went through customs I made them laugh enough that they forgot to ask me what I had or check me out.

The Chinese meals suck, I just wish the stewardess did also. North American stewardess always seem to be over the hill and been working at it too long to be pleasant.

Security, only in China did they question what was in my checked luggage. I had to show them that I did not have a beer in my luggage, but an empty coke bottle I took home as a souvenir.

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7 years 26 weeks ago
 
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I think most people are forgetting the basic premise of the question asked: "are Chinese airlines safer than those of the U.S?" I think the answer is a resounding yes, and I will only fly on a Chinese airline. The reasons are simple: American air carriers are going broke everyday. How many airlines in the US have filed for bankruptcy in the last five years? And if an airline is not making money, maintenance and workforce are the first things to get cut. Heaven forbid the CEO will cut his own salary. But not only that, service as a whole has gone downhill with US airlines. On domestic flights of less than 3 hours, you are lucky to get a bag of peanuts, and that is if you are lucky enough to even see a flight attendant on your journey. They have eliminated meals almost entirely unless your flight is over 3 hours. But as for security, let me be blunt: if a terrorist is going to put a bomb on a plane, it is going to be American, or United, or Delta, etc. That is why I will only fly Cathay Pacific, or China Eastern. Also, their planes appear newer, with more amenities. I flew Delta to the Philippines 3 years ago, and the aircraft looked like it had seen its better days quite a while ago. 

  I also believe that the reason flight attendants are older on US airlines is because, like every other profession, they are forced to work longer because they simply can not afford to retire. As far as passing thru security, I definitely agree that in China, it is much less invasive and he people much nicer. I think it may have something to do with being paid more than the minimum wage... I could go on, but I believe I've made my point. 

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7 years 26 weeks ago
 
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The last domestic flight I took in China to Shanghai and back from SZ was in a 30 year old Boeing..they served me dog food and the return flight was 5 hours late (at night so I arrived at 4am) and the security check stole my lighters...but I had a triple seat to myself in the back of the plane...so I think Chinese airlines are definitely better!

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7 years 26 weeks ago
 
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All airlines suck unless you can afford to sit in the Front !   lol

 

My ex was a Lead Flight Attendant for National Airlines. Anybody remember them?  :-)

 

How many of you are old enough to remember when flying was still a big deal ?  I barely am, but I remember flying over the Atlantic on a Boeing 747 in the early 1970's. That was quite an adventure for a young lad at the time. 

You guys wanna talk safe?  hehe,,  I flew Aeroflot (the name fits) in the early 1970's, the stew's handed out hard candy to suck on because it helped pop your ears due to the atmospheric pressure imbalance. Classic!   Tongue

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7 years 26 weeks ago
 
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https://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article209817279.html#storylink=related_inline

 

Tragic story, we have a shortage of nurses anyway, but the family just won the lottery if the airline stays in business. Maybe the average consumer would expect the airlines to make sure the medical equipment on board is actually working on a checklist somewhere.

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