aa 787

Incredibly, God Save The Points has won back to back “best travel blog in the world” awards, presented by my mother. Her metrics are vague, her search criterion even harder to discern and ultimately some bribery or favouritism may have been displayed. If you’re having a chuckle at this, wait until you hear about American Airlines latest award. Despite dreadful on time performance, major operational headwinds and an ability to standout from the crowd in any cabin, American Airlines has been awarded “five star” status by the APEX Awards. If you believe in the merits of these awards, I’ve got a great timeshare in Scottsdale for you…

APEX, the “Airline Passenger Experience Association”is one of the many groups in the world who have arbitrarily and unilaterally decided that they should hand out airline awards, and that for some reason they should mean something to the public at large. It should be noted that while the APEX formula for five star success is not the worst out there, it leaves a ballpark full of desire.

When you walk up to the door of an airplane and see a five star rating, you assume it’s going to be nice – right? Wrong – maybe.

a row of black chairs in an airplaneSo, What do Emirates, Aeroflot, Qatar Airways, American Airlines and besieged Asiana all share common? They’re now 2020 “5 star” APEX rated airlines. If your question is how – or why- you’re not alone, and when we explain it’ll become abundantly clear. The ratings, which sound quite grand, and like the kind of thing airline executives will high five and place lapel pins on their suits about are based on “verified” passenger feedback, with one grand canyon sized catch – delayed flights didn’t count.

Considering the regular data breaches and spam verification issues affecting even the largest major companies, we’ll just have to take their word for it.

The ratings are based solely on passenger feedback regarding the disciplines of seat comfort, cabin service, food and wifi. American, nor Aeroflot would rank anywhere in the top 10 in regards to comfort in any particular cabin, no matter how many “verified” ballots say they should. Furthermore, scores are from TripIt users, which instantly eliminates about 98% of the flying public at large, instead just dealing with more frequent or plugged in travellers.

But really, the icing on the cake is that any time a flight was delayed, the results did not count.

aa 787So for American, which is double digits behind Delta and 19 other airlines on on time performance and other key metrics, any vote cast by someone who was delayed for any reason was invalidated. That sure tilts the scales in favour of an airline with bad on time performance, when they can just chuck out the votes, since those people could be seen as offering lowering scores out of anger.

Intriguingly, they actually got quite a lot of other awards right – like best wifi going to Delta, best in flight service to Qatar and best entertainment to Emirates. Qatar also won on seat comfort, which is quite fair in business class and with the launch of their new economy seats, fair there too.

At the end of the day, this is another quasi meaningless award which makes for great marketing copy at an airline without all that much to shout about. It means so much to American, they stuck it on the side of every plane. If you back Skytrax Awards, or the silly three letter ones which launched last year, I envy your naivety and I sincerely mean that. Judge a flight by your experience without preconceived ideas of how nice, or tatty an airline should be.


Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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