While Latin America in general lags behind the United States in competitiveness, it can actually boast a competitive advantage in certain areas. One such area is airline service and comfort. While some U.S. airlines flying Latin American routes typically offer poor service aboard old and run-down planes, Latin American airlines like Avianca, LAN, TAM and Copa all provide friendly service and modern planes.
Those factors place them at the top of the 10th annual Latin Trade Reader Survey of the Best of Travel in Latin America (see page 42). These same four airlines topped the categories for Cabin Comfort/Service and Food & Beverage, with Avianca taking the lead.
Avianca, LAN and TAM all offer personalized in-flight-entertainment centers for all passengers, unlike the TV hanging from the roof on U.S. airlines, with its one-size-fits-all programming.
Not only do Latin American airlines beat their U.S. counterparts on international flights, but also on local domestic ones. I remember a short trip between Bogota and Medellin on Avianca where the airline still made time to serve us a meal and a good one at that. Even flying with one of Panama's small domestic airlines, I was served a basic meal on a 50-minute flight between Panama City and the city...