International airline, 1982-2001.
Tower Air came into existence as a charter airline in 1982, at a time when discount airlines such as People Express were preparing to drive air fares down below the stratosphere. Later, they became an international airline whose main claim to fame was that they were much cheaper than their competitors.
Tower Air's main United States hub was at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, in a terminal building so remote that taxis rarely stopped there. There, passengers would wait in a Spartan terminal while planes were frequently delayed by hours at a time. Those who would eventually board the planes were sometimes subjected to delays in the plane on the taxiway, as Tower was not particularly high in the large pecking order at JFK.
Based on what friends, family, and Epinions users (45 reviews of Tower Air have an average score of 2 out of 5 stars) have said, Tower Air was an airline with exceptionally poor customer service. Many customers voiced complaints both on-line and off about the pathetic food (tiny Kosher sandwiches and generic brand soda), the surly customer service agents, and inexplicable delays. Tower Air was an all 747 (747-100 and 747-200) airline, although many of the planes were in a state of disrepair. Although mechanical failure seemed imminent given the high age of the planes, Tower Air lasted 19 years without one fatality, joining Qantas on the short list of death-free international airlines.
Many American Jews know of Tower Air because it was the only way besides El Al to go from New York to Tel Aviv non-stop, and it was far cheaper than El Al. Other destinations included Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Bombay, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Milan, Miami, Paris, Rome, Sao Paulo, San Juan, and Taipei.
The failure of Tower Air's customer service can be summed up in this consumer complaint, whose URL is listed below. The complaint is from a traveler in Trinidad whose luggage never left the ground in the U.S.
On finding my luggage, I instantly realized that my bag was severely ripped apart at the bottom and the rafter for the wheels was dislocated from the luggage.
. . . On further inspection at home, I realized that some of my personal effects were missing. These included 2 T-Shirts, 1 pair of pants, cologne, and a keyboard and an activity set, which were intended to be gifts for my two toddler sisters.
. . . In addition to the apparent theft, my bag, and all the clothing therein, was tainted with the blood and pungent odor of some form of raw meat.
Tower Air abruptly filed for bankruptcy protection on May 2, 2000. They stranded what few passengers they had left by terminating worldwide operations in early 2001. The airline has totally disappeared off the world map, unlikely to return without a name change of some kind.
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/tower.htm (complaint letter)