Monday, February 23, 2009

US Airways Restores Free Drinks

Reversing a much hated and widely ridiculed money-saving policy, US Airways will offer free soda, juice, tea, water and coffee in coach cabins again starting March 1.

(Booze still will cost $7.)

US Airways said the "beverage purchase program was introduced last year as part of US Airways’ new a la carte business model – where customers pay for what they choose to use."

“`We are firmly committed to the a la carte model and believe it’s the right one for our business,” said the CEO, Doug Parker. “It is also a work in progress – US Airways was the only large network carrier to charge for drinks and that put us at a disadvantage.'”

By the way, I'm flying US Airways more often these days because I travel between Newark and Tucson frequently, and my usual airline, Continental, has really cut service in Tucson, and even made connections more difficult. My last trip out, I flew US Air nonstop to Phoenix and rented a car for the easy 100 mile drive on I-10 down the desert to Tucson.

US Air, like most airlines (Continental excepted) doesn't provide free meals. But I did buy the Reuben sandwich they offered ($7, I think) and it was excellent. Deli quality. I also paid a small extra fee for priority boarding in an aisle seat toward the front on the A320, which is a more comfortable plane than those 737s Continental uses. If US Air can offer me priority boarding, decent food and my choice of coach seat for a few extra bucks, I'm beginning to lose faith in the value of my faithfully maintained elite status on Continental, which basically gets me priority boarding. On my last few attempts to book a trip on Continental, the only seats they had were middle seat. And I do not do middle seat. One of the skills a frequent business traveler should learn quickly is how to avoid the middle seat.

So that drive up the desert Interstate with the radio on doesn't sound too onerous these days.

Oh, and note this from today's blog essay by Mike Boyd, the consultant:

"If the airline industry wants to get through the next four years without being legislated into the second-coming of Aeroflot, it will need to re-think how it is perceived by the public at large. Right now, due to inept and sometimes biased media coverage, aided by what are in some cases poorly-conceived airline policies, Darth Vader would beat airlines in a popularity contest."


1 comment:

ChefNick said...

All I know is that flying anywhere these days is like having several root canals in one day.

It just DOESN'T HAVE TO BE this way. Is it a dozen root canals checking into a quality hotel? Taking a taxi downtown?

You're right -- the train is becoming a mighty sweet option and if not for beheadings, I'd even opt for the bus.