US Airways continues to lead in the race to the bottom

US Airways/America West Airlines A320-231 at S...Image via Wikipedia

I just got an email from US Airways (really the old America West) that has this charming message:

Today, US Airways announced a change to our baggage policy. Beginning May 5, 2008, we’ll charge $25 for a second checked bag. As a Preferred member, you and anyone traveling on the same reservation, are exempt from the fee. We value our most frequent flyers, and we want to continue to make your travels as easy as possible.

So, along with the unbelievably filthy airplanes, the obtrusive advertising on seatback trays, and lack of vegetarian meal options to buy on board, most people will have the pleasure of handing over an additional $25 for the 2nd bag that US Airways will promptly ‘lose’ when flying through the Philly airport. Of course frequent flyers like me, who rarely check in bags, will have the fee waived if we give them the secret handshake. Bravo USAirways, Bravo!

USAirways to confiscate your frequent flyer miles

Now, this one defies logic.  USAirways plans on revoking frequent flyer mileage that you’ve earned on their carrier if you do not fly on USAirways for an 18 month consecutive period.  Wow.  From inFlightHQ:

Frequent Flier Miles – Use Them or Lose Them
US Airways announced today that it will be voiding frequent flier miles for members of its Dividend Miles frequent-flier program if they do not fly on US Airways for eighteen months.

Ever since we lost the Hub designation for Pittsburgh International, USAirways’ service out of Pittsburgh has been on a steady decline.  Of course we don’t have all the direct flights that we used to.  Beyond that, we are having to contend with some of the oldest aircraft in the company’s fleet.  I can no longer count on power ports at every seat – what used to be one of the great advantages of flying USAirways.  We’re being exposed to the increasingly obtrusive advertising techniques that America West (USAirways’ merger partner and surviving management team) pioneered – like ads on seat trays.

But, what can we do? 

FedEx dumps Airbus A380, flocks to Boeing

It’s hard to imagine a worse collapse of confidence in product delivery than the one that Airbus is experiencing lately. Not only has its white elephant A380 been delayed numerous times, forcing huge management restructuring, but now major aircraft buyers are canceling their orders and shifting their buying power to Boeing. FedEx is the 1st major that I’ve seen, but I’m sure there will be more:

The world’s largest express transportation company cited Airbus’ production delays and said in a statement that its FedEx Express unit has ordered 15 Boeing Co. 777 freighters with a list price of $3.5 billion and taken options on an additional 15.

Source: FedEx drops A380 order, buys Boeing 777s – Yahoo! News

Being a frequent traveler, I’ve been a big fan of the 777, from a passenger perspective. It seems to be the right size for a jumbo – not too many people crammed in, and the ability to travel great distances with reasonable luxury. Earlier this month Boeing announced a modified 777 that would be capable of traveling from any one point on earth to another point on earth non-stop. I suspect this makes it even more attractive for FedEx, reduced stops leads to greater efficiencies.

From a passenger perspective, last year I took an American Airlines 777 non-stop from Chicago O’Hare to New Delhi. Just a few years ago that would have been unimaginable, but the 777 (and some changes in overflight laws across the former Soviet Union) have made it a reality. While spending 15+ in flight is not something I look forward to, being able to ‘jump’ from the US to India in one shot is unbelievably convenient. I’m sure the FecEx pilots that move cargo all around the world will prefer this approach as well.