US Airways – A Long, Pitiful Goodbye

Recently it was announced that US Airways, the Charlotte, North Carolina based airline was going to merge with American Airways.  It’s been many years since I had flown on US Airways, and I was aware of its long history of financial problems.  It had declared bankruptcy, but managed to hold on.  The first time I flew was just after it’s initial bankruptcy announcement, and I found the service to be top notch and the entertainment on the flight to be great.  I was curious to see what the years of economic difficulties had done.  Had the airline become a lean, mean, fighting machine or had it imploded under the weight of the burden of it all?  Last week I flew to Europe on US Airways flights, and I learned that not only had it imploded, but apparently with the news of the merger, employees had seemingly given up.

I arrived safely and so did my luggage, which are the biggest burdens that an airline has to overcome, but what was noticeable about my flights was the cheapness of it all and the sullenness of the crews.

Let’s start with the money issues.  The penny pinching was obvious.  Forget about the amenities, there weren’t any.  The blankets that were given out were not full size, and were little bigger than a shawl.  My pillow was the standard small white rectangle of fluff given out on most other airlines, but it came with a little extra something, a long black hair that seemed to be woven into the fibers.  The movie selection was great – but if you wanted to be able to actually hear the entertainment, well, that would cost you the price of the headphones – $5.  I know this is the normal way of doing business on flights in the U.S., but it was the first time I had experienced such a practice on a transcontinental flight.  The scrimping was also obvious in the food options.  Alcohol was available, but also for a price (again, common on US based carriers), but the portions seemed to be smaller than what was normally given out.    Then came the “breakfast.”  It was a muffin TOP!  It wasn’t even  an entire muffin.  It was more of thick pancake.  On the flight back a special announcement was made concerning a “special beverage service” that would allow us to choose between water or orange juice.

wow.

The other major issue I had was with the crews’ attitudes.  There were no smiling faces to greet passengers at any point.  They were all there to collect a pay check.  When I spoke to them there was often no response, no eye contact, and no willingness to go beyond the call of duty by as much as a “your welcome” when I said “thank you.”  A woman next to me even described the flight crew as “mean.”  At one point a flight attendant came by and actually pulled my drink out of my hand and dropped it into the garbage.  She never asked me if I was finished or if it was trash, or anything else.  When her rubber gloved hand grabbed the drink, I said, “Well, I guess I’m finished with that,”  and tried to laugh it off. She looked at me as though I was an unruly child and walked on down the aisle. Paging Nurse Ratchet.

A long haul flight is a long time to spend in cramped cabin, and being surrounded by people who aren’t focus on trying to make you feel welcome, makes the journey that much harder to endure.  Here’s hoping things will improve with the merger.

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2 Comments on “US Airways – A Long, Pitiful Goodbye”

  1. R Smith
    May 14, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

    I am an employee of US and, you’re right. I love my job, interact with my passengers, and try to do the best I can with half of what I need. I represent one part of the employee group and then there’s the other part that don’t care, think the company owes them a living, and give mediocre to bad service. They have forgot the importance of each customer and it’s ashame, indeed. I’m proud of myself and maintaining a good attitude and, again, love my job, but I rarely tell people what I do because I don’t like to tell them where I work. If together with the “new” American we don’t get better and put our employees through intensive and ongoing customer service training then we will continue to wallow along, not thriving, and not keeping up with the competition. We must get “better” in many ways and I’m hopeful and positive that we will, but there is much work to be done besides painting airplanes over….

    • May 15, 2013 at 12:17 am #

      I agree. I didn’t have a problem with staff of the plane for the most part, only the policies that were in place. They weren’t “customer friendly.”
      Thanks for sharing, and I appreciate your doing so!
      @tolandtravels

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