Friday, March 29, 2013

U.S. Airways Sucks

I've followed the news. I'm not a completely ignorant man. I know that, awhile back U.S. Airways filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. I also know that, recently, there was a judge approved merger for American Airlines and U.S. Airways. But one thing I couldn't understand was...why did they fail in the first place?

To be fair, the economy is bad. I'll give it that. And post-9/ have gone down. But what could have made such big companies, such cornerstones of the flight industry...financially collapse.

Then I flew with them. And I understood.

U.S. Airways is nothing like it used to be. It used to be a decent airline, back when I was a kid. Now, through subtle, shady's become a shell of it's former glory. is a strong word. It's more along the lines of "dog feces and old meat in a paper bag, lit on fire, stomped out, and then left in the Texas sun for three days".

Why the bitterness? The hostility. Well, in the words of the Aristocats...allow me to elucidate.

I am, as we speak, getting ready to fly to the ADI conference in Denver. I booked the tickets for the flights through U.S. Airways more than a month ago. Valentine's day, to be exact. Here's the proof:

U.S. Airways, being the kind and generous souls they are, decided it was more than appropriate to take my money for said tickets. See?:

And I couldn't fault them. I had seats set and I was happy dandy. Bear in mind, these flights were for MORE THAN A MONTH AWAY. One month, two weeks, two days, to be precise. I HAD SEATS:

So when I got the call to finalize things, everything was hunky dory. I went to test out the "check-in" section and got a Runtime error. Not fantastic so I contacted them on Twitter. I asked what the deal was and if they could confirm my seats (I didn't actually have a seat for the return flight). They sent me to their website to confirm the seats. Buuuuut...when I got to the U.S. Airways website, I was greeted to this:


As you can see by that picture...there are no regular seats. Apparently someone needed my seat more than I did and got it. Who knew, right? So this means two things. I could:

A) Pay extra for seats.
B) Get my seat at the counter.

Now, bear in mind a couple things. First thing is that I already paid for these tickets. They TOOK MY MONEY. They took it from my account and its theirs. Second...the plane itself. Let me put the De Haviland Dash 8 100 Turboprop into perspective. Here is the seating chart:

Thanks for backing me up,
You may note something. This is not a large plane. It's not even a medium plane. Or a medium-small plane. This is a Kid's Extra Small plane. It seats 37 and "seats 37" means "37 bodies can be, in theory, Tetris'd into this plane and you will get there with mostly everything attached". Here's the interior:

Courtesy of Colin Zuppicich and

Now...if it isn't blatantly clear to you at this point...there is NOTHING AND I MEAN NOTHING "Choice" about those seats. The back row of this plane is pretty much three seats bolted to the wall like a bench seat. It's a glorified public bus with wings.

So let's get back to where I was...I could do two things:

A) Pay for the "choice" seats (NOT. CHOICE. AT. ALL.)
B) Get my seat at the counter.

I talked to the U.S. Airways people on Twitter, through private message. I asked if I was guaranteed a seat at the counter because, y'know, I paid for this shit and everything. Their response?

I'm sorry. What? So let me get this straight. You can't guarantee I'll get a seat, even though I paid for it over a month ago, BORDERING on two months. Instead, you decide that it'll be a good idea to put me between a rock and my wallet: either show up at the ass-crack of dawn and pray to the gods above that I can get a seat to make my connection to get to Denver and get to the conference...or shell out MORE MONEY TO YOU.

I shelled out the money for the piece of mind. It was probably the hardest $41 I've ever spent. And dammit, I want it back. And the worst part is is that as soon as I get to that goddamn gate, I'm going to have to shell over $50 just to check my bag. Because everyone can fit their clothing for almost a week in Denver in a carry-on. light has come on. The bulb has flickered to life and I get it. The general shitty attitude of all airlines has put them in the place their in now. Continuing to inconvenience travelers for profit means people will go elsewhere. Honestly, I'd say that this would be my last time on U.S. Airways...if it wasn't the only goddamn carrier out of Stewart worth a damn. So I'm stuck with them. Let me reiterate here, even though I'm probably preaching to the hundred thousand strong choir:

U.S. Airways sucks both figuratively and literally (the money out of my goddamn wallet).


  1. There are only a couple of airlines that won't do that. you shouldn't be surprised.

  2. Hey Scott. I hate it when I hear stories like yours because it just reiterates the fact that airlines are no longer what they used to be. I am a recreational pilot now and not flying professionally for that simple reason; however, my love for the industry will never cease. For background sake, an MS in Aviation Technology & Management.

    Aviation just doesn't have the glamour it did back in the 60s & 70s, mostly due to costs and deregulation. Cost wise, it's much more a passenger friendly market nowadays. The fact is, airlines nowadays are not too far short of "cattle cars with wings". Well, mostly in terms of your "legacy" carriers. Low-cost carriers such as JetBlue and Southwest are really the way to go. Although their ticket prices are steadily climbing, customer service is still pretty top notch.

    In the case of your seating issue, this is mostly all due to airlines battling excess capacity, or the empty number of seats per flight. This is inventory with no shelf life, and with fuel prices the way they are right now, it's tough for airlines to allow these seats to go empty. Enter the idea of over-booking and seating algorithms. Simply put, airlines experience last minute cancellations on an ongoing rate. By over-booking their flights they are able to minimize the amount of excess capacity of each flight. This is more so an issue with the larger carriers such as American, United, and Delta, because their costs are so high, yet they are trying to remain cost competitive with all these low-fair carriers. It's not uncommon to see a major airline's flight receive just a couple hundred dollars in profit. When an airline is so large and is trying to keep costs to a minimal, service quality levels fall short of people's expectations. This is especially unfortunate when looking at airlines (United) who used to have their service employees trained at Ritz-Carlton Hotels as a means of service benchmarking.

    Fortunately airlines are becoming much more strategic in their quest to be cost competitive, and airline manufacturers are really starting to think outside the box to aid in the situation (it's their situation too). Although it has currently seen its fair share of issues, airliners such as the Boeing 787 are truly technological marvels. They just need to get their supply chains under control. One major airline to keep an eye on is Delta. In the fight against high fuel costs, a subsidiary of Delta has recently purchased its own oil refinery as a means of getting rid of the upcharges placed on jet fuel, saving them millions. This coupled with lighter, more efficient aircraft will allow them to put more focus on areas like customer satisfaction. More efficient landing technologies like the FAA's NextGen systems will aid in this as well.

    Eventually (hopefully) there will be a break in all this nonsense. As a country we need to really take a closer look at our transportation system. I love aviation, but I personally hope that we eventually start making serious strides in highly efficient high-speed (true high-speed) rail systems. We shall see.

  3. Here's the deal, honestly. US Airways does truly SUCK. Even though all airlines cancel flights and try to pack us in like sardines these days (understandable due to fuel costs), these assholes bait and switch us. Yes. You heard me right. They lure you into their flights with the promise that they'll get you home earlier than the 'other' airline. Guess what? They will AlWAYS end up changing your flight and stranding you in Charlotte, NC. You think I'm kidding. Just print this out and check it out in the next few years.... PRICKS.

  4. Yes US airlines sucks - if you want to get nickel and dimed then they are the ones for you. Avoid them whenever you can. So many better airlines to choose from. They need to wither away and let other people take over that can do a good job.

  5. I wish I had known this two weeks ago. . .
    . . . and do not expect them to take any reasonable measures to fix it. They will blame it on someone else in order shirk their responsibility.

  6. It's shit like this that make me supportive of the denied merger. My us airways flight last week had my "economy" seat 1 row behind the choice seats which means the 8" row gap is consumed by the choice seat reclining into your lap.

    Fair is fair - i knew i had an economy seat, and you booked a specific seat. When the airline F's with that "deal" it should be with compensation to the impacted party - or the monopoly attitude will continue.