To be fair, the economy is bad. I'll give it that. And post-9/11...flights 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 practices...it's become a shell of it's former glory. Okay...shell 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:
WHAT IN THE HOLY FUCK? WHAT DO YOU MEAN CHOOSE SEATS?! I DID THAT OVER A MONTH AGO.
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, Seatguru.com|
|Courtesy of Colin Zuppicich and Airliners.net|
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.
So...now...the 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).