Taking issue with a statement by US Airways chief Doug Parker to the effect that the traveling public favored his plan to merge with American, I countered in a recent blog post that, based on the feedback I'd received, fewer than one in 10 flyers were in favor of a US Airways-American tie-up.
That one-in-10 figure was a shot in the dark, meant more to suggest the scale of the opposition than to precisely quantify it. But as a reality check, I invited readers to vote their preferences. A US Airways-American merger: yay or nay?
To date, 123 travelers have taken the time to vote and leave comments, the most responses generated by any recent blog post. An overwhelming 116 of the respondents, 94 percent, were opposed to the merger. Five favored it. And two others were ambivalent.
In Your Own Words
First, let's give the yay-sayers their due, beginning with this from eddie:
Here is one vote YES for the merger! Of course that is primarily because I have so many US Air miles that I am unable to use—maybe with an AA merger there will be more seats? It can't get worse—can it?
Hmmmm. Pro-merger, but not exactly a fan of US Airways. The next comment, however, is a full-throated defense of US Airways, from G McGee who's apparently a top-tier elite in US Airways' mileage program.
Wow. I love US Airways and I am concerned because I cannot imagine having to fly on American Airlines. Perhaps those of you who love American so much have missed the fact that US Airways has been engaged in a constant improvement mode for years, and that American, the silver airline from TWA and Pan Am days, still looks EXACTLY the same, provides the same lovely reservations system, and is so poorly organized (and overcharges so much) in its hubs that US Air flyers had better pray that US Air controls prices in Dallas, Chicago and the other American hubs (I forget ... after American nuked Nashville and Raleigh Durham, it's hard to keep track of where they keep those planes). They built that monolith at DFW for international, at, incidentally, the stupidest international hub on Earth, in the worst airport other than their other hub city. US Airways may have to cope with Philadelphia's reluctance to build a new airport. Charlotte is aging. But seriously ... an average hour on the taxiways? Let me know the next time that happens on a US Airways plane in normal weather with no mechanical or traffic stops (never). I hope for the merger, but only because more flights will mean more extraordinarily easy travel. Frankly, I'm not the only Chairman on US with a nearly 100% (if not 100%) upgrade rate (all free) for two-three years running. American flyers? We lost our Chairmans Preferred line—and they were sleazy about it too—but when I get one on the phone, I can go anywhere, do anything, and easily. This silly American "no, no, please not US Airways" stuff is just the whining of the disgruntled few—American is bankrupt for a reason. US Airways has made smart choice after smart choice to keep its frequent flyers. They stopped the 20 minute credit card promotions ... but the important thing is that US Airways is not a huge, impersonal, broke Texas behemoth that is showing its true colors as its executives block the merger to get golden parachutes. Yee haw, AA executives. You'll get your gold bricks at the cost of your own flyers, as they cheer you all the way (for your great management, firing your people and running those cheap silver birds into the nursing home. GO US AIRWAYS. American, you'll be lucky if this goes through. Otherwise, you're toast. Blue leather seats from 1975 and all.
The disgruntled few? "Few" hardly describes them, but they're certainly disgruntled. In their own words:
No way. I live in CLT and have to use US Airways far too often. Over the years they have proven that they have a bad quality product. They have become a no frills airline, cheap quality, perpetually late, senior citizen crews, dated planes, crappy frequent flyer plan and ALWAYS expensive. They've been selling credit card services over the intercom on every flight for the past two years. Annoying practice and a sign of desperation. Based on history, their merger plans have always had short term ideals. They're still in court with America West over layoffs and employee benefits. The airline has not shown any benefit as a result of the merger. Not to their customers and not to the employees. If anything, they have regressed IMHO. American Airlines, while far from perfect, deserves MUCH better than that! (Karen Berns)
Add my voice to the opposition. Residing in Charlotte has limited options, but I avoid US Airways whenever possible (it almost always is). I agree that the in-flight service and product is better than it used to be, but the ground support, customer service, inability to handle operational interruptions (which one would think they would be good at with the amount of practice they get), and general courtesy is severely lacking. Add to that their continuing labor issues and the fact that flight crews are still not combined many years after the America West acquisition and I believe that US is incapable of handling the larger airline they would become. (PML)
Doug Parker wants the minnow to swallow the whale and then to run it. American hasn't been well run for the past decade or so, but it's still light years better than US Airways. Keep AA as AA. (MORT)
Currently I have no status on either airline, however I have flown both extensively in the past. US Air has consistently been among the worst carriers in the business. I hope that American can make it on their own as I don't believe major carrier mergers serve anyone (except maybe the execs pushing for it). (Mike S)
US Air is the absolutely worst airline I've ever flown in over 1,500,000 miles of flying. PLEASE NO MERGER! (Mary)
And so on. The full list of comments, pro and con, is here.
Calling Out Doug Parker
If Mr. Parker seriously thinks the traveling public supports his bid for American, our readers' comments suggest that he is seriously deluded.
The comments further suggest that if he does want the public's support, he should be focusing his attention on improving the customer experience at his own airline instead of chasing down takeover targets.
And if he still has time left after tending to his considerable business challenges, I'd welcome Mr. Parker's response to our readers' highly critical comments on his company.
Reader Reality Check
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.
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