Effective March 1, soft drinks, water, and juice will be free once again aboard [[US Airways]] flights. In a release, US Airways CEO Doug Parker explained that “The beverage program was distracting from the outstanding improvements in on-time performance and baggage handling US Airways’ 34,000 employees worked so hard to achieve last year.” He also said, “We are firmly committed to the a la carte model and believe it’s the right one for our business,” and noted that when no other airlines decided to charge for water and soft drinks, that created a “disadvantage” for US Airways.
Well, no kidding, right? I find it hard to believe how charging for water can be seen as anything but a disadvantage, but I must say I admire the carrier’s willingness to recognize its pay-as-you-drink approach was a failure. And I agree that the return of complimentary beverages will put the airline back on equal footing with its competitors. In fact, when one considers US Airways recent improvements in on-time performance, the airline starts to look pretty good.
It also will be interesting to see if US Airways’ move leads other airlines to undo some of the fees they added last year. After all, demand is way down, and planes are struggling to put people in their seats despite offering more and more airfare sales. Can other carriers really afford to keep their baggage fees and other charges in place?
But the big question on my mind is: Does US Airways’ decision to renege on its beverage policy make the airline more appealing to you? Last year, US Airways earned the title of Least Favorite Domestic Airline in our Readers’ Choice Awards, but will that change now? And do you think other airlines will begin eliminating fees as a way to lure travelers back? Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Thanks!