US Airways Announces More First Class Seats and Better Meals

@Cranky Flier has been live tweeting US Airways media day in Phoenix.

The key takeaways, to me, are:

  • They’re adding first class to regional aircraft with more than 70 seats. CRJ-700 and -900 and EMB-170 regional jets will have 9 first class seats and EMB-175s will have 8. Conversion starts Fall 2011 and they intend completion by January 2012.

  • They’ll be improving snack baskets on 1.5 to 3.5 hour flights and meals on flights 3.5 hours or longer. They’re bringing back glassware.

  • No more outsourced reservation call centers by the end 2011.

  • They are working on real-time baggage reporting and online rebooking for passengers when there’s a weather waiver in place.

In many cases this is “playing catchup” for sure but it’s also real improvements if they pull ’em off.

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Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Definitely not playing catchup with the last two points. Those are areas that United could improve on.

  2. Pt 2: Already implemented 4/1 and reports are glassware is only on meal flights. So most flights will still have plastic.

    Pt 4: I thought the online rebooking was also already available.

    Cheers.

  3. Definitely playing catch up! This airline will be long gone by the end of the decade, probably faster.
    “better” snack baskets and meals?? better than what? pretty vague by US
    Thanks for the update Gary

  4. I just wish they would drop the meal window to say 2:45. That is Philly to DFW, MSP to ATL, no reason not to do meals on those flights

  5. @Planereality, that was just Cranky’s twitter description, not necessarily what US said. And gone by the end of the decade? What reason do you have to say that?

    @Gene–US merging with AA has been discussed ad nauseum for months, and just doesn’t seem likely, particularly due to the ongoing labor strife at both airlines as well as AA’s high costs due to not going through chapter 11 within the last decade.

    @Gary–I had the new meal service this past weekend, and it was a big improvement over the previous service. I thought in particular the wines were much stronger than before.

    @Greg Myers, I completely agree (although they don’t fly between ATL and MSP;) )

  6. This is probably the best airline media day to attend because US is generally more “honest” and informative about their business plans than most airlines. So you get real insight listening to management.

    I thought the most interesting thing said was that US wants to focus on “nuts and bolts” operational performance, and not so much on bells and whistles (despite making some much needed product improvements to make their first class more competitive). I think the idea is that operational integrity generally pays for itself (in reduced costs, and higher customer satisfaction), while bells and whistles often don’t (especially given that their hubs are in secondary cities).

  7. Well, I agree that Doug Parker is a lot more open than the other CEOs, but is it enough? Is anything listed here enough? Come on, first class on RJs? That is hardly going to save the airline. The labor strife is just unbelievable, and Parker acts like he didn’t see it coming when he grabbed USair quick before the creditors.

    AA going under before USA? I don’t see how. USAir is the Typhoid Mary of the industry: No one is going to buy (merge with) USAir until the pilot’s strife is settled, and it’s facing years of litigation.

  8. “Better Meals?” Really? Did this announcement come from one of those “fixed” Y2K computers?

    ED

  9. If they are going to poke in those 8 or 9 First Class seats, they’d beter offer something better than a pretzle and a drink – and well before 3.5 hours, for that whopping big increase in fare. As nice as it is to have a bit more room and to be spared the unwashed masses, those hefty fares ought to have something interesting – and long before 3.5 hours. I think I’m not going US Air, at least until I know a lot more. Sure… traffic is up and revenue is up, so everyone will try something to attract a few for FC PAX. That’s where the profit is. They still have to offer something worth buying and I’m not hearing it here. -C.

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